Dogs language

The communication or, what is the same, the transmission of information from one person to another, is an essential aspect in the social behaviour of any specie. We use a large range of signs to communicate ourselves by means of words, gestures, through our eyes, and even through our way of dressing and comb ourselves. As it is obvious, the communication among dogs is less complex than among human beings, since dogs cannot speak, however they use signs from other senses like smell, sight and hearing.

Concerning the sings coming from the sense of smell, they are made through the urine, perianal glands and dregs. Everybody knows that the way a male urinates is different from a female, since the former takes one of its back legs up to do it, a female dog sits down on her four legs. Besides, males urinate many more times than females, and especially, those male dogs which have dominant aptitudes to mark the land where they are moving around. This behaviour is increased when the animal is aware of certain smells, above all coming from other dogs. Besides, often, they take his back leg up without urinating, so this posture must be also considered like a way of visual sign, the same as the marks in the ground made by some animals, who scratch the ground after urinating. Dogs also recognise themselves through the smell of the pheromones of the anal glands. In fact, it is very common and observed the tendency of dogs that smell their bottoms each other. Generally, the dominant animal keeps its tail up, and the submissive tends to have it kept, making the inspection of the dominant difficult.

Concerning the visual communication, this is especially important in dogs, and as the facial expressions as the postures adopted by the animals that are playing an essential role in the dominant relationships. So a dominant animal usually keeps its tail up, the ears towards, and the extremities completely extended. Sometimes, it can put its front legs over the back of the subordinated, looking at it carefully or it places itself by its side, making the way closed. On the other hand, the submissive animal, takes its tail in, closes its ears and flexions its legs. Sometimes they adopt postures of extreme submission since the animal gets on its own side or back, separating the front extremities and showing the inguinal zone.
During the periods of aggressive behaviour, dogs adopt different positions depending on the kind of aggressiveness. When aggressiveness is offensive, the animal tights its lips and shows their teeth, also the hair on the back gets bristled. When aggressiveness is defensive, the animal tends to avoid the direct visual contact, its extremities are partially bent and it could take its tail in as a sing of submission, or it could show the enemy the teeth.

Besides these postures, there is another one that is shown when they want to play. It consists of keeping the front part of the body and the front legs on the floor, while the knees and the tail are up.

Finally, the hearing communication includes several kinds of sounds like groaning, barks and wail. Dogs bark in different ways and in a great variety of contexts, so it can show as an aggressive predisposition as a way of catching your attention, a sign to play or a greeting. So we can say that bark is an ambiguous sign, although it is known that the tendency to bark seems to have a strong inherent component.

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