Understanding A Dog’s Body Language Part 2

Beagle Puppy Displaying a Play Bow

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Last week we discussed some of the body language that dog’s exhibit and how to interpret it.  This week we continue the discussion with a few more common behaviors and body posturing to help you better understand what your dog is telling you.  

If you have ever watched puppies or young dogs play, you will notice that they play bow to each other.  This signals an invitation to another dog, person, or animal to engage in play. Play bows can look different from dog to dog but generally include the following postures: head low to the ground, tail held up or out and wagging, relaxed body and face, ears out or forward, and front limbs touching the ground.  

When a dog puts his or her ears forward, it generally means they are alert or focused on something.  You may have noticed this behavior when your dog is looking out the window or in the yard.  However, this behavior must be scrutinized with other body language cues to know the difference between friendly interest or intense focus, which could quickly turn to a more aggressive behavior.  Intensity can be measured by the amount of wrinkles pushed up between the eyes of the dog; more wrinkles equals higher intensity.  An intense stare paired with dilated pupils and a tense/rigid body is a clear signal that this dog doesn’t want to be bothered.

Next article we will be focusing entirely on mounting, an often misunderstood dog behavior.  

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