Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language - Transcript

Dogs use different parts of their body and vocalisations to communicate with us. They can show us it's okay to interact with them and to come closer through what is known as distance decreasing signals. Alternatively, they can ask us to give them more space or to stop what we're doing. These are known as distance increasing signals. Dogs can experience a variety of emotions and they show them in different ways so it's important for us to understand them

Get to know what your dog looks like when they're relaxed. All dogs are slightly different and breed variations mean that some dogs tails and ears look different. A relaxed dog will have a soft wagging tail, soft eyes and may cock their head if you talk to them - these are distance decreasing signals. A playful dog will be more animated. They may bow with their front end lowered down or jump around excitedly. These are also distance decreasing signals.

Dogs who are uncomfortable can show similar behaviour as when they're relaxed, so be aware of the context and learn what is normal for your dog. For example, sometimes dogs will roll onto their backs to show that they're uncomfortable, not that they would like their stomach rubbed. This is a distance increasing signal, so we need to change the situation for the dog.

Other signals are less subtle and may occur in situations such as grooming or vet visit. Look out for any signs of tension in your dog which may indicate that they are uncomfortable. This distance increasing signal is your dog's way of asking for the situation to stop, you may just need to give your dog a break. Dogs can seem friendly at first but can become uncomfortable as we interact with them.

To avoid this, only interact for a few seconds and then pause to give your dog a chance to show you how they feel. Dogs can show fear in many ways - your dog may hide or carry away from the thing that frightens them, and you should make sure not to approach them when this happens as this may escalate to more aggressive behaviour.

If the scary situation persists, you may see more intense behaviour occur. This is a distance increasing signal, so the dog is asking to be given space. If we listen to our dog's body language, we can try to prevent these situations from occurring. If you experience these issues, we recommend getting the help of a behaviour specialist. You can find advice on our website on how to find the right assistance.

Remember our dogs use their body language to communicate with us, so ask yourself what your dog is trying to tell you and other people. Are they trying to create more space for themselves or are they warmly inviting you over to them? The better we can listen to our dogs, the stronger the bond will be as our dogs will feel safe and respected by us.

That was our advice on how to read your dog's body language the Battersea way. For more hints and tips, visit the Battersea website and subscribe to our channel.