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What Is Your Canine Telling You With His Body Language?

By Jim Leasure

Dogs use body language to communicate with each other and those around them. Sometimes, they do so to put another animal at ease and show that they’re no threat. Other times, they use their body, eyes, and ears to warn others away. Owners can strengthen the bond they share with their canines by learning to identify what their pets are “saying” with their bodies.

Below, we’ll offer some insight into the different ways your dog communicates his feelings and intentions using body language. Once you familiarize yourself with these signals, you’ll discover he uses his body more often than his voice.

Signs Of Aggression

Canines can become aggressive for many reasons. This goes beyond barking to warn someone away from the home they’re guarding. If your pooch becomes aggressive, you’ll see his ears move back and his tail jut outward. His head will be pointed straight ahead in the direction of the animal or person on whom his aggression is focused. His eyes will stare as if to challenge the other animal or person. His body will tense and you may see his hackles appear.

If your dog displays any of these signals on a regular basis, find a professional trainer who has experience working with aggressive canines.

Signs Of Happiness And Playfulness

If your pooch is happy and feeling playful, his ears will stand erect or slightly forward. His eyes will be full and his mouth will be open, though his teeth will remain hidden. He may pant excitedly in anticipation of playing with you.

When dogs want to play, they often bow forward and stick their rear in the air. This may be accompanied by jumping and running around as your pooch tries to get others to play with him. In this state, he may bark or growl; both are meant to express his excitement.

Signs Of Submission

When your canine behaves submissively, he’ll squint his eyes and flatten his ears against his head. You may also see his teeth showing, but it is not meant as a warning or sign of aggression. Instead, it appears as a subtle smile. His tail will be pointed downward, though not necessarily between his legs.

Canines will also show submission by rolling over and revealing their stomach to the other animal or person. This is meant to communicate peaceful intent. That is, they mean no harm and intend no threat.

Signs Of Dominance

Canines express dominance by opening their eyes wide, erecting their ears, and standing straight. You may also see your dog stare at the other animal or person. This is a challenge, but only in the context of asserting dominance, as opposed to aggression where a fight may be the sole incentive.

If your dog comes upon another pet that submits, the confrontation ends. If, however, the other pet also tries to assert dominance, a fight may follow unless one animal concedes.

Signs Of Fear Or Anxiety

Canine anxiety manifests through signals that partly imply submission. For example, you might notice your dog lowering his body and tail as if to put another animal at ease. His eyes will narrow and his ears will move back. He may also open his mouth and show his teeth in a non-threatening manner.

Even though dogs in this state seem submissive, their fear or anxiety makes them tightly-wound. Their reactions to the world around them are heightened beyond their normal behavior. This makes them potentially dangerous. For example, if you were to reach toward your dog when he is anxious, he may snap and bark. The best solution is to remove the element causing his anxiety.

Dogs communicate with their body language more than they do through barking. If you learn to recognize what your pooch is trying to tell you, he’ll be a happier and more pleasant companion.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Leasure, Jim "What Is Your Canine Telling You With His Body Language?." What Is Your Canine Telling You With His Body Language?. 21 Jun. 2010. uberarticles.com. 4 Aug 2014 <http://uberarticles.com/pets/dog/what-is-your-canine-telling-you-with-his-body-language/>.

APA Style Citation:
Leasure, J (2010, June 21). What Is Your Canine Telling You With His Body Language?. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from http://uberarticles.com/pets/dog/what-is-your-canine-telling-you-with-his-body-language/

Chicago Style Citation:
Leasure, Jim "What Is Your Canine Telling You With His Body Language?" uberarticles.com. http://uberarticles.com/pets/dog/what-is-your-canine-telling-you-with-his-body-language/


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