The Body Language of Dogs

Body Language of Dogs
  • 2 June 2017
  • Pet Wants

Even though dogs can’t speak in English or any other spoken language that humans understand, they do have a lot to say. And once you understand how dogs communicate, you can understand a lot of what they’re saying. The key to gaining this understanding is being able to interpret dogs’ body language. Whether it’s the facial expression they make or a certain posture they strike with their body, knowing what to look for and then what it means will allow you to enjoy an even deeper bond with your dog. While it would be easy to fill a book with all the different things dogs may communicate through body language, we want to highlight a few of the most common examples you’re likely to see in your pet:

Relaxed and Approachable vs. On Alert

A good way to start understanding how dogs communicate through body language is to compare two different scenarios. The scenarios we’re going to compare is when a dog is relaxed and approachable versus being on alert. For the former, ears will be up but not forward. A relaxed dog will hold its head high, have a slightly open mouth, relaxed tail that’s down and a loose stance. If a dog is on alert, its ears will be forward and eyes wide. A dog feeling this way will close its mouth, stand slightly forward and hold its tail horizontal. You may notice your dog slightly moving its tail from side to side when on alert.

Two Kinds of Aggression

When most of us think of a person or animal being aggressive, we put it all in one category. But for dogs, aggression can take two very different forms. The first form is when a dog is being dominant. Body language signs that accompany this form of aggression include a tail that’s both raised and bristled, ears pushed forward, wrinkled forehead and nose, curled lips, visible teeth and a stiff stance. On the other hand, a dog that’s exhibiting aggression due to being fearful will pull its ears back. While some of the facial expressions may match dominant aggression, the two key signs of the second type of aggression are a tucked tail and lowered body.

Stress or Worry

If your dog is happy because you’re playing with it or just provided a delicious dog treat or food, you’ll likely see a raised tail that’s broadly waving. But if you ever notice your dog’s tail go down all the way, chances are it’s a sign of stress or worry. A lowered body position and ears being held back are other signs that you should take a minute to figure out what’s bothering your dog. By knowing these and the other body language cues we covered above, you’ll always be aware of the best way to interact with your dog in a specific situation.

For more information about your pets or to try one of our formulas, please contact Pet Wants Henderson at: (702) 260-1011.