By Ellen Epstein
ALEXANDRIA,VA–Have you ever been around your dog and wondered what she is thinking or feeling? Surely you have caught your canine doing something bizarre that has made you question his mental status. Even the position that your dog sleeps in means something.
This month I’m presenting the first part of a list Inno Asuncion* contributed to the Animal Channel, of the ways your doggie communicates with you: Part 1 of the 50 most common dog behaviors, explained in human terms.
1) Hanging out a car window
This one is very common. She is taking in her surroundings and enjoying the plethora of new scents.
2) Butt scoot
This one is funny until they are doing it on the carpet! If you see your dog dragging his behind across the ground, he may just have a dirty butt he is trying to clean. Or, this could be an indication of worms or an anal gland problem, so keep an eye on him.
3) Couch Trashing
If you ever come home to a couch that has been completely ransacked, your pup has separation anxiety. Most dogs get over this eventually, but in the meantime, take time to walk him and expend some of his energy before you leave him alone.
You will notice that even low maintenance dogs need for your attention. Here again, intense staring is not their way of being creepy. They just want your affection.
5) Low front, mouth wide open, and tail wagging
If this happens when you two are playing, it means he is truly having fun and enjoying himself. He is bowing to you as a thank you!
6) Intense Eye Contact
Who doesn’t want to be the focus of a loved one’s attention? If your dog is making intense eye contact with you, he is focused on you and you alone. He is alert to your expressions and what you want from him.
7) Open mouth with relaxed tail but high ears
If you catch your dog like this, she’s in neutral, relaxed, secure in her surroundings. If you wonder when the best time is to approach a strange dog, it’s when they are doing these things.
8) Straight pointed tail and forward ears
Your best friend is curious about something in the environment. Maybe he hears a new noise or smells something interesting. Either way, he is ready to play detective.
9) Loose floppy tongue
If her tongue is hanging out, she is feeling at ease. Nothing is wrong in her world; everything is O.K.
10) Baring teeth, ears back, snarling
This one is obvious, but it never hurts to remind people what an angry, aggressive dog looks like. If you encounter this, your dog feels threatened and is giving warning to the enemy. Do not approach a dog in this state. Even if he is angry at something else, you run the risk of being bitten.
11) Rising bark
It’s play time! If your dog starts with a low bark and it gets higher toward the end, he cannot contain his excitement and he wants to play a game with you!
Have you ever noticed dogs howl at the most annoying times? Usually when a dog hears a high-pitched sound, like a siren or train whistle, they howl back. It’s not clear if this is because they are annoyed or it is causing their ears discomfort.
13) Low growl
If a dog is doing a low growl, she’s anxious and fearful. Any scared animal is unpredictable. Do not surprise her when her nerves are getting the best of her.
14) Crazy Legs/Dead Bug
If your dog is sleeping with all his limbs sticking up in the air (looking like a big dead bug) he is submissive and vulnerable. Not all dogs sleep like this, but if yours does, he is a laid back, independent pup that feels secure in his surroundings.
15) Side Sleepers
Dogs don’t usually sleep on their sides for long, but it is not unusual when they are napping. Dogs who do this often have strong familial bonds and a lot of trust in their pack. He or she is probably a carefree happy dog.
Stay tuned to next month’s column for more of this list.