Your dog talks to you with his actions, try to understand what he’s saying
Understanding dog behaviour is essential to establish an affectionate and healthy relationship with your dog. Although dogs do not speak, knowing their body language, gestures and attitudes can help us communicate with them, and react accordingly.
Dogs, like humans, go through different states of mind depending on the moment and the situation. Sadness, joy, fear and concern are some of the emotions that we share with our pets.
The relationship between you and your dog should not be subjected to dominance by either party. Even the most hierarchical dogs must learn to understand their role in order to interact with people and with the rest of the elements that surround them. Using positive reinforcement and rewards are the most effective methods to encourage your dog to learn a particular behaviour and showing your approval for correct response to your commands.
Here are some actions that you can observe:
Yawing excessively: Your dog may yawn simply because he is tired or sleepy. He could also yawn when he is faced with an unexpected situation and does not know how to react.
Sneezing: Usually the response to a natural reflex of the respiratory tract triggered by an irritating substance just as with humans.
Staring: Your dog may stare into your eyes to try to better understand some of your attitudes or feelings, although he may also feel uncomfortable if you stare back at him.
Stiffening of the body: The rigid posture of your dog’s body is usually associated with alertness, understood as the presence of stimuli that your dog distrusts.
Tail movements: The movement of his tail is one of the factors that can give you a pretty good clue about your dog's mood. If he wags his tail and butt emphatically, he is conveying his joy to you. If, on the other hand, the movement is slow, it means caution. If you observe that he hides his tail between his legs, more than likely he is fearful.
Play/Attention: Dogs are affectionate creatures and they love physical contact. They may lie down in from of you legs up and belly exposed, they play place their head on your knee if you are sitting or they may try to jump on you. If he raises his leg to touch a part of your body, he wants you to pay attention to and/or interact with him.
Why do dogs lick?
Licking is another method of communicate with you. If your dog licks you, he is trying to greet you and even convey his affection and loyalty to you. He can also do it to get your attention, especially when trying to get food scraps or treats. This last aspect is due to the habit of the puppies when weaning to lick the muzzle of the mother so that she provides them with regurgitated food.
What about aggression?
Aggression is another behaviour used as a reaction to a stimulus. It can be a sporadic, defensive behaviour but recognizing the signs of aggression is important to prevent mishaps. If you notice your dog leaning forward, and the hair on his back stands on end and he is even growling, it may be because he feels threatened and is getting ready to attack. In this case, you should react by keeping calm. Never hit him, this action on your part may be met with further aggression.
In the case where aggression stems from a much more serious problem due to multiple causes and especially which can endanger your life and that of other dogs or people, we recommend that you seek out a veterinary behaviourist (veterinarian specializing in animal behaviour) or a professional trainer to help you find an appropriate solution for your dog.
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