Canine Social Behavior – Your Dogs Communication System


Dogs’ communication systems are highly ritualized and designed to avoid conflict. Dogs have been able to thrive in terms of their variety, adaptability, and numbers. However, things can go wrong when humans misinterpret dogs’ signals to us. This leaves them unable to communicate their feelings effectively to us, no matter how hard they try.

We don’t know and cannot understand the thoughts of dogs, nor can we imagine them thinking. We can only understand their body language and observe how they interact with us, then we can respond accordingly.

It’s easy to speak dog if you know the basics; luckily, the best dog trainers in Charlottesville, Virginia are here to help. This will make any interaction with dogs safer and more enjoyable. Types of social behavior | These are two options for describing the social behavior of dogs:


Dogs use distance-reducing behaviors to encourage interaction, play, and approach. Dogs who move towards or lean into you with a soft, slow, lumbering gait and relaxed bodies indicate encouraging interaction. You may be offered a pat or a kiss by the dog. Dogs keen to play with their dog will show the “play bow,” a position where the front legs of the dog are parallel to the ground and the hindquarters remain upright.


Many distance-increasing signals can be misinterpreted. Many of us can understand the signals a dog gives off when it stands tall. This makes every part of his body look more prominent. The hair on the spine is raised/stands up. Dogs may also voice their opinion (e.g., Bark or growl may also be used by the dog. Our brains instinctively interpret these signals as warnings, and we respond accordingly. For more information on distance-increasing signals, see the section on anxiety and stress.)


Humans often misinterpret distance-increasing signals. These are the most appealing behaviors that dogs display. These appeasement behaviors are used by dogs to make friendly encounters more predictable and to diffuse hostile encounters if escape is not possible. These behavior are an effective way to “cut off” conflict, and these behaviors are an indication that dogs are uncertain and scared.


Appeasement signals can be seen in either of these two ways:


It is common to misunderstand passive appeasement behavior and call them “submissive.” Dogs who display passive appeasement will lie down, exposing their undersides. Dogs with passive appeasement will have their ears pointing backward and their tail tucked between their legs. Sometimes, the dog may expel some urine as he waits for attention or to end a hostile situation.


Dogs that show active appeasement gestures to their owners are often mistakenly called “excited,” overly friendly, or pushy. They may approach you with their entire rear end waving in a “U” shape. This allows both their face and genital area to be examined, and you might be tempted to get them “in your face.” Humans must recognize when dogs are friendly and eager to greet us.


Dogs in conflict will try to get closer but be too afraid or uncertain of the result. His body language can fluctuate between distance-decreasing and distance-increasing behavior. It can be dangerous to interact with a dog who is in conflict. If the dog cannot avoid your approach and you make a mistake, he could become aggressive. Fear biters are dogs that bite out of fear. They bite us as a last resort to make us leave. Dogs who bite out of fear are more likely to show mixed signals and ambivalent behavior. They are often conflicted. They may be torn between being approached or scared so they will switch sides in their communication. These conflicts can quickly escalate and lead to nips or bites. It is best to avoid sudden movements and allow dogs to find a way to escape. Don’t force dogs to meet you by making them move toward you or manipulating their owner into touching the dog.

Cut-Off Behaviors

We must recognize the signs of a dog’s cutting-off behavior. These behaviors are intended to stop social contact. If you don’t remember when a dog is stressed or scared, or if you ignore his signals and continue to approach the dog, you may be unfairly pushing him to a point where he feels he has only one option. This is not good for either dog or person. He may think that he cannot choose but to bite.

We may say to someone, “push it off” or “cut it out” if we are getting irritated. We may be more firm and shout at them if they don’t reply. This is something that dogs can’t do, and they can’t communicate with us in English or any other language and only have access to their canine communication system. We must understand and respond to this communication system to ensure that the dog doesn’t feel threatened enough to bite.

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Dogs will usually give warning signs if they feel uncomfortable about something done by another dog or person. A dog may show these warning signs by a straight stare, rigidity in the face or body, growling, or curled lips (which can be subtle and difficult to spot)—flashing his whites, also known as half-moon eyes. His ears might be flat against his head, and he could have a tightened mouth. You should immediately stop whatever you’re doing and let the dog slowly move away. These signals can be picked up by dogs very quickly.

Dogs are social, loving animals that need to be part of our lives. Dog personalities can be social butterflies or wallflowers, just like humans. Based on your dog’s communication, you can tailor your greetings and approach to suit your dog’s needs. Dogs communicate their feelings and intentions clearly and will respond to us accordingly. Dogs are more sensitive to our body language than our words, and dogs are experts at reading our nonverbal and body language.


Dogs can feel anxious or stressed in certain situations and may show signs of discomfort. These situations call for immediate intervention to ensure your dog is not nervous or stressed to the point that it will bite. Although some of these behaviors and signals may be covered in other sections of the book, we believe they are too important not to discuss in detail. Remember, A dog’s ability to show anxiety or discomfort is good. It allows you to make changes, not just give up and get bitten. These are some signs that a dog might give to let you know he is feeling anxious or stressed.

One Paw Raised – This is cute, but the dog that raises his paws is unhappy and doesn’t want to be petted. Raised paws are a sign that the dog may be worried.

Half-Moon Eye – Also known as whale-eye, this is when whites in the dog’s eyes are visible. This is a sign that children are being too rough with the dog or too close to the dog. This is common in dogs who are being hugged. It is essential to recognize the half-moon eyes of children who approach dogs or interact with them. The dog wants to be left alone. Dogs may voice their anxiety by growling, flicking their tongue, yawning, or licking their lips. Do not punish a dog who shows concern by leaving the area, barking, or showing other subtle signs. You could suppress a dog’s warning system if he growls. You could also punish a dog for refusing to stay in a particular place when he feels threatened or threatened by a child’s presence. If a dog feels overwhelmed and attempts to communicate with you are not being heard, he can lose faith in his warning system. He may resort to biting in these cases without receiving any warning signs.

If a dog is punished for trying to communicate his discomfort with a situation, he will feel the same about children bothering him. He may think that he doesn’t have a way to express his pain and that he cannot get out of it. If your dog does not give you a warning, be grateful. You can take steps to change the behavior, make the child happy, and create safe and private spaces for the children and dog.

Signs of Anxiety

  1. The tail is between the legs.
  2. Keep your tail low, and the end will wag.
  3. Wagging and bottom between the legs
  4. Curly-tailed dogs, such as pugs, malamutes, huskies, pugs, chow-chow dogs, and Schnitz-type dogs, can have their seats down or straight.
  5. For an erect-eared breed, the ears should be positioned sideways.
  6. Rapid panting and ear rubbing.
  7. Talk to the best dog trainers in Charlottesville, Virginia, Auburn Leach, who will help you understand the messages your dog is sending.

Contact us today if you are ready to start working with a dog. Auburn Leach of K9 Solutions can help you with obedience training, potty training, and socialization. Call: (540) 448-6788