Monday, August 4, 2014

What is Your Dog Trying to Tell You? Decoding Dog Body Language

Many dog owners claim that their dogs talk to them, and in a way this is true. Like humans, dogs have their own ways of communicating without words – and it can become easier to attend to your pooch’s needs if you understand what to look for. Medi-Vet is here to clear up the confusion with a list of the top signs your dog may be trying to express fear, hunger, happiness, and more.

Body Language
dog communication and body language

It's pretty easy to tell when your dog wants attention. He may approach you and crouch with his wagging or stand and stare at you with his ears up and his face relaxed, waiting for you to lavish him with love. If he suddenly stops when you're playing and pricks his ears up, turning his attention away, chances are he's sensed something that you can't and is more interested in that than in you.

When your dog is scared, you'll see him flatten his ears and either lower or tuck his tail. Some dogs will cower when they're feeling uneasy. These may also be signs of submissiveness to humans or other dogs.
Aggressive dogs hold their tails high and stiff while standing upright. Their ears often prick forward as they stare intently at whatever provoked their response.

Facial Expressions

dog facial expressions and communication
Some dogs are more expressive than others, but they all have certain "looks" they use to convey moods. The next time your dog looks at you, pay attention to his facial features. If his eyes are relaxed and his lips are pulled back slightly in a doggy "smile," you'd better go grab a toy—he's looking to play! However, a tense dog whose lips are pulled up to expose his teeth is feeling aggressive and shouldn't be provoked. Submissive dogs may squint, lower their heads, and show only their top teeth. A closed mouth or excessive yawning indicates that your dog is nervous or upset about something and may need reassurance.

Vocal Communication

Dogs make a variety of sounds to "talk" to other dogs, react to situations, or tell humans that something is up.

  • Loud or excessive barking at mid-range is used to defend territory or communicate potential danger. Pauses between rounds of barking may indicate that your dog is unsure about what type of threat he senses.
  • Incessant barking that includes howling or has long pauses in between is often a plea for attention.
  • Howling is used to locate and communicate with other dogs or to try to call you back when you're leaving. 
    dog barks, whines, and communication
  • High-pitched barking usually indicates excitement. A short bark at high pitch may mean that your dog is confused. 
  • Low-pitched barking, snarling and growling are all signs of aggression. 
  • Short low-pitched barks mean "stop doing that!" 
  • Dogs that grunt, mutter or "ruff" are looking for attention or want to play. 
  •  A dog that is frustrated or annoyed may whine to indicate his feelings. 
  • Whimpering and yelping may be signs that your dog is in pain or is afraid.

Learning to interpret Fido's body language and barking gives you a better sense of his needs. When you understand the signals he's sending you, you'll be able to respond appropriately and build a stronger relationship with your furry friend. You’ll both be happier for it!