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Pet Resources - Dog Behavior and Training

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Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

dogDogs communicate with actions. Eye movement, body gestures, ear positions, tail wagging and more all have meaning are indicative of canine attitudes. Once you tune into your dog’s attitudes, you’ll realize what he’s talking about and what he needs. Of course, each dog, like each human, has his own personality traits. Over time, you’ll no doubt come to learn these individual traits. But there are general moods and behaviors that you can expect from dogs.

Tail wagging is not always a sign of friendliness. Say your dog meets a strange dog off the leash. The other dog approaches with great interest, ears alert and tail wagging. But this dog is giving out signals that spell hostility. The wagging tail is stiff and held high. The eyes have a hard expression and stare into your dog’s eyes. The dog’s hackles are raised. The animal’s whole posture signifies aggression. Even without growling or showing his teeth, a dog behaving like this has a chip on his shoulder. You should remove your dog from the scene quietly and quickly.

A friendly or curious dog’s tail will be wagging in wide sweeps, hanging down. His ears are down and his fur is smooth along his shoulders and back. The dog will not attempt to look you or your dog in the eye. He will go through the typical sniffing pattern with your dog, first nose to nose, then the genitals. Offer this dog the back of your fist to smell, and then you can probably pet him if you wish.