Every dog has its own individual personality. Sometimes, people will think that all dogs of a certain breed are the same, but it’s important to remember that each dog is an individual. Even within the same breed, every dog has its own emotional and physical characteristics as well as different personalities.
All dogs need to hear clear directions from their pet owners, so it’s important that the boundaries and rules in your house are taught and reinforced. This makes working with your dog a lot easier and also makes him well-mannered around others. As you work with your pup, remember that personality quirks vary between dogs, so he may not respond to your instruction the way other dogs would.
Some dogs can be sweet and easy to work with, others can annoyingly stubborn, and a few may actually be dangerous for you to work with. Depending on your experience owning a dog, it’s possible that you will be able to work with any personality quirks your dog may have. Just remember to make sure your commands are consistent, clear, and concise.
Since dogs primarily use non-verbal cues to communicate, we asked seasoned dog lover and owner of Cozy Crates, Dave Miller, for tips to understand the language dogs are using. This very clear communication allows the dog to let us know when he is happy, irritated, and downright upset. Most dog bites can be prevented if the human was able to read the dog correctly.
There are a few of the basic dog postures that you will see each day. Every posture will indicate a different attitude, but this is in no way all that you need to know to understand your dog. Depending on how you work with dogs, this is just the beginning. There is a lot more you can learn about dog communication, but these basics will help you have a better relationship with your own dog, and you will be able to respond positively to your dog in non-verbal ways.
Your first responsibility as a pet owner is to treat your dog with respect and use humane dog handling practices. Plus, the more that you study dog personality and their body language, the better your skills will become.
Basic Dog Body Language
As you start to observe your dog, you will instantly recognize a few of the basic dog body positions. Here are six of the most common dog positions that you will see:
Non-Threatening Dog Body Language:
The Relaxed Stance
Your dog is in a neutral frame of mind and does not pose a threat. It’s seen when your dog is secure and comfortable with his surroundings. You will notice that his head is upright, ears relaxed, tail down, and his mouth will either be closed or open with relaxed panting.
In the play bow, your dog’s rear is up in the air while his front legs are lowered and spread out, and his elbows are almost touching the floor. You will notice his tail either hanging down relaxed or wagging. Your dog’s ears will be forward, and he will have a happy and alert expression on his face.
Submissive Body Position
With the submissive posture, your pet could be rolling around on his back, and completely exposing his stomach. His tail will be tucked, he will avoid eye contact, and if he feels threatened, he may pee.
These three postures will indicate that your dog is safe to approach using a gentle and calm manner. This type of dog is typically easy to train and responds well to basic commands. Typically, enthusiastic dogs will need a firmer command while more submissive dogs respond better when you use gentler techniques.
Make sure you use caution when you approach dogs with this body language:
Alert Body Posture
This posture means the dog is very aware of his surroundings. A dog can easily transition this body posture into other behavioral states instantly. You will notice your dog will stand upright and tall, and his body is tense. His mouth will be closed, tail raised, ears forward, and he will give you direct eye contact.
Defensive Body Position
In the defensive body position, your dog is telling you he is frightened and is being self-protective. The dog’s pupils will be dilated, his tail low and tucked, hackles up, and his head will be low while his ears are back. He will also be snarling and have a wrinkled muzzle. When you approach a dog in this posture, the dog will either run away or bite if he is cornered.
Offensive Body Position
With this posture, the dog is telling you he is aggressive, dangerous, and ready to attack you. His hackles will be up, tail up and stiff, ears forward, and he will give you direct eye contact. He will also be snarling and growling, which is a good indication of how he is feeling.
These three positions will tell you that you need to approach your dog with caution. Depending on your response to his posture, he may feel comfortable once again and slip into a non-threatening pose. Once he does that, you can feel safe to approach again.
Remember that if a dog feels threatened in any way, he can easily slip into fight or flight mode. This is a natural defense that can quickly become a situation that is difficult to control. This is a dog that could attack and bite, so it’s important to read your dog and his posture carefully to have a healthy and safe relationship.
No one wants to get injured by their dog, so it’s important to remember that when you interact with your dog that you need to remain collected, calm, and cool at all times, no matter what the circumstances are.
Since there are several types of dogs, some of them may need specific ways to handle them. There are tons of stylists and groomers that have learned their skills well and specialize in working with aggressive dogs as well as puppies and geriatric dogs. If you learn a dog’s body language, it will keep both you and your dog safe no matter what the circumstances. The more that you learn and work with your pup, the safer your dog will be around other people and other animals.
Once you understand your dog’s unspoken language, you are able to take the necessary precautions in order to protect yourself and those around you. It also allows you to have more control in the situations so that you can treat your dog in a respectful and safe manner.