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Dog Fear, Anxiety & Agression Body Language Signs
The Ultimate Guide to Dog Body Language
What Is Your Dog Trying To Tell You?
How to React to Dog's Body Language?
How To Read Your Dog's Body Language?
What does a Dog's Body Language Mean?
How to Interpret Your Dog's Body Language
79 Canine Body Language Signals:
of Reconciliation & Threat
Dog's Body Language Guide with Pictures
Understand Dog Facial Expressions
Reading Dog's Body Language
How do I know my Dog's Body Language?
Understanding Dog Body & Gestures Language
How to Read Dog Body Language?
Why Do Dogs Love the Massage
Dog Communication & Body Language
Dog Body Language Chart & Information
Dog Body Language Diagrams & Translation
Dogs Body Language Infogram & Infographics
Dog Body Language Misconceptions
Dog Body Language Meanings
Dog Body Language Ears
Dog Gestures
How to Speak Dog Language?
Dog vs Cat Body Language
Dog Body Signs
Learn, Read and Understand your Dog's Body Language
Communicate with Your Dog
What Dog Tells You?
Why Dog is Looking in your Eyes?
Dog Body Language In-Depth Guide
Canine Body Language
Fear Signs in Dogs
The Meaning of Dog's Wagging Tail
Why Dog is Wagging a Tail?
Puppy Body Language

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
This article proudly presented by
Behaviour Company JEZ ROSE
Talking Dog
Talking Dog


It's important to understand what dogs are saying with their bodies, not only to know your own dog but to better predict what other dogs are doing. To really read dog body language takes experience.

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Talking Dog

Talking Dog

Talking Dog

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Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language

Talking Dog



Dogs and kids, puppies and children

This article proudly presented by

What is your dog trying to tell you? Dogs have a language that allows them to communicate their emotional state and their intentions to others around them. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures.

Dogs and kids, puppies and children

Dogs Tell Us When They Don't Understand - When a dog does not understand something you are doing, there are many ways for them to show this misunderstanding. They may duck or cower, bark at you, even try to get between you and another person. These are all signs of a lack of communication and evidence that your dog is trying to figure out what is going on.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language

Understanding what your dog is saying can give you a lot of useful information, such as when your dog is spooked and nervous about what is going on, or when your dog is edgy and might be ready to snap at someone. You do have to look at the dog's face and his whole body. To help you, I have created a sort of visual version of a Berlitz phrase book to allow you to interpret the eight most important messages your dog is sending to you.

1. Relaxed Approachable

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This dog is relaxed and reasonably content. Such a dog is unconcerned and unthreatened by any activities going on in his immediate environment and is usually approachable.

2. Alert!
Checking Things Out

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

If the dog has detected something of interest, or something unknown, these signals communicate that he is now alert and paying attention while he is assessing the situation to determine if there is any threat or if any action should be taken.

3. Dominant Aggressive

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This is a very dominant and confident animal. Here he is not only expressing his social dominance, but is also threatening that he will act aggressively if he is challenged.

4. Fearful and Aggressive

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This dog is frightened but is not submissive and may attack if pressed. A dog will generally give these signals when he is directly facing the individual who is threatening him.

5. Stressed and Distressed

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This dog is under either social or environmental stress. These signals, however, are a general "broadcast" of his state of mind and are not being specifically addressed to any other individual.

6. Fearful and Worried

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This dog is somewhat fearful and is offering signs of submission. These signals are designed to pacify the individual who is of higher social status or whom the dog sees as potentially threatening, in order to avoid any further challenges and prevent conflict.

7. Extreme Fear Total Submission

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

This dog is indicating total surrender and submission. He is trying to say that he accepts his lower status by groveling before a higher ranking or threatening individual in the hopes of avoiding a physical confrontation.

8. Playfulness

Dog Gestures, Languages, Communicate with a Dog

Here we have the basic invitation to play. It may be accompanied by excited barking or playful attacks and retreats. This set of signals may be used as a sort of "punctuation mark" to indicate that any previous rough behaviour was not meant as a threat or challenge.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language

Part I

Part II

PUPPY BODY LANGUAGE & SIGNS - How to Communicate With Your Dog
This article proudly presented by
Amy Shojai

Even puppies use dog body language to "talk" to each other and their owners. Dogs are most highly attuned to puppy body language, and this silent communication is given the greatest weight. Your pup's dedicated observation can make him appear psychic - he always hides when a bath is imminent, when in fact, he is simply reacting to non-verbal cues you may be unaware you are broadcasting. That's why when you smile as you reprimand Junior for stealing your socks, the puppy reads amusement rather than reproach, and acts accordingly. Canine language serves to smooth relationships, offering a way for dogs to get along with each other and the people who make up their families. Silent canine communication makes use of the dog's body from nose to tail. The position and movement of his tail, his facial expression, even his posture is telling.

PUPPY BODY LANGUAGE & SIGNS - Communicate With Your Dog
Eyes communicate volumes. Droopy eyelids indicate pleasure, and your pup may squint and moan with delight when his ears are rubbed. Alert pups keep their eyes open wide. An unblinking stare is a challenge and shows dominance while averting the eyes shows canine submission. The pupils of a dog's eyes indicate aggression and imminent attack when they suddenly dilate wide. Avoid locking eyes with a strange dog. That's a challenge and may prompt him to challenge you back with aggression.

PUPPY BODY LANGUAGE & SIGNS - Communicate With Your Dog
The dog's mouth is also quite expressive. Your pup uses his lips, teeth and even his tongue to communicate. In general, when the lips lift vertically to show the long dagger-shaped canines, the dog is showing aggression or fear. Lips pull back horizontally to show more teeth in a canine grin of submission, which is often used as an appeasement gesture toward a dominant individual. But grabbing the other dog's muzzle or neck with his mouth with inhibited bite shows dominance. A flicking tongue signals intent to lick, which when aimed at the face or hands is also an appeasement gesture. The relaxed, happy pup may sit with his mouth half-open and tongue lolling out as he pants.

PUPPY BODY LANGUAGE & SIGNS - Communicate With Your Dog
The ears are barometers of puppy mood. The shape of the dog's ears, whether erect and termed "prick ears" or floppy and pendulous also influence how easy ear language is to understand. For the sake of this discussion, the ear conformation of the German Shepherd Dog will be used. When erect and facing forward, the dog is interested and possibly aggressive. The ears flatten against the head by degrees depending on how fearful or submissive the dog feels.

PUPPY BODY LANGUAGE & SIGNS - Communicate With Your Dog
Tail talk is perhaps the dog's most obvious signal to people. Again, the conformation of the dog's tail - from long to docked, corkscrew or curled will determine the extent of your dog's tail semaphore. In most cases, a wagging tail is a distance-reducing signal that declares the dog to be friendly. However, what the tail says depends, to a great degree, on what the rest of the body is doing. Is the dog's tail relaxed and moving back and forth? Is his body moving along with the wagging? If a dog is wagging his tail and the rest of his body seems relaxed or is moving along with the wagging, you are probably dealing with a happy, comfortable dog.

Happy, relaxed tail wagging is usually accompanied by a happy facial expression. A happy dog usually has bright eyes, a relaxed open mouth, and possibly a gentle pant. Is the dog's tail high and moving in back and forth motion while the dog's body remains fairly erect and rigid? If a dog is holding his body erect and rigid while wagging his tail, he may be telling you that he's feeling territorial or uncomfortable with something that is going on around him. The tail may be low and wagging slowly, usually because the dog is hesitant about something. Or, the dog's tail may be held high and moving back and forth narrowly but rapidly.

This discomfort can be a precursor to aggression. This is one reason people sometimes report that a dog was wagging his tail right before he bit someone. So, if you encounter a dog you don't know who is wagging his tail, check out what the rest of his body language is telling you before you approach. It's better to be safe than to get bitten by a dog. Does it matter which direction a dog's tail wags? One study shows it might matter when it comes to dog-to-dog communication. Researchers found that dogs had different emotional responses depending on whether another dog's tail was wagging to the left or right. Dogs observing another dog wag to the right seemed to become relaxed. Dogs watching another dog with a left tail wag exhibited signs of nervousness, stress, or anxiety. This study shines some light on the way dogs interact with one another.


This article proudly presented by
Jenna Stregowski
Amy Bender

So... what are the Dog Body Language signs for us to interpret as before-a-bite? Dogs can become aggressive for any number of reasons - fear, dominance, guarding possessions. No matter the reason for the dog aggression, the body language of a dog can let you know if he is about to bite. Knowing what to look for can help you prevent dog bites.

1. Growling and Snapping
Growling and snapping are probably the most obvious signs that a dog is about to bite. Dogs growl or snap to let you know they are unhappy or uncomfortable. If a dog growls or snaps at you when you approach him, it's time to give him some space. Growling and snapping can be helpful, too. Pay attention to the times your dog growls or snaps. Does it happen when you approach him when he's eating, when strangers approach, or when you touch him while he's asleep? Knowing what elicits the growling and snapping allows you to manage the problem and work on changing the behavior.

2. Wagging Tail
This is one of the signs that many people find surprising. Dog trainers often hear dog owners comment that their dog was wagging his tail right up until the moment he bit someone. But pay attention to the way your dog wags his tail. A happy dog may wag his tail and get his whole body involved. A dog who is about to bite is usually fairly rigid, and his tail will be pointed high and moving more quickly back and forth. This may be a sign of an impending dog bite.

3. Raised Fur
When dogs are afraid or overly stimulated, you may see the hair on their backs stand up. In some dogs, just the hair on the back of the neck between the shoulders stands up. Other dogs have it at the neck and also near their tails. Still other dogs may have a ridge of hair that stands up down the entire length of their backs. If you notice a dog has his hackles raised, it's a signal that he needs you to back off.

4. Rigid Body Posture
Often when a dog is about to become aggressive, his body language is a dead giveaway - no pun intended. A comfortable, happy dog usually has a relaxed body with his ears low and a happy, wagging tail. An aggressive dog is just the opposite. His entire body may go stiff, and his ears and tail are raised high. If you reach out to pet a dog, and his entire body freezes rather than wiggling to get closer, he is not happy with being touched. It's time to move away to make him more comfortable.

5. Lip Licking, Yawning and Averting Gaze
If you notice a dog is licking his lips - when food is not involved, yawning repeatedly, or turning his head to avoid meeting your gaze, he is trying to tell you something. Dogs engage in these behaviors to let you know they are uncomfortable with something going on around them. For instance, a dog who has never been around children may lick his lips or yawn when a child comes over to pet him. It does not necessarily mean that he is about to bite, but it is a warning that he is not comfortable. A dog who is uncomfortable, afraid, or stressed is more likely to bite. Your best bet when a dog uses one of these appeasement gestures is to try to alleviate his discomfort.

6. Cowering and Tail Tucking
Cowering and tail tucking are more overt signs than lip licking or yawning that you are dealing with a fearful dog. While fearful dogs don't always bite, fear does increase the likelihood. If you encounter a dog who cowers away from you with his tail tucked between his legs, back off. Let him approach you in his own time, and he will be less likely to feel the need to bite to defend himself.

7. Seeing the Whites of the Eyes
Many dog trainers refer to this as whale eye. You'll see the whites of a dog's eye when he moves his head slightly but doesn't move his eyes. A half moon of white will show around the dog's eyes. Whale eye is a sign of anxiety in dogs. It's an expression many animal shelter workers are familiar with. Again, this doesn't necessarily mean that a dog is about to bite. It means that a dog is feeling anxious, and anxious dogs are more likely to bite. If you see a dog showing the whites of his eyes, it's a good idea to give him some space until he feels more relaxed.

79 Canine Body Language Signals - Reconciliation & Threat

This article proudly presented by
Russian Veterinary Journal.
Small Pets and Wild Animals, #1 2013
K. Lorenz

The foundations of the classical ethological theory of communication were laid by K. Lorenz to designate "characteristic reactions exhibited by representatives of a given animal species that activate the existing triggers in individuals of this species and cause them certain sequences of instinctive behavior complexes", using the term "release".

We identified and examined 61 signals of reconciliation (reassurance) in dogs and only 18 threat signals used for intraspecific and interspecific communication. Friendly communicative signals refer to threat signals as 3.4 : 1. Aggressive behavior of dogs in relation to people is mainly a result of human provocative actions - intentional or unintentional. Goodwill, sociability, and the absence of deprivation contribute to the survival of species in an urban environment and the maintenance of intraspecific and interspecific contacts.


1. Licking the nose
Flickering tongue (Fig. 1)

Dogs very often use this signal when they want to show their discomfort in the situation, thus warning the observer (dog, person) that he does not like his actions, he should step aside The dog peacefully asks to change the situation, therefore, this behavior is referred to as reconciliation signals - signal generated by Turyd Rutos. Often means asking to calm down, aimed at a dog or person.

2. Licking the muzzle with a long tongue (Fig. 2)
The appearance and disappearance of the tip of the tongue a person may not notice, but there is a stronger option - licking and repeatedly the entire muzzle. Dogs also use this signal to express their insistent request or very often to calm their vis-a-vis - addressed to a person or another dog.

3. Yawning (Fig. 3)
Some individuals, when approaching a person, experience an internal conflict - to leave, to be scared or not to pay attention. At the same time, they exhibit characteristic behavior - they begin to yawn. Earlier, we described yawning as a signal of internal contradiction, nervousness, "a conflict between desire and possibility. T. Rugos describes this signal as a reconciliation signal calming another dog or person. The signal is very noticeable, but the person often incorrectly" reads it, Which leads to conflict. Dogs understand this signal very well and calm down when a person starts to yawn.

4. Looking away to the side (Fig. 4)
Thus, the dog signals the absence of aggression and confirms the peacefulness. Very often, this signal can be observed with a direct look of a person or with a camera hover, when the dog is embarrassed by persistent attention and is uncomfortable. After looking away, the dog can turn its head to the side and stand up if the vis-a-vis does not move away or turn away.

5. Turning the head
Turning the head to the side (Fig. 5, 6)

This is a very noticeable and strong signal. It can be observed when trying to photograph an animal even from a distance. Used when looking away did not work or went unnoticed - for example, the distance is significant. Dogs try to turn sideways in relation to the observer, lower their tail, turn their ears back, turn their heads and look away. When they approach a dog close or want to take a picture, it stops a person by giving him these signals.

6. Sniffing the ground
(Fig. 7)

It is also a strong and clearly visible signal, which indicates the absence of aggressive intentions - to a greater extent, a signal of reassurance, the meaning of which is "do not come, don't worry, you see, I am calm!".

7. Separation (Fig. 8)
A very strong signal: a third dog stands between two conflicting individuals in order to prevent conflict.

8. Slowing down the pace of movement (Fig. 9)
This signal is clearly visible, designed for a long distance. Dogs carefully look at each other, approach slowly, periodically turning their heads to the side.

9. Changing the trajectory of movement
With the initial direct movement, the dogs change direction and begin to approach as if sideways, in an arc.

10. Movement along an arc
Approach and approach along an arc

This calming signal is clearly visible from afar, showing a lack of aggression: animals approach, avoiding direct movement and gaze.

11. Long distance divergence
This is a signal of two dogs of equal strength, indicating a desire to avoid conflict. Animals slowly move away from each other, showing a mutual lack of interest and threat.

12. Acceptance of a sitting pose (fig. 10)
The dog sits down when another individual approaches, thus stopping or inhibiting its approach.

13. Stacking
The dog lies down to calm another individual.

14. Laying the head in the side of the object
The head is lowered on its paws

This signal is stronger: dogs show it when a simple laying did not help.

15. Slow approach to each other of two dogs (Fig. 9)
It is also a signal of lack of aggression.

16. Scratching, biting "fleas"

This strong signal indicates the discomfort of the dog, its excitement. Dogs begin to itch when they persistently approach an undesirable object or in a stressful situation. Moreover, before the creation of a conflict situation, the dogs of the entire flock can calmly lie.

17. Shaking
With the persistent approach of an undesirable object, the dog begins to shake. The signal may also indicate animal discomfort or stress.

18. Biting "fleas" from a partner
The signal of peace that dogs show to an object that they have a strong sympathy for. The dog bites non-existent fleas from another individual on different parts of the body, often in the head, neck. This signal is demonstrated exclusively in a comfortable animal environment. In our opinion, this is a pattern of the highest disposition and trust. The indicated sign of sympathy can be demonstrated to a person.

19. Relaxed tail waving
Another signal of friendliness. Dogs wave their tail tip, lowered below the back, which can be accompanied by other signals of reconciliation - lowered head, gaze, etc.

20. Tail waving from side to side
It is also an expression of friendliness. They can go into the wobble of the back of the body with a strong manifestation of feelings.

21. Slightly lowered tail
This is the so-called "question mark". The dog demonstrates peace, but does not know what lies ahead ("thought).

22. Open jaws
Peacefully tuned dogs open their mouths with the corners of the lips laid back, while the tip of the tongue is slightly protruded, the ears are laid back, and the eyes are covered.

23. Sipping (Fig. 11)
Strong signal; it can be observed after persistently approaching an undesirable object. At the same time, the dog can yawn or lick.

24. Lead ears up and back (Fig. 12)
The animal demonstrates this signal when meeting with another dog, a person; means peaceful intentions, often intended to calm another, more irritated individual.

25. Moving commissures back
This calming signal may be accompanied by the ejection of the ears back and the opening of the mouth. An animal often shows it to a familiar dog, puppies, person. Males - to a female in hunting. The signal is stronger than the previous one.

26. Licking the corners of the mouth with a partner
Strong signal of sedation; indicates a special location to another individual. Show adult dogs. Puppies usually beg for food this way or show their attitude towards adult dogs. Dogs often address this pattern to humans.

27. Forefeet
(Fig. 13.14)

Game tilt is demonstrated first by one dog, then another, or both at the same time. Unlike a game situation, a calming signal can last from a few seconds to minutes. Shows peaceful intentions and calms counterparts. At the same time, tilting dogs can turn their heads from side to side.

28. Turning the Head
Turning the head from side to side with a look away to the side. Soothing signal, can be demonstrated by an individual during a game tilt or by dogs standing opposite each other.

29. Softening the gaze
(Fig. 15)

This calming signal is expressed in the fact that the dog closes his eyes, lowers his eyelids. Eyes covered, indirect look.

30. Warning barking
When reconciliation signals do not help, the dog barks warningly so that it does not fit. After that, she usually goes aside.

31. Standing with your back to others (Fig. 16)
When they bother too much, the dog turns its back.

32. Sitting backs to others (Fig. 17)
To reassure the dogs that are playing, one can sit with their backs to them; this action helps even when dogs jump on this individual. Dogs run away to play with each other or lie down next to each other.

33. Standing sideways
This is a calming signal: when one dog approaches in a straight line, the other stands sideways to it, demonstrating peaceful intentions at a distance.

34. Turn sideways
To calm an overly active individual at close range, the other dog turns sideways to it.

35. Lowering the head
Dogs bow their heads when they want to show peacefulness, unlike an aggressive stance with their heads held high.

36. Suspense
A signal that shows calm and lack of fear, while calming and stopping.

37. Fading
A clearly visible signal: the dog stops and freezes in place. It can be in any position, not just standing.

38. Raising the paw
Dogs raise their paws when they want to demonstrate their calmness and unwillingness to attack. Often, the tail is lowered and the head is turned to the side.

39. Demonstration of an unprotected abdomen
(Fig. 18)

The dog lies down and raises its hind paw, it may still roll over on its back. Dogs demonstrate the same pattern to relatives in a very peaceful environment.

40. Laying on your back
A strong signal indicating submission in a game or in a fight, meaning "I give up." The conqueror loses interest in the conquered and departs. If the dog takes this position in advance, other dogs simply sniff it and walk away.

41. Smacking lips
Often accompanied by wrinkling of the nose, licking. Thus, the dog shows a strong disposition towards someone.

42. Smile (Fig. 19,20)
the corners of the lips are pulled back, the eyes are narrowed, the mouth is ajar, the ears are laid back. The signal indicates the highest degree of trust and disposition to the partner. Many owners have seen this expression of the muzzle in dogs, but not all dogs know how to "smile". Of our 20 dogs, only three showed this signal to humans.

43. Smile with a snort
Sometimes with a sneeze, one-sided or two-sided: lip-lifting, wrinkling of the nose. The dog wrinkles its face, pulls the corners of the lips back, opens its teeth, while sniffing, wagging its tail and the whole body low. At the same time can lick. In our opinion, this is a manifestation of the highest degree of enthusiasm, affection or the lowest request - for example, so as not to scold or let go of the chain.

44. Smirk (Fig. 21)
One-sided raising of the lip, while lowering the head and taking the ears back. Unlike a smile, it means "leave me alone," that is, the dog does not like attention.

45. Waving one or two paws
A signal that stops an action. Often means a question or perplexity. Usually it is shown by small dogs, often the signal is turned to the person. The dog runs forward and, standing or in a sitting position, waves its paw(s). Another option: stops a person, resting his paws on his legs.

46. Sniffing (Fig. 22 / 24)
Dogs sniff each other in turn. The most important signals of communication, reassurance, dating.

47. Sniffing nose to nose (Fig. 22)
Before sniffing, dogs slowly approach each other, followed by sniffing of other areas or diverging in different directions. Typically, two individuals show a pattern.

48. Substitution of the anogenital area for Sniffing (Fig. 23)
With raising the hind paw and / or laying on the back. The most peace-loving individuals raise their paws for the convenience of sniffing.

49. Trying to stop the satellite
Signal of an animal with uncertainty. The dog tries to stop the companion by standing across its path, or leaning on its hind legs, strikes with its front on the outgoing legs of the companion.

50. Poking the head under the arm of a man
The signal of appeasement, location. The dog approaches and, standing or sitting, palms his head under the palm of a man. She can first slip her nose and then her whole head under her arm, as if asking for a pat.

51. Rubbing his head against the head of another individual (Fig. 25)
This is a ritual of greeting. This pattern was previously described by E.S. Berezina as a greeting to the leader and confirmation of his status as the leader of the pack. One dog, regardless of gender, approaches the other and rubs its face and head on its head, gradually stepping forward. Often young dogs do this with a "smile from ear to ear", with wide open mouth and very energetic. Adult dogs endure, perceive calmly.

52. Support Pose
(Fig. 26 / 29)

The dog leans with a croup or sideways to another dog or to the leg, body of a person. It means approximately: "I have occupied you" or "support me." First described by E.S. Berezina in 2000. At the time of embarrassment or decision, the dog leans against any part of the body to another dog, animal or person. Can sit on your foot or lean. This behavior the dog often shows to the dominant or older individual, whom he trusts.

53. Movement "get up"
The dog is turned back and pushes the croup from bottom to top of the partner, prompting him to stand up. It may be a continuation of the pose of "seeking support." Often turned to a person and demonstrates a good mood, an invitation to the game.

54. Imitation of puppy behavior
It includes falling on the paws with the head bowed, ears laid back, licking the corners of the lips of another dog. Licking, appeasement.

55. Imitation of the pose of submission (Fig. 30)
Dogs demonstrate a pose of submission in different situations: in front of older relatives, in front of larger and more aggressive individuals, in front of the leader of the pack, while fawning, unwillingness to do anything.

56. Stood above and across (Fig. 34)
The dog stood above and across the other dog, showing dominance and threat. Lying dog demonstrates submission or signal of reconciliation. The aggression responds with calming signals: it rises sideways on outstretched legs, the muscles are tense, the ears are laid back as far as possible, the head is raised high and turned away from the vis-a-vis, the eyes are mowed toward the female, but they don't look directly, the corners of the mouth are laid as far back as possible, the mouth is ajar, breathing quicker. The dog can just stand still, can slightly shift from paw to paw. A male with normal socialization never responds to a female lunging. In conditions of deprivation, the socialization of animals is disrupted, they misunderstand each other, do not know how to respond to the signals of other individuals.

57. Turning the head to the side (Fig. 31)
A calming signal, indicating the absence of aggression, unwillingness to attack. Demonstrate males in response to a female throw. Females behave this way in relation to puppies.

58. Hunched back (Fig. 32)
Dogs in a critical situation for themselves try to become shorter, for which they lower their heads, crouch on their paws, and hunch their backs. Often the signal is shown in front of a large adult dog or person (owner).

59. Avoiding conflict
When relatives or lousy puppies bother too much, the dog leaves.

60. Round eye
The signal is shown by frightened individuals in an unclear, frightening situation, with a threat of attack. At the same time, the dog can feed the body slightly away from the dangerous object. Another dog sees this signal, calms down and does not attack.

61. Olfactory labeling
In our opinion, it can be considered as a warning or informative signal. Males regularly go around the territory - once or twice a day, females mark the territory at a distance of 20 - 50 m from their den. Often, female urine is labeled by raising the hind paw, usually this pattern is demonstrated by confident individuals. After olfactory labeling, males and females can leave marks with scrapers.

When studying the behavior of dogs revealed 18 signals of threats. Most of them are known to specialists and dog lovers, but people who are unfamiliar with the behavior of these animals become victims of their attack due to their own incompetence.

1. Rising hair on the nape and on the ridge
The dog threatens, shows a lack of fear.

2. Tension of all muscles
With the manifestation of aggression, the dog strains all the muscles of the body, ready to throw, his eyes are strained, straight, fear is absent.

3. Head held high
This signal indicates the absence of fear in the dog.

4. High raised tail
Dogs who do not want to give in and do not feel fear raise their tail high, demonstrating superiority, lack of fear.

5. Approach on outstretched paws (on coturnas)
Usually confident dogs with a high head and tail, a straight look, tense muscles and reared hair show up.

6. A strained straight look
The dog looks directly into the eyes, ears are directed forward. Perhaps an attack.

7. "Whale Eye"
Head sideways, a look from underneath. The signal is threatening, but at the same time warning.

8. Ears raised forward
A signal showing a lack of fear, attention.

9. Wrinkle-free muzzle
A self-confident dog does not wrinkle the skin on the back of the nose when growling and threatening.

10. Commissures are tense and brought forward
A signal of danger, approaching is dangerous.

11. A dropping growl
Expresses a threat. The sound becomes lower with increasing aggression, the absence of fear, becomes uterine with a maximum threat of attack.

12. Exposure of the front teeth when growling
It can be observed in the behavior of the dog with prolonged misunderstanding of the threat signals given by it.

13. Direct forward movement
Aggressive behavior, attack without warning. At the same time, a direct look is characteristic, a muzzle without wrinkles, a closed mouth.

14. Fast forward
Aggressive behavior, threat of attack without warning.

15. Throw forward
Lunge can be unexpected, after a tense posture or a quick direct movement. But a warning growl is also possible.

16. Rough low barking
Together with raised ears, a direct look warns of the threat of attack.

17. Pose of the winner
The dog stands above the enemy with his head and tail held high.

18. Standing above the partner, above the head, across the body (Fig. 33.34)
We are called "communication check", an attempt to show seniority or supremacy. Adult dogs growl for puppies for this and jump up, not allowing them to stand above themselves. Domestic dogs often demonstrate this pattern to a person, trying to stand above him when he is lying on the floor over any part of his body, including over his head.


This article is proudly presented by
Victoria Stilwell
Rebecca OConnell

Because dogs don't speak our language, the only way to truly comprehend and communicate with them is for us to understand and appreciate what they are telling us through their body and vocal language. Often, gestures or actions that we assume mean one thing are actually the dog telling us the exact opposite, and determining what that wagging tail or exposed tummy really means can sometimes be the difference between a belly rub and a bite.


Dogs are masters of reading our body language, but how well can you read your dog's cues? While observing a dog's behavior, some signals are confusing and might not mean what we think. Have you ever heard any of the following statements about dog body language? Dogs communicate using a complex language of body signals that reflect what they are thinking and feeling. They use these signals consciously and unconsciously to communicate intent and ensure their personal safety by affecting behavior in others.

Appeasement & Displacement
A dog might try to appease another by actively seeking attention via one or more of the following behaviors:

Muzzle or ear licking

Jumping up

Lowering and curving the body


Clacking or Exposing the teeth "smiling"

Lip Licking

Lowering the head and ears

Play bowing

Although much appeasement consists of this active body language, passive submission such as cowering and body freezing seems to be done in response to escalating fear in the presence of a perceived threat. A socially experienced dog receiving these signals will tolerate this language of appeasement and reciprocate with appropriate signals - other less experienced dogs might take advantage of this deference and attempt to control or aggress. In addition to appeasement, dogs also commonly use displacement signals to avoid confrontation.


These body signals are used to provide a distraction - a way of covering up what the dog is actually feeling. Yawning, sniffing, scratching, sneezing, and licking are all active behaviors that keep the dog calm and provide a distraction to refocus the attention of others away from him. Any signal that is demonstrated by a particular part of the dog's body must always be read in the context of whatever other body or vocal language the dog is communicating. Similar signals have different meanings in different situations, so the position of the body and other vocal signals will help you understand a dog's intent and emotional state.

What does a wagging tail mean?
Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted signal. Most people believe that a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing:

A confident or aroused dog will hold his tail in the air, allowing scent from the anal glands to circulate more freely and advertise his presence.

A dog that is wagging his tail but barking with a defensive body posture, tense face, and hard staring eyes is overly aroused and frustrated, which means that he should not be approached.

A tail that is held low or between the legs signals a lack of confidence, nervousness, or fear

A tail that is held high but wagged more slowly means that the dog is assessing a situation.

A tail that is extended and curved means that the dog is tense and ready to take offensive or defensive action.

A tail that wags around and around like a helicopter and is accompanied by relaxed fluid body movement and a wiggling bottom signals friendliness and a willingness to engage.

Research has shown that when a dog sees someone they like, his tail wags more to the right. When he sees an unfamiliar person, his tail wags more to the left. Subtle body language like this is easy to miss.

The tail is important for both balance and signaling, which is why the practice of tail docking, or partial removal of a dog's tail, is so harmful. Because the tail is a prime indicator of mood, dogs with docked tails are unable to communicate properly using that part of their body, which means that other dogs and people miss vital signals.

The Myths of Spite and Guilt
Humans love to attribute these two motives to dogs. In reality, dogs experience neither guilt nor spite. When returning from a hard day's work, you might get annoyed walking into a foul-smelling house and finding a cold pile on the floor. Perhaps you yell at the dog and punish him by rubbing his nose in it. Or maybe you are more evolved than that, and just scowl, sigh, and complain loudly as you clean it up. Either way, your dog knows you are angry and it's scaring him. He has no idea why, however, because he had that potty accident hours ago. And he did it simply because he had to go and no one was there to let him out. That's it no ulterior motive. How very silly to imagine dogs would use their urine and feces to make a point, or "spite" us. Really, what species does that? Oh, that's right, primates do.. ever been to the zoo? Luckily for us, dogs are not spiteful, as they'd have all day to plan their revenge and it would be far worse than a little potty accident on the floor!


Thankfully, canines are far more innocuous than that. Dogs make connections between actions and immediate consequences. So when you walk through the door and act out in anger, your dog learns that you are scary and unpredictable when you come through the door. If this happens often enough, you will start to come home and see your dog crouching, slinking, ears back, hesitant to approach and you will mistakenly read his fearful, deferential body language as guilt. He is displaying this body language not because he "knows he did something wrong" but because he is made the association between your entry and your tirades. He simply cannot put the potty accident together with your displeasure unless you interrupt him in the act. In this situation, the use of a crate or a pet sitter will work wonders for improving your relationship.


A friendly, well-socialized dog welcomes interaction. A typical canine will signal with his body that he can't wait to meet you. An approach that says "pet me please" looks like this: soft relaxed eyes, open panting mouth, a body that curves toward the object of social interest. Touching, leaning, eye contact, even jumping up, says," look at me, touch me, play with me!" What dog lover can resist that kind of invitation? But here is where we sometimes get carried away. Humans, being primates, want to hug, squeeze and kiss the object of our affection. When we do this, it gives us great pleasure. But if we could see our dogs objectively, we would know from their body language that these same actions make them very uncomfortable. A dog might let you know this by turning his head and eyes away from you, and flicking his tongue in and out of his closed mouth.


He might yawn or sniff the floor, or do the shake off. These signals indicate mild stress or discomfort and are sometimes referred to as "calming signals," as your human expressions of affection seem a bit forward and rude to him. Most of us do it anyway and our own dogs seem to know it's love, but instinctively, it still intimidates them. So, lighten up! Throw your dog a ball, give him a quick massage, get down on the floor and invite him to play by doing a play bow! Now you are speaking his language!

MYTH: He is friendly because he is wagging his tail
Dogs wag their tails for a number of reasons. If their body is very loose or wiggly and they are wagging their tail sideways or in circles, that's probably a good sign that they are friendly. An alert, dominant or aggressive dog may still wag their tail, but generally their body and the base of their tail is stiff or tense. A lowered tail that's wagging back and forth quickly is usually a sign of a submissive dog.

MYTH: When a dog raises his hair, it means he's aggressive
When you see a dog's hackles, it doesn't always mean the dog could become aggressive. If the hair on their back is raised between the shoulders and tail, the dog could be alert, excited or fearful. When the hackles are around the shoulder and extending up the back of the neck, it's usually related to dominance or aggression.

MYTH: A yawning dog is a tired dog
Dogs may yawn when they are tired but sometimes they yawn when they are stressed or when they are trying to calm another dog. Yawning is just one of the many calming signals used by dogs in various situations.

MYTH: Licking is Healing
It is natural for a dog to lick its wound but this not necessarily always "healing". Too much licking can actually prohibit healing.



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Dr. Sophia Yin

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How to Communicate With Your Dog

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1. Observe your dog.
Learning your dog's habits, mannerisms, and movements through observation will allow the process of understanding its communication behavior to feel more natural. There will be plenty of things it does that will make sense to you without explanation. Just as every person is unique, so is your dog. Be aware that much of a dog's language or communication techniques are subtle.


By learning canine communication, you will be able to respond to any problems your dog expresses before a situation escalates. Not noticing small signs of stress or unhappiness can soon lean to more aggressive or distressed behaviors.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language

Remember that this is a two-way learning process. Dogs have to learn our behavioral cues as well, and you should be careful about your own gestures and posture. Dogs also do not understand English. It is important that you teach your dog what you mean by "no" or "sit". Just saying "sit" over and over again won't make him learn it, and will make him think it's just part of the random nonsense you say during the day. Luring your dog into a sit position and then rewarding them heavily for doing that task will make him eager to sit, and then saying the word as he sits will make him connect the dots that the word "sit" means "putt your butt on the floor".

Note that a dog's ability to signal may be hampered by the breed in question. For example, if your dog has squat ears or a docked tail, some of the signals may not apply to him/her.

2. Know your dog's response to eye contact.
Consider how you feel when someone stares at you directly rather than using normal eye contact. Just as you find it confronting, dogs also feel confused and threatened by direct head-on staring because it is a threat stance for them. A dog that looks away in this situation is actually being polite and is seeking to avoid confrontation. Alternately, training your dog to make eye contact to communicate is extremely helpful for keeping his focus on you.

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The most effective form of dog training is called "Positive reinforcement" or "clicker training". It is the most consistently proven type of training shown by scientists, veterinarians and animal behaviorists. Punishment is frowned upon because it is proven that dogs have very short memories, and likely do not connect situations like them pooping on the floor to your dissatisfaction. In fact, dogs do not feel guilt. Their owners simply stop being as mad when they "look guilty" and it becomes rewarding for both the owner and dog for the dog to offer signs of "guilt". The dog learns you dislike it when poop is on the floor and when you come home, they "act guilty" in order to appease you. They do not in fact relate their action of pooping to you being mad.

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Clicker training is the idea is to lure your dog into a position and indicate instantly they have done the right thing, and reward them for that behavior. Dog behavior is driven by the most rewarding or least punishing option they have in every situation. If the most rewarding option is to chew on your shoes, they will do so. If you reward them for not chewing on your shoes, they will choose to do that even when you are not around. In contrast, punishment or dominance suggests showing the dog who is boss, which simply results in the behavior being done when you are not around. Dogs are highly reward based and the dominance theory has been disproven. Dogs act in ways that are most rewarding, not based on trying to "dominate" you or another dog. Be the most rewarding thing in your dogs life and he will be eager to do whatever you say.


Rolling over and exposing the belly is a gesture to appease you, and giving a belly rub serves as excellent reinforcement for this behavior. An exposed belly can also indicate passive resistance to a perceived threat.

Mounting or humping can be a sign of stress in a dog, especially where a low confidence dog is trying to establish allegiance with a higher confidence animal. Dogs use a variety of gestures and postures to express discomfort, including excessive/misplaced sneezing or yawning, licking of the lips, avoiding eye contact, cowering, whale eye, seeing the whites or their eye and a stiff body.

When a dog is showing discomfort, the best thing to do is to stop what you are doing and not do it in the future. If you need your dog to be comfortable with something, make it very rewarding by giving them tons of treats and introducing them to the uncomfortable thing slowly. Soon your pooch will be offering to do those things for a treat! A dog can show many emotions with his tail. A wagging tail and wiggly butt mean pure joy. A slowly wagging tail means a cautious nature. A stiff tail held high is a sign of alertness, a low tail is a sign of content. A tucked tail means they are scared.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Learn to interpret your dog's posture.
The ways in which a dog holds its body can tell you a great deal about its mood and emotions. Many of the signals will be subtle and it can take some time to learn all of its expressions but it is well worth the effort.

Identify playful and affectionate behavior. Dogs communicate easy confidence and a desire to play through posture and body signals.

Confident stance: A dog that is feeling confident will stand tall, have its tail up and probably wagging slowly, its ears will either be pricked up or relaxed, and it will generally look relaxed. Its eyes will have smaller pupils as they are also relaxed.

Bowing: Facing you and with head and chest dipped low to the ground, front legs splayed out, and with rear end and tail up is a clear invitation to play. This is known as the "play bow". It can be mistaken by owners as an attack stance but it clearly denotes playtime.

Hip swings: Hip swings or nudges are another sign of play.This involves the dog swinging around another dog and knocking them to the ground using the backside - the end of the dog without teeth! When the dog's rear is presented to you, it is an indication of trust and depending on your dog, it might mean your dog wants a scratch. Wiggling its rear end is a sign of excitement and friendliness.

If a dog is stretching with his butt in the air, front legs and paws stretched out in front, and head close to the ground, he is probably feeling playful. If your dog raises his/her paw to touch your knee or another part of your body, the dog wants to get attention, make a request or ask for something, or indicate a wish to play. The gesture begins as a puppy with kneading associated with obtaining mother's milk but becomes similar to that of offering a hand for a handshake - it's about connecting and friendship.

Repeatedly pawing at the air is often used by puppies as an invitation to play.

If a dog's tail is in a neutral - level with body or slightly lower, he is most likely feeling secure and friendly.

If your dog's tail is fiercely wagging and his/her tail up, he/she is feeling mischievous and inclined to bother and annoy you or a fellow canine! It could also signal swatting away another animal.

If your dog is slowly or slightly wagging his/her tail and watching you, he/she is relaxed but alert and is anticipating, ready to play.

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Interpret discomfort or unease.
Knowing when your dog is uncomfortable or feeling insecure can help you meet the animal's needs and provide comfort and reassurance when necessary.

A dog who is frightened or insecure may cower or crouch down. A slight crouch can denote submissiveness or nervousness. A similar stance can be an arched back, slightly bent legs, and the tail down (but not tucked under), and looking at what is concerning it.

Pacing can be a sign of nervousness, but it can also be a sign of excitement or boredom. If your dog gets plenty of exercise and entertainment, watch for other signs of nervousness that may accompany the pacing.

A slow tail wag with the tail slightly lowered can indicate that the dog is confused and is asking for an explanation, or is investigating a non-threatening new object.

Recognize warning signs of aggression.
Aggression may lead to unwanted dog fighting or attacks. Recognizing early warning signs of aggression can help your deescalate a situation before it gets worse.

A dog whose tail is lowered or tucked between its legs is showing anxiety, fear, and uncertainty. Wagging can still occur in this situation, which can lead to the misunderstanding that the dog is happy. This position can also indicate a need for reassurance or protection.

A dog that suddenly freezes in the middle of an action is feeling unsure of itself and would rather be left alone, or is preparing for an attack. This is commonplace when a dog is holding a bone - don't get between the dog and its bone!

If your dog leans forward and appears very rigid, he most likely feels aggressive or threatened. This occurs in response to what the dog perceives as a threat or a challenge. The tail will usually be tucked down or under, or wagging in a quick and frantic manner.

When a dog is considering an attack or feels threatened, the whites of his/her eyes will likely show as the dog looks at the perceived threat.

A dog that was showing signs of aggression but who then shakes the head and shoulders may be signaling the end of a certain level of tension, such as being alert to a threat or an anticipated event that doesn't occur.

dog before a bite!
Watch your dog's face.
Dogs often show how they are feeling with facial expressions. Understanding facial expressions can help you interpret your dog's feelings and communicate with your canine companion.

Smiling: believe it or not, dogs can smile. While it can be difficult to differentiate a smile from a snarl, checking other body language for signs of play or aggression can help you determine whether your dog is happy or feeling aggressive. If everything else adds up to a happy dog, then your dog is smiling, and this means it's happy and relaxed.

Yawning: the meaning of a dog's yawning is dependent on the context, just as it is with humans (humans yawn because we're tired, need more oxygen, we're feeling stressed or embarrassed, or we notice someone else yawning). For dogs, yawning appears to be contagious just as it is with humans. Indeed, if you yawn in front of your dog, it may interpret it either as you being stressed in which case, it will likely turn away from you to give you some space, or it will respond in kind and yawn too. Dogs also yawn as a way to ease tension, to show confusion or when they feel slightly threatened especially when meeting new situations or new dogs or animals.

Mouth position: a dog that has its mouth stretched back, closed or just slightly open, is showing that it is very stressed, in fear, or in pain. This may be accompanied by rapid panting. If its mouth is stretched back and open, it is a neutral or submissive sign. A dog that is alert and content will have its mouth closed or slightly open, with the teeth covered.

Lip licking: if your dog licks its lips in combination with a yawn, this can be a clear indication that it is feeling stressed, under pressure, or facing a threat. It's a commonplace gesture shown by puppies around adults, but the behavior should not continue into adulthood. In mature dogs, licking can also be part of the dog's sexual behavior as it finds chemical signals on grass, carpet, and the genitals of other dogs. A dog that is licking another dog's lips is showing deferring behavior.

Bared teeth: a dog whose lips are curled out and his teeth bared is signaling aggression and an intention to use the teeth for biting. This doesn't mean that every flash of teeth means aggression though, and you must take care to note the other elements. If the teeth are bared and there is no wrinkling of the muzzle, this is a warning and a sign of dominance and territorial defensiveness. If the lips are curled, the teeth are bared, the muzzle is wrinkled, and the dog is snarling, this indicates that the dog is angry and ready to fight, and there is every chance that it will bite.

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These signs indicate that your dog is uncomfortable with the current situation and there is a need for intervention to prevent pushing the dog to the point of biting, and to make sure your canine friend is happy and not feeling anxious.

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One Paw Raised
This is very cute but the dog is not happy and does not want to be petted or bothered. She is worried.

Half Moon Eye
The dog just wants to be left alone. Watch for this one when kids are mauling the dog. This is a common expression in dogs that being hugged. If you see the half moon eye when the kids approach the dog or are interacting with the dog, it's time to intervene and give them all something else to do.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Avoidance Behaviors
Sometimes dogs are more overt when they feel anxious and want to remove themselves from a situation. Please don't force a dog to stay in situation in which he feels anxious, especially if children are the source of his anxiety. Here are some examples:

the dog gets up and leaves an uncomfortable situation, he may bite rather than leaving one of these days

turning head away

hiding behind person or object

barking and retreating

the dog rolls over on back in submissive way, please don't hurt me!

Other Body Language Signs of Anxiety

tail between legs

tail low and only the end is wagging

tail between legs and wagging

tail down or straight for curly-tailed dog (husky, malamute, pug, chow chow, spitz-type dogs etc.

ears sideways for erect eared dog

ears back and very rapid panting

dog goes into another room away from you and urinates or defecates Please find a professional behavior consultant for help with this.

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Signs of Arousal
These signs indicate that your dog is interested in something, or trying to decide on a course of action and is not receptive to attention, such as petting from a child and include:

ears forward
mouth closed
eyes intense
body rolled forward
body tense
tail high may or may not be wagging
slow deliberate tail wag

Signs of a Happy Dog
Signs that indicate that the dog is receptive to attention or wants to play:

panting, relaxed, happy expression
body position relaxed
lying with one paw tucked under
enthusiastic tail wag
tail thumping on floor play bow - front end down, rear end up, tail wagging.

Signs of Imminent Bite
If these signs occur, cease all interaction with dog, look away and give dog the opportunity to leave, do not approach, do not make eye contact, do not talk to the dog. If you are touching the dog, stop and move your hands slowly away. If you are taking something from the dog, let go of it. It is better for him to keep it than for you or a child to get bitten. If you are bending over the dog, slowly straighten up and look away.

dog freezes - becomes suddenly stiff

dog stands with front legs splayed, head low, looking at you

dog curls lip to show teeth

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Signs of Aggression
If your dog shows signs of aggression then you should get help from a behavior consultant right away. Signs directed toward you or another person that indicate the need for professional help include the following:

guarding dog's own possessions or resting area, favorite human's possessions against family members or guests - this is a very dangerous situation - children are in immediate danger since they could inadvertently come between dog and a guarded area or object dog may be continually expanding his guarded area or repertoire of guarded objects unbeknownst to you

snap and miss - the miss was intentional and the dog may not miss the next time


aggressive barking which is not stopped by your request for quiet

lunging on or off the leash, with barking or growling

bite other than playful puppy nipping by a puppy, or accident during rough play

dog raises tail when you or child approach may not apply to breeds with naturally raised or curled tails - e.g. pug, husky, spitz-type breeds etc. dog urinates intentionally in the house or on your possessions in your presence or in the presence of children or guests and shows other signs of pushy or aggressive behavior

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Nervousness Language

When dogs are stressed and nervous they exhibit many different kinds of behavior that either help relieve the stress they are feeling or appease a perceived threat. While dogs like humans, yawn when they are tired, they are also much more likely to yawn when they are nervous. Lip licking does not always mean a dog is hungry or has just eaten either, but is a very clear stress signal that is performed when a dog is nervous or experiencing fear.

Yawning can be a sign that a dog is tired, but it also signals stress

Lip licking or tongue flicking. Dogs lick their lips when nervous

Brief body freezing - the dog is still for a few seconds before reacting

Body freezing - the dog freezes until the threat goes away or he decides to use fight or flight

'Whale Eye' - the dog turns his head away but keeps looking at the perceived threat, showing the whites of his eyes

Head turn - the dog will turn his head away from a fear source as a gesture of appeasement

Furrowed brow, curved eyebrows - caused by facial tension

Tense jaw - the mouth is closed, and the dog is preparing for action

Hugging - a dog will gain comfort by holding onto his owner

Low tail carriage - indicates discomfort and uncertainty

Curved tongue - the tongue is curved at the edges from tension

Raspy, dry-sounding panting - nervousness reduces saliva production

Twitching whiskers - caused by facial tension

Shaking - caused by adrenaline release

Drooling - stress can also cause excessive salivation

Lack of focus - an anxious dog finds learning difficult

Sweaty paws - dogs sweat through their foot pads

Piloerection - the hair on a dog's neck and spine stands on end like human goose bumps, making the dog appear bigger while releasing odor from the glands contained in the dog's hair follicles

Appeasement/Deference Language
Deference language is designed to appease a perceived threat, avoid injury and is crucial for survival. If the dog engages in non-threatening behavior this helps deescalate the negative intentions of another animal or human. Most appeasement behavior is extremely submissive with the dog lowering the body, making it appear smaller and less threatening. Socially appropriate dogs will respond positively to this deference while others often take advantage of what they perceive as weakness.

Head bobbing or lowering
Head turning
Averting eyes
Lip licking
Low tail carriage
Tail tucked between the legs
Curved and lowered body
Stomach flip โ€“ the dog flips over quickly, exposing his stomach; he is not asking for a belly rub, but signaling that he is withdrawing from interaction

Curious/Anticipatory Language
Dogs are naturally curious animals and the more confident they are, the more they can deal with novelty and change. All dogs will size up any situation to ensure safety using the following language:

Head cocked to one side or the other

Front paw lifted - anticipating what will happen and what the dog should do next

Mouth closed - sizing up the situation in preparation for action

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Displacement Language
Displacement language helps the dog to self-calm and refocus attention away from them and onto something else. If a perceived or actual threat approaches and the dog is nervous or uncomfortable she will often indulge in behaviors that take the threat's focus away from what could be a negative intention. The threat's attention is diverted onto the behavior the dog is doing, like sniffing the ground or scratching and not actually the dog herself. These behaviors are often performed when the dog needs an outlet for their pent up energy or frustration, but can become compulsive if the outlets are not given. Displacement behaviors can result in compulsive behaviors including excessive spinning or licking.

Nose licking
Chattering teeth
Shake off - dog will release stress and tension by shaking their bodies as if trying to get water off their backs.

Defensive and Offensive Language
When a dog has to defend herself from an actual or perceived threat she will demonstrate defensive or offensive language in order to keep herself safe. This language manifests itself in behaviors that encourage a threat to keep their distance. If the threat does not back away and the dog has nowhere to go, defensive behavior will turn offensive and the dog will bite. These behaviors are usually easy to recognize and understand.

Body leaning forward

Tense mouth

Lips pushed forward and vibrating as the dog growls

Air snapping - the dog snaps in the air to warn something to back away

Snapping with skin contact - also a warning to back away

Fast nip - an immediate bite and release with bruising or slight wound, telling a threat to back off

Deeper bite - a dog that bites with more intensity is intending to harm

Bite and hold - intent to harm

Bite, hold, and shake - intent to harm and potentially to kill. Some dogs will bite, hold, shake, and disembowel stuffed toys, simulating the killing of prey; while this is prevalent among dogs with high prey drive, even dogs with low drive can indulge in behavior of this type. If your dog likes to disembowel stuffed toys, this doesn't mean he wants to do the same with people or other animals. Sadie loves to disembowel toys, but she is incredibly gentle with people, especially children. Wagging tail - again, a wagging tail does not always mean a happy dog

Hard, staring eyes.

Dog Gestures, Dog Body Language
Relaxed Language
There is nothing better than being with a happy dog. The body is fluid and relaxed, the mouth is slightly open with tongue hanging to the side and all the signals a dog gives off communicate joy, confidence and a desire to invite play and attention.

Mouth slightly open, tongue relaxed and lolling to one side.

Small body freezes during play.

Play bow - this signal invites play and tells others that whatever action comes next is still just play.

Turning over, inviting belly rub - showing trust and enjoying social contact.

Relaxed facial expression.

Squinty or blinking eyes.

Tail wagging fast, either side to side or in a round motion like a helicopter.

Wiggling backside.

What does a wagging tail mean?
Tail wagging is a frequently misinterpreted signal. Most people believe that a wagging tail only means a dog is happy, which of course is often true, but some dogs also wag their tails when aroused, overstimulated and frustrated. You can usually tell the difference by looking at what the rest of the body is doing:

A confident or aroused dog will hold his tail in the air, allowing scent from the anal glands to circulate more freely and advertise his presence.

A dog that is wagging his tail but barking with a defensive body posture, tense face, and hard staring eyes is overly aroused and frustrated, which means that he should not be approached.

A tail that is held low or between the legs signals a lack of confidence, nervousness, or fear

A tail that is held high but wagged more slowly means that the dog is assessing a situation.

A tail that is extended and curved means that the dog is tense and ready to take offensive or defensive action.

A tail that wags around and around like a helicopter and is accompanied by relaxed fluid body movement and a wiggling bottom signals friendliness and a willingness to engage.

Research has shown that when a dog sees someone they like, his tail wags more to the right. When he sees an unfamiliar person, his tail wags more to the left. Subtle body language like this is easy to miss.

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Avoid unintentional signals.
Dogs understand your language to some extent, but it's very important to understand how you appear to your dog and how some of your gestures may be causing your dog distress, fear, or worry, even though you're completely unaware of this. Always be aware that your dog is watching you, learning, and seeking to predict your routine, habits, and preferences.

Withdrawal of your gaze and your arms at the same time informs your dog that you have decided not to touch his/her anymore and he/she may respond negatively. Yawning can indicate to your dog that you're distressed and cause his/her to move away from you. It can be a good idea to cover your yawn around your dog if he/she seems to respond negatively to the action.

Prevent your dog's discomfort.
Some actions that we see as normal or loving do not translate well from "human language" to "dog language." Avoiding activities that make dogs uncomfortable can help strengthen your relationship with your pet.

Staring at your dog can be viewed as a threat. Some trainers used to believe that a dog looking away from a stare was showing disobedience, but it is better understood now as being a sign of politeness or submission.

Punishing or reacting negatively to signs of fear in a dog will serve only to increase the dog's sense of fear and does nothing to instill better behavior from our perspective. Do not interpret signs of discomfort or fear as signs of guilt.

Many dogs do not like being patted directly on the head. However, this is something a dog usually needs to learn to tolerate. You should never pat a strange dog on the head until you are more familiar with it, but if you live in an urban environment where people are likely to want to pet your dog, early training (with treats) to help your dog tolerate head patting is essential.

Hugging and cuddling is often another action that dogs do not like. Nature has programmed the dog to believe that being held in close proximity means one of two things: one, that it is trapped as prey, or two, that it is being mounted. Since neither of these actions brings on happy responses, a dog that is not used to frequent cuddling and hugging may respond by fleeing, wriggling, and snapping. If this is the case with your dog, be patient and take a gradual approach to getting it used to a loving embrace. Ensure that children who hug dogs always keep their faces away from the dog, and monitor the dog's reaction so that you can intervene quickly if needed. Dogs are social animals and need contact, so you should avoid making them feel overly isolated. The first nights of having a puppy in the home are essential. Try to stay near the puppy such as having its crate in your room, then gradually move his/her to where he/she will sleep permanently. This will reassure the dog that all is well. Do not share your bed with a dog unless you want this to become a permanent arrangement. Doing this creates a permanent expectation in your puppy's mind.

Clarify intentional commands.
Being clear, consistent, and concise with your commands and direct communication with your dog can help your dog understand what you want him to do. Most dogs want to please their owners, so they will try to adapt their behavior to your expectations.

Always repeat commands using the same words and tone so that your dog knows his name and understands that he should be listening to you.

Alter your tone when communicating different emotions to your dog. Dogs have instincts that help them discern if we are happy with them or upset with them. If you smile and tell your dog good dog in a happy tone, he will know that he has done something right. Likewise, if you correct him in an angry tone, he will know that he has done something wrong. This is an important thing to take in consideration when training.

Remember that dogs forget things frequently. However, they will remember things that they have been trained about, where certain things and people are, who you are and who their friends are, getting praised, and surprising things (good or bad) that happen.

Shouting at your dog, gesticulating wildly, or shaking "weapons" like a broomstick at your dog will seem like crazy behavior and does nothing to change your dog's behavior. It can, however, upset an already insecure and fearful dog even more. Spare your energy and stay calm. Keep your communication tactics clear and reasoned. Keep this in mind while correcting a dog. If you come home to a destroyed sofa, yelling at the dog will not achieve anything, as the dog will not make the connection between the destroyed sofa and the correction.

Develop mutual communication.
Having a 2-way communication relationship with your dog will help both of you maintain a healthy relationship. Keeping the lines of communication open and showing your dog that you understand his/her will help you know when to step in if something is wrong.

Research how dogs communicate with each other. Modeling your own communication strategy on dog-to-dog communication can lead to more successful communication.


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Your dog loves affection in all forms, including massage. While non-dog lovers may scoff at the idea, massage therapy is a growing trend in pet care and it is having noticeable positive results. Dogs that enjoy being pet will enjoy massage. In the same way a massage makes us feel sleepy and relaxed, so will a successful doggy massage.

You should never force a dog to accept being massaged and always stop if the dog is anything other than willing. A dog that wriggles, whines, or refuses to relax is trying to tell you something. It might be they are not comfortable - perhaps lying on a hard surface, are in pain, or you plain are not massaging them right. Whatever the reason, stop and review what you are doing and how.

Remember - all dogs are individuals. For every dog that is friendly and would rather lick the mailman than bark at him, there is another dog who is overly anxious, fearful, or perhaps even aggressive. Since massage involves touching the dog to induce a state of deep relaxation, if that dog dislikes being stroked, then a massage is not going to go well.

Body Language Signs a dog is feeling a massage are those of deep relaxation. Look for the following signs which show you are hitting the right spot:
Wag Tail
Ears Drop
Stomach Flip
Tongue Hanging

More signs to watch out for if your dog is enjoying a massage include:
Calm Behavior
Deep Breathing
Slowed Heart Rate
Relaxed Limbs
Heavy Eyelids

Only a dog that trusts you and relaxes will benefit from massage. Therefore, it is crucially important to first work with the dog so that they are comfortable with hands-on contact. If the dog pulls away from being stroked, then they are not going to appreciate the more intense nature of massage.

Step number one is to praise the dog and offer a small titbit when they approach you. Obviously, if they are your dog then this bit is super-easy, but this may not be the case with an unfamiliar dog. Avoid making eye contact, as this is threatening to dogs, and wait for them to approach you. Then, talk in a quiet sing-song voice and drop treats on the ground to help embolden them.

Once the dog is happy with your presence and being stroked, proceed to the next step. Make sure you have a comfortable padded surface for the dog to lie on. A VetBed is ideal as is a thick blanket. Encourage the dog to lie in a comfortable position, but again, when starting out, do not force them into any particular position.

Once the dog has settled, you may wish to have an assistant gently cuddle the dog, so as to steady them in one place. Start with light, slow strokes of the hand, to test out how the dog reacts. Praise them in a loving voice as they remain calm or relaxes further. Gradually increase the pressure to a therapeutic level.

More and more, veterinarians and trainers are looking to human therapies and treatments to expand their ability to help our furry friends. Massage therapy has already been proven to be effective in alleviating a plethora of problems from tight muscles, pain, anxiety, and lowering blood pressure in humans. Professionals in the dog world are finding the same results when it comes to your dog.

Massaging your dog feels good to your dog, but also shortens the healing time of sprained ligaments and strained muscles. It strengthens the immune system, stimulates liver and kidney function, and improves circulation of the lymphatic and blood system. Massage therapy has also been shown to aid in digestion, reduce pain and swelling as well as scar tissue, improve movement and balance by strengthening your dog's proprioception, as well as reduce muscle spasms, tension, and stiffness. Massage therapy also helps to nourish his skin and coat.


When you massage your dog on a regular basis, you are providing yet another opportunity to bond with and get to know him. He will become more socialized in having hands laid on him and you will quickly learn which spots he needs you to focus on as well as spots to avoid. In massaging your dog, you will learn his skin, fur, muscles, and skeletal structure. Should he develop any problems, you will be more likely to feel them and notice them sooner and will be able to talk to your veterinarian about what you have discovered.

Early detection of problems can decrease the level of medical interventions necessary as well as recovery time. Studies have also shown that people who give massages also experience a decrease in blood pressure and feelings of anxiety. Massaging your pet is almost as beneficial to you as it is to him. Massaging your pet also helps you provide support to him if he has an anxious personality with certain triggers. If a storm is coming, or it is Fourth of July, and loud sounds are a trigger for him, you can provide him a relaxing massage to help him get through.

Massaging your dog can take as few as ten minutes a day. It is important that your dog is calm and in a submissive state when you start the massage. Starting when he is fearful could increase that emotion. Often a short walk is enough to get him in the mood. You can start with simple stroking, gently and with a flat open palm, from one end of his body to the other.

You can start at the head - go over his body to the tail, and then down all four of his legs. Your next step is to use the effleurage stroke, which is a gliding stroke that uses medium pressure from the whole hand. This stroke focuses on the major muscles, and should always move towards your dog's heart. Move from his tail to his torso, his toes towards his chest to keep the flow towards his heart.


These strokes help the lymphatic system and can help alleviate fluid retention and swelling. For a deeper level of massage that focuses on knots in soft tissue and relieving more tension, use petrissage. This is the compressed kneading of the muscles. You can "roll" his skin and watch his tail wag away.

After he is warmed up, if you know he has injured certain areas, you can apply a gentle chopping motion or compression with your palm on those injured areas in a pumping motion. This often breaks up spasms and allows fluid to relieve the pain in the area. Throughout the massage, talk softly and soothingly to your dog.

Watch him for signs of discomfort and stop if at any point he seems upset or uncomfortable. Some dogs can only tolerate massage for short periods of time, so start slowly and let his reaction guide you.

There are certain areas you need to be especially careful of when massaging your dog. When working on his back, do not press directly onto his spine. When working on his paws, note if he pulls away or kicks at you when you touch his paw pads. Dogs often do not like to be touched between their toe pads and have an automatic kick response to being touched there. Also, note if one or more legs begins kicking in a rapid fashion. You may be spending too much time in an area that is triggering his automatic kick reflex.

His sensory system cannot handle the massage in that area and you may be making him uncomfortable. Always use caution in using massage on dogs that have open wounds, stress fractures, blood-clotting problems, or tumors. It is important to speak with your veterinarian if he has chronic health issues or unexplained pain before you start using massage. If his problems are behavioral, speak to a dog trainer about ways in which massage therapy can help. You can also ask your trainer if she is trained, or knows someone who is trained, in canine massage therapy techniques.


This article proudly presented by
Mikkel Becker

Can cats and dogs ever be friends? Some can, while others will fight like โ€” well, like cats and dogs. Why the inconsistency? The problem may be that the two species don't always speak the same language. Cats and dogs communicate with us and with each other, through body language. When using body language to interpret what our pets are saying, it is important to consider both the context and the pet's individual personality. While certain physical cues commonly appear in both cats and dogs, those cues don't always mean the same things, and it's important to know the differences in order to better understand your cat or dog.


Here are a few examples of behaviors that may communicate dramatically different things for each species:

Tail Held High:
When a cat holds her tail high, it can signal that she is friendly and relaxed. The higher the cat's tail, the more confident she may be. However, if her tail is raised high with the fur erect and puffed out, it usually indicates alarm or potential aggression. As she becomes more unsure or fearful, her tail is more likely to slink lower.

When a dog holds his tail high, on the other hand, it often signals high arousal and the possibility of aggressive behavior. A dog that is agitated and about to aggress may also flick his tail back and forth vigorously. A dog is more likely to carry his tail in a neutral position, extended out behind him, when he is relaxed.

Wagging Tail:
Friendly dogs wag their tail loosely back and forth at medium height. When a cat's tail begins to wag back and forth, an unfriendly encounter or predatory attack is likely to occur.

Closed Mouth:
Relaxed Cats have closed mouths, Relaxed Dogs may have a closed or partially open mouth. The more tense a dog is, the more tightly closed his mouth becomes, although a very stressed dog may pant heavily or yawn.

Ears Up for Greeting:
A cat who is confident greeting people will normally hold her ears forward and alert. If her ears move backward or twitch, it may indicate uncertainty or that the encounter is not going well. By contrast, one sign of a friendly dog is that his ears move back just slightly. A submissive dog will move his ears back even further as an appeasement gesture. Dogs with erectly pricked ears may be ready to stand their ground against another animal if necessary. but this behavior is specific to the individual dog.

Turning to The Side:
Both dogs and cats turn their bodies to the side when attempting to shut off a potential threat. A dog may do this in order to show that he means no harm, while a cat may be trying to appear larger and more threatening to her opponent.

Lying Belly Ip:
A dog is likely to lie on his back as a submissive greeting behavior or as a way to get his belly rubbed by someone he's close to. A cat, on the other hand, will lie on her back in self-defense; this position allows her to have all four paws, with claws drawn, ready to react to any threat. A cat will sometimes lie on her back for people she's close to, but very few cats actually enjoy having their belly rubbed and may respond aggressively.


Sometimes Your Cat and Dog Are Speaking the Same Language. Your cat and dog may not always be on the same page, but they do share some behaviors. Here are a few that they have in common.

Ears Upright:
Cats and dogs both communicate through their ears. When they are relaxed, their ears usually point forward. When they are really excited or interested in something, their ears are likely to move all the way forward and upright. When the ears move backward and are flattened against the head, thereโ€™s often underlying fear or submission.

Raised Hackles:
When cats and dogs are feeling frightened or overstimulated, the hair on their back and tails fluffs out and stands on end. In both dogs and cats, hair standing on end indicates an animal ready to react.

Pupil Dilation and Blinking:
A cat's pupils dilate when she is afraid or is getting ready to attack. Similarly, a dog's pupils will dilate when he is fearful or aggressive. Dilated pupils can also indicate high arousal in both species. Eye blinks in dogs and cats indicate the desire for a peaceful greeting, while direct eye contact, without blinking or looking away, can signal a challenge in both dogs and cats.

Compacted Body:
When a dog or cat is afraid of something, he will make his body appear as small as possible, usually with the head held low. Similarly, both dogs and cats curl their tails underneath their bodies to indicate extreme fear.

Whiskers Stiffened:
Dogs and cats both have a normal height and structure to their whiskers. When they are stimulated by something and are about to react, their whiskers are more likely to stiffen and extend outward.

Panting can indicate various things in dogs, but in both species it can mean that the animal is highly stressed or frightened. Panting in a cat that is not interacting with another animal or in a fearful situation may indicate a serious health condition, and a veterinarian should be contacted immediately.

While yawning in dogs can indicate stress, both dogs and cats may yawn as a calming behavior in conflict situations.



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