Talking with friends is one of life’s great pleasures. Friends know us so well that often we can talk with them in a sort of shorthand, without words. This is especially true of our furry friends. Despite the fact that words aren’t available, dogs communicate with us on a deeper level than we sometimes expect. That’s what makes the bond between humans and dogs so special. As we celebrate the joys of friendship, let’s remember the ways our canine companions “talk” with us.
Dogs talk to us through sounds and body language, similar to the way a baby communicates. This is known as “referential signaling” and is also the way great apes communicate. Learning what those sounds and movements mean will help us humans know what our friends are needing or wanting.
An important key to interpreting your pup’s communications is to look at their whole body. A wagging tail seems to say “I’m happy” but that’s not always the case. The tail might be wagging but if their body is stiff, or crouched down, it’s a sign they are far from happy.
Fear is another emotion that causes a dog to react with his whole body. Cowering, tucking their tail, putting their ears back, shaking, and avoiding eye contact are all signs something has your pup scared. That fear left unchecked, can lead to aggression. Warning signs may shift to low growling, stiffening their body, or even showing their teeth.
There are other ways our furry companions show us what’s going on in their heads. Perky ears are a sign they’re listening while sticking their tail out straight can mean they are tracking something very closely. As we bond with our pets, we can begin to learn the signs of how they’re feeling and what they want or need from us. It’s one more way we can share true friendship with these amazing companions.