Have you ever thought that your dog understands you better than just about anyone else? You could be right, because your canine studies your every move as if his life depended on it, because it does! He knows when you’re about to feed him, walk him, scold him, or praise him, and it’s that special and unique communication that makes you look forward to coming home each day from work.
But you may not understand quite as easily what your dog wants to tell you about himself. That doesn’t mean he isn’t trying to let you know something with every single gesture, however. Let’s explore what some of those mysterious movements mean, because the more you know, the better you will bond with your precious pooch.
Take, for example, the simple yawn. For humans, this means you are either tired, bored, or a little of each, but for dogs, there are subtler meanings. Puppies yawn as a way of saying “I’m not a threat” to larger dogs, so when your dog opens wide, he may simply be saying, “Don’t mind me, I’m not here to take over your territory!”
On the other hand, a dog who plops down atop your toes may be saying, “Back off, this human is MINE! ALL MINE!” to other dogs who are around.
Some dogs aren’t sure if you’re really “theirs,” as in, what if you never come home again?
Understandably, that fear can trigger separation anxiety and some of the unfortunately destructive habits that accompany it. How to combat this and save your shoes, furniture, and sanity? Plan on a brisk walk both before and after work to blow off some steam. As an added benefit, you’ll likely find you bond even more while exploring your hood together.
Ever have a dog push on you like he’s the Leaning Tower of Pizza? That’s his way of saying “I love you, do you love me?” This is a good time for lots of gushy talk and super gentle pets, so he knows he is king (or queen) of your world.
We’ve all had that moment where we look up from our phones, cooking, or working on the internet, only to find our dogs eyes locked on us like they’re trying to unravel the Pythagorean Theorem.
Actually, he’s probably trying to see who runs this pack anyway: you, or him. Be sure to outlast his direct stare so he knows that YOU run the show and he is merely there to serve! (On the other hand, don’t do this with unknown guard dogs you may encounter, as they could see a staring contest as a direct threat to their supremacy, and want to take you down).
Centuries ago, lesser lords would pay homage to their ruler by bringing him gifts. Dogs are very hierarchical as well, so you can assume that the dead mouse, half-eaten apple core, or shredded bathroom tissue lovingly laid at your feet is really a sign of your dog’s pledge of allegiance and devotion. If only we could train them to shop at Neiman-Marcus for shoes to bring us instead.
There are many other subtle (and not so) signs that your dog wants you to know and understand about his behavior. Start tuning in more closely, and before you know it, you two will have your own private form of sign language to guide you in “getting” each other’s moods.
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