Soft Puppy, Warm Puppy, Squishy Face of Love… More on Dog Language
So I have been saying for a while now that I would write an article to explain more doggy body language since those of you who are regular readers enjoy learning about it.
It is so hard to try to explain through writing what sometimes has to be seen with the eyes without missing an integral part of the depiction.
We have already talked about the tail and how it comes into play with body language, to catch up on that article click here.
We have talked about how not all dog’s like being petted for more on that click here.
We have discussed how dogs don’t have hands and so they play with their teeth.
And, last but certainly not least we have talked about how kisses and hugs can put you and your children at risk because dogs don’t speak our language be sure to read this one here.
Now it is time to delve into the eyes and what they tell us about a dog’s intentions and his attitude.
First and Foremost
I don’t take just one piece of information to tell me how a dog is going to act or react or when he is going to become aggressive.
I have to assess his facial expression, his mouth, his eyes, his tail, his body posture and his vocalizations in order to be more certain.
But in a lot of ways the eyes really are the window to the soul.
They rarely lie, although to the untrained eye they are easily misinterpreted.
Don’t forget a lot goes into this like body and tail and vocalizations.
But the eyes that scare me the most are the ones that are WIDE open; it almost like you can see the whites completely all the way around.
Please exclude Boston Terriers and Pugs and other breeds with eyes that jut out of their head this is genetics and not intention.
But for dogs with normal eye genetics and composition, this is not normal and is usually a sign of extreme excitement, aggression, or fear.
And, I don’t trust any of those facets.
Obviously aggression is bad.
But a fearful dog will also bite and sometimes so will one that is over excited read more on that here.
Then I look to see if the pupil is dilated. Dilated pupils are another warning that I pick up on with dogs. But, I must admit you have to be pretty close to see that, and often with dogs like this you don’t want to be close.
Dilated pupils almost look HARD or glassy and there is usually not a lot of blinking, tail is usually very high (may be wagging) and ears can be either up or back. Sometimes the mouth is also very tight or stiff forward (growl) or back (snarl).
But hard, dilated, seemingly non blinking pupils are a huge thing for me.
I like squishy face, as I call it 😉
That is when the dog almost looks at you and melts.
His eyes soften, he begins to blink slowly at you, and he may refuse to stare AT you but kindly blink just a little bit past you.
His mouth, also, may be drawn a little back (showing more submission).
His countenance is warm and welcoming and he appears to be smiling with his whole body; but especially his face.
His tail is usually low and wagging more slowly but not sucked up and tucked. His ears may be forward or a bit back.
That is the visual I want if I am going to pet a dog.
Actually, I Don’t Pet Many Dogs!
You’d think as a dog trainer I would run around petting everything… but I have seen aggression and the horrors of dogs who don’t want to be pet.
I have also seen and heard stories of the dogs that bite or maul children.
Don’t get me wrong I LOVE DOGS!!
But I respect them more, and I have gotten to the place where I can read them like books from a mile away.
However, most people can’t.
And, most normal dogs go through both of these with excited or dilated pupils, or sweet faced.
Not all dogs are aggressive, but as we have discussed even an excited dog is closer to biting.
My female dog can be over excited or extremely friendly, that is why I determine her body language and face expression before I allow her to be touched!
So I am hoping to pass along some skills and knowledge and if nothing else teach people that petting isn’t always the best way to greet a dog.
I sweet talk most without looking or getting in their box and if their demeanor doesn’t change to squishy face and wanting interaction I go no further.
I once knew a dog that ripped the nose off of a dog trainer. Against all warnings this trainer got in the small dog’s face and within moments her nose was taken. She surely should have known better but sometimes we forget how much damage a dog can do.
Want to know how I knew the dog and her owner?? They competed in Rally Obedience. Imagine a dog having ripped part of someone’s face off out in public competing. I am still not comfortable with the idea.
But that should be a firm warning that these dogs are everywhere and she was little and cute not BIG and scary! I bet most parents would allow their child to run up and pet her… and they would have little to no warning before the bite was inflicted.
The dog’s body language spoke for itself, but we humans just don’t take the time to learn what they have to tell us.
I personally want to keep all my facial features and body parts intact and sometimes you get little warning. I have quite a few scars and all have taught me valuable lessons!
Do Yourself a Favor and Learn About Your Best Friend and His Language
Read books, there are all kinds of posters and videos now about dog body language and eyes, and go sit and watch at the dog park and pass this article around on social media so others will learn. Trust me, you’ll learn a lot! I still do!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.