Dogs are known to bark and give signals to their owners about what is happening around them in their environment, but have you ever wondered what exactly they are trying to tell you?
Dogs communicate with more than just a simple bark or a tail wag. In fact, they rely on a whole host of different body language signals to relay information to their owners and other dogs.
What different sounds mean?
Dogs, unlike humans, cannot speak in words. They use barking, panting, whining, and other sounds to express their needs and desires.
If you own a dog, then chances are you have heard your dog bark. Barking can mean many things. It’s your dog’s version of yelling.
Dogs use different pitched barks to mean different things, so you need to always pay attention to a dog’s barking.
Continuous rapid barking is often an alert. Something or someone is in their territory, and they want you to be aware. Loud, deep barks are warning strangers “Don’t come any closer, I don’t trust you” and it’s always best to listen and proceed cautiously. Yelping barks indicate that the dog is hurt or in pain and you should call for help immediately. Remember that injured dogs can be overly cautious and might see you as a threat, not a friend so be careful.
Dogs also use their body language to convey messages to their owners and other dogs. Their stance and whether they are trying to make themselves appear larger or small all give clues to their emotional state.
If you are worried about a dog becoming aggressive towards you, then look at the hair on the back of their neck. Just like a cat, if the hair is raised and stiff, then they are telling you that you need to keep your distance, as they may be nervous or angry.
This might not signal that they are angry or nervous about you, it could also mean that there is impending danger nearby as your dog’s sense of smell and hearing is more sensitive than yours.
By now, we are all quite sure about a dog with a wagging tail means happy or excited. However, your dog can signal other things with his or her tail too. If they have tucked between their legs, that’s a sign of fear and could mean they are nervous.
If their tail is high and erect this is a signal that they are paying remarkably close attention to something. It can also be a way of asserting their dominance by trying to appear larger.
The way your dog carries itself is important. If your dog is arching away from you, keeping low to the floor, they are being submissive to you or may be fearful.
If they are tightening the muscles, in an effort to appear bigger, then they are an alpha and it might be better to let them relax before approaching. If your dog is calm, they will appear relaxed in their stance, and if they are really comfortable, they might drop, belly to the sky, for pets.
Dogs will also nuzzle you to express their need for attention.
Calm and happy dogs have slightly open, relaxed snouts. Happy pooches might even lick their owners.
A closed mouth or clenched jaw is a nervous dog. If your dog is submissive, they will lick their lips and yawn, as it’s a physiological way to calm themselves down, but it should signal to you that they are under duress.
Ears and eyes
Ear position and eyes also give tell-tale signals about your dog’s moods. If their ears are down and lying flat it means they are being submissive, or ready for petting.
If the ears are back with teeth bared, that means there is a threat nearby. Ears pricked up straight means they are listening to something closely.
Your dogs’ eyes will appear normal shaped if they are calm, and appear larger if anxious.
Dogs don’t just convey things with barking, They use a lot of nonverbal body language cues to convey how they feel.