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Dog Body Language - Understanding Your Dog

Mar 27, 2008
Have you ever heard that in regular communication between people, body language accounts for nearly 25% of the meaning that people derive from the conversation. Well this is exactly the same in the dialog between a human and a dog, except more so. A dog can't talk and barking only has a limited use, so dog body language accounts for most of the meaning you will get from a conversation with your dog. Thus it is important to understand the finer points of dog body language to better understand your pet.

Once you have lived with your pet for a while his idiosyncrasies will be obvious but until them here are a few common signals in the meantime.

Let's start with the fun things first. A dog that has it's rear in the air and tail wagging is generally in a happy or playful mood. This will be accompanied by a prancing or jumping motion. The head will be lowered to the ground but the eyes will be focused on you or the object that is causing the dog to act playful. The mouth will be open in a smile.

Rolling over to expose the belly is generally a sign of submission to you or another dog. It is an acknowledgment of pack hierarchy. Other body language that indicates submission to the hierarchy is a wagging tail in a lowered position. It may also have the ears back and the eyes will be lowered to the ground.

A dog that is in a relaxed mood will have it's weight evenly spread on the four legs. The tail may wag sporadically at a half raised position in a lazy fashion. It head will be raised and the eyes focused on you.

The dog will look the same if it is suddenly alerted to something. However it my start to put more weight on the front feet, leaning forward. The hair around the joint between the tail and back may raise up. The head will point in the direction of the noise with eyes focused and ears pricked towards the source of attention.

Body language that indicates aggression is similar to an alerted behavior however there is one important distinction. The hackles are generally raised. the hackles are the fur between the should blades at the join between the torso and the neck. this will really be obvious as the hair stands erect. The eyes will stare intently at the subject of potential aggression to the extent that the whites around the cornea will be visible. the eyes will look wild or straining because of this.

Once you have seen these signals once or twice in your pet, you will understand what they mean. You will be able to modify your behavior or even the dogs if you feel that it is not appropriate. It can also help you understand what kind of behavior training your dog needs based on it's body language to you.
About the Author
Get a more details on dog body language and details of a great in home dog training course at doghealthncare.com.
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