Like humans, dogs, too, have a unique body language using which they express different emotions. As pet parents, it’s always advisable to understand how dogs express themselves via their body language as it helps you know your dog better. Dog body language includes a variety of unique actions that dogs use to communicate their intentions and emotions. Apart from verbal cues such as barks, growls, and whines, dogs express a lot via non-verbal body language.
Knowing what your dog is trying to communicate in each situation can prevent a lot of misunderstanding and help strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Let’s have a look at some of the most common non-verbal dog behavior and understand what exactly your pet is trying to communicate to you:
A Wagging Tail
Most of us associate a wagging tail with a happy dog. But is it always that a dog wags its tail out of happiness? Not really! A wagging tail signifies an emotionally aroused dog – it can mean excitement, frustration, or even happiness. It is essential to note the speed and direction of the tail wag to understand what exactly your dog is trying to communicate. The slow tail wag usually signifies a relaxed dog, whereas the faster tail wags indicate that your dog is conveying a negative emotion.
Different Positions of the Tail
A higher tail indicates an assertive dog. Dogs with upright tails are strong, confident, and aggressive. When your dog tucks its tail between its legs, it is scared, anxious, and emotionally distressed. Calm, relaxed dogs usually have their tails in a neutral position, but again, the state of relaxation is expressed by different dogs in different ways. As a pet parent, you need to observe the position of your dog’s tail to understand when their emotions have shifted.
Dogs have similar facial expressions as humans, but they need not necessarily mean the same. For example, we yawn when we’re bored, tired, or sleepy. But when a dog yawns, it’s because they are stressed. They yawn so that they can comfort themselves in stressful situations. Likewise, excessive licking or tongue flicks signify your dog is anxious and worried. And yes, the smile! Dogs bare their teeth either in aggression or as a sign of submission. So, you need to check their overall body language when they bare their teeth – if the smile accompanies a growl, it signifies aggression, and if your dog smiles with a relaxed posture, it’s always a friendly smile!
A dog hunching to the ground is stressed. They cower in fear to signify that they mean no harm. When a dog shifts its weight forward and tries to appear big, it shows aggressive behavior. When your dog raises its paw, it signifies that there’s prey nearby, or at times, it even indicates insecurity in your dog.
You need to be very observant to understand the way your dog communicates. This would also help you know how dogs in Fort Worth react in different situations. Once you’re aware of your dog’s body language, you can understand what they are comfortable with and what stresses them out. Do note that these are typical behavior patterns that may vary depending on the breed.