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🐈🐅🐩Canine Body Language: A Lesson in Understanding Your Labrador🐶🐱🐒
Family & Kids
Dogs can’t speak but they try to communicate with humans all the time. They have a complex language of nonverbal communication that can tell us when they’re happy or sad, fearful or angry, confident or nervous.
Canine body language is the sum of a dogs facial expressions and body postures that communicate their emotions and intentions to those around them. It’s up to us to learn how to interpret this language.
•••It’s in The Eyes••
•Normal, almond-shaped eyes: Your Labrador’s feeling relaxed and happy.
Wide, rounded eyes: This will usually show feeling threatened, fearful or stressed.
•Squinting eyes: When a dog is feeling in pain or is sick, they will often squint their eyes…but they could also be feeling submissive or tired. You need to assess the overall situation.
•Staring straight at you: If your Labrador’s staring directly at you with a tenseor intense…facial expression, it’s very likely a threat and it’d be wise to slowly look away. This is different to looking directly at you when relaxed!
•Looking away: A dog that looks away is one that doesn’t want to look threatening or aggressive. It’s a sign of politeness, of being submissive. But it can also mean they’re nervous about the situation they’re in and could be feeling fearful.
•‘Whale eye': If your Labrador’s watching you intently, but not staring directly at you, from the corner of his eyes so that the whites of his eyes are showing, this is known as ‘whale eye’. This signal is very often seen before an aggressive outburst so if you see this, you should stop whatever it is you’re doing and move away from your Lab.
•••the mouth says a lot•••
•Relaxed and happy: The mouth is closed or just slightly opened if hot and panting to cool down.
•Feeling aggressive: Your Labrador will bear it’s teeth by pulling its top lip upwards and its bottom lip down, wrinkling its muzzle and sometimes growling aggressively. This is your Lab showing teeth intending to bite! You should stop what you’re doing and back away to defuse the situation.
•Lip licking: A dog might lick its lips when it’s feeling stressed, unsure of itself or threatened. It’s a submissive behavior and doesn’t usually precede aggression.
•Submissive (‘Submissive grin’): When some dogs (not all) feel extremely submissive, they pull their top lip up and display their front teeth. This signal is almost always seen with an overall submissive body posture, such as a lowered head and squinting narrowed eyes.
Often people will think their dog is being aggressive due to showing his teeth. But a dog with a ‘submissive grin’ is trying to communicate exactly the opposite and is trying to appease you, not be aggressive.
•Yawning: Is a calming signal used to relieve personal tension when slightly stressed or confused. But like in humans, dogs will also yawn when tired and it does seem contagious (test it by yawning in front of your Labrador in an exaggerated way for a little fun :-) )
•••Listen To What The Ears are Saying•••
Relaxed and comfortable: Your Lab’s ears will be held kind of naturally but if something alerts him, they’ll be held higher up and directed toward whatever has caught his attention.
•Feeling aggressive: The ears are usually raised but unlike when relaxed or alert, other aggressive posturing will also be seen, so be sure to check for other signals too.
•Feeling friendly: Your Labradors ears will be pulled back slightly and his facial expressions relaxed.
•Frightened or submissive: Your Labs ears will be completely flattened or stuck to the sides o
•••The Tail Tells Many a Tale•••
•Relaxed and friendly: Then his tail will be held in a natural position, level with the body or just a little lower.
Happy: The tail will be in a natural position but wagging slowly from side to side. When really, VERY happy, the tail will wag much more forcefully, perhaps even wagging his entire rear end and hips!
•Feeling aggressive: And here’s what most people don’t realise: Your Labrador may wag his tail if he’s feeling aggressive, threatening or dominant! A tail held very high, stiff and moving purposefully back and forth shows confidence and dominance.
•Fearful and afraid: Your Labrador will hold its tail very low, perhaps even tucked between the legs. This signals fear for the current situation, your Lab is scared. Confusingly though, your Lab may still wag his tail which is a submissive sign to go along with the fear, almost like a ‘nervous laugh’ in a human.
Canine body language is both loud and in your face, and subtle and almost hidden.
Sometimes the signals are so strong that they cannot be mistaken. Such as when your Labrador is very fearful or offensively aggressive.
But sometimes they can be subtle, like when a child hugs your Labrador and he licks a little and yawns. (When yawning and licking, your Labrador is stressed and unsure.)