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Rules to Understand Canine Behavior

Communicating effectively with your dog is very important; after all they are known to be man’s best friend. Just like we communicate to convey certain things and have telltale signs that mean specific things, so do dogs.

Dogs have a language that is their way of communicating emotion, feeling, among other things. Although they do use sound to convey what to say, a lot of things about your pet’s mood wants and needs can be understood by their body language too.

Understanding what your pet’s saying will make sure you know when he’s spooked, scared, tired and even when he’s feeling aggressive. Dogs primarily communicate by smelling, seeing and lastly hearing. How often do you just watch your dog and try and analyze what he’s trying to communicate? Now’s the time! By looking at your dog’s gait, posture, bark, position you can understand what he’s feeling just in a glance.

Here are some basic rules to understand canine behavior:

1. When your dog assumes the following position you should know that he is relaxed. His/her ears will be up, but not forward, head high, tail down and relaxed, loose stance on the feet and tongue slightly lolling out. But, when his body is lowered, hackles raised, pupils dilated, nose wrinkled, lips curled, and his tail tucked with little or no movement you should immediately know that there is something or someone that your dog is fearful of and may attack. However, if he starts to lick the other dog or humans face and starts leaving sweaty paw prints and keeps maintaining brief eye contact, that means that your dog is truly fearful and that he wants to surrender or get out of that situation as soon as possible. Your pet is definitely in the mood to play when his tail is up, wagging, and when his front end is lowered by bent fore paws. This is the most common invitation that your pet wants to play. He will maintain that position for a split minute and will then break into a random run barking! Facing you with head and chest low and legs splayed out is also a sign of playfulness.

2. Dogs don’t like it when people, or other dogs for that matter stare into their eyes for elongated periods of time. When they turn their head away from you, effectively breaking the eye contact, you should know that it is warning sign that you should back off, as that’s the pet’s way of being polite and avoiding confrontation.

3. If your pet is continually standing off balanced, ready to dart away at a moments notice, that means that there is someone or something that constantly scares him. Try and figure out what that is.

4. Dogs that travel in a straight line indicating a proud and upright posture are more likely to be dominant, while dogs that walk in curved lines or playfully bound around are the ones who are more likely to be friendly and ready to play.

5. A grunt from a puppy or a dog is a sign of pleasure. It means that he/she is feeling warm, loved and affectionate.

6. Yawns are usually an indication of sleep, but in pets it can also be an indication of stress. With yawning the dog might be trying to displace stress that it’s feeling.

7. After relieving him/herself if your pet resorts to furiously pawing the ground and repeats that behavior he/she is primarily trying to establish dominance and mark his/her territory.

8. If your pet rolls over in front of you, it is more often than not out of trust and showing respect for authority. Reward him/her with a belly rub.

9. Pacing around in an open area can mean several different things, ranging from excitement, nervousness or even boredom.

10. When your pet freezes in the middle of an action it is because he/she is feeling unsure of him or is preparing himself for an attack of some kind because something has startled him or put him out of whack.

11. A tilted head signifies that he is either puzzled, listening or uncertain and wants more information.

These are some basic signs and rules that once you’re familiar with, will make communication much easier with your pet and your pet’s with you!



Hi, thanks for stopping by!

Pooja Advani

Pet Industry Expert, Canine Behaviourist, Consultation & Training

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