Home Behavior Body Language

Body Language

Canine Body Language Danger Signs

Dogs almost always give clear signals – though the signs may be subtle – before they bite. A bite without warning" is truly a rare occurrence. Most of the time the human just wasn't listening

Listening to Your Dog’s Body Signals

The dog training world has become exponentially more aware of the significance of dog body language communication over the past two decades. We know how critically important it is in keeping dogs and people safe, and in building relationships of mutual trust and respect that result in lifelong bonds between canines and their humans. And yet we still see training and behavior professionals as well as regular dog owners who utterly fail to understand what their dogs are desperately trying to say to them.

It’s All in Your Dog’s Eyes

Teaching our dogs to look at us is important for training; if we have their attention, we can get them to work with us. If we can keep their attention, we can keep them working with us even in the face of distractions. These things are big accomplishments, but the value of teaching eye contact is even bigger!

Eye Contact in Dog Training

It's really not natural for dogs to offer direct and prolonged eye contact. In the dog world, direct eye contact is a threat, and the appropriate response to a direct stare is to look away as a deference or appeasement behavior (I'm not challenging you/please don't hurt me!"). In many human cultures

How Dogs Interpret Your Body Language

People who work successfully with dogs either have good instincts about how to interact with them, or they learn quickly. There is a real art to using body language to help a dog feel at ease with your presence. The most competent professionals make training look almost effortless, because all the messages they convey to their canine pupils are calm, clear, and consistent – and that means both the cues and rewards they use consciously, and the posture and movements they use without thinking.

Your Dog’s Facial Expressions

There is great value in having a solid understanding of canine facial expressions and their accompanying body language and behavior. The following are some of the more common canine communications offered by those very expressive furry faces. Keep in mind, though, that when drawing conclusions about a dog's facial expressions, it's important to factor in the rest of the body language in order to get the whole message.

Determining the Cause of Your Dog’s Panting

I’m awakened by the exhalation of my Border Collie’s warm breath on my face: heh-heh-heh. I slowly open one eye and focus on the nose just inches from my own. I may be anthropomorphizing, but I suspect he’s grinning. There it is again – a breathy heh-heh-heh. Wait a minute! Is he just panting or is he laughing at me? Given the way dogs are designed, panting is a very normal bodily function. Dogs don’t have sweat glands throughout their body to expel heat like humans do.

The Meanings Behind Different Dog Noises

Canine vocal communications can be classified as barks, growls, howls, whines, and whimpers. Within those classifications, the sounds can have varying meanings. Your dog's voice must be taken in context with the rest of his behavior and body language for you to truly understand what he's saying to you.

Guide to Reading Canine Body Language

Despite conventional wisdom, a wagging tail doesn't always mean a happy dog. The following abridged Canine/English dictionary will help you become a skilled translator. Remember that breed characteristics can complicate the message; the relaxed ears and tail of an Akita (prick-eared, tail curled over the back) look very different from the relaxed ears and tail of a Golden Retriever (drop-eared; long, low tail). Also note that if body language vacillates back and forth it can indicate ambivalence or conflict, which may precede a choice toward aggression.

Guide to Stress Signals in Dogs

Stress causes the appetite to shut down. A dog who won't eat moderate to high-value treats may just be distracted or simply not hungry, but refusal to eat is a common indicator of stress. Appeasement and deference aren't always an indicator of stress. They are important everyday communication tools for keeping peace in social hierarchies, and are often presented in calm, stress-free interactions. They are offered in a social interaction to promote the tranquility of the group and the safety of the group's members.

Latest Blog

What Happened to Odin’s Eye?

After months of weighing all options, I have finally agreed to have Odin's compromised eye removed. He is healing quiet nicely from the surgery, and seems to be enjoying not having to take medicine 12 times a day.