Fostering better understanding between you and your dog
Around 44% of households in the UK have at least one companion animal, with dogs topping the list (followed by cats and fish).
If you live with a dog, you may think that your bond helps you instinctively know when they are happy, sad or scared, and you may be right the majority of the time.
There is, indeed, a unique and powerful bond between dogs and their owners.
To ensure you are as intuitive to your pooch as they are to you, keep the following considerations in mind.
Learning To Read Canine Body Language
Learning to ‘read’ your dog’s body language is a pillar of good communication. It involves learning to read expressions, behaviours, and even the sounds being made by your dog.
Generally, it is easy to tell when a dog is excited in a good way: they might wag their tail, nudge their human in a plea for caresses, and even let out an excited whine.
However, sometimes what seems like a sign of happiness or relaxation is not positive at all. For instance, when a dog is stressed or anxious, they may roll onto their back to expose their belly – something they might also do when they simply want a belly rub.
Just a few areas you should look into when studying dog body language include posture, the direction of a tail wag (right generally means happy, left may indicate stress), and facial expressions. For instance, when dogs yawn, it means they are stressed; you can try lowering their anxiety by yawning back at them to provide welcome relief.
Watching Out For Signs Of Illness
It is vital to know signs of common illnesses or conditions that need addressing.
These include drooling (which might indicate a tooth infection or tummy upset), scooting (which could result from blocked anal glands), and restlessness at night (which could result from a condition such as arthritis, which can cause dogs too much pain to enable them to sleep well at night). Dogs can rest for several hours during the day precisely because they haven’t slept well at night.
See your vet if you suspect arthritis or any other age-related illness. Your vet might recommend laser therapy, which is also used to treat chronic injuries, swelling owing to back disc issues, muscular-skeletal abnormalities, and the like.
If all is fine, work to promote a better night’s sleep by providing your dog with a cool, dark, quiet place in which to rest and a soft, yet supportive, bed on which to dream their sweetest canine dreams.
Learning to read your dog’s body language is a fantastic way to feel closer to them and to help improve their health and happiness. Some dog expressions and behaviours are easy to work out, but others require veterinary assistance (and an examination or specific tests) to learn more about.
Your instinct is key when it comes to identifying something that ‘doesn’t feel right.’ However, research, discussions with your vet, and professional care can all help you decipher the inner workings of your four-pawed friend’s mind.
Article by Jennifer Dawson
(Image by Charlie Green on Unsplash)