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Dog Body Language

Playful 
  • Dogs will have loose and wiggly bodies and tails. Parted and panting mouths with tongues hanging out. 

  • Biting/mouthing is normal, however it should be preceded by a play bow and consensual.

  • A play bow will be loose, wiggly, but high, head and front paws low

  • Dogs should give each other breaks and there should be a back and forth.

  • Vocalizations are normal but should not include excessive barking

  • Face licking

  • Dogs will often take turns wrestling from top to bottom position 

Aggresive
  • Aggressive is defined as "intent to harm"; there are many different kinds of aggression. Refer to "Understanding Aggression" for the different kinds.

  • A dog is preparing to attack when he/she freezes in position, standing with a wide stance, head low and a closed mouth.

  • Dogs may have tense bodies with muscles showing; forward, stiff and upright body posture often with puffed up hair

  • Tails may be slow wagging and standing straight up or low to body depending on breed and energy state. *Remember tail wagging is just a transfer of energy (good or bad)*

  • Closed or tight mouth or an escalated teeth bared/snapping

  • Snarling/growling/snapping and fast forward lunging towards 

  • Can see a "prey bow" where a dog will stamp its front feet forward this is not the same as a low wiggly loose "play bow" this is a threatening movement .

  • WILL NOT give other dog a break, will pin/bite/shake/body slam and ignore yelps or attempts to get away.

Anxious/Fearful
  • Can lead to aggression but not always

  • "Whale eye" seeing the whites of their eyes. Large dilated pupils

  • Dogs may have tense bodies with muscles showing; forward, stiff and upright body posture often with puffed up hair

  • Turning head away, hiding behind a person or object, or rolling onto his back to be submissive.

  • Fear prompts a dog to put his tail between his legs, to flatten and lay back his ears, to crouch and possibly tremble.

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