The JRT Language of Love

How do our dogs love us? Let us count the ways! But it's not enough just to count them. There are dozens of ways our dogs tell us they love us every single day. Not with words, but with body language.

Canine body language is complex and sometimes subtle. As a result, a lot of it goes right over our thick, human heads. But some of it we take on board without consciously registering it.

How do our dogs show us they love us? Here are a few ways. Some of them you probably already know. But others? If you keep your eyes open, you might see these as well.

Downward Dog

Downward Dog is a playful position.

Downward Dog is a Yoga term, but the position is very similar: hands and feet on the ground, butt in the air. When humans do it, it's stretching. But when your dog does it, it means they're excited and ready to play!

Staring

Throw it!

Staring can have a couple of different meanings. If a dog is giving a hard stare with rigid posture, that's an aggressive stance. They're responding to a threat, and it's good to be cautious. Staring with ears pointed forward and the tail straight out means that something has caught their attention. Maybe a cat, maybe the sound of a cheese wrapper.

On the other hand, if the stare is accompanied by a wagging tail, wiggling backside, open mouth, and excitement, your dog wants your attention — in all the best ways! Better go grab that ball!

Low Barking That Gets Higher

This Jack is very excited to have come upon a crab!

Probably every Jack owner is familiar with the rising crescendo of barking. And it's not hard to tell what it means. When your dog starts out barking low, then gradually barks higher and faster, it means they're excited! Whether that excitement is for an approaching bicycle or the stick you're holding, it's hard to miss. Best go see what all the excitement is about!

Back Sleeping

The ultimate expression of trust.

When your pup sleeps on his or her back, feet in the air, it means that they feel safe and comfortable. It's a huge compliment. Your dog is baring their most vulnerable parts, and demonstrating their trust that no one in your house will take advantage of their position. This is truly a show of canine love and affection.

Blinking

Blinking and grinning: your JRT loves you and wants you to know it!

In the movies, humans show their interest in a partner by batting their eyes. Our dogs do something similar! When your dog squints or blinks rapidly at you, it means they're relaxed and want your attention. How can you resist?

Head Tilt

Eh? What did you say?

A head tilt is adorable. It's also an expression of curiosity. Your dog is trying to hear something better by changing the angle of their head and ears. If they tilt their heads when you speak, it's because they want to understand even better what you're saying. If they tilt their heads when they hear the sound of the can opener? Well, you can guess what they're thinking then, too.

Butt Sniffing

Pleased to meet you!

You see it all the time — at dog parks, out walking, and…when your boss comes for dinner. Dogs can't keep their noses out of other dogs' private areas — or out of humans' private areas either, for that matter. It may look rude, but all it means is that a dog wants to get to know you better. Dogs have scent glands under their tails, and these scents carry a lot of information about who that dog is. Think of it as exchanging business cards. Nonetheless, you may want to remind your dog that your boss keeps their business cards in their wallet.

Tail Wagging

Yeah, yeah, we all know what this means. But do we really? Dog training guru Victoria Stillwell explains that tail wagging is a lot more complicated than it actually seems. Depending on the context, the gesture can have many meanings, in fact.

  • A wagging tail with a tense posture and barking is a warning, not a welcome
  • Slow wagging with the tail held high means the dog is assessing the situation
  • If the tail wags more to the right, the dog is looking at someone he or she wants to approach
  • If the tail wags more to the left, the dog is looking at someone or something they want to avoid
  • “Helicopter tail” with a wiggling backside and relaxed posture means your pup is ready to play!

If Our Dogs Could Speak

At times we've all wished our dogs could talk. But they've been speaking to us all along! All it takes is a little bit of observation on our part to understnd what they're saying.

Featured Image: CC SA 3.0 by Writ Keeper, via Wikimedia Commons