Probably one of the best undertakings that the early humans took was to domesticate wolves.
This must create confusion as it is not known by many that dogs are the direct descendants of the domesticated wolves.
Domestication implies the taming of dogs. They were earlier used to aid in hunting but are now mostly kept as pets.
Though we have learned how to communicate with dogs and teach them manners or tricks, dogs, whether of the same breed or different, also communicate with each other.
Is barking the only way to communicate?
Barking cannot be termed to be synonymous with a language. Therefore, dogs communicate with other means, too.
It can be said to be a mixture of vocalizing, body language, and in some cases, scents.
These do not only help them communicate but also decide the Dog’s social position within its group.
Body language is the most significant determinant of communication.
It includes different types of bodily movements such as tail beating, movement of ears, body posture, facial expression, and so forth.
By deciphering and learning the meaning of each movement, a dog can be understood better.
Just like how words carry the same meaning, a dog’s movement, response, or communication is almost the same across every breed.
What are the different types of communication?
Communication can be classified based on emotion. Dogs do not exhibit only one type of behavior.
They may show more than one type of behavior at the same time. Nonetheless, dogs react similarly when they have a particular type of emotions:
1. Aggressive Communication
Dogs tend to be aggressive when they are protective of themselves, their owner, or territory.
They also become aggressive when they sense a threat from a person or another dog.
In response to triggering of such aggression, the Dog will communicate to another dog that it will attack or defend its property.
Aggressive dogs do not generally attack or bite unless provoked further. They may growl and flaunt their teeth to warn anyone who is getting closer.
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The dogs also bark, stiffen their body and ears, air-snap, and their eyes show a lot of white.
These are some of the warning signs that the dogs give when communicating with another dog.
2. Relaxed Communication
This is probably the only reaction owners want from their pets. Dogs are often relaxed with other friendly dogs.
By relaxed, it is implied that they are not alert at the moment. Their mouth is slightly open, and the ends could turn up as if they are smiling.
They could be wagging their tails or lying down. Their heads and ears are in a neutral position.
This type of communication is usually exhibited when the dogs are tired. They tend not to react to the presence of other dogs around.
Well-trained dogs are often relaxed. They do not fear other dogs or are not aggressive towards unknown people.
They might be in a playful mood, but often, this mood is followed by sleepiness.
3. Fearful Communication
As opposed to aggressive communication, fearful communication could result in the Dog attacking another.
Whenever dogs are frightened, they are protective of themselves.
Some of the common bodily movements include cowering, tucking its tail, putting ears back, licking its lips, and avoiding eye contact.
Street dogs often exhibit this kind of behavior towards other dogs, whether domestic or not.
It might not be easy to differentiate between fearful and aggressive behavior. Sometimes, fearful behavior leads to aggressive behavior.
The dogs do not accept treats and freeze whenever a person approaches them. Even if a dog approaches a fearful dog, it could bite the other.
4. Arousal Communication
Arousal can be exhibited in many forms. The arousal may be due to a stimulus from their favorite person, Dog, or toy.
Arousal may be because of a favorable or unfavorable stimulus. In the case of favorable stimulus, the dog play-bows jumps and seeks attention.
In the case of an unfavorable stimulus, the Dog may behave as if it were fearful, too.
Other factors could also trigger arousal communication. It includes locking in the Dog for long, not letting it socialize, age factor, and hormonal changes.
Arousal signs can be both good and bad. If the Dog is happy and to see another dog and does the play-bow, it is a good sign. Play-bows are often synchronized.
5. Anxious Communication
Shelter dogs are known to exhibit anxious communication.
The communication involves the same body signs as that in fearful communication. The Dog may lick its lips, yawn, and pant excessively.
Anxiety and stress in dogs can grow. By making it play with a relaxed dog, the anxiety levels can be lowered.
Why is understanding dog language important?
Unlike humans, dogs depend a lot on the other Dog’s scent or smell to gather information.
Bodily movements also help in decoding the Dog’s action or response. It usually takes two or more dogs to understand the basics of dog communication.
It would not be out of context to know why does ‘dog communication’ matters.
It is important to know how dogs communicate because they cannot do it otherwise.
Understanding how your Dog is communicating with other dogs will help you build a better relationship with them.
It also helps in teaching the Dog better. Certain types of communication may be indicative of fearful or anxious behavior.
These could harm your Dog’s mental health, and by knowing the signs, bodily movements, and other such noticeable gestures, you can help it recover.
Keeping a dog involves many variables. If not kept properly, it could become highly aggressive or fearful.
Therefore, it becomes important to identify the Dog’s behavior when it is young. It is easy to train a dog when it is young, and to help it become playful and friendly.
Older dogs need much more time. Thus, once you have established a dialogue with your Dog, you can help it recover from anxiety, stress, or fear and train it to be better and joyful.
What should you look for when dogs communicate?
Humans do not have the same capacity of hearing and smelling as dogs do. Therefore, subtle changes in behavior are to be noticed.
Pups tend to listen intently to their owners and might even learn many words and react accordingly. Though, with other dogs, they have similar actions and reactions.
In a group, if not disturbed by a human, dogs form a social group. They start to act in harmony, and unlike wolves, they do not have a pack leader.
These groups are not strict and would often see the addition or removal of members.
There is no strict boundary as of yet between different types of communication. It can be adjudged by taking into account many actions.
The beating of the tail could mean alertness, playfulness, or arousal.
Only when other actions surrounding it are taken into account, you can understand what and how the Dog is communicating.
Read your Dog’s language like an Expert
Thus, understanding dog communication is crucial. It can be read when there are two or more dogs. More than barking, it is about bodily movements.
Wagging of tail, body posture, and position of ears are some of the common giveaways.
Based on such actions, a dog’s communication can be put as fearful, anxious, aroused, aggressive, and relaxed or a combination of more than one such emotion.
Dogs cannot communicate otherwise. They express themselves to humans and other dogs in the same manner.
Owners can teach them vocabulary that they understand and certain other cues, and yet, dog behavior remains the same across different breeds.
Understanding them is being a step closer to training and befriending them.
Healthy communication will not only make a dog relaxed but will also help in making other dogs around feel relaxed and comfortable.
Thus, dogs communicate in manners known and unknown to us. Most of it cannot be heard or smelled, but much can be inferred from what is known.