Although certain canine body language is specific to the dog, a few signals are more or less universal. Learning these mannerisms can give you an insight into your favorite canine’s mood. A few things are obvious. For example, a dog that is happy and excited will be wagging his tail, prancing around and/or jumping around. A dog that is cowering in the corner is afraid. Here are a few other common canine mannerisms and their meanings:
- Play Bow: Rear end up, front down, and tail wagging generally means "I want to play."
- Tail Wagging: Doesn’t always mean that the dog is happy or friendly as is generally assumed. Some dogs also wag their tails when they are scared, agitated or unsure about a situation. Look for other signals to determine the dog’s mood.
- Rolling Over: Generally means the dog is being submissive. In effect the dog is saying, "You’re the boss." Lots of times a contented dog also will roll over when she is happy and wants you to rub her tummy.
- Tail Between Legs and Ears Back: The dog is afraid or feeling apprehensive about something.
- Ears Perked Up: The dog is alert for some reason. During obedience class, the dog looking attentively at you with her ears perked up is ideal. It means your dog is paying attention to you and waiting for your next command (egad!).
- Frontal Approach: A dog standing still facing another dog or person with direct eye contact, hackles raised, and ears and tail up indicates dominance or a sign of imminent attack.
- Raised Paw: A dog who raises a paw with a bent foreleg is showing submission.
It can be interesting to just sit and watch a dog. By observing your dog, you’ll see how her posture changes and how she uses her ears, eyes, eyebrows, lips, nose, mouth, tail, and coat to express her mood. You can be sure that your dog knows your body language, so if you take the time to learn her body language, you’ll be one step closer to improving the relationship you have with your dog.