Your dog’s behavior speaks volumes about their mental and physical wellbeing. Although they may not speak our language, dogs are constantly expressing how they feel through their body language, gestures, and actions.
They’re also great listeners and sensitive animals. For example, your dog can understand what you’re saying, and how you interact with your dog has a significant impact on them.
Learning what your dog’s behavior means will strengthen your bond and make you a much better pet owner. If you’re able to decipher what your dog is trying to tell you, it allows you to better serve their needs.
Dogs Are Constantly Communicating
There’s a lot more behind a bark than meets the ear. According to an Animals Journal review, dogs have a dynamic communication range, utilizing body language, audio, smells to communicate.
“They use their whole body to communicate, conveying information intentionally or otherwise,” the review explains. “Not all the signals, in fact, are under voluntary control.”
For example, when a dog feels anxious, it releases a specific body odor. This is an involuntary emotional response, but humans and other animals may perceive it as intentional.
A dog’s body language isn’t just expressed in their posture. Dogs also use various tails and facial expressions to communicate a variety of emotions. Similarly, they make different gestures with their faces and tails to respond to other individuals.
Dogs aren’t just communicating with other dogs, either. After cohabiting with humans for at least 30,000 years, it makes sense that dogs use these tactics to respond to their owners.
Dogs Can Understand What You’re Saying
Similarly, dogs can understand quite a bit of what their owners are saying to them. As the review explains, dogs can learn the meaning of up to 200 words. They also use the pitch and tone of your voice to understanding your emotions.
Studies also show that dogs can correctly match happy and angry voices to their corresponding facial features. Your body language, facial expressions, and gestures play a critical role in helping your dog understand what you’re communicating.
Dog Breath is a Sign of an Underlying Health Condition
Oral hygiene is just as important in dogs as it is in humans. According to WebMD’s veterinary blog, at least 75 percent of dogs will develop gum disease by middle age, which can have serious health implications for your pooch.
If your dog’s breath doesn’t pass the “sniff test,” it’s time to schedule an appointment with your local veterinarian. Pay attention to other symptoms of gum disease, such as:
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Broken or chipped teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Excessive Drooling
- Eating less or much slower than usual
- Facial swelling
Symptoms mentioned above may indicate your dog is in a lot of pain and struggling with poor oral health.
Dogs Aren’t Actually Colorblind.
Despite the age-old myth that dogs are colorblind, they aren’t. That’s right — your dog may appreciate those vibrant, trendy dog collars after all, to a certain degree.
Although dogs aren’t entirely colorblind, their range of color vision is limited, says a Leading Edge of Medicine review. Their sensitivity to light is comparable to ours, but dogs only have two types of color cones, unlike humans.
This is known as dichromatic vision, as opposed to trichromatic vision. The two cones allow dogs to see hues from violet to blue and green to yellow. Red, most likely, appears yellow to dogs.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean dogs perceive violet to yellow hues the same way that humans do.
“In fact, the appearances are probably different,” the review says.
“The most striking differences in color vision between dogs and people is the dogs’ inability to distinguish between middle to long wavelengths of light. These appear to humans as green, yellow-green, yellow, orange, or red, and their inability to distinguish greenish-blue from gray.”
Your Personality Affects Your Dog’s Behavior
The way you interact with your dog has a substantial impact on their behavior — and a lot of it depends on your attachment style.
Attachment styles are the bonds formed between the caregiver and the child, but the same line of thinking applies to dogs and their owners.
There are four main types of attachment styles, which include:
- Secure: Those with secure attachment styles feel more confident, connected, trusting, and comfortable.
- Dismissive-avoidant: Those with dismissive-avoidant attachment styles tend to be overly emotionally dependent. They’re uncomfortable with the idea of trusting others and avoid forming close relationships.
- Anxious-preoccupied: Those with anxious-preoccupied attachment styles are very emotionally-dependent and fall “head over heels” immediately in all of their relationships. They seek constant reassurance and validation — and if they don’t receive it, they feel incredibly anxious.
- Disorganized / fearful-avoidant: Those with disorganized attachment styles often crave close connections, but fear getting too close with others and push them away. They’re also more hesitant about expressing their emotions.
A PLoS One Journal study found owners with more avoidant attachment styles to their dogs lead to an increased risk of developing the separation-related disorder.
Symptoms of the separation-related disorder include:
- Destructive behavior at home
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive vocalization (barking, growling)
- Frequent pacing or circling
- Frequently escaping or running away
- Gastrointestinal distress (diarrhea, vomiting)
- Inappropriate defecation and urination
- Over-grooming or self-mutilation
- Symptoms of depression (inactivity, withdrawn demeanor)
The logic behind the connection is that avoidant owners are less responsive to their dog’s needs, so the dog may not feel secure in their bond.
Although your pup may not speak the same language as you, they’re always communicating with you subtly. Understanding your dog’s behavior will strengthen your bond and allow you to provide them with the care they need.