Receiving a Message
#1 – Recognize Calming Signals
Instead of speaking in woofs and barks, the majority of canine communication is through body language. Calming signals are a set of behaviors dogs exhibit to resolve conflict, make friends, and maintain relationships with people and other dogs. They do it when they feel a situation needs to be “calmed,” and recognizing the behavior is a form of communication. Head turning, yawning, lip licking, and getting lower to the ground are all examples of calming signals.
#2 – Pay Attention to Facial Expressions
Even covered in fur, a dog’s face shows a lot of what they’re feeling and thinking. Like understanding your best friend’s knowing looks from across the room, knowing your dog’s facial expressions is a kind of unspoken communication. Look at their ears, eyes, and mouth to determine what they’re saying. When they perk their ears into a forward position, they’re interested and focused. When their ears are pulled flat against their head, it can either mean they’re ready for kisses or are being shy. If your pup’s ears are in a neutral position, he’s content with what’s going on around him.
#3 – Take in Context Clues
Context clues are the tidbits of information you can use to piece together what your dog is trying to say. If they’re behaving strangely, take in their surroundings and look for hints. A dog that’s whining next to an empty food bowl is an easy example. You might not know what the whining means on its own, but when you add the empty food bowl to the mix, it’s not hard to figure out that your dog is telling you they’re hungry.
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