Animal Behavior: What is My Dog Saying?
Dogs are quite amiable creatures. Much like our human counterparts, their speech is often amplified by their body movements and facial expressions. If you haven't done so yet, carefully study your dog's eyes. Watch his eyebrow motions. Often times, we don't hear them speaking because we're too busy not paying attention to their eye motions. When your dog is facing you and his eyes shift suddenly back and forth, he's telling you that he wants something. Whether it's, "...hey, Mom - let's play,", "...come follow me, I want to show you something," or "...I need to go pee;" well - that's up to individual animal himself.
Sometimes, dogs will look at you from corner of their eye, will loudly yawn and fall to ground. This is an obvious sign that they're bored and they want attention. Your attention.
Some dogs are rather bold with their sign language and will literally come up to you and place their paw on your leg, arm or hand. She'll either gently tap you or downright pounce on you. When she taps you - again - watch her eye movements. Are her eyes focused in one particular direction? Maybe door, empty water bowel or dog food bag? Or after she taps you, does she press side of her body against you? If she does, she wants to be stroked and loved. If she pounces on you with her paws, this is usually a sense of urgency. This usually means she wants to play rough or she needs to go outside and inspect premises.
One of my favorite communication signals from dogs is when they lie on their backs, usually with forearms bent at joints. This is common "white flag" signal. What does "white flag" signal mean? Well, when dogs play with other dogs, this is their way of saying to one another, "...okay, I give up - you win, you're leader..." But when they lie on their backs for you, it's even more telling. This means that they are submitting. You are master and they willingly acknoweldge this to you. In general, when dogs lie with their backs toward you, this means that they are quite content and totally comfortable in their surroundings.
Don't be fooled by wagging tail. Generally, dogs will wag their tails when excitable. But it's how they wag their tails that tells us exactly what they're feeling. When a dog wags his tail, along with his entire body, he's usually happy and excited. When a dog wags only his tail with short, fast strokes, this can sometimes show a sign of aggression or fear. When dogs meet other dogs for first time, you will notice this short, fast-stroke tail wag as well. This can either mean that they are unsure of other animal, or that they're going to become aggressive. Either way, be watchful of this "tail-tell" sign.