A dog’s body language is more than a wagging tail or bared teeth. It is a way of communication letting others know who they are, what their pack position is and much more.
Dogs don’t just communicate vocally they also use and interpret body language. They use their whole body to communicate from a tilt of the head to a wagging of the tail.
Start taking note of your dog’s actions and learn to understand it.
The more that you understand your dog, the more you will know how your messages to him are understood.
Take a trip to the dog park and watch how dogs interact with each other. Learn how one dog’s body language communicates and reacts to another dog’s body language.
Watch the positions of his ears and the look on his face from the frown on the forehead to the tension around mouth and muzzle. How his weight is distributed and how he is holding his tail. You will begin to learn if he is relaxed and / or dominant in a given situation or whether he is submissive or even fearful.
A dominant dog isn’t an aggressive dog, he is confident of himself and his position. Likewise, a submissive dog is not a frightened dog. In fact they are also confident knowing where they stand in the grand scheme of things. They know their position and are content with it.
A dog’s body language may show that they are submissive to a higher rank but dominant to a lower rank. In fact it is within these middle ranks that most fighting occurs because they are continually vying for position.
A pack leader does not need to lower himself to fighting.
When you are at the park, watch the dogs that are playing together but more importantly watch those that are meeting for the first time. How does one react to the other, do they both react the same? Does one dog show dominance over the other?
When you watch them, look at their overall behavior and then try to pick out the subtleties in the behavior. Do they both meet with tails up and wagging, are they relaxed or stiff? Watch the eyes, the ears, mouth and hair – particularly along the neck and back.
Dogs are naturally pack animals with acute senses. They can hear, see and smell things long before we can. They are always watching each other as well as to what is going on around them.
They use their body language as a means of communication and will very often watch yours and interpret your moves. Knowing this, we can use it to our advantage by doing two things; learning our own dog’s body language and learning how to use it in their training.