Decoding Doggy Language
Dogs rely on nonverbal body language to communicate their emotions and intentions, which can lead to some unfortunate misunderstandings with humans. Dogs use a series of barks, whines, and growls that often have different meanings than we give them. However it’s not always clear what they are trying to say when in the dog-to-dog communication process(dog body language) or if there is another hidden meaning behind their actions like jumping up for attention (usually means excited) or licking someone’s face (can mean affectionate). So this week we will decode some of the common doggy signals!
Tail wagging is a sign of happiness right? Wrong! I mean not always.
Tail wagging is a difficult signal to interpret. All that can be inferred from it is emotional arousal, not happiness or displeasure with the situation at hand. A dog’s speed and direction of tail wag are more important in determining its emotions than whether their tail is going up or down as this could mean any number of things: frustration, disappointment, excitement; you name it!
When dogs are excited, they tend to wag their tails more rapidly. If the tail is a slow sweep with little movement from left to right it usually means that your dog is relaxed and happy. When you see fast twitch-like movements in either direction your pup may be feeling both anxious or angry!
The wag of a dog’s tail has been found to be an indicator for the mood and emotions they are feeling. A study showed that when dogs feel happy, their tails will usually start moving faster rightward in excitement while negative feelings or stress manifest as left-handed whirls around to show displeasure.
If you get to know your dog’s neutral tail position, you will more quickly recognize when their emotions have shifted.
While many people think that a dog’s hackles are raised when they’re angry, this is not always the case. A more accurate definition of “hackle” is simply another word for “hair” or “fur.” In fact, dogs can have their fur stand on end in response to various emotions such as excitement and fear.
The posture of a dog can tell you everything about their mood and what they are trying to say. For instance, when a cowering dog is hunched towards the ground that often shows fear or stress from something nearby. The more extreme version of this position may be rolling onto one’s back exposing one’s belly which in turn says “I mean no harm.”
The opposite of this posture is a dog with his weight forward. This simply indicates that the dog is really interested in something. But it might also mean malicious intent: chewing, barking at other dogs on the street and so on!
The easiest to ready gesture is the play bow, where the dog bows his head. This indicates that the dog wants to initiate play with other dogs and even humans.
Another common signal is a paw raise, while in the wild it usually means pointing at a prey, at your home it might mean your dog feels a little insecure and is looking at you for guidance(dog body language).
Dogs have a common face shape as humans (eyes, nose, lips, etc), but they don’t behave the same. Consider yawning; people do it when tired or bored while dogs usually yawn when they are stressed out. As per Turid Rugaas, author of On Talking Terms with Dogs, says that dogs yawn to calm themselves or even their owners. As an experiment, yawn for you dog on your next vet visit and see if he yawns back!