Thursday, November 17, 2011

Dog Language is Easier Than You Think

If you can read a persons feelings or attitude through body language you can certainly learn about dog body language.  The main reason for this is -- dogs are not deceptive.  They will readily show you how they are through their body language.  Body Language for dogs is very natural and  they use it almost exclusively for communication.

And when you start to learn more about of the cues that dogs give, it would be to your benefit to go to a dog park without your dogs just to sit and observe the dogs as they interact with one another.  You will find that they have a lot to reveal. Have fun with it!

I will use this picture below as an example.  Now, seeing a still picture does not show as much as live action, but it gives you a chance to actually see what I am talking about.

I would consider this dog as potentially aggressive.

When trying to interpret canine body language it is important to look at as much of the information as possible.  What I mean by this, is you have to look at the whole picture to get a good idea of what this dog is saying.  You have to look at the Eyes, Ears, Mouth, Tail and Body Posture. 

The eyes are generally categorized as either 'hard' or 'soft' eyes.  You know a hard stare when you see one. They are the eyes that are staring right through you. This is a very intense stare and the dog will not break eye contact despite other distractions.  Soft eyes are just that, soft.  There will be blinking or looking away after a few seconds of eye contact.  

Ears are sometimes a bit more difficult to interpret because of the different kinds of ear structure; erect, or droopy, or cropped.  With that in mind, try to look at the actual position of the ears; whether they are forward and alert, in the middle and relaxed, back and pinned to the head. These different positions of the ears can give you an indication of the dogs intentions.

Mouth - there are many different nuances of the dogs mouth that can be misinterpreted. A dog with a closed mouth can indicate that the dog is listening to what is going on around him.  A dog with an open mouth, panting and tongue lolling to one side indicates relaxation.  An open mouth with the tongue not outside of the mouth can indicate tension/ anxiety.

A dog's tail position can speak volumes.  Generally speaking, a tail that is held erect and curled over the back says that the dog is in a dominant posture.  This is especially true if the tail is not wagging or is stiff, short wave back and forth.  A tail held at or below the level of the spine indicates the dog is comfortable.  A tail held tucked close or between the legs tells me the dog is frightened, anxious, or intimidated.

Body Posture - there are 3 main body postures.  Standing - in looking at the stance of a dog you must look at where the majority of their weight is placed on the legs.  If the weight is set on the front legs or the appears to be leaning forward this is something to be wary of.  If the dog has much of its weight toward the rear he is looking for a possible retreat and non-threatening.  Sitting - a sitting dog is rarely a threat; it is difficult for the dog to launch an attack in this posture. This posture gives an indication of' relaxed', especially if  the dog is sitting on one side or another in a leaning fashion. Laying - If a dog is lying down on its side it is also unlikely to attack or act aggressively. Though lying down in a more alert position can indicate otherwise.

Again I must reiterate that it is very important that you look at the whole picture when trying to interpret dog body language.  Those things listed above should not be taken individually assess a dogs temperament. I will describe what I see in the dog pictured above:

The dog is leaning forward, tail is held erect and curled over the body, the ears are held forward, the eyes are intent and the mouth is closed.  All of this taken as a whole tells me that this dog has a high potential for aggressiveness. I will explain:  The eyes are hard and intent on a target.  The ears are erect and listening intently, the mouth is closed allowing that dog to concentrate and better hear things, his tail is high above the body and curled over the back and the body posture is leaning forward; clearly indicating a dominant stance. 

I hope you found this information useful.  Please remember, this is not a complete tutorial into interpreting dog body language.  This is meant to give you a starting point in recognizing what dogs can tell you without saying a word.  Enjoy what you have learned and stop back for more posts on the subject.

No comments:

Post a Comment