Home > Dog Behavior, Dog Training, Pet Safety, Pet Topics > Dog Body Language – Do you recognize some of these behaviors in your own dog?

Dog Body Language – Do you recognize some of these behaviors in your own dog?


IMG_8800On Saturday, I happened to see an announcement for a Dog Body Language Seminar being offered by Twin Cities Obedience Training Club (TCOTC) in April. As an admitted dog geek, I am sure you can imagine how excited I was to hear about it. I love learning how dogs think and communicate. Understanding dog body language can be very helpful, not only as a dog owner, but for anyone who interacts with dogs on a regular basis.

I was even more excited when I realized that an old friend, Kate Anders, would be teaching the class. Kate used to be a trainer at the Minnesota Valley Humane Society (MVHS) and now runs her own dog training business, Pretty Good Dog. She was also Jasper’s trainer when he was a puppy.

It’s because of trainers like Kate that I have learned so much about dogs and dog behavior. She, Colleen and Inga (all MVHS dog trainers) made it their mission to help us volunteers better understand the dogs we were working with. They offered special training sessions for the more difficult dogs and recruited a few of us more experienced volunteers to work with them. They also offered training seminars where we could learn more about dog behavior.

One of my favorite seminars to attend was the dog body language seminar. I probably attended it three to four times during my time at MVHS. It didn’t matter how many times I had seen it before, I always learned or saw something new I could take away with me. I can’t wait to attend this seminar again.

I wish you all could come with me but since I know most of you can’t, I thought I would share two videos with you that (hopefully) will give you a small sample of what I expect to see during the seminar in April. These are much shorter than a two-hour seminar, but I think you will find them really interesting. Plus, you can watch them at your own convenience and as many times as you want!

I would love to hear your thoughts on them. Did you learn something new? Have you seen your dog(s) display similar behaviors? What behavior do you see your dog display most often in his/her interactions with other dogs?

My thanks to the Zoom Room for creating videos like these for everyone to watch.

Dog Body Language

Dog Play Gestures

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  1. March 25, 2013 at 12:50 AM

    Great videos and thanks for sharing them. I learned some new stuff from the play video, but they didn’t show the “play slap” for which Dexter is the master.

    • Mel
      March 25, 2013 at 6:48 AM

      Thanks Karen. Honestly? I learn something new each time I watch them. I see a small behavior I didn’t see before or it became more real after I have seen it in real life. I am curious about the “play slap” that Dexter uses. What does it look like?

      • March 25, 2013 at 12:05 PM

        I learned about it in Horowitz’s book. When Dexter wants to play with Jersey, he slaps both paws on the ground. It’s like an very animated play bow. Some dogs will do one paw, some dogs will do two paws. Watch your dogs, they probably do it.

        I found the tail position in stalking behavior a “new” thing. Now I know ๐Ÿ˜€

      • Mel
        March 26, 2013 at 6:49 AM

        I HAVE seen that behavior before! Our next door neighbor’s young dog and Jasper’s girlfriend, Lucy, both do that. Both are Vizslas too! I wonder if that is a common behavior with that breed? I always get a kick out of them when they do it too. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. March 25, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    Those are really interesting. Thanks for sharing them. Have a marvelous Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

    • Mel
      March 25, 2013 at 6:49 AM

      You’re welcome Molly!

  3. March 25, 2013 at 5:26 AM

    I could watch these videos all day, especially the second. The subtleties of play interaction very useful.

    Often we just think they’re playing / having fun while we chat with other dog folks. Yet you can see in some of the videos a kind of bullying going on – e.g. pinning and ganging-up which some might think was ‘just play’.

    We need to be better at observing our dogs while they’re playing with other dogs and tuning in to everyone’s body language. Thank you for these great vids!

    • Mel
      March 25, 2013 at 6:47 AM

      Me too Peta. I also love the subtleties of the play behaviors. I have often seen some of the rude behaviors exhibited in that video at our own dog park. Most of the time the owners don’t recognize the behavior as concerning. I have intervened at times and walked away at others to protect my own dogs.

      I so agree with you. We DO need to be more observant of our dogs when they are playing – we can learn so much from them.

  4. March 25, 2013 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks for sharing these videos, they are really instructive. I wish we could get them played on a loop at every dog park so that people might actually see them and be more aware!

  5. March 25, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    This is very interesting Mel. Something anyone that goes to a dog park should watch.
    I see a lot of the fearful and scared dogs on transport. So many of the dogs get so stressed while on transport and then there are the happy go lucky ones that think it is all one big adventure. I’ve had to learn to recognize the mood they are in before removing them from the crates.

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 6:53 AM

      So agree with your comment on the dog park Carole. I bet you see all kinds of dog behaviors on transport. It’s smart that you know what to watch for. I used to sit in impound with the scared dogs and use dog body language to help draw them out.

  6. March 25, 2013 at 10:39 AM

    I’m saving the videos so I can watch them with my full attention. Right now, I’m so busy watching puppy body language that I can’t manage to do much else. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I find still pictures and video so helpful. Dogs respond so quickly to each other’s body language that I’m always struggling to keep up.

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 6:51 AM

      Totally understand the puppy body language thing Pamela! I remember having a puppy in my home when I was a pet sitter and even back when Jasper was a puppy. You have to wait until they are sleeping to get anything done! I hope you do find them helpful when you get a chance to watch them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. March 25, 2013 at 2:04 PM

    Thank you so much for these videos. It made more clear the behaviors I need to watch for in my dog. Mine is 13 so I’ve no recent experience with puppies. However, I may foster some and the video is helpful.

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 6:47 AM

      You are so welcome BJ Pup. I found them extremely valuable as a pet sitter and as a dog owner. I am sure some people at the dog park think I am crazy because I try to intervene in a situation where rude behaviors are being exhibited, but if they watched these videos they might understand why I do so.

  8. March 25, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Great videos, perfect way to review all these important signals and keep an eye out for them.

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 6:31 AM

      Thanks Will and Eko. I agree. keeping one eye trained on what dogs are doing and how they are interacting is a great idea.

  9. Bev
    March 25, 2013 at 4:25 PM

    Very informative videos! Thanks a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Mel
      March 25, 2013 at 11:14 PM

      You’re very welcome!

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 6:30 AM

      You are very welcome Bev. I love these particular ones because they slow things down and often use pictures so you can see the behavior more clearly. I also love coming back to them to watch again.

  10. March 26, 2013 at 9:07 AM

    Thank you for sharing the videos. As a trainer who runs puppy socialization classes I often have to explain to the nervous humans that what’s going on is good play. Some think that the dogs are fighting and want to run and pick up their puppy. I try to point out the play bows and the taking turns chasing and play biting are good signs. These videos would be very helpful.

    • Mel
      March 26, 2013 at 10:19 PM

      Thank YOU for training and leading puppy socialization classes! We need more of them and more of you. Socialization is so important and what a great time to educate new owners on dog behavior. I’m glad you liked them. I bet they would be helpful for your class. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. March 27, 2013 at 3:07 PM

    This is great information! People who don’t have dogs would benefit from knowing these signs too. So many people who haven’t been around dogs will over react when dogs are playing, and on the other end, don’t realize when a dog is a danger.
    I learned a lot too. Now I can explain things in terms others can understand.

  1. March 28, 2013 at 1:56 AM
  2. April 16, 2013 at 1:08 AM

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