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A Guide to Dog Body Behavior - Part 2

This fascinating guide, which we post in two parts, can help us better understand how dogs can communicate with us and with each other. It is written by Will Hank  and Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish

Dogs sometimes bark, growl, or whine to send messages, but nonverbal communication is more common in canines . Since dogs depend so much on their pet parents, it’s essential for owners to understand their methods of communication. Even common dog body language, like a wagging tail, can mean different things in different circumstances. Pet parents can keep their pups calm, safe, and happy by learning how to read and decipher a dog’s body language.

PART 2

Common canine communication signals

Dog body language can sometimes be difficult to decipher. Below, we address nine common states of canine behavior and the body language often seen in each. Learning to recognize these signs can help keep you, your dog, and others around you safe.

covered in this guide

Aggression

Aggression is common in all types of animals, and dogs are no exception. Dogs may display aggression for a wide variety of reasons. These include social, territorial, protective,  possessive, or predatory aggression, among other factors. Recognizing aggression in dogs is essential to prevent dog fights or bites. Common signs of aggressive body language in dogs include:

  • Stiff posture with weight shifted forward
  • Raised hackles
  • Tail raised and stiff
  • Whale eyes
  • Ears pinned back
  • Snarling with lips curled back and teeth showing
  • Growling, barking, and/or snapping, and in extreme cases, lunging or biting

Alertness

Alert dog

Dogs are naturally curious creatures, and they’re often on high alert for new sights, sounds, and smells. Dogs may appear alert or aroused when experiencing new things or when they’re uncertain how to react to a stimulus. Arousal signals can often also accompany those of aggression or anxiety, so it’s important to note the dog’s entire body language in any given situation. Some common signs of alertness in dogs include:

  • Weight shifted forward
  • Tail raised and stiffly wagging
  • Eyes wide and hard-staring
  • Ears erect and facing forward
  • Muzzle tensed

Anxiousness

Anxious dog

Anxiety can be tricky to pinpoint, as signs can mirror those of other emotions, like excitement or fear. Anxiousness in dogs is often situational and may vary in the presence of certain other people, dogs, or new environments. Some common canine body language that suggests an anxious dog includes:

  • Pacing or walking back and forth or in circles
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Excessive panting
  • Yawning
  • Licking lips
  • Avoiding direct eye contact

Frustration

Frustrated dog

Like humans, dogs experience frustration in the face of unwanted outcomes. In pups, frustration often occurs either from being denied something they want or being unable to escape an uncomfortable situation. Signs to look for that suggest frustration include:

  • Tense posture (E.g., pulling or straining at a leash)
  • Stiff legs and weight shifted forward
  • Tail raised
  • Eyes wide
  • Ears pinned back

Fear

Fearful dog

Confidence is a great thing, but most dogs aren’t confident in every situation. Dogs experience fear for a wide variety of reasons and seeing a scared dog can be heartbreaking. Naturally, pet parents should try to keep their dogs away from fearful situations, though this isn’t always possible. Fear can also be a precursor to aggression if the dog senses an immediate threat. While there are some telltale signs of a fearful dog, some other behaviors can be trickier to recognize. Common fear-based body language in dogs includes:

  • Cowered/crouched posture with weight shifted back
  • Tucked tail between rear legs
  • Ears pinned back
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Lip-licking
  • Exposing their belly (as a sign of submission)

Happiness

Happy submissive dog

A happy or excited dog is a beautiful sight. Dogs display happiness for all sorts of reasons, and they often have a hard time containing it. While a wagging tail is a classic sign of a happy dog, it doesn’t always mean that. There’s also plenty of non-tail-based body language that suggests happiness in dogs. These include:

  • Loose and wiggly body posture
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Relaxed expression with mouth slightly open
  • Eyes softened or squinty
  • Ears slightly back
  • Leaning towards or on you
  • Rolling over for belly rubs

Playfulness

Playful dog

Recognizing playfulness in your pet is important, especially if you’re socializing them with other dogs. Playtime between seemingly friendly dogs can turn aggressive in an instant, so it’s important to keep an eye on body language and signs. Some common behaviors of playfulness in dogs include:

  • “Play bow” with front legs lowered ready to leap and rump/tail raised.
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Mouth open with tongue out
  • Eyes soft and relaxed
  • Ears up

Relaxation

Most pet parents love relaxing next to their calm pup. Dogs often relax when they’re in the comfort of their own homes, or accompanied by their favorite friends (and owners). If a dog feels comfortable enough to display these behaviors around you, they’re likely showing you how relaxed they are:

  • Laying down (sometimes in “frog-leg” position with the rear splayed out)
  • Loose, wriggly body
  • Tail wagging softly
  • Head and ears in a neutral position
  • Soft eyes
  • Open mouth with “smiling” expression

Stress

Stressed dog

Dogs respond to stress in many different ways. Commonly, they’ll exhibit “displacement behaviors,” or body language that seems out of context, and can provide hints at stress. Look for signs across the body of the whole dog to help differentiate stressful behaviors from those suggesting things like excitement or arousal. Some common signals of stress in dogs include:

  • Stiff body
  • Tail tucked
  • Excessive scratching
  • “Shaking off”
  • Hair raised
  • Lip-licking
  • Yawning
  • Whale eye
  • Avoiding eye contact

When to seek professional help for your dog’s behavior

There’s a lot that goes into responsible dog ownership, and deciphering your dog’s body language plays a big part. Understanding what your dog is trying to tell you can go a long way toward building your bond together. It’s up to us as pet parents to give our dogs the best lives we can, and communication is a key part of that dog-to-parent relationship.

If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior that suggest fear, anxiety, or aggression, it’s important to understand what’s causing it. In these cases, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or dog behaviorist . There’s certainly no shame in admitting you need help deciphering what your dog is trying to tell you. In the long run, there’s so much to gain and little to lose from deepening your understanding of the ways in which your dog communicates with you.


A Guide to Dog Body Language - Part 1

This fascinating guide, which we post in two parts, can help us better understand how dogs can communicate with us and with each other. It is written by Will Hank  and Medically reviewed by Dr. Erica Irish

Dogs sometimes bark, growl, or whine to send messages, but nonverbal communication is more common in canines . Since dogs depend so much on their pet parents, it’s essential for owners to understand their methods of communication. Even common dog body language, like a wagging tail, can mean different things in different circumstances. Pet parents can keep their pups calm, safe, and happy by learning how to read and decipher a dog’s body language.

PART 1

How dogs use body language to communicate

Dogs use a variety of movements with different parts of their bodies and faces to convey messages. Even a dog’s body position itself helps to display a certain attitude or emotional state. Keep an eye out for these common communication methods when trying to understand your dog:

Body position and posture. Dogs stand differently when relaxed versus excited, aroused, or scared. Even weight distribution on all four paws often indicates a relaxed or happy dog. Stiff front legs with the weight shifted forward and hackles raise, hair standing up on your dog’s neck, can show arousal or excitement. Conversely, dogs cowering or hunched over are often displaying signs of fear and/or submission.

Body movement. Like body posture, dog body movements can communicate a lot. Pacing can often signal a stressed or nervous dog. On the other hand, a jumping or bouncy dog is usually happy and excited. One common example of dogs greeting each other is the “play bow,” with the front legs down and their butt in the air. As the name implies, this signal is used between dogs as an invitation to play.

Tail. There’s one common misconception about a dog’s tail: the idea that a wagging tail automatically equals a happy dog. Yes, dogs often wag their tails loosely when relaxed or happy. But, a raised or stiffly wagging tail may suggest arousal, excitement, confidence, or even aggression. On the flip side, a lowered tail, especially one tucked between the legs, is often a sign of fear, stress, or submission.

Ears. Dogs communicate with their ears in a variety of ways. Upright, forward-facing ears “at attention” often show interest or arousal, while pinned back ears may mean a dog is afraid. As with other body language, ear movements can have conflicting meanings. So, it’s important to consider the situation and the dog’s other movements when deciphering ear position. In general, dogs with erect ears, like German shepherds, display a wider variety of ear movements than a floppy-eared breed, like Labrador retrievers.

Eyes. Eye contact is an important sign for dogs and the intensity of a dog’s eyes matters. A soft or squinty stare often suggests happiness or relaxation. A hard, direct stare, can often mean an aggressive dog. A dog averting their eyes or looking away can be a common sign of stress or fear. They’ll often display the whites of their eyes, a gesture known as “whale eye”, in response to stress or anxiety.

Mouth. Dogs display facial expressions and mouth movements to communicate in several ways. Many of us recognize relaxed dogs by their slightly open mouths and panting tongues. But, several mouth movements can often suggest signs of stress or even nausea. Yawning and/or licking the lips are often displacement behaviors. This means the dog is anxious and suppressing the urge to do something else, such as bark or bite. A more concerning sign is when dogs display their teeth in a snarl or “smile.” While it may look funny to us, this often signifies aggressive behavior.


Why Do Dogs Tilt Their Heads? New Study Offers Clues

The adorable behavior may be a sign of concentration and memory recall


Sea Turtle Surgery

Sea turtle
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bathing Your Pups - Some Advice

Honest Paws offers some good advice about how often to bathe your dog.

Did you know that 56% of dog parents aren't bathing their pups as often as they should? This visual highlights how often Americans think they should be bathing their dogs, compelling facts on dog hygiene and some helpful grooming tips for puppy parents.
 

56% of Pet Parents Don't Bathe Their Dogs as Frequently As They Should [Survey]

 
how-often-do-you-bathe-your-dog
 

According to Petco’s Manager of Pet Services Grooming Education, Wendy Weinand, you should wash your dog once every four weeks. This ensures that their skin and coat are clean, free from harmful microorganisms and debris.

Giving your dog a bath once a month will help to keep skin, fur, paws, and ears free of filth and infection. But how can you tell if your doggo needs a bath before the estimated four weeks mark?

60% Pet Parents Use the Sniff Test When Deciding to Bathe Their Dog

 
 
You can see the full visual and other survey findings here.
 
 
 

Honest Paws Reports that 66% of Dog Owners Would Consider Quitting If ...

Axios reports: Two in three dog owners would consider leaving their jobs if their companies no longer offered remote work, according to a survey of 400 dog owners by the pet care company Honest Paws.

A whopping one-third of the dog owners surveyed by Honest Paws got their pets during the pandemic. That means many of these puppies (including mine!) have gotten used to a certain kind of lifestyle and won't be too happy about a full return to work.

https://www.honestpaws.com/blog/work-from-home/

 


Animals That Laugh

According to Smithsonian Magazine,

Dogs Do It, Birds Do It, and Dolphins Do It, Too. Here Are 65 Animals That Laugh, According to Science

Researchers suggest that laughter in the animal kingdom may help creatures let each other know when it’s playtime, so that play fights don’t escalate.

Two dogs—a yellow lab on the left and Weimaraner on the right—sit in grass with their tongues out and mouths agape facing the camera.

Most of the 65 species identified by the study, which was published last month in the journal Bioacoustics, were mammals, such as primates, foxes, killer whales and seals, but three bird species also made the list, according to the statement.

For animals, the researchers suggest, a laughing noise may help signal that roughhousing, or other behavior that might seem threatening, is all in good fun.

“[Some actions] could be interpreted as aggression. The vocalization kind of helps to signal during that interaction that 'I'm not actually going to bite you in the neck. This is just going to be a mock bite,'” Sarah Winkler, an anthropologist at the University of California, Los Angeles and the paper’s lead author, tells Doug Johnson of Ars Technica. “It helps the interaction not escalate into real aggression.”

Winkler witnessed firsthand that vocalizations often accompany animals playing during past work with rhesus macaques, which pant while they play, according to Live Science. To find out how widespread such play vocalizations might be in the animal kingdom, Winkler and Bryant scoured the scientific literature for descriptions of play activity in various animals. In particular, the study authors looked for mentions of vocalizations accompanying playtime.

Per Ars Technica, many of the animal laughs identified by the study sound nothing like a human chuckle. For example, Rocky Mountain elk emit a kind of squeal and, per Live Science, New Zealand’s kea parrot whines and squeaks when it’s time to have some fun.

Back in 2017, another study found that playing a recording of kea laughter around the parrots in the wild would cause the birds to spontaneously break into playful tussles.

Another key difference between human and animal laughter could be its volume and thus its intended audience, according to Live Science. Human laughs are pretty loud, so the whole group can hear, but most animals, by contrast, have laughs that are quiet and may only be audible to the play partner. (By the study's definition, cats hissing during playtime qualified as laughter.)

 

Winkler tells Ars Technica that though the study aimed to be comprehensive, that there may be even more laughing animals out there. “There could be more that, we think, are out there. Part of the reason they probably aren't documented is because they're probably really quiet, or just [appear] in species that aren't well-studied for now,” she says. “But hopefully there could be more research in the future.”

 

 


Carolina Raptor Center

Carolina Raptor Center

Latta Nature Preserve
Huntersville, North Carolina
 
Carolina Raptor center
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
From Atlas Obscura -

From golden eagles to peregrine falcons, this rehabilitation and education center is a haven for birds of prey. 

In 1975, an injured broad-winged hawk found its way to Dr. Richard Brown, an ornithologist at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Along with several biology students, Brown helped the bird back to health and released it into the wild—it would be the first of many rehabilitations.

Over the years that followed, more and more birds were brought into the makeshift clinic in the basement of the university’s biology building. In 1980, Brown and Deb Sue Griffin, one of his students, decided to make things more official. Together they founded Carolina Raptor Center, which has admitted some 20,000 birds over the last four decades.

In 1984, the center moved into a new home inside Latta Nature Preserve, which spans more than 1,400 acres. The preserve offers opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, and paddling in the waters of Gar Creek and Mountain Island Lake.

Around 60 percent of the raptors admitted are rehabilitated and then released back into the wild. The birds that cannot be released become permanent residents at Carolina Raptor Center or another facility that can care for them.

Over the years the center has grown in size and complexity—helped along the way by the 300+ Boy Scouts who have completed Eagle Scout projects on its grounds. Today the center is home to 85 permanent resident birds from all over the world, many of which can be seen from the Raptor Trail that encircles the center. One of the highlights of the trail is the eagle aviary, where visitors can take in the impressive sight of golden and bald eagles. Other species on display include a peregrine falcon, red-shouldered hawk, spectacled owl, and turkey vulture. 

In 2016, the center began a project that will expand its educational offerings and ability to care for injured birds of prey. This includes Quest, a newly-built facility that will house both the Latta Nature Center and Carolina Raptor Center along with exhibit space, indoor classrooms, and an amphitheater.

Know Before You Go

Carolina Raptor Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children. Check the website for more information.

Note: Erosion prevention measures make the trail inaccessible for most powered wheelchairs, but the Visitor Center is wheelchair accessible. 

 

 

 

 

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/carolina-raptor-center?utm_source=Atlas+Obscura+Daily+Newsletter&utm_campaign=2cd7c186e8-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2021_04_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_f36db9c480-2cd7c186e8-63315921&mc_cid=2cd7c186e8&mc_eid=11ee67816a