Dog behaviour 



A male or female may be displaying sexual behaviour by marking his territory leaving pheromones and information for other dogs and females to let others know she is in heat.  Other dogs may be urinating to make themselves feel less anxious by making the place familiar with their scent. Frustration and anxiety can be brought on by changes in environment and stressful situations, people or other dogs. 

Dog sounds

There are five different sounds that dogs can vocalise-Infantile sounds-crying. Warning sounds-growling and barking. Calling sounds-howling. Withdrawal sounds- pain yelps. Pleasure sounds-moaning.

Greeting dogs

Its best to greet a new dog by approaching slowly and calmly whilst reading his body language to see how he feels about you. He may not be interested in meeting you as he may nervous which could make him aggressive if you approach. Without getting too close you should avoid eye contact if necessary, let him come to you to sniff you on his own terms so he can see you’re not a threat and for him to gain confidence and trust in you. Don’t try to pet him until he is sure of you, let him check you out again and if a tail is wagging and he engages with you he may be ok to be gently stroked. Its also best to remain calm and not encourage too much excitement and jumping up.  

(With a shy or nervous dog you should let the dog approach you and sniff you when he wants, don’t try to make friends or reach out it will be seen as dominance. You should move slowly and keep calm, without getting too close, without overbearing him or making any sudden movements. You should adopt a non threatening stance, side on if necessary or knelt down is less intimidating and not confrontational for a very scared dog and not staring directly at them is more respectful and less like likely to provoke a fearful dog into defensively retaliating to a perceived threat.)

For a dog that has had traumatic experiences threats can be triggered by the smallest things such as a tone of voice, a hat or even a colour that is associated with that memory so it’s best to let them tell you with their behaviour. When the dog has sniffed you and initiated that he is ok with your presence he may indicate that he can be touched gently on his side  where he is less startled and not when he is walking away. A chin tickle helps provoke a confident posture and is enjoyable, treats are also a very positive association with you. Of course every individual is different and he may need more time to get used to you, its best read his body language. 

dog as insecure if he wasn’t displaying confident body language but not displaying fearful gestures either. He’s wary of new people and an insecure dog may not be initially obvious to some people. He may shy away from you, or be still and avoiding eye contact or have a slow tail wag but will not be giving off many cues in his ears and tail, he would probably look fairly casual and unsure before deciding how he feels in the situation so he may have a mid to low tail, ears relaxed or possibly forward and wide eyes. 

A dog likely to attack you would be showing signs such as staring towards you, with his head up, ears up, lips raised, tail raised, hackles raised, his legs would be stiff and his weight leaning forward ready to make a sudden move for you.

Dogs meeting

Interrupting the ‘handshake’ when two dogs are reading each others movements and pulling the dog away could be regarded as a threatening sudden move and considered rude by another dog leading to possible aggression from the other dog when meeting for the first time. ​

Docked tails 

The emotions of a dog with a docked tail cant easily be read by another dog as they aren’t displaying their full body language. The difference between a new confident dog approaching another with ears pricked and a straight tail or a wagging tail could be aggression or it could be playfulness. This can’t be deciphered by some without a tail to read so easily misinterpreted. 


Problem solving mental tasks are also a good insight to into understanding dogs cognitive abilities and I think as with humans the more they are challenged the better they will get at learning to problem solve. 

Of course there is a thought process and understanding to some extent in all animals especially the dog and the brain decides what to make the physical body do based on positive and negative memories , natural survival instincts and other factors. Dogs know instinctively how to suckle, eat and drink and walk and reproduce without learning but still make the decision to take those actions which would involve using different parts of the brain. I believe dogs are underestimated by us and their expressions and intelligence sometimes go unnoticed by people who are not in-tune with them or unable to read their body language. They are capable of a lot more than we give them credit for and if they had more opportunity to be challenged and gain more experience in life they could showcase their cognitive abilities. We use them primarily as companions when they were initially used as workers and they enjoy having tasks and challenges as we do and have survived so long not just because of us but also because they are capable of thinking and learning. As we keep breeding them and suppressing their breed specific skills they aren’t evolving and developing new skills and intelligence for the future so I hope the tests highlight this, help us to understand the dog better and teach us how to have better relationships with dogs.