Many of us like to think we are adept at readings our dogs’ emotions, but sometimes we lack the knowledge to effectively interpret the communicative signals our dogs are trying to send us.
The “language” our dogs use to communicate is made up of a number of key signals. By observing these indicators and learning how to interpret them we can get a far more accurate idea of our dog’s state of mind. Indicators to watch for include:
- body posture
- facial expressions
- position of the ears and tail
- barks, whines, and whimpers
Of course, context is crucial when it comes to understanding your dog since the same gesture can mean a variety of different things. For example, yawning doesn’t necessarily mean your dog is tired (it can also mean they’re a bit stressed) and baring teeth can be a sign of a submissive dog or a sign of aggression (though the later is typically accompanied by growling and hair standing up on the neck).
Much like in human interactions, canine communication is a two-way street. Learning how to understand your dog is foundational to building a strong and lasting relationship. It can also be extremely useful for training, discipline and safety purposes.
So how can we – as dog-owners – develop a better understanding of our favorite four-legged friends?
Fortunately, the folks over at Greyhounds as Pets have made a highly educational infographic about how to “decode your dog” which explains the many different ways in which dogs communicate and provides tips on how to read these to recognize a range of emotions.