Dog behaviour decoded!

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Dog behaviour decoded!

We think of our dogs as members of the family, our best friends and closest companions -- and though we get to know them well, we can’t (unfortunately) actually talk to them. Which is why it’s important to understand what certain dog behaviours mean, particularly if you have a new wet-nosed addition to your home! We have decoded some key dog behaviours to help you better understand a human’s best friend. 

Tail wagging

You might think this one is simple - your pooch wags its tail because it’s happy to see you, happy to be going out for a W.A.L.K or get a treat, right? Not necessarily!

According to research, you can actually interpret much more about your dog’s mood by analysing his or her tail wag! The lower the tail when it’s wagging, the more submissive the dog, mid-level wagging indicates a relaxed dog, while a high, straight tail wagging typically means that the dog is asserting itself.

Similarly, Italian scientists and vets published research that showed that the type of wag is also important! A slight wag normally means ‘hello’, while a broad wag indicates happiness. If you spot a slow, ‘half-mast’ wag, it could mean your dog is feeling insecure, meanwhile a small, vibrating wag may mean your pooch is about to engage in an activity like running, or fight, or is feeling threatened. Fascinating.

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Growling -- what does it mean?

When we are children and encounter growling in dogs, it’s easy to feel afraid. But there are actually lots of different growls with different meanings! 
Purina has a great guide that explains the versions of growling your dog may display. From play growling, which is typically more high pitched and means your pooch is enjoying his or her fun, to warning growling, which is low, deep and may indicate possessive feelings towards a human! Dogs can even emit a long, low purr-like pleasure growl (which might happen if they are getting some very good pats!). Of course, it’s important to recognize a growl of aggression -- and this is typically loud with low rumbles. A physical sign of aggressive growling would be if a dog has also raised its hackles.

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Understanding your pooches body language

The Blue Cross has an easy way that children and adults can learn how to identify what their wet-nosed friend is trying to tell them! We’ve broken it down here:

Pleased to meet you
● Relaxed body, ears forward, tail wagging
● Front legs straight, bottom raised and tail wagging
● Standing upright with a relaxed jaw and tongue out

Uncertain about you, so keep away
● Raised paw and licking lips
● Head down and tail between legs
● As above but also moving away

Definitely go away!
● Crouching, ears back and growling
● Standing with tense body and hairs raised
● Moving away, rolling over to show belly

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How to spot separation anxiety

We’d all love to stay at home and play with our dogs all day, but in most cases that’s not possible. The UK’s RSPCA suggests keeping an eye out for the following behaviours, all of which could indicate separation anxiety if occurring within 30 minutes of you leaving your house.

● Chewing and destroying the door furniture
● Howling or barking
● Going to the toilet
● Vomiting or excessive salivating
● Trembling/whining
● Pacing and repetitive behaviours

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