What is my Puppy Saying?
What is my Puppy Saying?
Do you ever look at your dog and think “just say it, one word, I know you can!” Every dog owner is convinced their pup is just holding back and they’re one step away from unlocking the secret to hearing them speak Humanese. Maybe one day they’ll evolve, but they communicate with us just fine. We just have to be aware of how they’re trying to say something.
Puppies mostly use body language to communicate. As they develop and learn to socialize, we must pay close attention to certain signals that indicate fear, stress, or discomfort. In turn, we learn how slowly or quickly we can introduce our puppies to new experiences. Try to take in the overall situation rather than just what the puppy is doing. A growl may not always mean anger or a warning sign. It could be a playful sound they are learning with their new friends. Some other vocalizations are whining and whimpering.
Pay attention to the position of the body, tail and ears. Are they baring their teeth or are their pupils dilated? Where are the ears pointing? Is the hair on their back raised or settled? As a puppy parent, you want to notice these nuances in your pup as well as any other dogs it is playing with.
Signs to remove your puppy
Use your best judgement per situation. Sometimes the pup needs a quick break or they need to be introduced more slowly with repetition to a new friend or situation. Dogs will give you plenty of warning signs to let you know they are distressed. Here are the most common traits that your little guy will give you as a warning sign (remember, do not punish these signs or they will learn to suppress this form of expression and may escalate to biting or attacking more quickly).
- Freezing - A dog will stop moving and freeze in place.
- Hard Stare - Usually, when they freeze, a hard glassy-eyed stare will accompany them.
- A low steady Growl
- Raised Lip - Sometimes showing some teeth.
- Snarling - Tense body language accompanies retracted lips and exposed teeth. Some people train their dogs to “smile” and it may be confused for a snarl.
- Snapping - A dog will deliberately miss biting you or something else, but you do not want this to turn into a real bite.
Depending on your reading of your puppy, stepping away from the situation until things have settled may be enough. Or you may need to leave the scenario altogether. They have a preferred circle of personal space just as we do. Think about it as a 7 foot circle around them. When stress factors walk into that bubble, they may become more upset. Approaching your pup in a semicircle from the side rather than straight on will help as it doesn’t feel like you’re directly invading their personal space.
We’ll touch more on the body language of dogs and other fun tips. So make sure you tune in frequently for the next helpful article!