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Did you know you can talk to your dog? Dogs communicate through body language. Some obvious some much more subtle. If we can learn to read these cues we can talk to and with our dogs and prevent mistakes like invading their space, petting too long, touching places they don't like and putting them in situations they simply don't enjoy.
There are so many amazing resources for reading body language in the form of websites, books, Instagram and Facebook pages and more. I will be outlining some of my favorites in the posts in the coming weeks as I present some important things to know.
Ears & Eyes
Our dogs face and head will tell us a lot. Is the head up high or hanging low?
Are the ears perked up and forward or pressed against the head?
Are the eyes wide, soft, blinking, hard?
Floppy: For a dog with floppy ears, if those ears are down and to the side, this is typically a neutral and relaxed position.
Floppy ears perked up can mean alert, aroused, or even threatened
Pressed flat agains the head will usually indicate fear or extreme discomfort and threat of aggressive behavior.
Prick/Pointy Ears: Relaxed and to the side, usually indicates a neutral and relaxed state
Pointing straight forward can mean a more alert, aroused or possibly threatened dog.
Back/Down: Fear, possibly threat of aggressive behavior.
If you see your dogs ear carriage change suddenly when you or a stranger approaches, take a moment and think about why. Are they excited? Possibly unsure, nervous? Do you need to intervene if a stranger is about to pet your dog or a new dog is about to greet? If you can read the ears quickly you may be able to prevent stressful situations for your dog or remove them from an uncomfortable situation more quickly!
Eyes truly are the windows to the soul. Your dogs eyes can tell you so much! I urge you to look at the link below by Martha Knowles from "Silent Conversations" to find some amazing information on reading your dogs eyes.
I could get lost on her website. She offers so many amazing resources on body language. I will be linking more later. For now, the ears and eyes are a good start!
While we shouldn't stare into our dogs eyes, being able to tell how our dogs are feeling by looking at their ears and eyes can help us know if they are feeling safe, neutral, relaxed, unsure, anxious, fearful or in a place where we need to help. Take some time and watch your dog at home. Observe their ears and eyes when they are just hanging out so as they change in different environments you can see the difference!
If you intend to have a holiday party be sure you keep a close eye on these indicators as these types of events can be very stressful for some dogs!
Join us next time to learn more body language skills.