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Understanding Dog Behavior

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Understanding Dog Behavior

Dog behavior is easy to understand if you're able to look at the world from your dog's perspective. A dog's body language changes with his mood. Dog behavior can also change when your dog reacts to a certain situation or has something to communicate. Here's how you can understand your dog's behavior.

Body Language: A Key to Your Dog's Mood

Your dog communicates with body language in many ways, not just by barking or wagging his tail. He uses all parts of his body to communicate with body language. The way he moves and carries himself can tell you a lot about his mood. Here are some of the moods your dog might experience and how he'll express them:

  • A dog in a dominant mood will stand stiff and tall and may raise his hackles. His tail may stick straight out and he may fluff it. He'll hold his ears straight up; his mouth may open slightly and his eyes will be wide. He may growl or bark softly.
  • A dog in a friendly mood will perk up his ears, relax his mouth, and wag his tail.
  • A dog in a submissive mood will pull his ears back, close his eyes and raise his paw.
  • An aggressive dog flattens his ears against his head, narrows his eyes, and tenses his body. He may show his teeth, growl or snarl.
  • A worried dog will flatten his ears and the hairs on his neck may stand up. Worried dogs give sharp barks and may growl.
  • A fearful dog assumes a lowered stance with a tucked tail. His back arches and the whites of his eyes may show.
  • A stressed dog will lay his ears back and down. His mouth will be open wide and he'll breathe rapidly. He'll lower his shoulders, hunch forward, tuck his tail and tremble.

Bad Dog Behaviors and the Reasons Behind Them

Dog barking can be one of the most irritating animal behaviors, but it occurs for a number of reasons. They may be feeling isolated and bark to get your attention. They may be barking to warn you of an intruder. Many dogs bark when fearful, playful or anxious.

Dogs dig for a number of reasons as well. Some do it to entertain or comfort themselves. Others dig so that they have a cool hole to lie in when it's hot outside. Some dogs will even dig to get your attention; dogs who dig in front of you are often trying this strategy.

Chewing is normal behavior in puppies, but adult dogs may engage in destructive chewing if they are feeling bored or anxious. Dogs will also chew to get attention or to cope with phobias, such as a fear of thunderstorms.

Understanding and Correcting Dog Behavior

To truly understand your dog's behavior, you have to get to know your dog. Different dogs do different things for different reasons.

Most bad dog behaviors can change if the circumstances that caused the behavior change. For instance, if your dog engages in destructive chewing behaviors due to separation anxiety, resolving the separation anxiety should resolve the behavior.

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