By Nico Strydom
Dogs use their bodies and expressions to communicate their feelings.
By learning your dog’s body language you will know when it feels sad, happy, threatened or bad-tempered. Dogs use their whole body to show how they feel in a particular situation. They will bark, whine or growl and use facial expressions and their ears, lips, noses, tails and bodies, and it is therefore important to know what the different expressions and habits mean.
It is, however, important to take everything together as well as the situation in which the dog finds itself into consideration, otherwise you may misinterpret your dog’s disposition.
A dog’s body language is complicated and it may even be unique, but it could mean the following:
When your dog is calm and relaxed, its eyes will by their normal size. When the eyes appear to be bigger, it can mean that it feels threatened. It could be stressed or scared. Especially note the white part of the eye and note the focus and intensity of the dog’s look.
When a dog is stressed, its eyes may appear to be rounder than usual. Enlarged pupils can also be a sign of fear. A relaxed dog will also sometimes screw up its eyes. This gives them an almond-shaped appearance and only a little white can be seen.
The mouth of a happy or calm dog will usually be closed or be only slightly open. Of course, if it is hot the mouth will also be open and its breathing will be fast as if it has just run around or played.
When a dog pulls back its lips and shows its teeth, it means that it feels threatened or bad-tempered and it may be aggressive. When a dogs wants to bite, it will pull back its lips and bare all its teeth.
Some dogs look as if they’re smiling and then also bare all their teeth. In most cases it is precisely just this and will usually go along with a lowered head, wagging tail, flattened ears, a gentle bodily posture and soft eyes.
When a dog yawns a lot and licks its lips, it could be an early sign of stress.
The ears of the different breeds of dog differ in form. The size and form of a dog’s ears will determine how it uses them to communicate. When the dog is calm, its ears will look normal. When something draws its attention, it will normally lift its ears, if possible. When the ears are only slightly pulled back, it can only mean that it is friendly, but if they are pulled down flat or far back, it usually means that it is scared.
Dogs wag their tails for various reasons and what they want to communicate thereby is limited by the type of tail they have. If a dog feels at ease, its tail will be in the normal position and when it is happy, it will usually wag slightly.
Many dogs’ hair will stand on end on the back if they are upset or feel threatened.
When your dog feels content and happy, its muscles will be relaxed and its body will look normal. When a dog feels scared, it will normally pull itself into a strange position and crouch forward. When your dog hears something, its muscles will tense and it will lift its neck and head.
If your dog wants to play, it will usually bend down with its hindquarters in the air, followed by exaggerated facial and body movements.
A dog that is probably going to become aggressive, will stand with its head raised above its shoulders. Its weight will be spread over all four legs or it will put more weight on its forelegs and bend forward slightly.
How Stuff Works: https://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/how-to-solve-dog-behavioral-problems.htm
Go South: https://gosouth.co.za/understanding-dogs-body-language/
Animal Talk: https://animaltalk.co.za/dog-body-language-2/
Friends of the dog: https://www.friendsofthedog.co.za/body-language.html
Shinga Pet: https://www.shingavet.co.za/blog/understanding-dogs-body-language/