Learning Dogs Language
At the dog training lessons I recently learned how to understand a dog’s body language, which is very useful, as a dog knows many behaviours…
During a walk through the park with my Cretan dog, we met a big brown dog that moved slowly towards Boomer with straight legs. I remembered from the lessons this male dog wanted to say: I am the boss here. Are you defying me?
It is a gesture of a dominant dog that wants to affirm its leadership. And because Boomer is a male as well (he is a subservient kind of dog, but the other dog was not sure about that, yet), I waited a bit anxious about what was coming next. Boomer pointed his ears a little behind and to the side: I am worried about what awaits me. I don’t like this. I can start fighting or run off.
I remembered from the time that Boomer was still a puppy that in a similar situation he made himself smaller then, while looking up at the other male dog. But he is a grown up dog now. Boomer, still being a subservient, will not crawl for a ‘leader’ any more.
For the dominant brown dog in the park Boomer’s attitude seemed not to be humble enough: he directed his ears forward, showed his teeth and wrinkled his nose: Take care now, I’m ready to fight. The active, aggressive challenge of a dominant and confident dog.
Just when the dominant dog approached Boomer with hair standing up on the neck (fight or clear off), Boomer’s two playing friends Auk and Spiky (we meet them every morning) entered the park. Boomer wisely chose his friends and ran to them as fast as a rabbit, glad to have a reason to leave the dominant dog behind. The big brown dominant dog was under the delusion he had won and turned his head towards Boomer’s friend Auk. Auk is a female and rather young, and was so impressed by the brown dog that she rolled herself on her side when he approached her, belly open and eye contact broken completely, like a slave: I accept your authority and form no threat; the doggy way to kneel. Boomer was running around trees with Spiky already.
Dogs’ body language:
- Pushing with the snout: Please don’t ignore me; I want to play with you.
- Sagging through the forelegs onto the ground, backside of the body and tail up: invitation to play.
- Eyes turned away to avoid direct eye contact: I am not looking for trouble! I accept that you are the boss here!
- Lifting one foreleg up: I am a little bit fearful and worried.
- Signals of the ears
- Raised ears or rather directed to the front: What is that? (curiosity)
- Ears clearly pointed to the front with bared teeth and wrinkled nose: Pay good attention to what you do! I am ready to fight.
- Ears flatten backwards with bared teeth and wrinkled nose: I am frightened but I will defend myself if you try to hurt me.
- Ears flat backwards, teeth not visible, straight forehead, low body attitude: I accept you as my leader. I know you will not hurt me because I am not a threat to you.
- The owner of the brown dog acted a little strange. He did not look at me, ignored me; what was he thinking, small insignificant woman, I will not degrade myself in speaking to you? How nice it would be if people’s attitude was as recognizable as dog’s attitudes!
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