Identifying Dog Behaviours
Updated: Jun 12
Understanding how our dogs communicate is essential in providing them with the best care and advocating for their needs. A dog's way of communicating is very varied and rich and can unfortunately be easily overlooked or misunderstood if you don't know what you're looking out for. Our lovely Trainee Zee did some research on dog behaviours and how to best identify and interpret what their body language can tell us about how they are feeling.
Have a read through and see what you already know and if there are things that you didn't know about yet!
"Our dogs’ body language patterns & behaviours are all essential ways to tell how they are feeling. It is helpful to know what you could be looking out for as healthy/unhealthy signs. You may be wondering why dogs are panting, whining, barking, singing or their tails are wagging - I tell no 'tails' when I say the higher the dog's tail, the more assertive the dog. They are processing information and generally feeling unsure or unfriendly if their tail is held up like a flag.
The tail wagging slightly to the left literally means it’s going left for this dog- this is a sign to avoid an interaction as the dog is presenting discomfort in some way. Whereas the tail wagging slightly to the right is usually a positive sign that the dog wants to interact.
A neutral tail position varies between breeds, a slow tail wag with tension suggests dog is ready to ‘act’ but might be unsure and tail tucked between legs can indicate fear and anxiety.
Let’s back off with the tail information now as there’s so much more to go through!
Keep an ‘ear out for the next topic - (you may have guessed right - yes, it is the ears!)
Ears relaxed and in their natural position are a sign that the dog is relaxed and ready to be petted. But ‘ear me out when I say it is imperative to also focus on other body signals such as bared teeth - this could mean that the dog senses danger and is in protective mode. Ears pricked up means they are processing information and ready to act. Ears pulled back suggests they are scared or anxious. However it’s always important to look at other body language signals and the overall context!
Let’s talk 'body' language now.
Although dogs can’t talk, their body language and posture can be a sure sign of how they are feeling. Leaning forward usually means they are prepared to act. Leaning back - lean back, lean back (you must know the Fat Joe tune) means they feel unsure or fearful. Curled up or low-down bodies translates that they are scared, shying away or being submissive." All of these things can be a fantastic way to successfully identify how your dog is feeling and interpreting their environment. But never forget the importance of context as this can entirely change the meaning of what the dog is portraying (e.g. panting can mean they are exhausted after a lot of exercise or can indicate that a dog is very stressed. It depends on the context of the situation).
Our dogs go to great lengths to understand our communication and even learn the strange words we say to them so the least we could do for them is learn their language in turn.
And what could be better than talking to your dog?