Learn to Interpret Doglish

Your dog's language—let's call it Doglish—does not consist of thoughts, statements, reasoning, or contemplation. Doglish consists of momentary choices and quick interpretations. Your dog relies on three vehicles for communication: eye contact, body language, and tone.

Eye Contact Body Language

Eye Contact

Similar to human beings, dogs naturally look to their leaders for direction. The leader of the group is always kept within sight.

The first question to ask yourself is: are you looking to your dog more than she is looking to you? If so, your dog may be interpreting your attention as a need for leadership. During the next 24 hours, write down all the times you catch yourself looking at your dog.

Your dog is focused on your face most of the time. She knows when you look at her and will remember how to get your attention. If you look at her when she is behaving well, she's likely to repeat those positive behaviors.

Remember the phrase "You get what you look at." Focus on your dog when she is behaving well.

Learning to Speak Doglish chapter

Body Language

Your dog responds to body language a lot like you do. A calm, confident posture reflects confidence and demands respect. A bent, lowered posture conveys either fear or insecurity. Frantic flailing conveys chaos or play.

When you're with your dog, make sure that your body language reflects your intentions. If you are training or trying to control her, stand tall and relaxed. Your dog will respect you if you maintain your dignity.

Note: If you have children, teach them to stand tall when giving the dog directions. Upright positions are confident poses; bending over is often perceived as playful. Refer to this posture as the Peacock Position for easy reference.

If you're playing with your dog or snuggling affectionately, you may get down to your dog's level. If she gets too excited or starts to mouth you in play, however, stand upright to remind your dog of your size and presence.

In addition to your posture, your dog is aware of where you stand in relation to her. If you're in front, you're the leader. If you are standing behind, you are seen as the follower. Take notice of this when your dog is excited or you're walking her in an unfamiliar area. If you are ahead of her, she will be calmer: you're in the position of leader, guardian, and protector. If not, she will naturally assume that role and may become aggressive or hyper.


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