Dog Barking Mad? How to Best Communicate With Your Pooch
Any dog owner knows that dogs communicate in unique ways, often leading us to wonder “what is my dog thinking?” Wonder no more, as the 5 tips below will have you understanding how dogs communicate and how to best do so with your canine companion.
- It’s all in the eyes
Dogs use their eyes as a tool to communicate more than we’d think. Sad, puppy-dog eyes are one of the most effective ways for your dog to get what it wants. Dogs may close their eyes when they’re getting a satisfying itch behind the ears, and when you can see the whites of their eye it means that they are on high alert and need their own space. Commonly if you are holding eye contact with your dog, they will look back for a little bit, and then submissively look away.
- Tilting their head
A dog tilting their head while you are talking to them is one of the many ways that they let you know that they are listening to you. Dog ears are like little antennas, so by moving their head it allows them to hear where sounds are coming from and to hear them more clearly.
- “Baby talk”
We have all done it, talking to our dogs as if we are talking to a newborn baby, but did you know that it is actually beneficial to dogs to talk to them like this? By exaggerating vowels and speaking in a high-pitched tone, it can make it easier for puppies to understand human speech. Studies have called this way of speaking dog-directed speech, which is a much more eloquent way of putting it.
Tail language is one of the most noticeable forms of dog language, yet one of the most misunderstood. A wagging tail doesn’t necessarily mean a dog is happy. A straight, stiff tail means a dog is tracking something, a tucked or lower held tail means the dog is feeling submissive and fearful. A relaxed dog usually has a curled tail and can also mean the dog is feeling dominant and confident.
- How YOU can communicate with them
Once you understand the body language your dog is demonstrating, it’s time to communicate back to them. If a dog is feeling anxious, don’t stand and loom over them as this may intimidate them further. Instead, get on their level, extent your hand out slowly so they may sniff it before you initiate petting them. Another way you can communicate with your dog is to copy the body language they are giving to you. If your dog is in a playful mood and is pawing at your knee, paw gently back at them to show them that you want to play. If your dog yawns, yawn back to show them that you are connected to each other. By being conscious of how you reciprocate your dog’s actions and avoiding body language that can be taken as aggressive by your dog, you will find your bond grows stronger.
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Dogs communicate to humans in so many ways, with each dog unique in the way it does so. Although we are quite a way away from dog-to-human translators, there is no end to the ways we can communicate with our canine friends.
By Sarah Panther