Canine Body Language


Before anything else, I have a short story to share. This is Hyena, a six-month-old mix of Malamute and Husky. For some reason, she can’t use her hind legs so she puts her weight to her front legs. Even though we’re telling her to rest, she’s so strong that she still tries to walk. We couldn’t hide our pity so we help her as she stands and as she walks. However, since she’s not a human just like me, I can’t fully understand her. Does she want me to help? Is she going to eat? Does she want to poop? I don’t know. This experience brought me to a realization how hard it is for dogs to convey what they want to inform to their masters and how hard for us to understand their message. Therefore, I studied the canine body language because I know, somehow, it can help, not just between Hyena and me, but also with other dogs.


Neutral and Dominant


I first thought that when the tail of a dog is up, he’s happy. Otherwise, he’s sad. But I was proven wrong after learning that it’s not always bad news when a dog’s tail is hanging down. In fact, their relaxed posture with their tails down means that they are in their neutral state while their relaxed posture with their tails up means that they are in their dominant state.




Before, I greatly believed that my dogs are stretching when they are doing this. After waking up from sleep or standing up from lying, they usually slide their front legs onward leaving their ass in the air. I actually find it cute and I know that you too. Well, we have to because it means that they are having fun with us, humans. It’s obvious that my Maltese looks happy here.




When we go home from work or school, dogs always welcome us by wagging their tails, standing through their hind legs and reaching us up through their front legs. When kids do this, they’re telling that they want to be carried up. But it’s different with pups. When pups do this, they’re telling that they want to play with you because they missed you and you’ve been gone in a long day.




As I type this blog post, my friend beside me guessed what message this canine body language is telling and she said that it’s sadness. No! He’s not sad! He just look sad because that’s what his face really looks like but he’s not sad. Instead, he’s relaxed and he’s showing that he is ready to sleep as if there’s a signboard behind him telling “Do not disturb.”




We already know what our furbabies like when they lie with bellies up and paws and tails tucked in. They like tummy rub! However, in reality, it’s their language of surrendering themselves to us like a submissive. They also do this as a sign of submission when they’re playing with their buddies. By the way, my Pomeranian looks so adorable in this shot. And no, I’m not going to hurt you, baby.




Why does my baby Malamute shows curiosity? Are you wondering why my camera’s in front of you? Are you asking why I’m telling you to stay on the sofa? I can’t find out which. All I know is that you’re curious. How? It’s because she is tilting her head and when a dog do this, there’s an imaginary question mark above his head.




Our mutts love to use their tongue when they are playing with their masters or when a food is in front of them or when they are bathing themselves. But neither of these are the reason why they are licking their nose. Scientists believe that the nose licking sends is their way of calming themselves. I’m wondering why it looks so cute when they’re uncomfortable.




We can’t resist our boyfriend, or for boys, girlfriend, when he or she shows his or her puppy-eyed look. What more if the original, not the human impostor, is the one doing that kind of stare? Then, the tempting level of accepting their favor is more than that. And yes, you heard favor right because when they’re doing this, they are pleading for something.




According to my mother, our new dog, Aspin, is so aggressive that it fights every stranger visiting them in our province. So on my way home, I was preparing myself from his barks since it was our first meeting. But instead of aggressiveness, I caught him terrified. I know because he was crouching with ears flattened and tails tucked. He even tried to hide. Why? I’ve done nothing to you, my dear.



My brother often gets angry when our dogs bark. But as often as he complain, I remind him that they are dogs that’s why they bark so he have to understand.. It’s their response to their aggression, which are critical ways of communicating either to warn, intimidate, resolve conflict, increase distance, defend or cause harm. No matter what, they just ensure their personal safety and survival.

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