How do dogs express themselves?

The body language of a dog is unambiguous – at least when two or more dogs encounter each other, provided they have been sufficiently socialised with members of the same species. Our four-legged friends generally know how to interpret and respond to other dogs’ signals. After all a dog not only makes noises but also “talks“ with every creature from whom it can elicit a response. That is important to maintain harmony in the pack and also for a harmonious human/dog relationship.

Doggy gestures

Where dogs are concerned their wide range of placatory gestures and facial expressions plays a really important role. Gestures like averting their gaze, turning their head or body away, blinking, walking more slowly, sniffing the ground with apparent indifference or going out of their way help our four-legged friends to appease others. These mean “Please leave me alone” or “let’s get on amicably with each other”. The dog’s purpose here is to avoid or resolve conflicts with other dogs. Should a member of the same species respond with placatory signals, it knows “everything is OK, nothing to worry about“.

Understand your furry friend’s signals

Here is a tip for any human/dog routine – if you observe such signals, you can extricate your animal from its unpleasant situation or give it a sense of security. By the way this also averts any risk to other people, e.g. if someone gets too close to a dog for comfort. By the way we humans frequently misinterpret placatory gestures. Again and again people beat their dogs on the flank or on the head and bend over them. The effect of this is that sensitive dogs can feel very threatened. One often observes that dogs are making placatory gestures in such a situation and cannot understand at all why people keep hitting them. Time and time again this unfortunately gives rise to aggressive actions. Those involved then often come out with the sentence “the dog is disturbed and went berserk out of the blue“. It is all the more vital when you have a dog as a pet to understand its body language.

Friend or foe?

A dog naturally experiences other states of mind in its daily life, which are expressed via certain signals. You can see when a dog is happy and excited if it wags its tail rapidly at a low angle. If the dog’s tail is pointing straight upwards, wagging or not, the dog is alert, curious and single-minded. A dog also expresses this state of mind by pricking up its ears. Ears pressed close to the head signal “I am ready to fight”. If our four-legged friend barks and growls at the same time, his intentions are not good. That also applies to ruffled fur on the neck, a readiness to pounce or a strikingly hard stare. A scared animal on the other hand tucks its tail between its hind legs, avoids eye contact and cowers. Here if it opens its mouth, a dog is ready to defend itself or to repel an attack. Ears turned to the side can also signify insecurity. If a dog chucks itself with the greatest delight onto the grass and rolls around on its back, it feels completely at ease.

Non-verbal mutual understanding

This dog is saying “I like you”. It can only use body language to express what and how it feels. The better that people understand this, the better the interaction.
Call into your local store today to discuss your dog’s personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.