Your Dog’s Body Language

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dog bahaviorsFailure to understand dog behaviors and not knowing how to properly train your dog is the cause of some people giving up on their dogs and even abandoning them in some instances.

Actually, your dog communicates with you for much of the time you spend together  So not learning to understand your dog’s body language is similar to living your life with someone who speaks another language, and never learning any of that language in order to communicate with that person.

Two way communication is obviously important, especially with your dog who does “speak another language”.

Dogs love to play, but their primary concern is often their position in your “pack”.  Dogs will always make attempts to get to the top dog position if you allow this to go on.

Some dogs do this as a game to see how much they can get away with, (my Kara is like this). Other dogs can actually take thidog bahaviorss issue very seriously, and may threaten any “pack” member who doesn’t defer to them – sometimes even including their owner.

Large dogs often like to jump up and stand with their front paws on the owner’s shoulders. This can be a friendly gesture, but be careful, because it is often actually a posture of dominance.

A better greeting to encourage your dog to use, is to have your dog sit, and then for you to offer a greeting to your dog. In this way, the dog has assumed a subordinate posture, and you retain your leadership role and your position as the top dog. An added bonus is that your dog will love this exchange with you.

The important thing is that your dog understands his/her position in the “pack”.

One of the more tragic misinterpretations of body language I’ve heard about involves what’s called the canine grin.  Many dogs, when they are happy and excited, pull their lips back in a happy grin, which is a submissive gesture. They are simply very happy, but some owners have actually misinterpreted this submissive grin as a snarl and, heaven forbid, even had the dog euthanized because of what they thought was aggression in their dog.

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About Brigitte Smith

Brigitte Smith is an entrepreneur with a love of dogs and a healthy lifestyle. Brigitte is passionate about holistic health alternatives for dogs, most of which are today suffering foreshortened lifespans in the wake of a lifetime diet of commercial pet food, and further contributed to by unnecessary over-vaccination and chemicals and poisons applied topically and internally. is one of Brigitte's sites dedicated to dog health, and in particular dog food reviews.

4 thoughts on “Your Dog’s Body Language

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  2. Brigitte Smith

    For sure, I couldn’t agree more. And that’s what’s so upsetting – it’s certainly not the dogs’ fault that their owners don’t understand dog behaviors. It’s up to dog owners to learn these things so that they can better appreciate their dog’s behaviors, and work with them. Abandoning the dog is never an appropriate response to any dog problem.

  3. Margaret

    Hi Brigitte:

    I know dogs are very intelligent and use different barks depending on the situation.

    One day I was boiling some bones on the stove and decided to go upstairs to do some work while the bones cooked. I don’t know how long I was gone for but my dog, Murray, started to bark in a way I had never heard her bark before.

    I came down stairs to see what she was barking at and as I turned the corner to where she was I saw the flames shooting up from the pot that I was boiling the bones in. Apparently all the water had boiled out and the fat on the bones caught fire.

    Murray was my hero for alerting me to the danger. If it weren’t for my Murray, it’s hard telling how long I would have remained upstairs working and how far the fire would have gotten.

    I’m enjoying your articles.

    Thanks! Margaret

  4. Brigitte Smith


    Thanks for sharing that story, Margaret. And thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.

    Yes, it’s not only dogs’ body language that can be interpreted by us as owners. But sometimes our dogs really can gain our attention by different kinds of barks.

    I, thankfully, have never had to test out whether my dogs would alert me to a fire – and I would really need it, as I have a compromised sense of smell.

    My Rottweiler, Kara, certainly does have different barks, though – one for warning off strangers, one for reminding me I’ve left her outside and she wants to come in …


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