One of our biggest responsibilities as dog owners is to understand our dog’s body language. Unlike humans, dogs can’t simply TELL us how they’re feeling so they essentially learn to SHOW us instead. If we don't take the time to learn how to listen to their way of communicating their needs, we'll never understand them. So let's get into it!
A good example of understand body language: A dog showing teeth or growling is often brushed off as a reactive & aggressive dog, but there's often more to it. Showing teeth & growling is a final step of communicating discomfort for dogs. This behaviour being displayed usually indicates that one of their earlier communications of discomfort have been missed or ignored, so they escalate to the next step of communication. But if we didn't miss the earlier signs, it never would've escalated to showing teeth or growling. Make sense?
It's important that we build a strong bond with our dog's and get to know their body language to understand their threshold tolerance. This helps us to advocate for them, their comfort & their safety.
Start by analysing your dog in different situations. Do you notice any of the signs listed below?
Identifying uncomfortable/stressed signs & changing the situation accordingly is crucial to avoiding an escalation to aggressive signs. Ideally, we want happy signs as often as possible.
Happy Body Language - Soft and loose posture, engaged in their environment, wiggly bum with tail wags.
Uncomfortable/Stressed Body Language – licking their lips, stiff posture, ears pinned back, low or tucked tail, avoiding eye contact, moves away, whale-eye, shaking off, panting, scratching, or yawning.
Aggressive Body Language – Rigid and tense body tilting forward in a ‘’ready’’ stance, wide-eyed, focused on trigger, raised hackles (fur), high tail, ears at high point and curled lip.
If ever in doubt, we're only a message away!