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Can you hear what your dog is telling you?

Many people have the ability to understand a second language like Spanish or Latin, but how about dog.

That’s right, I said dog. Dog’s have their own way of communicating through body language, facial expression, and vocalization.

A puppy will practice various body postures and learn what responses she gets from her littermates and mother. Dogs seem to understand this “dog language” as a method of communicating with each other.

This method of communicating seems to be understood by every breed, size or any other form of diversity seen in dogs.

Dogs assume that we understand their language. Problems can occur when we misunderstand the messages that our dogs are trying to tell us.

As dog owners, it is important to recognize the different body postures and behavior patterns of our dogs to help us understand them.

The relaxed body posture is when a dog is relaxed and comfortable with his surroundings, such as when he is at home.

In the relaxed body posture his tail is down, his ears are up, but not forward, his head is high, and the corners of his mouth are relaxed.

Another common body posture is the alert posture. Now his tail is straight out, his ears are forward, mouth is closed, and he may stand tall on his toes. In the alert posture he is indicating that he is interested in something or someone.

This posture is usually a prelude to another behavior, depending on how he reacts to the stimuli that interested him in the first place.

This is the posture he will display when he is trying to decide how to react.

It is important to be able to recognize this posture so you can have the ability to redirect his attention with treats, toys, sound, and movement. This will help prevent him from displaying an inappropriate behavior like fear or aggression.

When your dog escalates a situation and becomes aggressive and ready for attack, he will stand in an offensive threat position.

Now his tail is up and stiff, his hackles are up, his ears are held forward, he may wrinkle his nose, his corners of his mouth are forward, and he stands tall and forward. A growl will often accompany this posture.

It is important not to use a physical correction on your dog while in this posture. This could cause him to redirect his aggression on you.

A submissive posture is presented when your dog has chosen to submit to a dominant dog or human.

This may be seen during training when a dog is confused about what his owner wants him to do.

When he is in this posture his tail is tucked or down, he will be looking away, may roll onto his back, his corners of his mouth are back and his body will be lowered.

Understanding your dog’s posture or “dog language” will help you understand your dog and you will be able to better predict his actions and prevent unwanted actions.

For more detailed instruction on this or any obedience issue, seek advice from a professional trainer.

Remember, every dog deserves to be treated like a show dog.

Tony Barker, The BARKer Shop