Do you really understand your dog?. Do you know your dog’s emotions? Dogs are awesome. Whether they’re begging for your food, barking at their leash to convince you to take them on a walk, or simply greeting you when you get home, dogs do all of the little things that put smiles on faces around the world. Source
Everyone knows–even those hostile cat owners–that dogs are man’s (and woman’s!) best friends. They make fiercely loyal, extremely intelligent and–duh!–adorable companions, and most puppy parents consider their pooch a member of the family. Source
While some body parts are more expressive than others, it’s important to look at the dog’s body as a whole. Not every dog will display every signal, but you’re likely to see a combination of visual markers when your dog is expressing these common emotions. So Here are keys to understanding a dog’s emotions.
How To Know a Dog’s Emotions
If you say your dog is your best friend, so you need to know these keys to understanding a dog’s include fears, joy or excitement, anxiety or discomfort, uncertainty, and extreme fears or self-defense.
1. Fear, Anxiety or discomfort
Fear is the instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object presenting an external threat — whether real or perceived. The response of the autonomic nervous system prepares the body for the freeze, fight, or flight syndrome. It is considered to be a normal behavior, essential for adaptation and survival; its context determines whether the fear response is normal, or abnormal and inappropriate. Most abnormal reactions are learned and can be unlearned with gradual exposure.
Moreover, the persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus is referred to as a phobia. is a persistent and excessive fear of a specific stimulus, such as a thunderstorm. It has been suggested that once a phobic event has been experienced, any event associated with it, or the memory of it, is sufficient enough to generate a response. The most common phobias are associated with noises (such as thunderstorms or fireworks).
Anxiety, meanwhile, is the anticipation of future dangers from unknown or imagined origins that result in normal body reactions (known as physiologic reactions) associated with fear; most common visible behaviors are elimination (i.e., urination and/or passage of bowel movements), destruction, and excessive vocalization (i.e., barking, crying). Separation anxiety is the most common specific anxiety in companion dogs. When alone, the animal exhibits anxiety or excessive distress behaviors.
Profound fear and withdrawal of unknown cause (so called idiopathic fear and withdrawal) has also been noted in certain dog breeds, including the Siberian Husky, German Shorthaired Pointer, Greyhound, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Great Pyrenees, Border Collie, and Standard Poodle, among others. There appears to be a strong familial component, with the likelihood of a genetic influence.
Most fears, phobias, and anxieties develop at the onset of social maturity, from 12 to 36 months of age. A profound form of fear and withdrawal of unknown cause occurs at 8 to 10 months of age. Old-age-onset separation anxiety of unknown cause may be a variant of a decline in thinking, learning, and memory in elderly dogs. Source
Signs Of Fear, Anxiety or discomfort in Dogs
These are some of the signs that might indicate your dog is excessively fearful or anxious.
- Posturing with flattened ears and tail between the legs
- Cowering and hiding
- Hair raised on the back of the neck
- Whining or whimpering
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive grooming
- Chronic barking
- Chewing on objects such as furniture or shoes
- Incontinence of bowels or urine
- Growling Snapping
- Lip licking, yawning and/or panting
- Avoiding eye contact or attempting to move away from the situation
- A lowered or possibly tucked tail
- Avoiding eye contact and/or turning the head away from the scariness
- Flattened ears
- Piloerection (hair standing on end) anywhere from the shoulder blades down to the base of the tail
- Tense or crouched body, may be combined with shaking
- Tucked tail
- “Whale eye” – when a dog’s eye moves in the opposite direction of the head so that the whites are obviously showing
- Lip licking (also called tongue flicking) or yawning
- Hiding or attempting to get distance from the scary trigger
- These are the most common types of anxiety in dogs
- Separation anxiety – occurs when the owner leaves or whenever the dog is left alone
- Noise anxiety – loud noises such as thunder, fireworks, or noisy trucks
- Travel anxiety – becomes anxious riding in the car
- Confinement anxiety – reacts negatively to confined spaces
- Phobia – unexplained anxiety reaction in relation to various triggers
Causes of Extreme Fear and Anxiety in Dogs
Many factors can be related to excessive fear and anxiety in dogs. These are some of the most common.
- Poor socialization in early life
- Predisposition due to breed or temperament
- A stressful or traumatic event
- A medical condition or illness
- Age related degeneration in the brain
Diagnosis of Extreme Fear in Dogs
Most anxiety disorders develop in the first year and a half of a dog’s life, so this is the time to watch your dog closely and discuss any abnormal reactions with the veterinarian. Anxiety disorders are first diagnosed through the careful attention of the owner, so you should watch your dog and document unusual behaviors in a log if necessary.
The veterinarian will examine your dog physically to determine if there is a medical condition that could be causing or contributing to your dog’s symptoms. If you have any information about the dog’s breeding history or the temperament of the parents this will be relevant. In older dogs, past experience can also be extremely important since a history of abuse will often give the dog a lifelong predisposition toward anxiety. Some dogs may also develop more pronounced anxiety as they age. Source
2. Joy or excitement
It’s easy for humans to show affection for their dogs. A belly rub, treat, or snuggle session on the couch says “I love you” to our pets. But do you ever wonder how your dog shows you they care?
Thankfully, dogs do communicate clearly, as long as you know what to look for. From nose to tail, dogs use their bodies to convey how they feel. Read on to learn the ways that dogs show affection
The canine species is “(wo)man’s best friend” for a reason. All you have to do is click on any social media site or animal-related website to find examples of dogs showing their love for their special human.
Dogs may depend on us, but they also want to be with us, and they (for the most part) would give up their lives for us. Now that’s dedication.
Wet Sloppy Kisses
Wet sloppy kisses from a date may be a turn-off, but when it comes to our pooches, there’s nothing quite like it. Licking your face, hand, or wherever the tongue lands is the canine’s way of saying “you’re all right in my books.”
Tail (Butt) Wagging
Forget about Shakespeare’s “eyes being the window to the soul” when it comes to our canine companions; it’s all in the tail (or butt).
When you meet a friendly dog, you immediately know by that wagging, thwapping, or swishing tail that he’s glad you’re there.
Knowing Your Needs
Studies have proven it, and pet parents know it, dogs are in tune with our moods and our illnesses. Plenty of pet parents can attest to the fact that their dog will offer up a gentle paw (or head) on the lap or even their own favorite toy when they perceive their favorite human isn’t quite right.
All dogs “need a little time alone.” They may go off and investigate a sound, take a nap in a quiet area, or give chase to an offending squirrel or bird that pops into the yard. But the one trait most our canine buddies possess, is they know when to check back in on their humans without being asked – doesn’t it just make you feel warm and fuzzy?
Our dogs want to be close to us. Some have perfected the lean-in. This is where your dog will lean against you (you may have to brace yourself if he’s a hefty fella). This behavior is your dog’s way of saying “I trust you and want to be close to you.”
Animals are at their most vulnerable when they are asleep, so if your canine companion curls up with you at night (or when you’re napping) take it as a compliment. This means he trusts you completely.
They Look You in the Eye
He goes on to explain that the chemical oxytocin is released which helps in the bonding process between new mothers and their babies. This same chemical is also released when dogs play, touch or stare at you. Ahhhh!
They Bring You Their Toys
Sure. They can be wet, slobbery and be falling apart, but when a dog brings you his favorite toy, that means you are well loved. Sharing is caring!
Jumping on You & Roughhousing
Although we as pet parents may frown upon the action, jumping up and roughhousing is not seen by our canines as anything but a sign of love and an important part of our dog’s social development.
Being greeted like this is your pooch’s instinctive way of recognizing you as the “parent” of the relationship. Of course, these actions can go too far (especially if you have a large dog or you are smaller in stature), so be sure to train your puppy to know when enough is enough. Source
This body language combination often occurs when a dog is simply not sure how to respond to a particular situation. It may be triggered by an unfamiliar dog at the dog park, visitors to the home, or other new experiences.
- Holding up a single paw while greeting, watching or approaching
- Rolling over onto the back to expose the belly
- Lip licking or yawning
- Avoiding eye contact