As a dog owner, some of the best conversations I have are those with my dogs. They always listen attentively, never argue or interrupt and always wag their tails. For the average dog owner communication appears to be a simple thing…they wag, give kisses and plead with big eyes to express themselves. But true canine communication goes far deeper than a wagging tail. Dogs communicate with us humans, and with other dogs, in many ways, most commonly through their body postures, as well as calming and stress signals they display. When we take the time to understand their “language” we develop stronger bonds and have healthier relationships with our four-legged family members.
Calming or stress signals include yawning, lip licking, looking away/avoiding eye contact or sniffing the ground. Watching a dog’s body posture is important. Is his tail tucked or stiff and tense? Each position means something different. The way she holds her ears, or the softness/hardness of her eyes, speaks volumes to how she is feeling at that moment. Dogs regularly express emotions of happiness, excitement, fear or varying levels of stress, so being able to pick up on these subtleties can help you to recognize your dog’s current emotional state.
Understanding canine communication is also the best way to protect children from potential dog bites. Dogs can be extremely tolerant but shouldn’t be forced to endure kids pulling, hitting or jumping on them. They give many signals to express their stress or discontent so parents must teach their kids to understand canine communication and to respect a dog that is stressed or giving warning signals. Our dogs provide us with unconditional love and never-ending devotion so the least we can do is take the time to learn their language.