Ever since we started to domesticate dogs and breed them as either a companion or for work. We learned a lot from them. Especially on how they communicate or what they are trying to say to us. Reading your dog based on their actions is more akin to learning another language. It calls for the understanding and acknowledgment of their actions. Like the wagging of their tail, or their whines and whimpers, to really know what they want to say.
Decoding and unraveling what they really want to say may sometimes puzzle us. And it takes a lot of practice and understanding to totally get what they mean. I mean, who doesn’t want to effectively communicate with their adorable companions?
Some may say that our furry companions can read our thoughts. That’s why they are always there when we feel down or is also happy if we feel joyful. But do we really know what they feel or what they are trying to say to us?
Their Body Language
Aside from the occasional vocal cues like barking, whining, growling or whimpering. Our dog’s common mean of communication is usually through their body language, which is aimed to use for dog-to-dog communication. These body languages may include how they position. Or how they wag their tails, their eye and ear position, facial expressions, and body positioning including their movement. It doesn’t mean that we need to look specifically for their eyes, ears or tail to know what they want to say. But we need to observe in their entire body in order to know what they really mean.
Their communication can be divided into 5 categories:
- Relaxed Communication – They show this action especially if they are carefree and calm.
- Anxious Communication – can be seen if they are distressed or uneasy.
- Fearful Communication – body language they use if they feel frightened or afraid.
- Arousal Communication – especially if they feel in heat, or is very happy and excited.
- Aggressive Communication – manifest if they feel threatened or if they feel uncomfortable, usually used as a warning before a bite.
Knowing these 5 categories will make one effectively read their dog’s feelings and mood, leading to better owner-to-pet communication.
Hey Buddy, I’m Talking To You!
It is said that dogs can easily read our thoughts and mood by just simply looking at their gestures and actions, that it seems like they can read our minds. In return, we also need to do the same to them. Here are common ways we can know what they want to say:
- Tail motion – usually associated with pleasure, happiness, or playfulness, especially when we give food to them or call their attention. Tucking their tail between their legs means that they are submissive and won’t pose a threat. A stiff wagging of their tails might be a sign of aggression or anxiety.
- Ear motion – if your dog’s ear points upward, it usually means that they are alert or is curious about something, and usually, they point their ears to objects that caught their attention. A gently pulled-back ear (usually accompanied by wagging their tails) means that they are friendly towards the person, and if the ear is flattened and slightly pointed at the sides, it means that they are being fearful and submissive.
- Facial expressions – an open mouth with a light panting means that the dog is attentive or relaxed. If they don’t look at you directly in the eyes, that means that they are just being polite, and dogs baring their teeth, together with a defensive stance and growling, means that they feel threatened and shows aggression.
- Barking – a singular bark usually means that they are calling your attention. Howling means that they feel lonely and is longing for you, especially if you leave them for a long time. High-pitched barks mean excitement and whining means either they are in pain or is asking for something, especially the one you are eating.
With these specific actions, together with their body movement, will give you a clear picture of what they feel and what they think, and also will give you a better idea of what they want.
Dealing with Your Dog’s Behavior
The most effective way of dealing with pretty much all your dog’s negative behavior is to discipline them and train them early on. Common negative dog behavior such as excessive chewing, barking, biting and digging can be remedied by having the time to play with your dog and giving him enough attention that he needs. Also, when it comes in training your dog, it is important to reward him for a job well done. In this way, they are encouraged to obey your commands while expecting to receive a treat after obeying your command.
Patience is also important in training your dog how to properly behave. Don’t expect that your dog will learn this overnight, since it takes a long time and constant practice for your dog to effectively perform your commands, turning it into a routine than a task with a reward in the end.
Communication is a two-way process that involves you understanding your dog’s behavior and your dog comprehending your commands. There is a reason why they do those behaviors, and it is up to us humans to read and understand the actions they show. Understanding your dog’s actions is also the best way of addressing their behavioral problems. In this way, we can easily understand what they mean, so the next time our dog barks or shows a common body language, we will immediately know what they want to say.