Dogs actually have the ability to signal to us precisely how they are feeling at any given time. If we are attuned to their signs we will know what their emotional state is. Dogs can display various emotions including: happiness, sadness, boredom, excitement, and fear.
If you closely watch your dog you will notice that his eyes, ears, body, and tail are in an almost continuous, though subtle movement. This is his way of communicating his emotional feelings. Studies are confirming the fact that animals use a very inconspicuous and refined system of communication. The good news is that with a little effort we can learn to understand our domesticated dogs.
In studies conducted by Jane Goodall and Dr. Michael W. Fox, recognized authority on canine body language, confirmed that wild dogs of Africa and wolves communicated a wide range of attitudes to each other, including affection, dominance, submission, interest, disgust, joy, disappointment, and fear. These emotions were communicated using the slightest body movements.
Although our dogs have lost some sensitivity to the language that would be used if they were living in the wild, they still use much of this inherited form of communication. Learning to read your dog’s body language will require a keen eye and close observation over what is happening at the time that your dog is displaying any given movement.
There are some basic things you can look for but like everything else, not every dog follows the same pattern as the others. Here are a few typical guidelines to get you started. Dogs use their tails to signal that they are happy or afraid. If their tail is wagging they are happy. If it is tucked down they are showing fear and submission. When their tail is proudly held high they are feeling good about themselves. Ears are also very telling when it comes to signaling emotions. Dogs sometimes perk their ears in an adorable quizzical fashion as if to ask a question. They may also tilt their head to the side when puzzled. The ears may be held in a backward direction against the head when the dog is angry.
As you become increasingly skilled at reading your dog’s emotional language or identifying his moods, your bond with him will deepen and grow even stronger. Many professionals that have lots of experience in working with dogs have developed the ability to read canine language very well. This is true of dog behaviorists, dog trainers, veterinarians, groomers, breeders, and even life-long dog owners.
It seems that dogs are able to recognize and appreciate when you correctly read their emotional language. Perhaps this is why dogs seem to automatically like certain individuals. Maybe the dog immediately recognizes when a person understands him.