Decoding Dog Behavior: Reading Body Language
There is no shortage of ways your dog communicates with you each day. Since he or she doesn’t speak your language, your dog uses body language to communicate everything from excitement to fear, happiness and anxiety. As a responsible dog owner, it’s up to you to decipher what they’re trying to tell you to avoid an unwanted situation. Before reading on, ensure your best friend is protected with a Canine Liability insurance policy.
Understand tail wagging.
Even the most novice dog owner understands a dog communicates with their tail. However, a wagging tail doesn’t equate to happiness all the time. If your dog is wagging his tail and it is placed above his back, his body is tense, his ears are lowered and he’s baring teeth, he is uncomfortable and giving you every indication he wants out of the situation.
Conversely, a low tail wag and relaxed posture means that your dog is submissive and calm. If you see your dog’s tail wagging back and forth very quickly, like when you come home, he’s happy and excited to see you.
The key is to evaluate the entire body when it comes to decoding your dog’s behavior. Remember, one feature, such as a tail wag, doesn’t mean your dog is comfortable. If you don’t react appropriately, he could lash out.
Check their eyes.
There is a lot to be determined by your dog’s eyes. For example, a dog that will stare you down may be doing so because he wants you to know he’s the alpha dog and he’s in control. Eye size will also give you an important clue to what’s happening in your pooch’s head. If your dog’s eyes appear to be normal in size, then he’s in a relaxed state of mind. If the peepers appear to be smaller, it’s a good sign that he’s feeling fearful or intimidated. If a dog is feeling aggressive or stressed out, his eyes will appear larger. He may also give you a look that trainers call half-moon eye or whale eye, where he’ll display a healthy chunk of the sclera (that is, the white portion of the eye) in his stare, explains Here Pup.
Evaluate the rest of the body.
Apart from the tail, eyes and ears, a dog’s overall gait and posture provides insight into their moods. If he is strutting around with his head held high, he’s confident and assertive. If he’s sluggish or hiding behind you, he’s uncomfortable.
Remember that new situations can be overwhelming for dogs, and not every dog is meant to handle these flawlessly. If your dog isn’t keen on dog parks, or in big crowds, leave him at home. Respect his body language and listen to what he’s trying to convey to you. In the end, you’ll both be happier and prevent an unwanted behavior issue from occurring.
There are many reasons a dog may bite, and it’s not always 100% preventable. In addition to financially protecting dog owners from dog bite claims, our Canine Liability Policy also covers other injuries to people, including scratches and fall injuries caused by dogs and injuries to other animals. Please contact us today for more information at (407) 865-7477, ext. 101.