What your dog wants you to know about body language

Body Language

Now furiends, as we previously established, us doggos are pretty good at reading our hoomans. We observe them with our little eyes, staring at them, trying to figure out what mood they're in or what they're going to do next.

But how good are our hoomans at reading us doggos? Not so good me thinks, cos they are not as clever as they think they are...

Now, there is no one size fits all. Body language looks different in different breeds, and it might depend on the context. But there are some basic principles. I haven't got time to tell you about all of them as me is busy, got fings to do, but I'll give you some examples below.

Licking

Me loves mummy lots so will often jump on her and lick her face. She doesn't always like it, especially if she has just showered as apparently she "doesn't know where me tongue has been." Silly mummy, it's been in me mouth, where you think it's been?

Dog body language - A cockapoo kissing his human mum
Pic of me licking mummy

But sometimes she might touch me and me will licks her to tell her to go away and that me wants to be left alone

Sitting down during a walk

Sometimes me gets a bit bored on our walks, especially if we walk the same route each day. So me will sit me bum down, give mummy side eye, and refuse to move. Just wants to go home and snooze.

But when I was a little pupster, I was sitting down for other reasons. I was just learning about the big wide world and at times it was overwhelming. So I'd sit down every so often to take things in before, learning about the new smells and sights, before getting up and carrying on. Mummy was nice and patient with me (she not normally very patient) and would wait until me felt ready to move again. Me was proper cute as a pupster so lots of people would look at me and smile whilst me was taking a break.

Dog body language - A cockapoo sat down whilst on a walk
Me as a pupster sitting down on a walk

As me gets older, got a fair few years to go yet furiends, but mummy will need to keep an eye on me to make sure I'm not sitting down cos me is in pain with me old joints or somefing. In that case she'd cart me off to the mean vets for a check up.

Dog to Dog Body Language

When hoomans greet each other they might shake hands, or do a weird elbow knock since the fing called Covid. They might hug (not mummy, she don't like hugging). Or give a kiss on the cheek. Me don't waste time kissing the cheek, go straight for the mouth with me tongue.

Dog body language - A cockapoo kissing a dachshund
Kissy kissy with me buddy Lady Di

Us doggos are a bit more hard to read when we greet each other. How do our hoomans know if we're happy or not to greet another doggo?

Tense Posture

Cos me is a reactive dog, me will sometimes take on a tense posture to show other doggos and people that I is not happy in the situation. Me body will look alert, hard, me tail will be sticking up. It might be wagging but not in a relaxed, friendly way. I might also start sniffing the ground, to show that I don't want to interact with another doggo.

Roll onto back

Me don't do this too often, but if doggos roll onto their back in the company of other doggos, this is a sign that the doggo is feeling intimidated or vulnerable. If you see this happen, remove your doggo from the situation as it means they is not too happy with what is happening.

Dog body language - A cockapoo rolling on his back
This was me when I was little, still unsure about meeting doggos so me rolled onto me back

Tail Wagging

If me wags me tail that means I is happy right?

Well, not always. Different breeds have different tail wags so you needs to pay attention to your doggo's tail - the position, the speed it's moving, how high it's held and whether it's up or down.

A bit complicated I know hoomans. Me is sorry I don't have an easy answer to this one. Maybe get someone to video you and your dog when you're out and about and watch it back later. Start to try and read the tail in conjunction with the situation your doggo is in.

Me wagging me tail and whole body cos I was super excited to be going on walkies with me buddies

Traffic Light System for body language

Now furiends, I is going to type some handy lists for your hoomans to help identify whether you're showing signs of aggression towards hoomans or other doggos. They should try and look for and recognise these signs in you, and remove you from the situation.

Green - Doggo is using calm, non-confrontational behaviours to get away from a situation it doesn't like.

  • Getting up and walking away
  • Ears going backwards
  • Turning their head away
  • Licking their lips
  • Yawning
  • Body shakes
  • Rolling onto their back
  • Tail tucked under their back legs
  • Going behind someone's legs

Amber - If the green ones have been ignored, your doggo might move on to these.

  • Lip curling
  • Tense body
  • Quiet growling
  • Staring eyes
  • Air snapping
  • Slow wagging tail
  • Barking
  • Lunging
  • Muzzle punching

Red - Green and amber haven't worked and doggo needs to be removed from the situation NOW.

  • Teeth baring
  • Lunging with intention to bite
  • Growling
  • Stalking behaviour
  • Launching to bite

Me not trying to scare your hoomans, furiends. But these are meant to be helpful fings for them to look out for. If you is trying to communicate with them using your body, they needs to be able to read those signs. If your hoomans have any concerns about your behaviour, they can contact a behaviourist registered with the ABTC.

Mummy likes to read dogs' body language on her photoshoots, to make sure the doggo is relaxed and enjoying themselves whilst having their photo taken!

Until next time furiends!

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