Health & Wellness
“Tail wagging is a common method of communication dogs use,” Dr. Aliya McCullough, Fetch by The Dodo’s on-staff veterinarian, says. “In some cases, tail wagging may mean a dog is happy and excited. In other circumstances, it can mean a dog is nervous, anxious or attempting to diffuse a tense situation.”
Other body movements or positions can indicate how a dog may be feeling, too. Here are the most common emotions dogs express through body language.
Pet parents can read their dog’s body language by looking for changes in their posture or movement, which can sometimes be subtle depending on their mood.
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Most pet parents aren’t fully relaxed until their dog is relaxed. Dr. McCullough explains how to tell when your pup is chilled out:
Dogs will often exemplify fearful or anxious body language when proving they’re not a threat to diffuse a situation, Dr. McCullough says. Your dog is likely anxious if you spot these body positions:
If a dog feels aggressive, the signs are typically more subtle at first. When a dog’s aggressive body language is ignored, it escalates and becomes more apparent. Dr. McCullough says to pay attention to these signs of aggression:
When a dog communicates fear or aggression through body language or vocalization, their parents should remove them from the situation as soon as possible (and as long as they are safe to do so!). Dr. McCullough recommends reaching out to your veterinarian, too, as signs of aggression and fear can sometimes look like signs of underlying pain.
If your veterinarian has ruled out a medical requirement behind your pup’s anxious or aggressive body language, consider reaching out to a veterinary behaviorist or trainer as a resource for improving your dog's well being and behavior.
“Pet parents can enlist a veterinary behaviorist and a trainer as early as possible to help develop a specific and individualized behavioral modification program,” Dr. McCullough shares.
The Dig, Fetch by The Dodo’s expert-backed editorial, answers all of the questions you forget to ask your vet or are too embarrassed to ask at the dog park. We help make sure you and your best friend have more good days, but we’re there on bad days, too. Fetch provides the most comprehensive pet insurance and is the only provider recommended by the #1 animal brand in the world, The Dodo.
Photo by Rafael Forseck on Unsplash