Interpret your dog’s body language. First of all the body parts of the dog are not all equally important. The head, between ears, forehead, snout and mouth, transmits many signals. Other important signs come from the tail, general posture, hair and legs.
Meaning of tail movement
It’s the part of the body where people look more at understanding dogs. But queues don’t always give an easy-to-read message. There may be several causes of tail movement: Cheerful and playful attitude, excitement, state of tension: fear or threatening attitude, confidence or insecurity, and fear.
Although people tend to associate a moving queue with a cheerful and sociable dog, this is only true in some cases. For example, if the tail movements are relaxed, side-by-side, and/or accompanied by hip movements and other bodily signals that suggest a cheerful and playful attitude.
Otherwise a moving tail only indicates excitation (and the faster the movement the greater the excitation). But, it doesn’t specify what kind of excitement the dog has.
One help to find out is to look at the direction of movement. In pleasant situations it is usually more to the right of the dog and in the unpleasant ones to the left. But it’s also not easy to see it, so reading the rest of the tail and body signals will be helpful if the message is ambiguous.
Other signals with tail movement
The tail also sends messages thanks to its rigidity or relaxation, where rigidity, perhaps accompanied by the immobility of the tail, expresses a state of tension, either by fear or by a threatening attitude. In addition, a tail with an upward staff usually reflects confidence while carrying it low is associated with greater insecurity. Until reaching the end of the tail between the legs that is usually observed in very frightened dogs. But watch out! The natural position of the tail varies according to the morphology of the dog and we could confuse a dog with the tail naturally upwards by a confident dog.
How to interpret the position of your ears
Despite so many different shapes and sizes depending on the dog, there are some keys to understanding its message. In general, the ears back are associated with appeasement, fear, insecurity, or even defensive aggression. Instead, its forward scrolling is associated with an alert, interest, or confidence state.
To be able to detect your messages more easily, it is best to look at the base of the ears. Only then can we see their movements even in dogs with large ears and falls.
An open, relaxed mouth, often with a tongue hanging, usually indicates a relaxed dog. While a closed mouth can be in its natural position or be a sign of tension. You also have to look at the corners of the lips. When they are stretched backwards (practically until they reach eye height) they usually indicate fear or appeasement and, if the dog also shows the teeth suggest a defensive aggressiveness. In contrast, forward corners often indicate tension.
If, in this case, the dog purses the lips. Gets to show only the front teeth and although in this case we see “fewer teeth” than in the previous one, this signal indicates an aggressive offensive behavior.
The mouth can also emit another very common and easy-to-observe signal: the snout licking. This rapid tongue movement appears in situations where the dog is not comfortable. Interpret your dog’s body language
In a relaxed dog, the eyes are almond-shaped and almost no white part is appreciated. Instead, a tense dog might have more open and round eyes. It also counts a lot of the look. Dogs can show a fixed gaze in alert situations, when hunting or as a threat. Instead, an insecure dog tends to look away and, in case of fear. Even if he doesn’t take a look at what scares him, he might look at it sideways.
An upright posture suggests confidence while a lower one is associated with mistrust, fear, or appeasement. A dog, which in a social context, takes a low posture. Or even gets to put on his tummy up, usually inhibits aggression by other dogs.
Sometimes postural changes are more subtle and only involve small changes in body weight displacement. These changes usually indicate the availability of the dog to the interaction. So, if watching two dogs interact, one is thrown forward while the other shifts the weight backwards, deflects the gaze or turns away, we would understand that the second dog is avoiding interaction.
Other important signs
The legs also send their signals, for example, a slightly raised front leg of the ground is usually a sign of fear, appeasement or conflict.
Another important sign is the erection of the hair. Although it is common to observe it in frightened or near-attacking dogs, the pyloerection indicates arousal and even a dog playing can show it. The hair can be raised at shoulder height, at the base of the tail or on both parts. Although no investigation yet confirms this, the pyloerection at the base of the tail is believed to indicate confidence, in the feared shoulders and in both emotional conflicts.
Do all dogs communicate in the same way?
They all share the same principles, but they don’t communicate in exactly the same way. In some dogs, their same physical characteristics prevent them from obviously emitting some signals. For example, dogs with very long hair is difficult to see the pyloerection or in those with short tails signals of the tail are not easily detected. In addition, dogs that look more like wolves tend to have a more subtle and complete repertoire of expressions of dogs that have undergone more marked morphological changes in their selection process.
Interpret your dog’s body language.