Understanding what your dog is telling you – Part 4

When your dog is doing funny stuff with his ears, tail, and other forms of odd body movement, he’s actually telling you: “Hey you! Yes you! I’m talking to you. Are you listening to me?”

For example, a dog often uses his forepaw to show that he wants to keep the peace. He gives a paw to his master when he wants to ask his forgiveness after digging up the flower bed.

Raising one forepaw forward to another dog is a sign of submission. He is indicating that he will roll over, if necessary, to demonstrate his total compliance.

When he raises both forepaws alternately, he is telling you he wants to play. A persistent paw patting and pulling on your arm is an insistent request for some undivided attention.

In a confrontation, a dog attempts to establish his position in the dominant-submissive hierarchy by the posture and position of his body. When two dogs meet and set out to decide who is dominant, they will stand side to side, as if to say, “By gosh, I’m the biggest dog. I’m the boss.”

A dramatic dog will arch his neck, raise his shoulder and rump hackles, extend all four legs stiffly, and look like he’s standing on tiptoe. One of them may push against the other one. The dog who is giving in will remain completely still if he is touched.

If the submissive dog is really frightened, he will roll over, as if to say, “I’m all yours. Do what you want.”

The dominant dog will then think, “I’ve got a chicken here. He won’t do anything… he’s a non-threat, lying there.” The confrontation is then over.

Sometimes a dog feels proud and he prances. He might be thinking, “I’ve got me a shoe. That’s the one I got whipped for last week, but I got it again!”

When a dog lowers his front end, leaves his tail end up, makes a nose-stab, then leaps backward and runs off, he is inviting you to play. When you see him race in circles, he is overjoyed about something – probably your arrival.

An ambivalent dog who is growling and wagging his tail widely at the same time is difficult to read. He may feel friendly or inquisitive about you; he may also feel that he must defend his territory.

On the other hand, he may feel aggressive and unfriendly, but afraid he can’t defend himself. And unless you can figure out where he stands, you may do something to get yourself bitten so be careful and pay attention.