Dog talk

Dog talk

It's all body language

You don’t have to be Dr Doolittle to communicate with your dog.

Most people intuitively understand the basics of dog body language and recognize when their best furry friend is happy, scared or angry.

After all, dogs are very expressive, both verbally and non-verbally. It is far easier to read the body language of a happy and relaxed dog than a stressed anxious one.

The important cues can be taken from the head, ears, tail, and back. The higher a dog’s head, ears, and tail are, the more dominant it is feeling, and the lower they are, the more submissive or uncertain the dog is feeling.

However, dogs are skilled at noticing and interpreting our body language. Studies have shown that canines are better at deciphering our non-verbal cues than chimpanzees and even young children.

It shouldn’t surprise you that your pooch knows when you’re sad and comes offering a comforting snuggle! So next time you see your dog take a little bow, get ready to play! Your dog will be happy to know that you ‘speak their language’. 

Here are some clues for understanding what your dog is telling you:

I’m really stressed.
  • Try to hide
  • Turn their head away
  • Bark and retreat

 

I’m happy!
  • Relaxed body and free movement
  • Relaxed face
  • Open relaxed mouth
  • Play bow
I’m interested and curious.

Tail high that might be starting to curve over back

  • Body tense
  • Focused stare
  • Ears erect or forward
I’m stressed and aggressive.
  • Body stiff and still
  • Hard, focused stare
  • Growling
  • An air-bite warning before they bite for real
I’m uncomfortable and anxious.
  • Heavy panting
  • Stiff body
  • Tail low and between legs
  • Ears back or flat against head
  • Sideways rolling eyes so that you can see the whites
  • Dogs yawn when they are tired but they also yawn as a way to self soothe when stressed.

Main image: Photo by Baptist Standaert on Unsplash

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