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Body language in dogs: what the four-legged friend would like to tell you

Some dogs tend to be silent, while others bark loudly at every opportunity. Nevertheless, body language is particularly important for communication, even for noisy dogs.


It is therefore important for dog owners to be able to correctly interpret the body language of their four-legged friend in order to avoid misunderstandings when dealing with the animal. The tips in this article will help you do this.

Dogs communicate with their whole body

Dogs use, among other things, their tail, their posture, their facial expression, their head posture and their ears for their body language.

Keep in mind that they hardly ever limit themselves to individual body signals. In order to properly understand your four-legged friend, it is therefore important that you do not concentrate on one single body signal.

For example, a tail caught between the hind legs is not the only sign your dog will to use to signal fear. In addition, the four-legged friend will very likely also try to make itself smaller by crouching and put its ears back.

Body language in dogs

Dogs communicate differently than humans

Even humans communicate not only with words, but also use body language. However, our body language differs considerably from that of dogs.

It is therefore not uncommon for dogs to perceive our gestures as a punishment or threat, even though they are actually meant to be nice.

For example, if you look your four-legged friend in the eyes and smile so that your teeth become visible, this is of course a sign of affection for you. However, in dog body language, these are threatening gestures, so it is easy for the animal to misunderstand you.

Body language in dogs: the tail

It is assumed that dogs always want to show that they are happy by wagging their tails. However, this is only partly true, because in principle, tail wagging is simply a sign of agitation.

It doesn't necessarily have to be excitement. It is equally possible that your dog is upset, nervous, or aggressive and is wagging its tail as a result.

On the other hand, if the tail of your four-legged friend swings very slowly, you can assume that the dog is relaxed in that moment. If the tail is caught between the hind legs, this is in turn part of the body language that indicates fear in dogs.

Body language in dogs: posture

In addition to their tails, dogs also use their posture to communicate. If your dog wants to impress an opponent, for example, it will try to make itself as big as possible in order to intimidate its counterpart. If your dog is scared, however, it will crouch down to appear small.

If the four-legged friend lies on its back and shows its stomach, this is a gesture of submission.

Body language in dogs: the facial expression

Dogs don't just communicate with their tails and posture. Their facial expression is also a component of their body language, which can provide you with information on their current state of mind.

For example, the corners of the mouth being pulled back are a signal of submissiveness. If the four-legged friend shows its teeth at the same time, however, it would like to threaten its opponent.

In the case of a relaxed dog, on the other hand, it can be observed that it turns its lips forward and the canine teeth become a little visible. Yawning is not always a sign of tiredness in dogs, but can also serve both to appease or to indicate anger about a certain situation.

Body language in dogs: the position of the head

The position of the head also plays a role in the body language of dogs. If your four-legged friend fixes its counterpart with its eyes, this is often a signal of dominance and self-confidence. In certain situations, the stare in combination with contracted pupils can even be a warning sign of an imminent confrontation.

If your four-legged friend turns its head away from you, it usually means that it is currently in a peaceful mood. If it tilts its head to one side, it is insecure and does not exactly know what behaviour to display in the respective situation.

Dog gives the paw to humans

Body language in dogs: the ears

To some extent, dogs also communicate using their ears, even though this is not always noticeable, especially in lop-eared breeds.

Regardless of this, you can normally expect that rear-facing ears will indicate fear or signal submission. If, on the other hand, your dog's ears are pointed forward, the four-legged friend usually feels safe and relaxed and observes its surroundings attentively.

Body language in dogs: our conclusion

As you can see, you can learn a lot about the state of mind of your four-legged friend from its body language. It is therefore worthwhile to take a closer look at the topic and learn what your dog would like to tell you without using words.

All dogs communicate with their body language in a similar way. If you understand your own dog, you will therefore also know where you stand with other four-legged friends.

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