To communicate with our dog it is necessary to be able to understand it. We understand our dog when we are able to perceive all its body gestures and movements to acquire the maximum information about its character traits, its emotional state and, especially, its intentions in order to anticipate and act accordingly.
Generally, when a dog is relaxed and calm, it is easy to perceive this due to its relaxed posture and neutral expression on its face. His ears will be in the normal position, his tail will hang rather low, his mouth slightly open and his tongue will stick out, and his body in general will not appear to be bent or stretched. Perhaps they will squint their eyes and their neck and nose muscles will feel relaxed. The dog is relaxed and does not feel threatened by the environment around it and can interact with it.
The basic invitation of a dog that wants to play is bowing by flexing the front paws by stooping half of its body, while the hind paws are up. Its tail will be raised, and it will move from side to side while its mouth remains open with the tongue out. This posture can be accompanied by excited barking or playful attacks and withdrawals. This set of canine signals can be used as a kind of signal to indicate that any previous tense behaviour is not understood as a threat or challenge.
A dog that feels self-confident, if he is trying to exert some kind of authority or dominate another dog, will try to appear to the other as corpulent and strong as possible, with ears raised, head and neck straightened and the body in general slightly arched and completely in tension. If they also have their tail up, frown, and shows his teeth, they are not only expressing social dominance, but are also sending a message to others and might react if challenged.
When a dog is scared but is not submissive and can react negatively if challenged. Shown with frizzy hair, lowered body, ears to the back, wrinkled nose, shows the lips, tension in the mouth and the tail between the legs. A dog generally gives these canine body signals when it comes face to face with the person or animal that is threatening it.
If the dog has detected something of interest, or something unknown, it will use body signs to be alert and pay attention while it is examining the situation around it and determining whether there is a possible threat or whether to act. These signs will be raising the base of the ears to pick up the sound and make brief sniffs. It will probably stand upright and its legs will be tense and its body slightly inclined. He will stare intently at the element that arouses his interest, his mouth will remain closed and his tail will be horizontal (not bristling) making small movements to one side and the other. They may also move their head from side to side if they hear a sound that is very strange to them.
The dog that is afraid will put his puppy face trying to be as round as possible, with his ears back, soft forehead, trying to lick the threat and his eye contact will be indirect. The body will be lowered, the tail between the legs and it may lift one leg. These signs are designed to appease the individual who is of higher social status than he or the dogs he sees as a potential threat, in order to avoid any further challenge or conflict.
The dog shows his total surrender and submission when he turns on his back, partially closes his eyes, turns his head to the side avoiding eye contact, the tail hides it towards the belly, the ears back and he may urinate. The dog is trying to say that he accepts his minor condition by humbling himself to a higher rank than he does or to the threat he feels hopeful in avoiding a physical confrontation.
If the dog is stressed, anxious, or upset or worried, whether for social reasons or the environment around him, he will lower his tail, pull his ears back, and lower his body. They may also gasp quickly and have dilated pupils. These signals, however, are a general "demonstration" of their mood and are not being specifically communicated to anyone else.
When dogs start to get stressed, they can manifest it in many different ways. Dogs are stressed in situations of fear, pain, or discomfort. They can be stressed when we get angry, when we correct them, when events happen at high speed and, in general, when they feel that they are not capable of solving a situation. It is very important to know how to recognise the signs shown by the dog that is stressed, in order to measure its degree of stress and, if necessary, reverse the situation and return it to a neutral state.
If a dog lives with high levels of stress on a daily basis, it will have gastric, allergic and heart problems. Their defence mechanisms will be faster and more violent when dealing with stressful situations and their defence mechanism will probably be activated before other individuals. That is, it will overreact.
Although we must avoid at all costs that these stress signals are repeated often and become a serious health problem for our Australian Cobberdog, it is important not to overprotect the dog from stress. Practicing situations that provoke stress in our dog progressively and in a controlled way is positive, since with them he practices his tolerance to stress and makes him a more versatile dog for any type of circumstance that occurs. If we attend to any sign of stress, we will make our dog into a being incapable of supporting any type of demand.