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After you learn the basic types of dog body language, spend some time observing dogs interacting with people and other animals in various situations. When two animals interact, their body language is almost like a conversation. It may even seem like a kind of dance. Much of the same can be seen between a human and a dog. With some practice, you will begin to see the subtleties of canine body language.
Do you know what is your dog trying to say? Knowing how to read your dogs body language is the key to understanding your dog. Because dogs are non-verbal, their body language does the talking for them. Vocalization takes second place to a dogs body language. By interpreting body language, you can assess a dogs attitude and possibly predict the next move. You can determine whether a dog is at ease or uncomfortable with a given situation.
Once you understand canine body language, it can do more than simply help you communicate with dogs. Reading a dogs body language can help protect you and your dog from dangerous situations. Without a sound, your dog can tell you that it senses a threat. When watching your dog interact with other dogs, you can watch its body language to see when harmless play may turn into a dog fight. Interpreting body language can also help with dog training and the identification of common behavior problems.
How do wolves behave in the packs? Aren’t dogs just like wolves?
Decades of observation by wildlife biologists of free-ranging wolf packs have revealed startling insight into the lives of these majestic canids. For instance, seasoned leaders of wolf packs actually survey from near the back of the pack when traveling, rather than taking the lead position. Also, in times of scarcity, the leaders allow the young to eat first, rather than feeding themselves first. Wolf behavior experts, such as L. David Mech, have dedicated their lives to observing wolves in their natural state. Some interesting observations include: There is an absence of reports of wolves seeking high positions over the pack, there are no signs of a leader rousting a subordinate from a desired resting place, and an alpha wolf rarely initiates pinning (a dominance behavior). These experts who study wolf behavior describe the role of the wolf leaders as parents— guiding, teaching, and caring for their pack members. When the wolf offspring mature, they do not compete to overthrow the pack leader; instead, they leave the pack, find a mate, and start a family of their own. A parent-family model better describes wolf-wolf relationships than a competitive hierarchy model.
“What does AEY stand for?” – War Dogs (2016)
Despite the fact that recent studies have reevaluated hierarchy models and have modified our understanding of behavior in the wild wolf, the concept of a hierarchal relationship among dogs and humans continues to be perpetuated. To ensure a well functioning family group, a family needs to know more about canine behavior than outdated strategies focusing on pack structure. In fact recent research has clearly indicated that the longstanding theory which maintained that alpha wolves control through aggression and relentless management is more myth than fact. These theories have been refuted by wolf biologists and if this theory is no longer considered true for wolves, then how can it be considered true for our dogs? New research on canine learning patterns indicates dogs understand us far better than we understand them.