dog body-language - and why it matters so much...

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by leashedForLife, Feb 22, 2010.


  1. AnnieMcK

    AnnieMcK PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2014
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    0
    :smile:I think it is very easy to tell what your dog is saying to you, mine are soo easy to read! Each of them are very different but they have adorable but distinguishable characteristics :001_tongue:
     
  2. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Messages:
    19,251
    Likes Received:
    1,710
    In my experience there are an awful lot of dog owners who don't have a clue what their dog is 'saying' in a given situation. I was out with my friend and our four newfoundlands last week, bearing in mind someone referred to them collectively as a 'herd of buffalo'. A couple came toward us with two black Labradors and one of them immediately jumped up her owner and turned her face away from us. We carried on walking past, as the dog was obviously uncomfortable, and the male owner declared 'she always does this. It is because she's jealous'. It was so obvious the dog was frightened, but she was his dog and he still did not realise that. Ours didn't go near the dog, just carried on walking past. I think dog body language should be a must to learn when you get a dog.
     
    #182 newfiesmum, Dec 19, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2014
    Bagrat likes this.
  3. leashedForLife

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    18,962
    Likes Received:
    3,332
    What a pity! --- Poor dog, & yes, clueless owner. :nonod:

    I can just imagine the way it happened from Ur description, NM - what a shame.

    The dog is saying, "Save me!...", & the husband thinks she's just clamoring for attention.
    If Labs weren't too big to fit in pockets, the dog might have tried to clamber into one, to shut out the sight
    of 4 grizzlies bearing down on them. :eek:
    .
    .
     
    newfiesmum likes this.
  4. petul

    petul PetForums Newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    but look here how reacts the black dog to camera, what do you think? what he want to say? : Aggressive puppy
     
  5. brendaanne3

    brendaanne3 Furbaby: Apollo, BC/husky/lab mix of love <3

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2015
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    45
    Do you guys recommend any good books that dive into how dogs communicate with us?
    My pup likes to whine a lot, but a lot of times he's also wagging his tail. I was raised thinking a whining dog meant that something was wrong or that he was uncomfortable and a tail wag meant that he was happy. I'd love to dive deeper into understanding him as he's very smart so I know he must be trying to tell me something a lot more than I realize.
     
  6. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2012
    Messages:
    11,275
    Likes Received:
    15,851

    Often, if a pup is wagging his tail, looking for attention from you and whining, it's excitement.
     
  7. brendaanne3

    brendaanne3 Furbaby: Apollo, BC/husky/lab mix of love <3

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2015
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    45
    Good to know! Sometimes I'm dog just whines, however, when he's just sitting on the couch with me. He's usually a cushion or so away from me and seems totally content to just let on a little whine-yawn.

    I've heard whines can be a sign of being uncomfortable? I just never know how to differentiate between a tired puppy yawn and a signalling yawn.
     
  8. StormyThai

    StormyThai Moderator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2013
    Messages:
    7,437
    Likes Received:
    14,612
    Huskies are a very talkative breed, so you will probably find he is just chatting most of the time :)
     
  9. brendaanne3

    brendaanne3 Furbaby: Apollo, BC/husky/lab mix of love <3

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2015
    Messages:
    93
    Likes Received:
    45
    Yeah, I was thinking that might be the reason as well :) . He loves to chat with me when he's laying on his doggy bed.
     
  10. leashedForLife

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    18,962
    Likes Received:
    3,332
    .
    .
    Blast! - my previously-composed reply is gone, bl**dy laptop hung up & when
    i finally shut it down, then re-started, the entire post was gone. I should have
    copied it for pasting. Drabbit.
    .

    Anyway - Brenda-Anne, there are at least a dozen books listed in this thread, plus links to videos, articles, etc. I'd suggest U read the thread, watch the linked clips [especially the Brown-Bag lectures], & the book titles will come along as U peruse the sticky.
    U'll learn a lot by just delving into it. ;-)
    .
    .
    "A wagging tail means a happy dog" is extremely simplistic; if i saw a BSD
    Malinois lunging & barking madly in a police cruiser & stopped to make happy talk because the dog's tail was wagging vigorously, the cop would think i was a lunatic.
    Yes, s/he's wagging - but every other indicator says extreme excitement or flat-out hyperarousal, not "happy to see U".
    .
    Wag = arousal; what kind & how much are indicated by the tail's ht & angle
    relative to the dog's spine, the speed of wags, what part of the tail wags, how w-i-d-e or narrow the arc of wags, & a few other factors that may or may not be present [i-e, piloerection: is the tail bristling?].
    Arousal can be happy - Mom's home! - or aggro: trespasser!
    .
    .
    As for Ur dog, from this remove without so much as a still photo, I'd say the
    most common purpose of that combo [wagging tail & soft whines while gazing at nearby person] is to solicit attn AND to defuse any possible irritation that's provoked by the whine B4 it is kindled. IOW, solicit & appease.
    Specifically, i'd guess he'd like to come over & sit in Ur lap, or at least be called over to sit beside U, touching U, for petting - or just for contact comfort.
    The tail action is appeasing - most-likely tail-tip rapid wags, or it might be full tail-length slow thumps ['thwap... thwap...'] on the sofa cushion.
    His gaze is soft; his ears are probly slightly back, slightly down, or both.
    His head may be raised & attentive, or slightly lowered / appeasing.
    .
    He might even grin nervously - pull the corners of his mouth back, so that some incisors are visible, as well as flews on both sides. the nervous grin will be exaggerated if U've "corrected" him in the past for whining [scold, smack, etc].

    EDITED to remove strike-thru text, sorry - sometimes that pops up, & i don't know why. :(
     
    #190 leashedForLife, Dec 25, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  11. chelseabond

    chelseabond PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hya everyone . We dont really have a dog problem. But i wanted to ask this question.we have an adorable little shihtzu shes just over a year old now and we love her to bits, shes well looked after and loved and is such a good girl in every possible way we have no complaints what so ever.. But does anyone know why wen shes relaxing sometimes or playing or anything else she will suddenly come up to us and put her front paw up and kinda nudge us with it as if to say hello, we always acknowledge her when she does this and it seems to satisfy, im just wondering what it means. ??
     
  12. chelseabond

    chelseabond PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    4
  13. chelseabond

    chelseabond PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thats her by the way shes called Evie as we bought her in the evening x
     
  14. leashedForLife

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    18,962
    Likes Received:
    3,332
    QUOTE, ChelseaBond:

    ...we have an adorable little Shih-Tzu - Evie's just over a year old, now, & we love her to bits, she's... a good girl in every possible way, we have no complaints whatsoever.

    But does anyone know why, when she's relaxing, sometimes, or playing, or [at other times], she'll suddenly come up to us, put her front paw up, & kinda nudge us with [that paw], as if to say hello?...
    we always acknowledge her when she does this, & it seems to satisfy her, i just wonder what it means.
    ??

    /QUOTE
    .
    .
    Hi, Chelsea -
    Just as an aside, Evie is adorable, but then, most Shih-Tzu are cute, engaging, playful, highly affiliative, & habit-forming, LOL - they should come with warning labels. ;-}
    .
    .
    we can't really "know" what a particular gesture means outside of a given context, & this one, nudging U with a raised paw, seems to happen under many different circs - she's at play, or lying about relaxing, or doing something else that's not specified.
    So we lack a consistent context to add enlightening clues.
    .
    It seems she can be actively romping & come nudge U, passively resting & come nudge U, or ___?___ & come nudge U - not very informative data, so we can't surmise much from the activity she's engaged in BEFORE she comes to nudge U with an upraised paw.
    .
    The only generalization i can make is that most deliberate gestures involving raised forepaws are solicitation: the dog wants attn of one kind or another, which might be reassurance, social contact, simple acknowledgement [a mini-reunion], some petting - who knows?
    U *don't* say that she's ever distressed when these paw-nudges are offered, so it seems she's not upset or frightened, she's just making contact.
    .
    The other generalization is that raised-paw gestures are holdovers or relics from puphood, when everybody was bigger than the pup & s/he had to lift their forepaws to reach the grown-ups' faces, or even climb on or lean on the adult's foreleg, in order to reach their face & offer appeasing or soliciting licks.
    So "paw lifts" are soliciting, appeasing, or child-to-parent gestures.
    .
    My best suggestion is to keep a simple log of when they happen - & record not just what SHE was doing, but what YOU were doing, just prior to her offering a paw-nudge.
    If U discover that she paw-nudges when U've been self-involved for 45-mins or more, reading a book, or watching telly, or on the phone, or ______, then a paw-nudge could be something as simple as reminding U she's here... "hey, Mom! See me?..."
    .
    .
    Since all behavior is a conversation, it could be the paw-nudge is a reply prompted by something U are doing / already did, rather than a new "topic" introduced by the dog, if U see what i mean?
    And a log of what she's been doing / what U've done might provide the clue that makes her feelings / intentions / desires obvious, in retrospect, by providing a common context on Ur side, if not on hers.
    .
    If U don't mind sharing, let us know what U observe - it's always interesting to hear new samples of behavior "from the field".
    ;-D
    .
    .
    .
     
  15. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2010
    Messages:
    19,251
    Likes Received:
    1,710
    Did you have this little girl from a pup or have you recently got her? I think it makes a lot of difference to a dog's confidence and in my experience, a dog that comes to you from another situation will often constantly seek attention or even just stare at you, as though to make sure you are not going away. I could be totally wrong, but it is just a thought.
     
  16. chelseabond

    chelseabond PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    4
    Helo there
    Unleashed thank you for sharing the info u have , i think its a bit of attention like hey mom im still here.as she is such a darling in every possible way wen she does do this, we do give her a cuddle or stroke and it seems to be fine with her x
     
    leashedForLife likes this.
  17. chelseabond

    chelseabond PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2012
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    4
    Hello there

    Oh nooooo we got her wen she was a baby 9 weeks old and have had her since then.
    We think its just a little something she does to let us know shes there cos when she does this we give her a lil cuddle or stroke and shes satisfied, i just wondered if anyone on here who has a little shih tzu knew exactly why she does it. Ive had a few dogs in my time. All until they grew old except a collie we had , he had to be put to sleep becos he attacked me . This lil shihtzu is certainly the most lovely and wants a fuss ,but is also so very intelligent and clever and funny snd everything we cud wish for...
     
  18. Magyarmum

    Magyarmum PetForums VIP

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2015
    Messages:
    4,030
    Likes Received:
    8,286
    In my limited experience it seems to be more common in smaller breeds of dogs. My Mini Schnauzer like my previous small dog, a Tibetan Spaniel, will put a paw on my knee and sometime nudge me with his head to get my attention. It normally only happens when I'm sitting down, concentrating on something else such as working at the computer or watching the TV. Once I've acknowledged him and given his head a scratch off he'll go quite satisfied! He also sleeps on my bed at night, and if he's a bit restless when we first go to bed, I settle him down by stroking the back of his neck which is a sure way of relaxing him to the point where he falls asleep.
     
    leashedForLife likes this.
  19. Mike7788

    Mike7788 PetForums Junior

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    6
    I'll be sure to look through the many links posted throughout this thread. Also, I am going to buy 'Canine body language: A photographic guide' by Brenda Aloff, I'm sure it has been posted in this thread.
     
  20. leashedForLife

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2009
    Messages:
    18,962
    Likes Received:
    3,332
    QUOTE, Mike7788:

    I'll be sure to look through the many links posted throughout this thread.
    Also, I'll buy 'Canine body language: A photographic guide' by Brenda Aloff,
    I'm sure it's been posted...

    /QUOTE
    .
    .
    hi, Mike :)
    Yes, loads of excellent links, & yup, Brenda's book is tagged here, too.

    Don't miss the Brown-Bag lectures on video - they're terrific.
    .
    .
    .