Tips for understanding dog behaviour
If dogs could talk, do you ever wonder what they would say?
Because dogs can’t talk, there is unfortunately a lot of misunderstanding that goes on between us and our canine friends. As humans, we often presume what our dogs are trying to tell us, but more often than not we probably actually get it wrong.
Our furry friends are very intelligent creatures and it isn’t their fault that we can’t understand them. In fact, you might get frustrated when they don’t listen to you, but remember, it is hard for them to understand us too!
To help you sharpen your doggy communication skills, check out these useful tips on understanding dog behaviour and emotions.
What is my dog feeling?
Just like humans, our furry friends have emotions and feelings too! In fact, they feel a lot of the same things we do; sadness, happiness, anxiety, anger, and fear.
Our pups are always trying their best to express their emotions to us, but because they can’t use words they use behaviour.
So as their owners, we really need to try and listen or “read” what they are trying to tell us. Because most of the things they do, they actually do for a reason.
5 dog expressions to look out for:
1. Sadness: dogs will usually indicate this by whining/whimpering, showing signs of mopey behaviour around things they usually enjoy, low energy, and refusal of food or treats.
2. Happiness: this is the most obvious feeling as our furry friends will wag their tail enthusiastically. In addition to this, they will have gentle eyes, floppy ears and will often “grin”.
3. Anxiety: these symptoms may be similar to sadness, but they may also have wide eyes, and the dominant dog body language for anxiety will be a lowered, “small” posture.
4. Anger: angry dogs usually make themselves look as large as possible, their fur will often stand on end, they will show teeth, and often express a low growl (as opposed to barking).
5. Fear: when dogs are scared they often make themselves look small and have their tail between their legs, they will also probably stand very still and they may bark or whimper.
How do I know if my dog is sick?
As people, we have the luxury of asking for help when we are unwell, but our pups cannot do this. So if they are feeling rough, they may be trying to show you!
Look out for the following symptoms and body language, for dogs who are sick:
Change in behaviour: if your dog is showing signs of irritability, withdrawal, agitation, whimpering, circling, head tilt, disorientation or clinginess, they are probably trying to tell you they don’t feel well.
Trouble breathing: coughing, wheezing, gagging, off-colour gums (they should be pink not blue!)
Tummy troubles: this is often easy to spot in dogs, as they will often lose their appetite, show symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, or they might even have an uncommon “accident” inside.
Outward appearance: look out for lumps, bone or joint swelling, extreme weight loss or gain, rashes, hair loss, or itching.
Why is my dog barking?
You may be constantly yelling at your dog to shut up, but there are a variety of reasons why your dog might be barking. After all, it is their way of communicating.
Here are some reasons why your dog may be barking:
Loneliness or boredom: often when dogs bark at “nothing” it means they’re bored or lonely (they might be trying to get your attention).
Demanding: your pup might be barking because they want something (e.g. to go outside, or because they’re hungry).
Territorial or protective: when a dog senses danger, like when an unknown person or animal comes into their territory they will often bark to alert you of these “intruders”.
Greeting or excitement: your pup may simply be saying hello to you or another person or dog.
Anxiety or fear: our furry friends might bark because they are scared (e.g. in the car, or at other dogs).
Dog thoughts: make sure you listen!
It is important not to “take over” your dogs communication by making presumptions. Look into their eyes; just like people, a dog’s feelings is often expressed in their eyes.
Dogs are extremely intelligent creatures. There’s a reason they say dogs are a human’s best friend! It is because our dogs are always looking out for us.
So we need to look out for them too! And this means “listening” to dog thoughts and canine body language!
Want to learn more about your pups behaviour? Give us a call on 09 488 2227, or pop into our store to speak to a Nose to Tail professional!