Dog Behavior And What It Means
Learning to read a dog is much like studying a foreign language. It requires concentration and recognition that communications can have quite different meanings in different cultures and depend on the context within which they are sent. Dogs bark, whine and growl, but mostly they "speak" via a body language designed to be understood dog-to-dog. The meaning may not be intuitively obvious to humans; decoding requires some practice
A dog's tail, ears, eyes and mouth speak volumes without making a sound. Everybody recognizes a rapidly wagging tail as a sign of canine excitement, but the tail also is a primary conveyor of social standing and mental state. Don't make the mistake of automatically interpreting tail wagging to mean friendliness.
A dominant dog walks on its toes, often leaning forward, with a stiff gait. Ears and tail are up, the head is high, and the dog meets your gaze confidently. If it senses a challenge, its hackles rise and it stares more intensely. Your return stare, regardless of how sincerely and kindly meant, may be seen as a challenge and could elicit a bite
While dogs' primary communication is via body posture and position, they also do some vocalizing. Many dogs seem to enjoy a good bark -- especially combined with howling -- often to their owners' frustration. A bark can express many things, from sheer joy at the thought of a game of ball to celebrating your arrival home or warning of an intruder.
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