You may have heard stories of some dogs just “snapping” one day. Everyone has a story from a friend of a friend regarding a pleasant family pet who suddenly goes crazy and bites.
The truth is that dogs do not just snap and go feral instantly. We humans only perceive a bite as happening “out of nowhere” because we haven’t taken the time to understand our dog’s pleas for help by learning canine body language.
In reality, our dogs will often signal to us in a variety of ways when they are uncomfortable, nervous, scared, and are nearing their wit’s end. While these signals may seem subtle to us, to dogs, they are asking for help again and again, and not receiving it.
And when so few of us are willing to take the time to listen, it’s often the dogs who suffer the most.
I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom, especially when an easy solution is at hand – we just all need to learn a bit of dog body language!
At K9 of Mine, we’ve created a huge Dog Body Language Mega-Guide that uses real-life photos to showcase prime examples of dogs who are nervous, scared, alert, and happy.
Here’s one of our favorites below:
Can you tell how this dog is feeling? If you guessed nervous, scared, or unsure, you are correct!
The expression depicted above is referred to as “whale eyes” (or, alternatively, “moon eyes” for the crescent half-moon shape seen in the whites of the eyes). This is a very common stress signal you will witness in dogs.
Unfortunately, as with so many aspects of canine body language, owners often mistake this side-eye look as a bratty expression of annoyance. This side-eye look is certainly how human teenagers might express irritation, but it’s important to remember that dogs are not humans! A dog showing whale eyes is not being sassy or unwieldy – they are anxious and frightened and should be given space, not reprimanded!
Want to test your canine communication skills? Make sure to take the quiz below once you’ve finished reading through the Dog Body Language guide and see how well you can understand your pooch at home.
How well did you score? Did you learn something today about canine body language? Share your thoughts!
About The Author
Meg Marrs is the founder of K9 of Mine, a website focused on helping dog owners better care for their canines through educational resources and training guides. Follow for great articles about the best interactive dog toys, how to manage separation anxiety, or sign up for K9 of Mine’s online dog training course, 30 Things to Teach Your Dog in 30 Days!