If you chat to any dog owner, they’ll more than likely tell you that they spend hours talking to their dog… and they’re more than likely to swear that their dog actually understands what they’re saying.
Of course, there are differences in how people and pups communicate and, while we primarily turn to verbal communication to get our points across, dogs usually go for the non-verbal option and use body language first, vocalisations second.
Body language can encompass the use of their tail carriage and how they move it around (wagging, tucking between their legs, sticking straight up to signal alarm etc), as well as the position and movement of their body, the position of their eyes and ears, and their facial expressions.
By getting to know dog body language and improving your ability to recognise it, you’ll be able to work out far more effectively just what your pooch is trying to tell you.
What’s most important when trying to read your dog is that you need to take into account their entire body, not just their tail.
The tail is perhaps what you would look to first in order to get the message, but just because their tail is moving doesn’t mean they’re happy. Take a look at what their ears are doing, if they’re in a crouching position, if their body is stiff… even if their tail is wagging to some extent, other signs may indicate that all is not well.
Getting to know the different types of communication can really help you protect yourself and your dog.
A relaxed dog, for example, will often have a slightly open and relaxed mouth, with head and ears in neutral, their eyes soft and their body loose. But a dog displaying aggressive signals may be stiff in the body, with wide eyes, curled lips and a wrinkled nose, with their teeth on show.
If you’d like to find out more about dog communication or need some help with dog training in South London, get in touch with Sean Hyden today to see how he can help.