ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How dogs communicate through body language

Updated on April 9, 2009

In nature, upon watching a group of wolves, it is easy to notice how these gregarious animals communicate between each other by mostly relying on body language. They will express various feelings and emotions by simply tensing up, wagging tails, pulling ears back or showing some teeth in a snarl. In a home setting, domesticated dogs will replicate such visual cues, by using their body language to express themselves with us, it is therefore, up to us humans to learn how to decipher what they are trying to say.

It takes some observant watching and some time, to start learning how dogs communicate. Many dog thoughts are pretty obvious, such as those eyes pointed straight at your food with a drip of drool, easily tell you that your dog will appreciate a piece of your steak. Or that look on your dog's face when you scold him not to chew on your favorite slippers any longer, easily portrays the fact that he is upset. However, there are much more subtle signs of feelings and emotions that watchful owners may learn to decipher.

Learning about a dog's body language is a big plus for any average dog owner. While this is mostly left to dog trainers and behaviorists, as an owner you will particularly benefit learning how your dog communicates without barking. After all, you are the ones that will spend 24/7 of your time with your pet, so knowing your dog well comes as a great benefit.

A good part of dog's communication is composed by body posture. It is a mistake to solely rely on the dog's tail and mouth. A dog may easily invite another dog to play by putting itself in a typical play bow. This is done by lowering itself and stretching its front legs out. Often this is seen after a nap as aw ay to stretch, however it also can be a calming signal, a dog's way to calm another person or dog.

A stiff body with hair raised in the back, may be a strong indicator of aggression, often accopanied by growls and fangs showing from a raised lip. However, teeth showing is not always a sign of aggression. Submissive dogs ''smile'' too. The main difference between the two is that in a submissive smile, only the front teeth are displayed whereas in an aggressive snarl, the majority of teeth are showing.

Probably most dog owners know that a tail between the legs is a sign of fear, as a matter of fact, if you visit you veterinarian, you may find a good amount of dogs with tails between their legs! A tail held high instead is a sign that the dog is alert. A slow wagging tail motion indicates uncertainty, while a tail wagging fast is pure happiness and enthusiasm.

When a dog leans its head sideways it indicates curiosity. It is typically seen when they hear a sound they never heard before. Translated in human language it may be a "'what was that?''

Dogs use often calming signals, Turi Rugass, did an extensive and very interesting study on these. Yawning, licking lips and sniffing the ground are important calming signals used among dogs and their owners.

As seen, dogs communicate at a great length without barking. It is totally up to the owner to learn how to decipher the dog's body language. Dogs however, also learn the human body language, so ultimately, both species learn a bit of each other. When this happens it really strengthens the dog-owner bond making communication a very helpful tool.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      9 years ago from USA

      Your dog sounds like really a funny being to be around! too funny!

    • waynet profile image

      Wayne Tully 

      9 years ago from Hull City United Kingdom

      My dog actually grunts when she wants to go out and it sounds like she says "out"

      Recognising when our dogs feel sad or happy can be a good thing to just be there like a friend is and by their body language you can tell a lot if we take notice.

      My dog smiles when she farts and then looks around to see if anyone else heard her funny!

    • alexadry profile imageAUTHOR

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 

      9 years ago from USA

      I agree,  I think it is  so funny when dogs do that! I love Turi Rugass's article on calming signals, there is so much to learn!

    • brad4l profile image

      brad4l 

      9 years ago from USA

      I love the "what was that" look my dog gives me, because it really seems like she is trying her hardest to understand what I am saying.

      I think that it is really neat to learn an animals body language. Horses are another cool one to learn.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)