How Dogs Use Body Posture to Communicate Assertiveness
Not all dogs are accepting of assertive displays
Dogs are generally natural conflict solvers, in other words, they will most likely try to avoid a fight as much as they can without resorting to aggression. In the wild, it takes too much energy to fight when there are more important priorities such as hunting for food and survival. For this reason, canines by nature prefer to use ritualized behaviors in order to solve conflicts. With proper posturing, a dog may show the other dogs that he is confident and therefore the other dog may not try to mess with him
Some of these postures are similar to a strong handshake. When you meet a person with a strong handshake you assume he's secure and confident. Same goes with somebody walking with his head up and straight. Others postures are more rude like a person coming straight up at you and invading your space.
How Dogs Use Posturing to Communicate Confidence and Assertiveness
These are postures that possibly may cause a dog fight, since these moves are quite assertive, and not all dogs are willing to accept them. If you take your dog at the dog park, you want to be wary of these moves, which may cause trouble. Your swift intervention, may prevent a dog fight before it ignites into a dangerous situation.
• Standing Tall and Still
Often confident dogs like to stand very tall and immobile upon meeting a new dog. These dogs are simply saying that they feel confident and secure. These dogs will typically keep the ears pricked up and the the tail high, often wagging slowly. This dog has no problem giving another dog a direct look. The posture of this dog is of superiority and will be most likely accepted by submissive dogs, however some confident wannabes may create problems in accepting any further proof of superiority. Because standing tall is a sign of being superior, this is why some dogs on the leash come off as being overly assertive, especially if you're delivering a leash correction. The leash makes a dog's head position look higher and the dog more assertive.
• Teeing Off
Some dogs will take their assertive nature to an extra step, by standing over another dog and placing the chin or paws over the shoulders of the other dog. This behavior is also known as ''teeing off'' and can mean trouble. The term 'teeing off'' comes from the fact that when an assertive dog does this, he ends up in a ''T'' position with the dog in a perpendicular 90 degree position in respect to the other.
Some owners believe that humping is a sexual behavior, but it is not unless you have a female in heat and an unaltered male dog. Despite the myth that dog humping is purely "dominant" behavior, in reality humping can mean several things. You may see humping in frustrated, aroused dogs. You may also see it in bully dogs.
Some assertive dogs will accompany their posture with piloerection. Piloerection takes place when the dog's hairs from the shoulder to the tail become erect, giving the dog an appearance similar to Halloween cats with their hairs on their backs raised. Dogs displaying piloerection are often known as having the ''hackles up''. Often tough, piloerection is used in fearful dogs to make themselves look bigger and possibly, scare an opponent away.
For further reading
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- The Function of a Dog's Hackles
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- Causes of Aggression in Dogs
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