Dog Body Language: How to Speak Dog

Dog Body Language

The truth is … our dogs are speaking and they are begging us to listen to them. In truth, too many of us do not understand the subtle signals that make up dog body language. When we don’t see, or if we choose to ignore, our dogs’ subtle signals, they have no choice but to speak louder through growls, barks, snarls … and even bites.

  • “I get anxious when you restrain me. Please stop hugging me.”
  • “It hurts when you pull on my matted fur. Please stop brushing me.”
  • “Cars are scary. Please stop forcing me to get in.”
  • “My joints hurt. Please stop petting my leg.”
  • “I just want to enjoy my dinner. Please stop sticking your hand in my bowl.”

Never punish your dog for growling.

Dog Body Language - stressed
I’m worried.
  • context matters; and
  • always judge the enitre dog, not just a single body part.
stiff, tense posture
Stiff, tense posture
space bubbles
Dog Body Language neutral tail carriage
Neutral tail carriage
Dog Body Language - floppy ears - neutral
Floppy ears – neutral

DOG BODY LANGUAGE: THE FACE

THE BROW

  • wide and round eyes
  • dilated pupils (the black circle in the middle of the eye is enlarged)
  • whale eye (an arc of white showing around the edges of the eyes)
  • hard” eyes (more of a hard, focused stare).
  • squinting – used to avoid eye contact
eyes - dilated pupils
Eyes – dilated pupils
  • A. Open relaxed mouth, neutral ears, soft eyes, whiskers directed forward. This dog is exhibiting relaxed body language.
  • B. Stiff posture, body directed forward, closed mouth with lips set in a straight line, whiskers directed forward, ears set back and down, hard eyes, high tail carriage. This dog is exhibiting stressed body language.
  • A. Relaxed posture, open relaxed mouth, neutral ears, soft eyes. This dog is exhibiting relaxed body language.
  • B. Stiff posture with body directed backward, wide round eyes with whale eye (difficult to see with the blue eyes), furrowed brow, ears pinned down and back, closed mouth with straight lips, whiskers directed forward. This dog is exhibiting stressed body language.
  • C. Loose, relaxed posture, relaxed mouth, neutral ears. This dog is exhibiting relaxed body language.
  • D. Stiff posture, closed mouth with straight lips, airplane ears, head turned away, whiskers directed forward. This dog is exhibiting stressed body language.
  • E. Crouched posture, body directed away from the person, wide round eyes with whale eye, prominent whisker bed, closed mouth with straight lips, furrowed brow, ears pinned back;. This puppy is exhibiting stressed body language.
  • F. Stiff posture with body directed away from person, yawning, squinting eyes. This dog is exhibiting stressed body language.
Dog Body Language - stressed
I’m worried.

77% of dog bites happen with a family or friend's dog. Now that you know better, do better.

  • Doggie Language by Lili Chin
  • Kitty Language by Lili Chin
  • Listen to Me! Exploring the Emotional Life of Dogs by Tricia Hollingshead
  • On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
  • Why Don’t You Listen to Me? by Hannah Capon
  • Dogs inTranslation: A unique journey of observation and interpretation
    by Katja Krauss and Gabi Maue
  • Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide by Brenda Aloff
  • A Kids’ Comprehensive Guide to Speaking Dog!:  A fun, interactive educational resource to help the whole family understand canine communication by Niki Tudge
  • Family Paws
  • The Family Dog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *