We’re excited and honoured to feature South Africa’s second largest independent animal welfare organisation on PetlifeSA for one year, starting July 2019.
Doggy Communication: Body Language
A rarity in the animal kingdom, dogs’ powerful communication strategies allow attentive humans to understand them. Having lived in close proximity for thousands of years, understanding dingo-lingo is second nature to some, but many of us, especially those nervous of dogs, are often confused about what these signs actually mean.
SINGLE SIGNS ARE DIFFICULT TO GRASP, SO OBSERVE PATTERNS.
Almost everybody can tell when a pup is happy or distressed, in fight or flight mode, or just inquisitive. These are the simplest types of communication and are expressed as vocalizations or through body language. At the next level, breeders, handlers, and loving owners have studied dog communication in varying detail and for various purposes. Add to that, the complex messages herding, hunting, and service dogs communicate, and you’ll agree that doggy communication is a fascinating topic. Tails, ears, eyes, and muzzles, usually in combination, signal what the dog is feeling, and the intensity of movement shows much they want to be understood.
DOG BODY LANGUAGE: EASIER TO UNDERSTAND THAN THE VOCAL CUES?
We’ve put together a quick guide to help interpret your pooch’s cues and clues a little better and possibly find some you never noticed before. You may even decide that mutts are better at communicating than the average teenager because they always let you know what’s going on.
(hover over an image to learn more)
(click on an image to learn more)
BARKING: EACH TYPE IS UNIQUE
- Loud rapid barking is a warning that something/someone is approaching, and it would be wise to check it out.
- Deep loud barking is a warning to someone/something that any further approach could end badly.
- Scared or injured dogs yelp to get help, while yipping is also a summons during great excitement.
WHINING: THE MOST COMPLEX VOCALIZATION?
- Whining is often used to elicit human attention.
- Sometimes your dog will whine when sitting at a closed entrance to let you know that they want to get out.
- If your dog is whining for no discernible reason, pay close attention as it could be revealing a health problem.
Building a great relationship with your pet means working on effective communication. Paying attention can help interpret important messages and avoid setbacks on the journey toward becoming each other’s best friends.