Every dog owner will have at one time or another, found themselves wondering what their pet is trying to tell them. Are they trying to alert you to something? Are they worried, or are they just excited?
Whilst this may start off as a little amusing, it can quickly become concerning, and not to mention your pet is left unable to communicate their needs.
Here, you can pick up some great tips to open up a whole new form of communication between you and your pup.
One mistake pet owners often make is, we interpret dogs behaviours as we would humans. For example, your pet has done something bad and has a guilty look on their face. We as humans, would understand this as ‘they know they have done something wrong and that’s why they look guilty’ when in fact, what we are seeing is your pet looking worried that their humans are about to punish them.
So, it’s important we understand our dogs just as well as they understand us humans. Dogs have a great gift of reading our behaviours and creating patterns to not only understand, but also predict their owner’s habits. So, if you can pick up on some key signs your pet is giving off, you should be able to understand, and correct their behaviour. After all, the first step towards getting rid of bad behaviours in your pet, is to understand why and where it’s coming from.
Barking and Animal Vocalisation
Barking is a dogs most common way of communicating, and naturally, dogs will bark for one of 3 reasons.
1) A Disturbance bark – Dogs will bark to alert you to something, or warn against something. This bark will be a low pitched, quick, harsh bark. This will happen, for example, when the doorbell rings or someone is passing closely to your property.
2) An Isolated bark – An isolated bark can have more complex reasons behind it. This bark will usually be higher pitched and the tone may vary. This bark is primarily used to get their owners attention, and many dogs quickly learn that doing this bark repetitively will eventually get them the attention they want. You will find these isolated barks in dogs that have been spoilt, and they will use this bark to get whatever they want.
3) A playful bark – This will occur during play with their owners and other dogs, or an excited greeting. This is very similar to the isolated bark, although it will happen in clusters of barks.
You will find that all of the barks you hear from your dog will fall into one of these sub categories. If your dog is bored, they will display isolated barks. If your dog is fearful, they will display the disturbance bark, and so on.
A dog’s tail is also a big indicator of your dog’s feelings, even without any barking you can begin to read the signs before any vocal queues.
1) Low Hanging Tail – This tail position, without any tension, is a relaxed position letting you know your dog is calm and confident. If this low hanging tail become tense and ridged, this is a sign of submission.
2) Tucked Under the Body – Quite the opposite, a tail tucked under your dog’s body is a sign your dog is fearful and nervous. This is usually accompanied by low drooping body language and averted eye contact.
3) Vertical Tail – This high up tail position is a clear sign your dog is dominant, confidant, and letting other dogs know they are boss.
4) Horizontal Tail – This often translates to curiosity and caution. This position will often change into one of the other positions once your dog has worked out their surroundings.
It’s important to remember that all of the behaviours and actions discussed will often be accompanied by other body postures, which will be key to translating how your dog is feeling. Over time, owners will become accustom to their pet and by paying close attention to their signals you can become in sync with their ways of communication.
A great final thought to take away with you today is ”Dogs have emotions we are able to relate to as humans, however, we first need to understand them as Dogs”