Understanding your Dog's Natural Languages


Understanding your Dog's Natural Languages

Before attempting to train dog commands you should first become familiar with your dog's own languages. Dogs use a variety of vocalization and body language communication methods including barking, howling, whimpering, whining, growling, and movement of ears, eyes, tail, head, mouth, eyebrows, and entire body. Individual vocalizations or body gestures may have a variety of meanings on the basis of context. For example a wag of the tail may indicate excitement, playfulness, anticipation, happiness, tentativeness, uncertainty, submission, or anxiety depending on the situation. The following are some of the common methods of communication:

Tail Movement
A highly held tail often indicates dominance or confidence, while a lowly held tail indicates submissiveness or insecurity. A bristled tail of ten means that the dog is prepared to defend itself or its position. Small slow wags indicate cautiousness while fast, large wags indicate happiness.

Ear Position
Erect ears indicate attentiveness while laid-back ears indicate fearfulness or negative emotions. Dogs with dropped ears such as Beagles have difficulty in communicating with other dogs in this manner.

Mouth Expressions
Yawning may indicate a variety of feelings including confusion, stress, sleepiness, or a desire to be left alone. Panting with relaxed lips and covered teeth indicates that the dog is happy or wishes to play. Snarling with retracted lips and exposed teeth indicates anger or aggressiveness. The body language should be kept in mind to determine the meaning of mouth gestures.

Eyes and Eyebrows
Eye and eyebrow movement often mimic human's movements in terms of communication. Wide eyes and high brows indicate astonishment or surprise while lowered brows indicate anger or confusion.

Feet and Legs
Stamping of feet indicates excitement or a desire for attention.

Barking
Barks are used to communicate a variety of moods and needs. For example high pitched, repetitive, and atonal barks indicate stress or anxiety. Short, sharp barks indicate that the dog is in a playful mood. Researchers suggest that dogs may have different barks for other animals.

Growling
Growls may indicate playfulness or aggression based on context and characteristics. Soft, low-pitched growls often indicate anger or aggressiveness. Intense growls with covered teeth may often indicate playfulness.

Whines and Whimpers
Whines and whimpers may indicate excitement, pain, or fear depending on the situation.

Howling
Howls are used as long-distance communication to warn other dogs, keep strangers away, respond to loud nois es or alarms, or locate other dogs.

Human Speech
Some dogs are trained to mimic human speech, especially the ones with wide heads and short muzzles.

It is important for an owner to understand his dog as it is for the dog to understand its owner. Listen to your dog to determine his needs and preferred methods of communication.



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