How to Interpret Dog Body Language

December 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Dog Training Tips

Body language is important to a dog and conveys just as much, if not more than the words you say. When you approach your dog confidently and speak calmly, you command his immediate respect, while a tentative approach and uneven voice shows fear and uncertainty. And when you address your dog with shouting and frantic movements, you just confuse him.

It therefore makes sense to be aware of your body language when you interact with your dog. Your dog is much more likely to obey if you approach him in a calm, self-confident manner.

One of the keys to achieving that is your body posture. If you want to exert control over the dog, stand upright, if you want to appear more approachable, stoop forward. So if you’re playing a game with your dog and he starts to get out of hand, standing up straight and looking away will normally calm him down.

Another important point, is your position relative to the dog. This is particularly relevant when you are walking. Allowing the dog to walk in front of you puts him in the leadership position, and he is more inclined to pull, and to become aggressive. Walk him next to you and he will immediately calm down.

Pay attention also to your dog’s tone of voice, which has many nuances and inflections. For example, a high pitched, rapid bark may indicate excitement while a short flat bark is calling your attention to something. A growl may be a warning, but with a different inflection it is an invitation to play.

By the same token, your dog reads a lot from your tone of voice. If you want to get your dog’s attention then a confident voice is needed, so that even if your dog doesn’t understand the words, he understands from your tone that you mean business.

Other tones of voice are useful too, for example a soft, loving voice conveys much the same to your dog as it would to a human and should be used for giving praise and affection. An if you want your dog to join you in a game, a high-pitched tone will soon get him worked up.

Something to avoid though is yelling, which your dog will interpret as aggressive barking. This is counter productive and will only succeed in making the dog afraid of you, so don’t do it.

Bear in mind that tone of voice is more important to your dog that the words you use. When you first begin to teach a voice command the words will actually mean nothing, but tone will still convey your intention until he begins to associate the word with the action.

One last point to be aware of, direct eye contact is uncomfortable for a dog – they see it as a threat – so you’ll get better results if you direct your gaze slightly to the side or above your dog’s line of sight.

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How to Interpret Dog Body Language
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