Dog feelings and behavior have been widely researched in animal psychology. Being a responsible dog owner you must understand your dog’s emotions and treat them right. Here is an insight into dog emotions and behavioral problems due to mismanaged emotions…
Wide array of emotions in dogs
There are a large numbers of feelings and emotive responses in dogs. The behavior is largely instinctual and the same for all kinds of dogs with slight variations. The different types of emotions of a dog are as follows :
Just like humans dogs also get confused and wary with direct eye contact. It is a threat stance for them and they feel threatened. A dog which looks away is trying to be polite, submissive and avoid confrontation.
Dog postures mean something
The way a dog stands and holds oneself tells a lot about its feelings and emotions. The movements are subtle and takes some observation and knowledge to fully grasp the meanings. Here are some common postures :
The dog would be standing straight with tail upright and wagging slightly. The dog would appear relaxed and the pupils would also be smaller than usual.
Play bow posture
When the dog is bowing with its legs splayed out and hind portion and tail up, it means dog wants to play. This bowing posture can be mistaken as an attacking one but it only denotes a playful mood.
Hip swings mean play
Another sign of a playful mood is swinging of backside by dogs. The dog would bump into another dog using his hind portion. It also denotes trust or wanting a scratch from you. When a dog wiggles its rear end it can also mean excitement and friendliness.
Rolling means slight resistance
When a dog rolls over it means a sign of passive resistance. A belly rub is a good reinforcement for this kind of behavior. It can also mean a passive resistance to some minor thing for instance, nail clipping.
Pacing behavior denotes excitement
The dogs pace here and there if they are excited, nervous, bored or needing exercise.
Raised hackles means beware
This is a raised strip of fur running down a dog’s back. It means that the dog is threatened, aggressive and in a fighting mood.
The dog would crouch or cower down denoting nervousness and fright. Another posture can be arched back, slightly bent legs and the tail down.
Sudden freeze means attack or unsure
This means the dog is not sure or is preparing for attack. Now the dog must be left alone and this happens usually when the dog is holding a bone.
Threatened or aggressive
In this posture the dog would lean forward with a rigid appearance. The tail would be down and wagging vigorously. Also the whites of eyes would be visible when the dog looks away.
Dog gestures denote emotions
Just like humans, the various gestures of dogs can be easily understood and interpreted. Some of the common ones are listed here :
A dog is puzzled when he raises one paw or keep his body away from the object puzzling him. He can also express this by tilting his head to one side in search of more clarity or information on something.
Mounting shows dominance
A dog mounts on other dog or owner to show dominance and doesn’t have any sexual connotations. It can be used by a low confidence animal to show allegiance to a high confidence animal. It can be rectified with proper training.
The instinctual kneading for mother’s milk becomes a pacifying gesture in dogs. They keep their paw on owner’s leg or any body part to ask or request for something. Small puppies raise their paw when they want to play. It is also a connecting and friendly gesture like shaking hands.
Head and shoulders shake
The end to any activity like sleep, play is denoted like this. It can also denote relief from tension like after being alert for sometime.
Upright tail means a confident dog
The dog which stands with its tail straight and upright is confident and assertive. It can also be highly excited.
Tail level with body is relaxed
When a dog is feeling friendly, secure and relaxed then it keep the tail neutral or slightly lower than the body.
Tail low means fear
When the dog has its tail between its legs or low it means fear, anxiety. Wagging can occur which leads to misunderstanding that the dog is happy. It means the dog is looking for reassurance or wants to be protected.
Fierce wag with tail up shows mischief
When the dog is wagging its tail hard it means it is in a mischievous and troublesome mood. It means it wants to bother somebody or squat another animal away.
Dog ears : incredibly expressive
Many kinds of emotions of dogs are expressed via their ears. It is important to know what different signs mean. Here some main ones are listed :
Pricked forward shows attention
When a dog is highly engaged in something, concentrating hard its ears are pricked forward. It can denote curiosity and intent to catch sounds before chasing.
Flat ears mean fear or aggression
A dog is afraid when the ears are flat against the head. When the ears are in front and close to head it means an aggressive gesture.
Ears way back denotes sadness
The dog is unhappy or uncertain when the ears are way back but not flat with the head.
Dogs’ Eyes: Mirrors to the soul
The dogs also display a lot of emotions through their eyes. In-fact, one of the best mode to know their emotions is via eye signals. For example:
Eyes wide open are alert
When your dog if feeling very playful and ready its eyes are fully open.
Staring eyes challenge
A dog is expressing dominance or challenging someone with stare.
Dogs’ Face denotes emotions
You can know a lot about the emotions of your dog by observing the facial expressions. For example:
Smile is happiness
You can easily confuse a snarl with a smile. To be sure you must note the entire body language. If the dog is relaxed then that means he is happy and smiling.
Thus, the insight into dog emotions is an eye opener for better understanding these wonderful creatures. You must take care to observe closely for the subtle signs and rightly understand your dog. This would help in forging a deeper bond with your true best friend. Your dog is talking to you, are you listening? 8,00,000 dogs are sad – Make them smile!