Body language

Dogs have been talking loud and clear, it’s time for us humans to look, learn and understand.

Dog body language signals are the way dogs communicate with each other and us. Humans do not fully understand or agree on the meanings of each dog body language signal. But there is no argument that the signals are happening. What we think we understand today, may change tomorrow as we continue to learn.

Each dog’s personality, life experiences, training (or lack of training), how bonded they are to humans, and sometimes their mental or physical health can influence how they respond to situations. For that reason, within CONTEXT, on a per dog basis, the meaning of a dog’s body signals might vary. Always review the sequence of events ‘what just occurred’ before attempting a conclusion about the meaning of the signals displayed.

Context is the part directly before or after a body signal or phrase which affect the signal and “series of signals” meaning. A body signal, taken out of its context, could leave you with the wrong impression of the dog’s response (feelings or opinions). Always review the context before attempting an interpretation. Exception, you’re about to be attacked. Don’t stop and ponder, get the heck out of the way.

WEBINAR on dog reactivity, ‘Paving the path to calmness and confidence‘ by Scott Raymond.

Dog body language:
•  Fear/worried  •  Signals varied
•  Calming signals – definition

How to interact:
•  Proper way to greet  •  A dogs etiquette
•  How kids should & should not

•  Learn to earn  •  Premack principal
•  ABC’s operant conditoning  •  Four quandrants

Acknowledgement to artist, Lili Chin for drawing engaging dog body language posters. Visit the website to download large size printable posters and find links to drawings in various human languages. If you plan to download, Print and Distribute her drawings, please make a PayPal donation.

Acknowledgement to Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS for commissioning dog body language drawings and her extensive contributions to the advancement of dog knowledge. Visit the website to download posters and other valuable information on dog subjects like anxiety, aggression, barking, compulsive, fear, medical.

NOTE: the single words (and short phrases) paired with an image on the drawings and posters are only intended as memory cues to help us learn about (and remember) dog body signals. In most cases, a single human word will have multiple meanings. Example, a drawing mentions the word ‘stressed’ which for a dog could mean: concern, confused, uncertain, worry, discomfort, or fear. Another example, ‘respect’ showing a dogs back, could mean: the dog has disengaged from what is happening around them, they’re bored, tired, no longer wants to participate. Or the dog’s message could also be, ‘I mean no harm, I’m not a threat’.


DVD sets: various dog subjects (Patricia McConnell)
Patricia McConnell, Ph.D., Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB), has made a lifelong commitment to improving the relationship between people and animals. She is known worldwide as an expert on canine and feline behavior and dog training, and for her engaging and knowledgeable dog training books, DVDs and seminars.

Browse Patricia’s Dog Training DVD page for subjects like: body language, behaviour, reactivity, play, recall training, emotions, aggression, communication and more.

Book: On Talking Terms with Dogs (Turid Rugaas)
On Talking Terms with Dogs, Calming Signals, 2nd Edition by Turid Rugaas. Publisher: Dogwise Publishing. Edition: 2006 Paperback, 78 pages. ISBN: 9781929242368. Item: DTB527

Norwegian dog trainer and behaviorist Turid Rugaas is a noted expert on canine body language, notably “calming signals,” which are signals dogs use to avoid conflict, invite play, and communicate a wide range of information to other dogs and people.

Book: Canine Body Language (Brenda Aloff)
Canine Body Language, A Photographic Guide by Brenda Aloff. Publiser: Distributed by Dogwise Publishing. Edition: 2005. Paperback, 370 pages. ISBN: 1929242352.

Canine body language documented with photographs and text. Hundreds of images in this almost 400 page book illustrate the incredible variety of postures, behaviors and situations that the typical dog either manifests or encounters in his day-to-day life.

DVD set: Language of Dogs (Sarah Kalnajs)
Understanding Canine Body Language and Other Communication Signals by Sarah Kalnajs.
Publisher: Blue Dog Training and Behavior. Edition: 2006 DVD. DVD run-time:  2 hours 12 minutes. ISBN: 897059001016.

Sarah’s Educational 2 DVD Set features a lively presentation and extensive footage of a variety breeds showing hundreds of examples of canine behavior and body language in rescue shelters. Behaviorist Sarah Kalnajs teaches you how to read these signals so that you can develop a better understanding of what’s really going on in the canine world. Perfect for dog owners or anyone who handles dogs or encounters them regularly while on the job.