Haven’t we all wondered what our dogs are thinking? Or many times wondered if they love us as much as we love them? Well, we certainly are guilty of these thoughts, but we believe we do understand what our dogs are trying to tell us because contrary to what many imagine, dogs are excellent communicators and do a wonderful job of expressing their feelings in some subtle and some not-so-subtle ways. Let’s read further in this blog to figure out what it is one needs to be aware of to make more educated guesses on this.
First of all we need to understand where to observe our dogs and what they do in situations. Dogs communicate using body movements and/or vocalizations to communicate what they are feeling. Although they do not feel complex emotions like guilt or shame, they do know the repercussions of such misbehaviours and hence, the body language that we commonly see on social media.
We all know when our dogs are happy. Their bodies are relaxed, sometimes the tongue out and we may see play bows, helicopter motion tails and dogs even resting belly up to say they feel secure & confident in their environment. But these same dogs, like us humans, will express other emotions in new places, amidst new people or around new sounds. In such situations, it is absolutely vital for us to understand what the dogs are trying to tell us.
Body parts: Many times we have heard pet parents tell us that their dogs are friendly because they see the dog’s tail wagging whenever a new dog is spotted. However they are surprised when soon after, they call us that the dog in fact is not comfortable around other dogs. “What happened” they ask...our answer to that has always been that body language is not viewed one body part at a time, but it is a mixture of several parts to send across a message to the other person/animal.
When one observes body language, we need to be clued into how the dog’s tail, ears, shoulders, mouth & eyes are all communicating. We never look at them one at a time, but we need to watch for what all of these or some of these body parts are doing to understand what our dogs are feeling. A raised stiffly wagging tail with an upright pair of ears and a stiff mouth is not the sign of a friendly dog at all! In fact it is more an alert and assertive stance the dog is taking…
Calming signals: Many times during play or right after we have kissed our dogs for the 100th time, we may see our dogs yawn, look away, lick their lips or scratch themselves and many more. This does not mean they are sleepy or have fleas, but these are ways for dogs to appease us and calm themselves down from feeling extreme emotions such as anxiety or excitement. When we see these calming signals, we need to realize that the dogs need some space, give them a break from what was being done and allow them to relax.
At Anvis, we have a whole set of videos for you to watch & learn on what our dogs are telling us. Reach out to us and we would love to talk!