The family dog may not be able to verablize his needs and wants in the way we humans communicate with each other, but pet parents can understand what their furkid is trying to say. Our dogs are pretty good at tipping us of with the use of their body parts. Knowing what each body signal means can help us interpret their needs, which can help keep everyone safe. Read on to know exactly what certain movements may mean.

On All Fours
You can tell exactly what your dog is planning to do just by observing how he stands. He is calm and confident when all his weight is distributed evenly on all four legs. If his body is slightly curved away from you and leaning backwards, as if ready to flee, check to see if there is something that might be frightening to him. On the other hand, when a dog lowers his forelegs and posits in a downward dog stance called "play bow," you’ll know that he is in a playful mood and ready to get rowdy.

Snout Signals
Know whether a dog is in a playful or aggressive mood by observing his mouth. If his lips are pulled back in a snarl, baring his gums, stay back, because he’s warning you to keep your distance. He’s getting ready to snap or bite! But if his tongue and lips are loose, there’s nothing to worry about. When he’s relaxed, his mouth will usually be closed or slightly open, but stressed or anxious dogs will keep their mouth tightly closed, with the corners of the lips pulled back. Another warning is the "aggressive pucker," where Fido pulls his lips over his teeth, puffs up his lips and wrinkles his forehead. This usually comes before fully baring his teeth and gums.

Tail Tales
We know what it means when a dog’s tail is hung low between his legs. But did you know that wagging tails mean many different things? Just as smiles vary from polite, to shy, to wary to all-out-joy. Sure, a fully upright, rapid, wagging tail means your canine is ecstatic, but a lower, slower wag means that your dog is a little apprehensive. A wag at mid level, but at a pace so fast it almost hits his body, means he’s overjoyed. It’s best to look at the base of the tail when attempting to decode your dog’s rump movement because it comes in different shapes and sizes. Long tails that naturally hit the dog’s body may be confusing, and near non-existent ones are hard to read, so take a look at the base to determine which angle the wagger is pointed.

Ear Hints
Canine ears also vary per breed—some are erect while others are floppy—so the same principle of reading tails applies when reading a dog’s mood via his ears. In its natural position, or even gently leaning back, your dog is content and relaxed, but held back and flat against the skull means he’s apprehensive or fearful, and a frightened dog, when backed into a corner, may turn aggressive.

Tongue Tips
A lolling tongue usually means your dog is excited, but add continuous panting and it might mean he’s feeling hot or thirsty. Put a bowl of water in front of him to make sure he’s hydrated. If he doesn’t take it, let him go on with his merry making. Sometimes, excessive panting, especially when the temperature isn’t that hot, could mean a respiratory or heart disease. Lip licking and tongue flicking can also signify nervousness and an exaggerated yawn is his way of releasing tension.

Sick Signs
Knowing how to read your dog’s body language also comes in handy when he’s sick. Keep an eye out for rounded or arched body posture, lethargy, hiding, whining, trembling, squinty eyes and a tucked tail. Unusual behavior is usually a red flag that’s something’s off. Make sure to investigate immediately.

Being able to read your barker’s body language can help you better communicate with him, and tighten that bond between pet and parent. But, getting a more accurate read of his behaviour is best done as a whole. Take into consideration all the signs at the same time. A dog barking with his tail in a high or mid level fast wag means he’s excited to see you, but a bark, coupled with ears flat on the skull and a low, slow wag may mean he’s about to pounce. If you’re willing to dish out a minimal amount, check out a fun dog decoder app on your smart phone to help you master your dog’s body movements.

PHOTO: Pixabay; GIFS: Giphy
          

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