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 Dog Body Language

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Dog Training

Understanding dog body language can greatly improve the communication between a pet and a human. In order to figure out what a dog is trying to say, a person must analyze various body features. The biggest mistake people do is looking at only one part of a dog’s body, and not paying aClick here to learn dog body language right nowttention to all the others. For example, a wagging tail does not always mean that a dog is in a playful mood.

Which body features should be analyzed?

Humans have a wide variety of facial expressions that they rely on. However, dogs use not only their face, but their entire body to communicate. Ears, tail, teeth, body, and vocal expressions are all part of a puppy’s way of interacting with others.


Noticing the way the ears are positioned is the key to understanding dog body language. The ears can be perked up, turned front or back in order to pick up different sounds, close to the head, or down and close to the head.


The position of the tail is also important when analyzing dog body language. It can be fluffed, straight out, up, wagging, lowered, between legs, and low.


Another way that dogs communicate is by showing their teeth – jaw snapping, slightly open or closed mouth, wide open mouth, bared teeth.


The dog’s body is probably the most important feature that needs to be analyzed. The body can be tense and upright, crouched low, with hackles on the neck and back, shivering, or normal.


The bark or absence of a bark is important when analyzing dog body language. Dogs can also whine, whimper, yelp, give out a soft and playful growl, bark loud, yap, and moan.

Most common expressions


Happiness is one of the most popular canine dog body language expressions. When a puppy is playful, the ears are up and forward, the eyes are wide open, the body is relaxed, while the tail is wagging energetically. The bark is excited, and there can be playful growling as well.


When a dog is defending either an object or territory, it can look quite scary. The tail is firm and straight out, the teeth are bared, the body is tense and hackled, and a loud bark warns others to stay away.


If a dog is showing signs of aggression, it is best to leave it alone or remove the aggressor. Dogs are not aggressive unless they are provoked. The signs of aggression are ears close to the head pointing forward or back, snarling and jaw snapping, the tail is fluffed and hackles are visible, and growls or loud barking is common as well.

Unlike humans, dogs do not sensor their body language. The negative expressions include puffy and stiff tail that is located straight out from the body. Growling, barking, and showing of teeth combined with a tense body that is either standing straight or is crouched down are all signs that can be associated with negative actions. Positive expressions include covered teeth, wagging tail, short barking or yapping, and relaxed body. Dog body language can be interpreted by analyzing the appearance of his or her ears, tail, teeth, body, and bark.