Turns out, the direction in which your dog wags his tail can tell a lot about his emotional state: A wiggle to the right signals positive feelings, like excitement, while a left wag indicates negative ones, like uncertainty. What’s more, other dogs can pick up on these tail-wagging cues and respond accordingly, finds new research from study author Giorgio Vallortigara, PhD, of the University of Trento in the journal Current Biology. It’s a lot like feeling happy when you see someone smile or upset when you see someone crying.
While you might be surprised to think that your furry friend is that emotionally attuned, the news doesn’t come as a shock to canine behaviorists. “Dogs communicate using body language, and they can pick up on body language to determine what we’re feeling,” says Robert Sotelo, a certified dog trainer and community organizer for the Humane Society of the United States. But are you as perceptive to the messages your dog’s physical gestures are sending out? Here are three common dog behaviors, decoded.
Your dog’s bark might sound aggressive, and in some cases, he may actually feel threatened. An alarming bark could mean he's trying to send out a warning (look for other signs like a stiffened body and forward pounces each time he barks). But most of the time, barking is just a pup’s way of getting your attention because he wants to take a walk, eat a treat, or play. “If you want him to stop, the best thing to do is continually ignore it,” Sotelo says. Eventually, your dog will get the message.
ROLLING IN GRASS (AND OTHER STINKY STUFF)
Think your dog has an itch that desperately needs to be scratched? Try again. Usually, rolling means he’s picking up on a pleasing (to him, anyway) scent, which prompts the release of feel-good endorphins, says Sotelo.
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Nope, your pooch isn’t wanting for more sleep. Instead, yawning is one of the most common ways for dogs to relieve stress when they’re feeling uncomfortable or nervous. “If you notice your dog yawning, try redirecting his focus with a toy, a treat, or even having him sit or walk in a circle, which can take his mind off his nerves,” Sotelo says.
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Decode Your Dog's Common Habits
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