Dogs aren’t called a “man’s best friend” for nothing. As reported by Technology Networks, dogs are capable of understanding reward responses and in turn, form strong bonds with their owners, much like an infant-mother relationship. However, it does take time and effort before your dog can recognize your words or intent. Through insights into your dog’s behavior, you can not only improve your relationship with them but also train your dogs and keep them safe. For example, you’ll be able to teach your dog to not chase their ball across the street during playtime. If you’d like to learn more about how to read your dog’s behavior, here are six tips to help you understand your dog better:

Read more on dogs

Dog language can be difficult to learn at first, so it’s best to fill this knowledge gap. It helps to do a lot of research, especially from animal behavior experts like Alexandra Horowitz. In her book, Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know, Horowitz debunks some of the things we misunderstand about dogs and teaches us new things about how our four-legged friends think, feel, and perceive the world around them. Unlike humans, you can’t explain why certain things are “bad” because they have simpler values. A similar approach is tackled in Patricia McConnell’s The Other End of the Leash, where she talks about how mastering communication with your dog is essential to maximize training and understanding.

Lean on their posture

A dog’s overall body stance can tell you a lot about a dog’s mood and intention. A tense body, hunched towards the ground could mean they’re stressed or scared. Sometimes as a sign of submission, dogs roll on their back to expose their bellies. By recognizing certain mannerisms, you can learn more about their personalities.

Look at their facial expressions

Dogs can put on different facial expressions. However, not all expressions can be interpreted the same way as humans. When in a tense situation, dogs tend to yawn to calm themselves or lick their lips to express their discomfort. Their ears are also a giveaway to how your dog is feeling.

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Understand their quirks

Some dog breeds may communicate differently compared to others. In the case of huskies, Animal Food Planet shares how this particular dog breed is very vocal because it’s how they convey their mood and demands with their ‘pack’. Huskies don’t tend to bark as much; instead they use different noises like howling, chirping, or whining.

Watch their tails

Many people misinterpret a wagging tail as a happy sign. A wagging tail usually just means your dog is emotionally stimulated, and it’s up to you to understand the context. You can also assess their emotions by how high their tails are – a fearful dog would put their tail between their legs, while an assertive dog would hold it high.

Socialize your dog

One of the best ways to better understand your dog’s behavior is to socialize them. Our post on “Puppy Socialization” states that socialization isn’t limited to interactions with others dogs, but also with people and different environments. New experiences can be frightening for some dogs, and it’s possible for them to form a negative association, so it’s important to take things slow so they aren’t startled by sudden changes.

There are several ways dogs can share how they’re feeling — be it vocally, through their facial expressions, their posture, or their tails. Many of these signals work together to convey a message, and you can learn these cues when socializing with your dog or reading about others’ experience. It’s essential to recognize how your dog communicates through their body language to build a lasting bond with your pet.

Article written by Rose Jensen for Eusoh