Our dogs try to communicate with us | How to interpret your dog’s behaviors
It is not always easy to communicate with other people. There could be language barriers, differences in opinions, wants, and attitudes, or more. Your communication with your dog is similar to this. He or she often tries to communicate something with you that may not be fully understood. Since they cannot speak, it is imperative to gain an understanding of your dog’s body language and behaviors. Here is a quick, beginner’s guide to understanding your dog.
Want to Go Outside?
When your dog needs to go outside, whether for the bathroom or fun, he will tell you. He (my dog is a male) will usually walk to the door and wait until I open it, dashing out into the yard at the first chance. Every dog is different and it is important to remember they communicate differently based on their personalities. Some of the most common doggy behaviors asking to go outside are:
- Circling around a specific spot in the room, or by the door.
- Sniffing around, looking for somewhere to potty.
- Whining and making sound to get your attention to go outside.
- Pacing by walking back and forth in front of the door or entrance.
- Moving to a distant part of the room, into a corner or behind furniture to hide and use the restroom.
- Scratching at the door, indicating the need to go outside and potty.
- Approaching vertical objects and sniffing them as if to left a leg and pee.
- Approaching you and staring, like mine does, asking you to let him or her out.
Learn Your Dog’s Signals
Make sure you study your dog’s communication when they are asking to go outside, and understand why they want out. Dogs are smart. They will take advantage if they know begging will get them whatever they want, and they may not have a reason to go out. They may even want to go out simply because there is a squirrel or something intriguing them. You can train your dog to ask to go out as well. Some dogs are timid or quiet, and don’t make it clear they want something. You can train your furry friend to touch a bell hung from the door handle with their nose by reinforcing the behavior with treats. This will give you a clear indicator of when it is necessary to go to the bathroom.
How to Tell When Your Pooch is Angry
Dogs, just like humans, get angry. Often times, an angry dog can be mistaken for a scared dog. They cannot communicate their feelings in the same way as us, and therefore have to use other means. If your dog is growling at you and showing its teeth, it is safe to assume that he or she is angry or scared. Just like how you use your tone of voice to convey a message, dogs do the same with barks and growls. They may be displaying signs of anger for a few different reasons. They may be feeling like you haven’t been giving them enough attention, or they don’t want to follow whatever command you gave as well. Other behaviors dogs display anger with are:
- Baring teeth
- Tucked tail
- Cowering without eye contact
How to Tell When Your Dog is Scared
It is not uncommon to mistake a dog being scared for a dog who is angry. Many dogs display aggressive behavior when they are scared in order to hopefully frighten off their aggressor. They will raise the hair on their necks and stick up their tail in order to look as large as possible. This is the same response that we as humans have: fight or flight. It is easy to mistake fear as shame or guilt as well. If you berate your dog for misbehaving, he may cower down to the ground and lower his ears in fear of your “wrath”. Even when your dog misbehaves and tears up your shoes or furniture, it may be a fear based response, as they are pack animals, likely to have separation anxiety. Make sure you take time with your dog before leaving them for any extended period of time.
How to Tell if Your Dog is in Pain
Your dog crying can be another area of great misunderstanding. Many owners think a dog’s whining is simply it trying to signal pain. In fact, dogs will often times do this for attention. Many times dogs will whine just to get you to pay attention to them, they love interaction and you are their favorite person. Your may also whine because he or she is anxious or uncomfortable. If your dog is whining, make sure he’s not in pain. They will often times seem to be a bit less social than normal while injured and it is not uncommon for dogs to lick the site of their injury.
Your dog displays body language that tells you that he is happy as well. The most common traits we associate with dogs, wagging the tail, is a dead giveaway. Always be careful of a dog you do not know though, as they could be wagging their tail out of curiosity and possibly fear. The best way to see if your dog is happy, is see how relaxed they are. If it is doing a happy tail wag, the whole body may move with it. The ears look relaxed, and it may seem as though your dog is smiling (like mine!) Always remember to keep an eye on your dog’s behavior signals and try to get to know the different ways they communicate with you.
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