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How to Read Your Dog’s Body Language

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Have you ever pondered how to read your dog’s body language when he or she interacts with another canine companion? Does it sometimes seem as if you’re watching something in a foreign language when your dog communicates with another dog? 

As you know, it can be really confusing and exasperating to not know not whether or not you should intervene and stop the interaction or let it continue. 

You’d be surprised at how many people completely misinterpret their dog’s behavior. However, doing so correctly is actually pretty easy once you learn how! Knowing whether your dog is happy or stressed out makes all the difference in a healthy socialization process. 

There are in fact very many signs that will allow you to understand what your dog is trying to communicate. All you need to know is what these signs are, and then it’s like watching a movie in English rather than a foreign language. 

Of course, dogs can understand one another without any trouble. It’s simply 100% natural for them. However, for us humans, it is not, and so we have to make an effort to study and learn the different body language signals that our canine companions use. 

Here are some of the key gestures that you should look for in order to read your dog’s body language.

The Head Over: Placing the Head Over the Back of Another Dog’s Neck

This is one of the most common ways that a dog will attempt to assert his or her dominance over another dog. It is not inherently either good or bad though. It is simply natural. However, some dogs however will voice their discontent and struggle if they do not like being dominated. Any dog who is not happy with this will very obviously let the other dog know! 

Returning to Play Body Language: A Dog Returning to Play More with Another Dog 

This is a sign that suggests that your pup is happy and content to play. This simple behavior is often overlooked by oblivious dog owners. A dog may look like he or she is not enjoying an interaction with another dog in which they are being dominated. However, in reality, he or she is very content and happy and will run back for more in a heartbeat! If a dog were genuinely unhappy and displeased with an encounter, they would stay away from the other dog that made them uncomfortable or stressed. 

Lifting One Paw in The Air: The Dog Stands Still on Three Legs 

This is a fairly rather submissive gesture that discloses that a dog is submissive and non-threatening. The other dog could react in many different ways, but will almost always take this gesture in a positive manner. 

Hackles Up Body Language: The Hair on the Dog’s Back Goes Up

People often think that this behavior automatically means that a dog is being or will soon be aggressive, but in fact, it can also just signify extreme excitement. It does mean that a dog is very alert and hyper-focused on the interaction. However, this can just be because they really love playing with other dogs and are hyper-focused on doing so. Just keep a vigilant eye on your dog and do not panic when this occurs. 

360 Degree Spins: The Dog Completes a Complete Spin 

how to read your dog's body language

A dog that is spinning round and round is almost certainly very joyful and trying to encourage some play activity another pup. Whenever a dog turns away from another another dog, it shows that he or she is feeling very relaxed and trusts the other dog. 

As you can see by now, there are so many little things to look out for, some being more obvious than others. But with this basic framework, you’re well on your way to accurately reading your dog’s body language! 

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