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What Dogs Are Telling Us?
Bow-wow. Woof. Grrr. What does it mean in dog language? Hello? Stay back? Get lost? For most humans, even those adept in translating dog language, are often fooled by what the dog is trying to tell you. I know I have! In one case, I was simply walking down a public street and this medium size dog approached. Being leery by nature of strange dogs, I tried to sweet talk to it as it got closer. The dog showed no response, so I thought it was okay. As we got closer, out of nowhere, it lunged for me with nasty growls, snarls and barking. Luckily, I kicked the dog and the brief encounter ended, but WTF? What was that all about? Then, I walking my Jack Russel. The dog does have a small dog complex. Anytime we are walking along path and encounter another dog that is larger, my dog is so belligerent, lunging and going nuts towards the larger dog (especially dark colored) while the big dog is generally aloof about the ranting paying little attention. My dog, Lola, is a real bitch, at times!
Dogs show their emotions via their tail, ears and body. A relaxed canine has their tail lowered and ears up (depending on breed). When alerted, they become very focused, ears forward, tail straight behind. A dog that is in fear always tucks his tail close to the body. If the hair is raised on his neck, be careful, he just may bite you. If the dog's tail is stiff and wagging and ears are pointing, it may be going into attack mode. Even if you miss all the signs, if you notice the dog is staring at you and they are still, take heed and get ready for an attack.
Many times, Lola, will want to be hugged by strangers. Lola is so cute, scruffy. She could be in movies. Many think Lola loves hugs and petting, so they approach with baby dog talk. I pull her back and warn them. Then she snaps and barks and growls. You see, humans love to hug cute things but the intent is lost in the translation to dogs. They usually see it as a threat especially if you are reaching for the neck area. Many dogs will tolerate this by looking away with the help of coaxing from their owners. Petting the dog on the head is not any better. Of course, a dog that is relaxed, has the tail wagging, and obviously friendly, likes it.
Humans are much better translating the dog's signals of happiness. They stretch, roll over, howl, yoodle, wag their tails crazy, jump on you, bark, fetch a toy for you to play, lay at your feet or in your lap. Humans love love. So do dogs.