A dog might stretch after standing up, just as people do, or might drop into a
stretch when bored or to lead into a
Dog communication comes in a variety of forms.
Dogs use certain
movements of their
bodies and body parts and different
vocalizations to send
other dogs, animals
and humans. There
are a number of basic ways a dog can communicate. These are movements of the
eyes and "eyebrows",
head, tail, and
entire body, as well as
Dominance and submission
One of the most common communications between dogs, and from dogs to their
human companions, is the display of either
Most dogs and wild canines live in groups, or
with an established
Dogs will, usually, submit to any dog that is more dominant than they are. There
are innumerable ways a dog can show their dominance or submission, depending on
situation, the amount of difference in
rank, and each dogs' own
personality. Dominant dogs are more confident, while submissive dogs are
Both of these traits show in almost every communication signal a dog gives.
- See also
How high or low the tail is held, in relation to how the dog's
naturally carries their tail, and how it is moved can signify the dog's
mood and/or rank.
The higher the tail is carried, the more dominant/confident the dog is; the
lower, the more submissive/insecure. A tail held straight up, or even slightly
curved over the back, shows that the dog is very dominant. If the fur on the
tail is also bristled, the dog is saying they are willing and able to defend
Small, slow wags of the tail says the dog is questioning things around them.
Either they aren't sure if the target dog or person is friendly, or they aren't
sure what is going on or what is expected of them.
Large, fast wags of the tail is a sign of a happy dog. If the wags are large
enough to pull the dog's hips with them, the message includes a bit of
submission to someone they view as pack leader.
docked tails, like
tend to have some problems communicating with other dogs, since their tail
movements are extremely difficult to detect.
Ear position relates the dog's level of attention, and reaction, to a
situation or animal. Erect ears facing forward means the dog is very attentive,
while ears laid back suggests a negative, usually fearful, reaction. Dogs with
drop ears, like
Beagles, can't use these signals very well, as the signals first developed
in wolves, whose
ears are pricked.
Mouth expressions can provide information about the dog's mood. When a dog
wants to be left alone, he might yawn (although yawning also might indicate
sleepiness, confusion, or stress) or start licking his mouth without the
presence of any food. When a dog is happy or wants to play, he might pant with
lips relaxed, covering the teeth and with what sometimes appears to be a happy
expression (it might appear as a smile to some observers) or with the mouth
open. Mouth expressions that indicate aggression include the snarl, with lips
retracting to expose the teeth, although some dogs also use this during play.
It's important to look at the dog's whole body and not just the mouth or tail
before deciding what the dog is trying to communicate. What appears initially as
aggression might be an invitation to play.
Eyes and eyebrows
While dogs don't have actual eyebrows, they do have a distictive ridge above
their eyes, and some breeds, like the
German Shepherd, have markings there. A dog's eyebrow movements usually
express a similar emotion to that of a human's eyebrow movements. Raised
eyebrows suggest interest, lowered brows suggest confusion or mild anger, and
one eyebrow up suggests bewilderment. Slitted eyes translate the same as human's
also: suspicion or anger.
Dogs bark for many reasons, such as when perceived intruders (humans, dogs,
or other animals) approach its territory, for identification, when hearing an
unfamiliar or unidentified noise, when seeing something that the dog doesn't
expect to be there, or when playing. Barking also expresses different emotions
for a dog, such as loneliness, fear, suspicion, stress, and pleasure. Play or
excited barks are often short and sharp, such as when a dog is attempting to get
a person or another dog to play.
Dogs generally try to avoid conflict; their vocalizations are part of what
communicates to other dogs whether they mean harm or are in a playful mood.
The bark of a distressed or stressed dog is high pitched, atonal, and
repetitive (and tends to get higher in pitch as the dog becomes more upset). For
example, a dog left home alone and who has separation anxiety might bark in such
Some research has suggested that dogs have separate barks for different
animals, including dog, fox, deer, human and cat.
Growls can be used to threaten, to invite play, and to show dominance.
Growling should be watched with special attention because it can indicate
dominance or aggression. A soft, low-pitched growl often indicates aggression;
the dog may feel threatened and may be provoked to attack. An intense growl,
without showing any teeth, may often indicate a playful attitude. Always
consider the context of a growl, and approach with caution.
Whines and whimpers
Dogs whine and whimper to show that they are in pain or are afraid, but also
when excited, such as when greeting another dog. Some dogs may use whining as a
means of getting attention.
Howling provides long-range communication with other dogs or owners. Howling
can be used to locate another pack member, to keep strangers away, or to call
the pack for hunting. Sometimes dogs howl in response to high-pitched or loud
noises such as alarms, sirens, music, or singing. In
howling dog represents a bad sign, for it is believed that howling dogs sense
somebody's death somewhere in the vicinity.
Bark (dog) for how humans of various languages represent the sound that
a barking dog makes, and information on the evolution of the dog's bark.
- How to Speak Dog by
| Alpha Roll
| Dog Attack
| Clicker Training
| Dog Collar
| Animal Communication
| Dog Communication
| Crate Training
| Dog Aggression
| Dog Trainer
| Dog Intelligence
| The Intelligence of Dogs
| Obedience School
| Obedience Training
| Operant Conditioning
| Prey Drive
| Dog Society
| Dog Whistle
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