Basic Training

Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

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The key to better understanding your pooch, successfully assessing his attitude, and accurately predicting his next move relies on knowing how to read his unique body language. Because animals are basically non-verbal, their physical response and facial expressions do the talking for them. As soon as you learn the basics of your pooch’s language, try observing your pet as he interacts with people and other animals in various situations.

By understanding your dog’s body language, you can help protect him and yourself from dangerous situations, and at the same time aid in training him to be a well-mannered pet.

Spotting What He Feels

1. Confident. Confident dogs tend to stand straight, tall, and their head held high. Their ears perk up and their eyes are bright. Though his mouth may be a bit open, it is nonetheless, relaxed. His tail may curl loosely, sway gently, or simply hang in a calm position. He is friendly and non-threatening.

2. Happy. Happy dogs commonly show similar signs as confident dogs. Only, they will often wag their tails, and occasionally hold their mouth more open. Some will pant mildly. They appear friendly and content with no marks of anxiety.

3. Playful. Playful dogs are happy and easily excited. Their eyes are bright, ears are up, and their tail rapidly wags. In fact, they are likely to jump and run around the house with glee. They may show the play bow where their front legs stretch forward, head straight ahead, and their rear end in the air; probably wiggling.

4. Submissive. Submissive dogs tend to hold their head down, carry their ears flat, and they usually avert their eyes. Their tail is low and may slightly sway, but not tucked. They may roll onto their back and expose their belly. They also like nuzzling or licking the person or other dog to further show their passive intent. Some will sniff the ground and display a meek and gentle disposition.

5. Dominant. Dominant dogs usually assert themselves over people or other dogs. They stand tall and confident; leaning slightly forward. Their eyes are wide and make direct eye contact with people or other dogs. Their ears are held up and alert. They may growl lowly; appearing less friendly and possibly threatening.

6. Aggressive. Aggressive dogs commonly plant their feet firmly on the ground in a territorial manner with the tendency to lunge forward. Their ears pin back, head set straight ahead, and eyes narrowed and piercing. Their tail is held straight up high, and may sometimes be wagging. They bare their teeth, snap their jaw, and growl or bark threateningly.

7. Anxious. Anxious dogs normally act quite submissive, but may often hold their ears partially back with their neck stretched out. They stand in tense posture and sometimes shudder. They commonly whimper, yawn, moan, or lick their lips. Their tail is low and perhaps tucked. These dogs tend to overreact to any stimulus and may become fearful, or worse, aggressive.

8. Fearful. Fearful dogs tend to show a combination of submissive and anxious attitudes, though with more intense signals. They stand nervous, and are very low to the ground. Their ears are held flat back and their eyes are narrowed as well as averted. Their tail is usually placed between their trembling legs. These dogs often whine, growl, or even bare their teeth defensively.

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    My hound has all of the above, except the last one. She also gives a la la la sound in her throat – I don’t know if this is a happy or scared sound.

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