Dog Behavior: Dog Body Language & Moods

Post Pic

As dog owners and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we wanted our Dog Encyclopedia to be a website that could empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving environment for their dogs. Dog Encyclopedia realizes that owning a dog is like adding a new member to your family.

Reading Your Dog's Body Language
Knowing how to read your dog's body language is the key to understanding your dog, assessing her attitude, and predicting her next move. Because dogs are non-verbal - their body language does the talking for them. Vocalization actually takes second place to a dog's body language. Once you learn these basic types of dog body language, spend some time observing dogs interacting with people and other animals in various situations. Understanding of dog body language can also help protect you and your dog from dangerous situations as well as aid in training or identification of common behavior problems.

The confident dog stands straight and tall with her head held high, ears perked up, and eyes bright. Her mouth may be slightly open but is relaxed. Her tail may sway gently, curl loosely or hang in a relaxed position. She is friendly, non-threatening and at ease with her surroundings.

A happy dog will show the same signs as a confident dog. In addition, she will usually wag her tail and sometimes hold her mouth open more or even pant mildly. She appears even more friendly and content than the confident dog, with no signs of anxiety.

The anxious dog may act somewhat submissive, but often holds her ears partially back and her neck stretched out. She stands in a very tense posture and sometimes shudders. Often, an anxious dog slightly whimpers or moans. Her tail is low and may be tucked. An anxious dog may overreact to stimulus and can become fearful or even aggressive. If you are familiar with the dog, you may try to divert her attention to something more pleasant. However, be cautious - do not provoke her or try to soothe her.

The fearful dog combines submissive and anxious attitudes with more extreme signals. She stands tense, but is very low to the ground. Her ears are flat back and her eyes are narrowed and averted. Her tail is between her legs and she typically trembles. A fearful dog often whines or growls and might even bear her teeth in defense. She may also urinate or defecate. A fearful dog can turn aggressive quickly if she senses a threat. Do not try to reassure the anxious dog, but remove yourself from the situation calmly. If you are the owner, be confident and strong, but do not comfort or punish your dog. Try to move her to a less threatening, more familiar location.

A dominant dog will try to assert herself over other dogs and sometimes people. She stands tall and confident and may lean a bit forward. Her eyes are wide and she makes direct eye contact with the other dog or person. Her ears are up and alert, and the hair on her back may stand on edge. She may growl lowly. Her demeanor appears less friendly and possibly threatening. If the behavior is directed at dog that submits, there is little concern. If the other dog also tries to be dominant, a fight may break out. A dog that directs dominant behavior towards people can pose a serious threat. Do not make eye contact and slowly try to leave. If your dog exhibits this behavior towards people, behavior modification is necessary.

An aggressive dog goes far beyond dominant. All feet are firmly planted on the ground in a territorial manner, and she may lunge forward. Her ears are pinned back, head is straight ahead, eyes are narrowed but piercing, tail is straight and full. She bears her teeth, snaps her jaw and growls or barks threateningly. The hairs along her back stand on edge. If you are near a dog showing these signs it is very important to get away carefully. Do not run. Do not make eye contact with the dog. Do not show fear. Slowly back away to safety. If your own dog becomes aggressive, seek the assistance of a professional dog trainer to learn the proper way to correct the behavior. Dogs with aggressive behavior should never be used for breeding.

Fence Jumping Dogs
Fence jumping is one of many dog behavior problems. This is a self-rewarding behavior, which means that when he sails over the fence and escapes, he's getting what he wanted, which is to get out of the yard. The reward of being loose guarantees that he'll do it again and again. Canines want to escape from their yards for many reasons. Here are five of them:

A Bored Dog-Dogs are social animals who need lots of mental stimulation. If your pet is left by himself all day with nothing to do, the chances are that he'll try to find a way to occupy himself. Fence jumping may be his answer, since he can then go off and do whatever he wants. Make your yard an interesting place for your pup. Make a digging pit in the corner for him, and provide him with toys to play with when you're gone.
Attention Seeking-
The chances are good that a fence jumping dog gets LOTS of attention. You're chasing after him, trying to catch him. Your neighbor is probably out in his yard yelling at your pet to go home. This is exciting for your pup, and it's a lot of fun for him. Take a look at how much time you're spending with your pet. If the only time he gets attention is when he misbehaves, he'll do whatever it takes to get your attention.
Lack Of Exercise- Many people don't realize how much exercise a dog needs every day to burn off excess energy. A long walk morning and evening goes a long way towards using up all that energy. If there's a dog park nearby, take him there so he can run and play with other canines.
Sex Drive-It's a dog's nature to roam around, looking for females. Prevent this behavior by having him neutered before he's a year old. Spay your female dog to keep male dogs out of your yard. This also prevents all the problems associated with pet overpopulation.
Separation Anxiety-Your dog may be escaping in hopes of finding you when you're gone. Don't let your pet get too attached to you. Have other family members walk and feed him, too. Avoid making your homecoming the high point of his day. Once again, be sure he has lots to do when you're not there.



You can help provide a better life for dogs in need. Find out how to support canine rights and welfare. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but our stray and feral animal overpopulation problem, in many areas of this country rivals that of some of the poorest countries of the world. 

Dog Breeds:

Dog Encyclopedia has added beautiful dog photographs on each of our Dog Breed pages to enhance your experience. Each section in Dog Encyclopedia helps to educate pet owners, enabling both the dog, and the owner to have a safe, high quality experience