A dog, like the cliched saying goes, can never have a better friend than you. They are very loyal animals and fit in perfectly with our way of life. Once you get a dog you are probably going to develop a strong attachment to it and even start seeing it as a person or a member of the family. Through this line of thinking is where undesirable behavior originates from unfortunately. We often forget that dogs are, at their core, animals, furry and docile at times but still animals. Sometimes dog owners get confused by this and cause all sorts of trouble, mainly because they do not understand canine body language.
While you cannot really be fluent in it, you can try to look out for some signs your dog may give you. One of the most important of them is what happenes with his tail. One cliche is that a wagging tail means “happy”, but that is not always the case. If you pay attention to the general posture of the dog and the context of the dog’s actions, it can be a sign of aggression or anxiousness. Confidence can also be related to the tail, a stiff and still tail along with a “strong” posture may connotate confidence, inquiry or by context aggression as well.
A dog’s ears and head are also a way to tell what kind of signal he is trying to pass on. Loose and relaxed ears signal, unsurprisingly, a relaxed and at ease demeanor. On the other hand perked and fidgety ears can be signs of sudden alarm, attention and curiousness. Sometimes taught and tense ears can be of aggression and confrontation. Ears that are flat against the dog’s head while he is bowing is usually a sign of submission to it’s owner when yelled at or reprimanded. (A warning here, submission doesn’t mean the dog knows what it did when you reprimanded him. Just because you yelled at him to get down off of the couch and he “submits” to you doesn’t mean he knows sitting on the couch is bad; it means he merely knows that you are angry at him).
The other important aspect of a dog’s body language that most people ignore is it’s body and it’s posture. A “loose” but confident and upright looking position of a dog usually is a sign of content and happiness. In contrast, bent and lowered legs with a “cat like” posture is usually a sign of fear or submission as well.
Being familiar with these “signs” is a good way to build a strong friendship with your canine pal. Make sure to properly discipline him but never to physically hurt or threaten him or his personal space. Knowing your dog’s body language and behaviour is the first step to having a healthy bond with your pet.