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Reading Fido’s Body Language

April 01, 2022

Dog Bite Prevention Week starts April 10th. Did you know that there are over 4 million dog bites in the US every year? You may often hear stories about how dogs attacked suddenly, and without warning. While this does happen sometimes, in many cases Fido actually has given plenty of warning. People just don’t know how to read his signals! One of the best ways to prevent bites is to know how to read canine pals’ body language, and to recognize the red flags that a pup is feeling fearful, threatened, or reactive. A Seminole, FL vet discusses dogs’ body language below.


Fido’s tail can be a huge flag post, signaling his mood and comfort levels. We all know that wagging tails are good, right? Actually, there is a caveat here. A dog that is happily and quickly wagging his tail is probably feeling friendly and chipper. A slow tail wag, however, often signals uneasiness or uncertainty. A pup that has their tail tucked is fearful and/or uncomfortable, which a stiff tail is a sign of aggression.


Fido’s ears can also tell you quite a bit about how he’s feeling. If they are pricked and facing forward, he’s likely in a good mood, and possibly curious. Flattened ears, however, are definitely not a good sign.


If Fido is tense, you may see the whites of his eyes. Dilated pupils can also be an indication of uneasiness, as can glassy eyes. Squinting, on the other paw, can be a sign of doggy contentment.


Dogs that are feeling cheerful and friendly may pant, or they may look like they’re smiling. If a pooch is feeling threatened, he may wrinkle his snout, bare his teeth, and/or lick his lips.


Posture is another thing to look at. If Fido seems stiff, crouches down, and/or lowers his body, he’s definitely feeling uncomfortable or threatened. Raised hackles are another red flag.


Keep in mind that when reading Fido, you have to look at the whole picture, as well as the situation. It’s also important to know what not to do. Never look a strange dog in the eye, particularly one that seems uneasy. You should also never try to pet a strange or loose dog.

Do you have questions about your dog’s health or care? Contact us, your Seminole, FL animal clinic, today!