Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

Over the centuries wolves evolved an elaborate system of body language, facial expressions, and vocalizations to communicate with each other. Domestic dogs also use this means of communication, and all of these signals are easily understood by other dogs. If you can learn to interpret how your dog is feeling by observing its posture and expression and listening to it, you’ll be well on the way to successful communication with your pet and better equipped to solve any behavior problems that arise.Following are some major canine attitudes and their typical outward manifestations.
AGGRESSIVE
dog Ears Forward or back, close to head.
Eyes Narrow or staring challengingly.
Mouth/
Teeth
Lips open, drawn back to expose teeth bared in a snarl. Possible jaw snapping.
Body Tense. Upright. Hackles on neck up. Completely Dominant position.
Tail Straight out from body. Fluffed up.
Vocali-
zation
Snarl. Growl. Loud bark.
ALERT
dog Ears Perked-up. Turning to catch sounds.
Eyes Open normally or wide.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth closed or slightly open with teeth covered.
Body Normal. Possibly standing on tiptoe. Slightly Dominant position.
Tail Up. Possibly wagging.
Vocali-
zation
None. Low whine or alarm bark.
ANXIOUS
dog Ears Partially back.
Eyes Slightly narrowed.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth closed, or slightly open in a “grin.”
Body Tense. Slightly lowered in a Submissive position.
Tail Partially lowered.
Vocali-
zation
Low whine or moaning-type bark.
CHASE, BEGINNING STAGE
dog Ears Perked-up, forward-pointing.
Eyes Wide open. Very alert.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth slightly open. Excited panting.
Body Tense. Crouched low in a predatory position. Legs bent, poised to run.
Tail Extended straight out from body.
Vocali-
zation
None.
CURIOUS/EAGER/EXCITED
dog Ears Perked-up, forward-pointing.
Eyes Wide open.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth open, teeth covered. Possible panting.
Body Normal stance. Possible wiggling, standing on tiptoe, or pacing.
Tail Up. Wagging.
Vocali-
zation
Excited short barking, whining.
DOMINANT
dog Ears Up straight or forward.
Eyes Wide open, staring.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth closed or slightly open.
Body Very tall posture. Hackles may be up.
Tail Stiffened and fluffed. Up or straight out from body.
Vocali-
zation
Low, assertive growl or grunt.
FEARFUL
dog Ears Laid back flat and low on head.
Eyes Narrowed, averted. Possibly rolled back in head, whites showing.
Mouth/
Teeth
Lips drawn back to expose teeth.
Body Tense. Crouched low in submissive position. Shivering, trembling. Possible secretion from anal scent glands.
Tail Down between legs.
Vocali-
zation
Low, worried yelp, whine, or growl.
FLIGHT, BEGINNING STAGE
dog Ears Back.
Eyes Wide open. Possibly rolled back with whites showing.
Mouth/
Teeth
Slightly opened mouth. Possible drooling.
Body Tense. Shivering. Low, poised to run.
Tail Low or between legs.
Vocali-
zation
None. Possible yelp or whine.
FRIENDLY
dog Ears Perked-up.
Eyes Wide open. Alert look.
Mouth/
Teeth
Relaxed, possibly slightly open, “smiling” mouth.
Body Normal posture. Still, or possible wiggling of whole rear end.
Tail Up or out from body. Wagging.
Vocali-
zation
Whimpering, yapping, or short, high bark.
GUARDING
dog Ears Perked-up. Forward.
Eyes Wide open, alert.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth slightly open, teeth bared. Snapping or gnashing of teeth.
Body Tense. Rigid. Hackles up. Standing very tall in an aggressive or dominant stance.
Tail Rigid. Held straight out from body. Sometimes fluffed.
Vocali-
zation
Loud alert bark. Growl. Snarl.
PLAYFUL/HAPPY
dog Ears Perked-up and forward, or relaxed.
Eyes Wide open. Sparkly/merry-looking.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth relaxed and slightly open, teeth covered. Excited panting.
Body Relaxed, or front end lowered, rear end up in the air, wiggling in a play-bow. Excited bouncing and jumping up and down. Circling around and running forward and back in an invitation to play.
Tail Wagging vigorously.
Vocali-
zation
Excited barking. Soft play-growling.
PREDATORY
dog Ears Alert. Held forward or backward to catch sounds.
Eyes Wide open. Staring, focusing.
Mouth/
Teeth
Mouth closed.
Body Rigid. Low to ground, ready to spring forward. Quietly sniffing the air.
Tail Straight and low.
Vocali-
zation
None (so the prey won’t be alerted).
SUBORDINATE (SUBMISSIVE)
dog Ears Down, flattened against head.
Eyes Narrowed to slits or wide open, whites showing.
Mouth/
Teeth
Lips pulled way back from teeth in a “grin”. Nuzzling or licking other animal or person on face.
Body Lowered to ground, front paw raised. Lying on back, belly up. Possible urine leaking/dribbling. Possible emptying of anal scent glands.
Tail Down, between legs.
Vocali-
zation
None, or low, worried whining. Possible yelping/whimpering in fear.
By | 2016-11-30T04:03:23+00:00 December 17th, 2011|DOG STUFF|Comments Off on Reading Your Dog’s Body Language

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