Friday, April 30, 2010

Dog Communication Signs

5 Dog Communication Signs That Are Easy To Misinterpret

Despite the time we spend with our pets, most humans misinterpret many dog communication signals. We tend to think that dogs have similar thought patterns to ours. Meanwhile, dogs think that we understand their language, too.

For humans and dogs to communicate effectively, we must become more aware of what they are telling us, since they do not have the capability of purposefully learning our language. We have take the first step.

Here are 5 dog communication signals to get you started.

1. Dog barking is one that you will have to learn by studying how your dog responds in different situations. You will notice that if another dog is walking past the house, he might bark loudly and purposefully. If the dog ventures onto his property however, he will probably become a more aggressive barker. Watch him each time he barks so that you can learn how they differ and what each one means. Most importantly, you will discover that he barks for a reason and not just because he can.

2. Eye contact has several interpretations. Unlike humans, dogs do not like to be stared at or looked at with a fixed gaze. To them, this often means confrontation and challenge. Yet eye contact can also indicate playfulness and curiosity. If he avoids eye contact, he might be showing respect or he could be submissive or feel defeated or fearful. How your dog stands helps other dogs to read his intentions. Knowing these will help you as well.

3. Body language, such as head down and eyes diverted is a sign of submission. If the hair on the dog's back is raised, this is a distinct sign of aggression. Combine that with long looks and enlarged pupils and you can be sure that your dog is issuing a threat. Bared and clenched teeth with lips curled is a sign of aggression. Take it as a warning. If the dog holds his mouth slightly ajar with his tongue rolled to one side, your dog is relaxed. Some dogs will bare their teeth and roll their top lip when they are very happy. There is a difference between this behavior and aggression.

4. Ears are another tool that dogs use to communicate. Up and forward indicates he is alert. If they are rotated sideways, he is feeling insecure. If they are pulled straight back and down, it shows that he is being submissive. These signs are more obvious in shorthaired dogs with pointed ears. Floppy eared dogs communicate the same way but it is less obvious. You will have to look a little harder to spot the subtle changes.

5. A dog's tail can say a lot but many people do not understand how to interpret their messages. One misconception is that if the dog is wagging his tail he is happy and friendly, but this is not always true. If the tail is straight out and wagging slowly, it shows that he is mildly interested in whatever is before them. If it is wagging very quickly, this indicates that his energy levels are high and perhaps is overly excited. If a dog is wagging his tail and shows any signs of aggression as discussed, it is a sure sign to back off and be careful.

One interesting discovery made by one researcher is that when dogs are attracted to someone or something, they will wag their tails predominately to right and when he is fearful and apprehensive, they will wag to the left. Study your dog and see if you can spot this sign.

As you can see, there are many dog communication signs that can help you to understand your pet's messages. Use them to help communicate with him more effectively.

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