Ever wondered what your dog is doing when they are interacting with another dog? Do you sometimes feel like you're watching something in a foreign language as your dog communicates with another dog?
Basically - do you know how to read your dog's body language?
Sometimes it can be quite frustrating not knowing whether to step in and stop your dog or let the activity go on. You'd be amazed how many people misread their dog's behavior and yet it's actually pretty easy - when you know how!
Knowing whether your dog is happy playing or feeling distressed can make all the difference to how they socialize with other dogs. There are many tell-tale signs. All you need to know is how to recognise them and then it's like watching a movie in English rather than a foreign language!
Of course dogs can read each other without any effort, it comes naturally to them, however for us humans it doesn't.
Here are some of the key behaviours that you can watch out for to understand what your dog is thinking. At the bottom of this article is a link to an amazing video by Doggy Dan in which you can watch all the behaviors I mention below for yourself.
The Head Over: placing their head over the back of another dogs neck. This is one of the most common ways a dog will attempt to assert their dominance over another dog. It is neither good nor bad. Some dogs however will contest it if they are not happy being dominated. A dog who is not happy with this will clearly let the other dog know!
Returning To Play: a dog returning to play more with another dog. This is a sign that suggests a dog is happy to play. Often this simple behavior is overlooked by dog owners. Many times a dog may look like they are not enjoying things as they are being dominated and pushed around but is actually very happy and will run back for more! If they were really unhappy they would very likely stay away.
Lifting One Paw In The Air: the dog stands still on three legs. This is a fairly submissive gesture that says I am submissive and nonthreatening. The other dog may react in a number of ways but it is generally a good sign.
Hackles Up: the hair on the dogs back goes up. Very often people think that this automatically means that the dog is being aggressive or going to be aggressive, however it can also just be excitement. It does mean that the dog is very alert but this can be because they just love playing with other dogs. Keep an eye on your dog and don't panic.
360 Degree Spins: The dog completes a complete spin The dog spinning will almost certainly be very happy and will be trying to encourage some play activity. When a dog turns their back on another dog it shows that they are relaxed and not scared.