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How Dogs Communicate Among Each Other

Updated on April 12, 2010

My Rottie sending ''calming signals'' to a new dog ready to be trained

There was really nothing particular to sniff in this area
There was really nothing particular to sniff in this area
My rottie insisted on sniffing in this manner every time she saw the dog
My rottie insisted on sniffing in this manner every time she saw the dog
Only now I know she was sending a calming signal to this new dog
Only now I know she was sending a calming signal to this new dog

Interpreting The Universal Language of Canines

While humans may have a hard time interpreting a dog's language, dogs learn fairly quickly from a tender age. Just day old puppies quickly learn that a whine will bring their mother's attention and that in order to survive they must resort to such vocalization. As weeks go by, puppies learn how to interact among their litter mates. They will learn ''bite inhibition'' in other words, they will learn that biting a litter mate  too hard will cause him to yelp in pain and withdraw from the play session. Next, time the puppy will learn to be ''softer mouthed'' if he wants to play. 

Puppy hood is a very important time for learning social skills and mother dog will do a lot to correct unwanted behaviors. A quick gentle ''nip'' directed towards the puppy's scruff will be an effective way to discipline the pup and teach it more acceptable behaviors. For this reason, it is important to not separate a puppy from the mother and litter mates too early. Generally, puppies should not be separated before eight weeks old. 

As the puppy grows, it must be socialized with other puppies in order to maintain a soft mouth and learn proper manners. Puppy classes are an excellent way to allow the puppy to interact with other puppies in a controlled environment. The puppy learns quickly what are acceptable social behaviors and what are not. 

An under socialized dog therefore often grows up to be a ''rude'' dog which does not know how to interact with other dogs. Often, this can cause him to get in trouble and receive a ''harsh'' correction from another dog that will not accept ill manners. Other times, such dogs grow asocial and disinterested in other dogs and sometimes even ''dog aggressive''.

An Insider Look Into The Kingdom of Dog Language

Turid Rugaas, an internationally known trainer and writer, has dedicated a good part of her life in interpreting dog language. She was able to interpret some behaviors dogs use socially among each other. For instance, dogs appear to feel more comfortable when introduced side by side rather than facing each other. Indeed, dogs in nature prefer to meet walking in curves around each other, this makes confrontations less likely especially in nervous and anxious dogs. The larger the curve, generally the better.

Other interesting findings from this author are ''calming signals'' dogs use towards humans and other dogs. Sniffing the ground, yawning, licking, turning the head away, walking slowly are all ways for dogs to avoid conflict among each other. Dogs use such signals as well when communicating with humans.

As seen, dogs communicate among each other using the universal language of dogs. There are no barriers to such language and no limitations, indeed a dog from Tokyo will fully understand a dog from Sydney with no problems. Now if humans would be ready to read dogs just as well, many behavior problems in dogs would be better understood and easily solved.


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    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 7 years ago from United States

      That's very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    • peggypat profile image

      Peggy Patrick Medberry 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Really interesting!! I wonder if cats do the same!