Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Dogs use body language nearly only to communicate, but also with sounds. Therefore body language and facial expressions are the biggest part of studying the language of dogs.
If you would rather read this article in Icelandic, press here.
The most important thing we can ever do for our dogs and our relationship with them, is to fully understand and recognise their language. To be able to communicate in a way he understands and for us to tell them that we understand what they are trying to tell us. If a dog gets used to not being understood or his language not being recognised as communication, the dog might try exaggerating to get trough to us or not trying to communicate at all. Some dogs try to get through to their handlers, to communicate with them, but then realise that it doesn‘t help at all due to the handler doesn‘t quite get what the dog is asking or even that he‘s communicating at all. In those cases, some dogs find a way to communicate in a way that people hear it and react. Often we get annoyed by these big communications that tend to be quite loud and upsetting. Then finally when we get fed up with the loud communication of the dog and get in contact with a professional dog behaviourist. What is the root of the problem then? Is it noises, a stressed dog or the lack of communication skills of the human?
A common sign of communication problems is excessive barking. For example the dog who barks at the people picking up the trash bins, the door bell, the dog who barks at the people through the fences and more.
When a behaviour like that appears, the person probably didn‘t recognise the first time the dog asked if the home needed to be worried about a certain noice or a particular person. The dog isn‘t able to make contact with the person and therefor barks just once. A week later he‘s started to bark consistantly at that stimuli, because the person doesn‘t seem to notice the ‘‘threat‘‘ or stimuli, unless he makes a big gesture by barking at it. And the dog really doesn‘t want to be the one responsible for something bad to happen, so he lets you know about it in the only way he knows that you understand. Then suddenly he get‘s shamed about letting know of the potential threat, and he gets confused. At that point, the dog might think that this weird and massive reaction to that stimuli, must mean that it‘s so dangerous that he deffinatly should always react to it. Well you got uncomfortable when the stimulai appeared so that‘s a reasonable thought. It makes more sense to the dog, rather then getting to the conclusion that he‘s being shamed for letting know of a potential threat.
That‘s why it‘s so important to know the language of dogs from the start. Get to know the language of dogs well so that you will be able to answear dogs at all times when they ask about things f.x. if something is a potential threat or not. It doesn‘t mean that we have to tell them yes all the time when asked. It means that we can say yes when appropriate and put boundries where needed. The dog will experience more security and he‘ll be able to grow in confidence. The relationship of a dog and his person will get much better, due to the dog experiencing the person understanding him and boundries set for a reason.
If you want to check out dog body language further/deeper (in Icelandic) you can check it out here.
Here you can take a look at a couple of videos that I think are fine. I‘m not in agree with everything they put forward in the videos, but they‘re good foundation when starting out to understand how dogs communicate 😊I totally recommend reading books about dog body language, but choose them wisely, they are as many as they are different.
Jody from Go Anywhere Dog has a good video wich explains that a behaviour is something you should look holisticly at. To take many things into account and stimuli that has happened over the day and the minutes before. That‘s why it can be difficult to tell what exactly is going on a still photo, because you don‘t have the whole picture of what is and has been happening or what the environment and situation really is like. She explains in a simple way what signs a relaxed happy dog shows and how you should recognise when they are feeling uncomfortable. Press her to check out the video.
Turid Rugaas is a commonly known dog behaviourist, due to her approach in behaviour training. She emphasis on working with dogs from the perspective of their body language. The video is quite old, but helps to deepen the knowledge on body language, for those who are starting out as well for those who have more knowledge. Press here to check out the video.
Kristin goes over how dogs communicate if they don‘t want something. A lot of good examples here. Press here to check out the video.
Ted talk about the connection between humans and dogs, and how the communication is always going on, and in what way that communication is going on. Press here to check out the video.
Kikopup shows how people can intimidate the language of dogs, to be more polite and help them out in difficult situations. It‘s good example for a communication when you meet a dog you don‘t know. Press here to check out the video.