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If only dogs could talk Pt:2


Mouth: Mouth expressions can provide information about the dog’s mood. When a dog wants to be left alone, it might even yawn (although yawning also might indicate confusion, or stress) or start licking its mouth without the presence of any food. In my experience, most of my patients coming into the clinic subsequent to the first visit, especially if the dog associates me with injections, would immediately start licking its mouth. This action I understand to be in most cases associated with fear.{{more}}

When a dog is happy or wants to play, it might pant with its lips relaxed, covering the teeth and with what sometimes appears to be a happy expression (it might appear to be a smile to some observers) or with the mouth open. Mouth expressions that indicate aggression include the snarl, with lips retracting to expose the teeth, although some dogs also use this during play. It is important to look at the dog’s whole body and not just the mouth or tail before deciding what the dog is feeling. What appears initially as aggression might be an invitation to play, or vice versa.

Tongue: a very common form of communication is for a dog to lick another dog, or person. Dogs lick other dogs faces and mouths when they greet each other to indicate friendliness. Dogs lick human skin not only for the the salt from the sweat, but also as a form of greeting, such as by briefly licking a person’s hand after sniffing it. Licking is also used as a social bonding analogous to primate social grooming and stroking. This can indicate intimacy. Such a licking is longer and slower, as compared to the brief licking of faces during greeting.

Head: the leaning of the dogs head to the right or to the left often indicates curiosity and / or a sound it has not heard before. This, however, may also be a sign of recognition to a familiar word. If a dog’s head is held high with its neck craning forward, it is showing interest, although some adult dogs that were not properly raised have been known to challenge their owners for the alpha position. One of the signs, though this is rearly seen in dogs, involves the dog slightly lowering its head while standing tall with its eyes fixed upwards at the owner or any human beings they are about to start a fight with. This behavior is extremely rare and usually occurs with dogs that have been severely neglected or in some cases abused. This can also be dangerous and sometimes fatal if no action is taken immediately. However, this behavior is preventable if owners avoid being neglectful or abusive to their dogs.

As a Veterinarian, being able to understand the body language of a dog has saved me from being bitten on countless occassions. For example, if I am about to touch a dog and I notice his skin being contracted, most times he would attack out of fear. If the eyes suddenly change color, to a greenish haze, for me it is a warning. And I can go on and on.

To be continued next week

For further information, contact: Dr. Collin Boyle
Unique Animal Care Co. Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981