If dogs could talk, life with these wonderful creatures would be far easier (for both species). Unfortunately, dogs cannot talk, so they express their feelings through their body movements and habits. While it may be difficult at first, getting familiar with canine behaviors can greatly improve our relationships with our non-human friends. It is important to pay close attention to a dog’s body: his ears, mouth, or tail may be telling you that he is feeling uncomfortable or scared, happy or playful.
We should also try to understand our dogs’ habits; we may see a habit as strange, or even wrong, while it may actually be a sign of stress or joy.
We tend to naturally think that dogs yawn because they are bored. While this may be true of dogs when they are lying on their beds, yawning is also a calming signal. A stressed dog may yawn and lick his nose to mean “I’m feeling uptight, but let’s all calm down and everything will be better off”.
Dogs can stare at you for disturbingly long periods of time. Asking your dog “What? What is it?” is proven to be worthless. So, what do they want? A sitting, quiet dog stares at his owners because he want treats or attention. The canine gaze has adapted over the centuries to make us humans feel sympathy for dogs, and they use this trick quite frequently.
However, direct eye contact is also a sign of aggressiveness. A dog in a threatening position shows his teeth or barks in a low tone.
This dogs’ habit is not always what it seems. Many people believe that dogs try to hump other dogs, teddy bears, and even humans because they want to express dominance or for sexual reasons. However, most dogs hump other dogs as a way to play with them. Since humping is seen as embarrassing behavior, most owners try to train their dogs not to do it.
Humping, as well as many other bodily movements, may become a problem in dogs who display an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Owners should look for specialized help if their dog displays high levels of anxiety.
The dog’s ears are very expressive. Low, backwards ears indicate that the dog is shy or afraid. In any case, touching the dog’s head might not be a very good idea. If you are familiar with the dog, just gently touch his back. Touching a strange dog who displays signs of fear can be quite dangerous.
That is correct. Some dogs eat poop, either their own or poop from someone else. It is a seen as a disgusting habit, but the truth is that dogs find poop tasty. Of course, they can be trained not to eat it. Another possible reason for eating poop is that there are missing nutrients in his or her food, so the dog eats whatever is around to replace whatever is lacking.
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Dogs usually chase their tails in a playful manner. However, tail chasing may also be a sign of gland problems or flea allergy dermatitis, so if the behavior is persistent, you should make a visit to your vet.
Many dogs behave perfectly… until the owner leaves the house. The dog’s destructive behavior when she is alone is called “separation anxiety”. An anxious dog may urinate, chew, or bark. It is important to train our dogs to tolerate, if not enjoy, being on their own while we are not at home.
Dogs love to lick: they lick themselves, other dogs, humans, and objects alike. Of course, sometimes dogs lick because they like the taste. But licking can mean a variety of things. Dogs may constantly lick a part of their body, which may mean that they are injured or that they have been stung by some insect. Licking is also a calming signal: stressed dogs may yawn and lick their nose or us to calm down. Of course, dogs also lick other dogs and humans to show affection and to gain attention.
The Dog’s Tail
The position and movement of the dog’s tail is a very important key to understanding his attitude. A playful dog usually wags his tail, but not every wagging tail is a sign of playfulness. Aggressive dogs also wag their tail, for example. An attentive dog holds his tail stiff, while a relaxed dog’s tail hangs down.
Barking is the natural sound dogs make. It serves many purposes: to alert others that something unusual is going on, to attract his owner’s attention, and to express aggressiveness over other dogs or humans. A barking dog may therefore be excited, happy, fearful, or aggressive. It is important to pay attention to other cues, such as to what the dog is barking at and the position of his tail and ears, to know why a dog is barking and what attitude the bark expresses.
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