Understanding Canine Behaviour: Body Postures

by | Dog Care |

If you have a dog, you may already know how important it is to be able to read their body language. A wagging tail is a well-known sign of a happy dog. But did you know lip-licking can be a sign of conflict in your pet? Below, we’ve collected some tips from our Shelter Health Pro website that will help improve your ability to read canine behaviour.

Threats and aggression can be either offensive or conflict-related. An offensively aggressive dog tries to make himself look bigger and more intimidating, whereas a conflict-related aggressive dog adopts a self-protective posture by making himself look smaller and tucking his tail tucked between his legs.

Something to Note: Do not touch, attempt to reassure, or punish dogs showing these postures, because in that moment they are in such an aroused state that they are incapable of learning.

Here is a summary of some of the postures you may notice in your dog!

Offensive Postures

Some signs your dog is feeling threatened, may include tenseness, hair standing on end along the top of their back, stiff tail, or a direct stare.

Conflict-Related Postures

Your dog may be showing you he’s experiencing some conflict if they exhibit any of the following behaviours: crouching low to the ground, tail curved down and tucked between legs, dilated pupils, eyes fully open, hard eye/whale eye (whites of eye showing), lip licking or tongue flicking, stress yawning.

Social Postures

If your dog is feeling at ease and social, here are some of the signs that would show that. Tail wagging, loose ears that are facing forward, and a bowing position are all examples of signs of an invitation for social engagement.

Reading your dog’s body language so that you can identify aggression or conflict is essential to responding in the most effective way. Whether that’s through enrichment, socialization, or modification; eventually, you’ll be able to determine which form of intervention is best. Visit our Shelter Health Pro website for more information on how to better understand your dog’s behavior.

Shelter Health Pro

Shelterhealthpro.com is a free online resource created by the Ontario SPCA and Humane Society to give both shelter professionals and pet owners the tools and information they need to help keep the animals in their care physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

If you have an animal at home or work with animals, you owe it to them to visit shelterhealthpro.com. Caregivers will have access to the tools needed to keep shelter animals happier and healthier to increase their chance of adoption, and we’re helping pet owners prevent and modify behavioural issues to help keep animals with their families.

Check it out today!