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Teach Your Dog
To "Shake A Paw"
And What They Mean
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Language: What Your Dog's Movements Mean
their bodies and paws to express a variety of different things. Below
are some examples and what they mean.
Dog crouches with
front legs extended, rear up, and head near the
ground: This is the classic play-bow and means simply "I want to play!"
Stiff-legged, upright posture or slow, stiff-legged movement forward:
"I am in charge around here!" and "I challenge you." A dominant dog
will use this posture to indicate assertion of authority and a
willingness to fight for it.
Body slightly sloped forward, feet braced: "I accept your challenge and
am ready to fight!"
Dog rolls on side or exposes underside: "Let us not argue" or "I am not
a threat to you" or "I accept that you are in charge here." This is a
submissive response to avert conflict. Many dogs adopt this posture in
a fairly relaxed and contented manner when they are around their pack
leader. When your dog rolls on his back for a belly rub, he is actually
accepting you as leader of the pack.
Dog places head on another dog's shoulder or places paw on the back of
another dog: "I want you to know who is the boss around here." These
gestures are commonly used by dominant dogs, pack leaders, and dogs
that have aspirations of becoming a pack leader.
Mouthing: This shows up in dog-human interactions as the dog taking the
handler's hand in his mouth or, while walking, taking the lead in the
mouth. Mouthing can be a serious sign of dominance challenging and
shows that the dog does not accept the human as pack leader.
Dog places paw on master's knee: "Look, I am here" or "Pay attention to
me." This attention-seeking signal has many variations. They include
pawing the air in front of their master or sliding the head under the
Hair bristles on back and shoulders: This is a sign of anticipated
aggression. A ridge of hair bristling down the back is a sign that says
"Do not push me, I am angry!" When the bristling extends to the
shoulders it means "I have had it with you" and is a sign of an
Dog sits with one front paw slightly raised: This is another sign of
stress but is combined with insecurity. It means "I am anxious, uneasy
Dog rolls on his back and rubs it on the ground: This is sometimes
preceded by nose rubbing where the dog pushes his face, and possibly
his chest against the ground in a rubbing motion or rubs the face with
a forepaw, from eyes to nose. They often follow feeding or occur as the
dog's owner begins to prepare food. However they also can occur
following or in anticipation of other pleasant activities.
Scraping the ground and ripping the turf with the paws: This is usually
after the dog has defecated but may occur at other times. Dogs have
glands on the bottom of their feet that provide each with a unique
scent. What a dog is saying here is " I was here and I am leaving my
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What Your Dog's Movements Mean