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Dog body language

 Understanding what our dogs are trying to express lets us support them and pre-empt situations before they occur.

For those of you that already know me, I am not a dog behaviourist, and will never claim to be one. But I have had experience of working with 500 + dogs over the last 10 years, and during this time I have had the privilege of learning from some very highly qualified dog trainers and behaviourists.

One of the things they have all told me, is to learn as much as I can about dogs’ body language. So join me on this journey as I share with you what useful resources I have found so far and I will keep this updated as and when I find more information.

What are they telling us?

Our dogs use all kinds of subtle and obvious movements and gestures to communicate with us and other dogs. 

They use their bodies, sounds and chemical secretions,( but that’s for another day), to express their feelings, emotions and intentions.

That’s why it’s so important that we learn to understand as many of our dogs' signals as we can. Understanding what our dogs are trying to express lets us support them and pre-empt situations before they occur. 

Lili Chin has a wonderful book Doggie Language - A dog lovers guide to understanding your best friend, which shows us simple exactly what our dogs are telling us at different times.

When you think of dog body language I bet the first thing that pops into your head is, a wagging dogs’ tail?

So many people say to me, ‘but their tail is waggy, so they are happy, right?'.  In fact that’s not always the case. Remember earlier I mentioned ‘subtle’ movements? Well yes, a dog's tail wagging can mean they are happy, but it can also mean they are feeling frustrated, scared, distressed or excited.

Here are some of the articles and infographics I have found really helpful in understanding the subtle messages our dogs are giving us. 

Learning to look at your dog's body posture and shape will begin to give you more clues as to how they are feeling. 

Looking at these illustrations below you can see that slight changed in position mean that your dog is feeling different things.

Being able to see when our dogs are anxious or frightened is so important. 

Learning to spot these stress signals helps us make quick decisions in the situation or environment we are in to help our dogs.

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