Understanding what your dog is telling you – Part 3

Most dog owners forget that the easiest way to bond with their pet, not to mention when also training the dog, is to understand basic dog language – body language, that is.

Let’s talk about a dog’s tongue. He uses it primarily for getting food and water, and for cooling himself. When “speaking body language,” he licks you with it to show his friendliness and to ask for attention. A dog that licks walls and eats dirt or dust, however, and does so without the need of a supplement in his diet, is desperate for attention or company.

His tongue can also tell you when he has swallowed his pill after being given a vitamin or medication. When it has gone down, his tongue will pop out like a frog’s two times in quick succession.

Watching his eyes

Now let’s discuss how a dog uses his eyes to “talk”. How a dog moves his eyes can tell you much about his mood. A dog who is being submissive avoids eye contact with a dominant dog. One that is trying to make up with his master looks away from him in an exaggerated way. A contented dog curled up in a corner has a sleepy-eyed look.

On the other hand, a direct stare from a dog says he feels aggressive and means to have you keep your distance. When veterinarians are working with dogs in their medical rooms, they should be watching the eyes more than anything else to determine which dog might snap at him.

A good rule to follow for safety is this: A dog that watches every move you make is probably about to bite you! 

Perking up those ears

Dogs speak with their ears as well as listen with them. A dog holding his ears straight up, forward, and erect, is alert. He may be checking on something he heard. He may be considering the possibility of a serious scuffle with an enemy or some friendly romping with his master.

A dog with lowered, relaxed ears is calm and sociable. If he is showing submissiveness or is frightened, he’ll keep them very low. A dog making a threat (and on the verge of attacking) twists his ears outward and downward, laying them flat against his head.

The voice of reason

A dog’s vocal repertoire of whines, howls, growls, and barks are part of his body language. Noises are what he resorts to when he considers it imperative that someone get his message.

A dog that goes “Yip. Yip. Yip… yip, yip… yip!” for hours on end is usually bored. Likely he has been confined and left alone.

Sometimes he will vary his “yips” with a frustrated-sounding “Arrrrr, rarr, arrarrrr.”

A wailing puppy begging for attention delivers a high-pitched “Mmm, mmm, mmmmm,” usually in the dead of night.