Decoding Puppy Body Language: 8 Common Behaviors Explained


Common Signs, What They Mean

  • The play-bow. When a dog pounces so that his front legs are flush with the floor, his rear end is still up in the air and he looks at you expectantly, it’s an invitation to play!
  • Making a “grrrr” sound. Growling can, of course, be a sign of aggression or the reaction of a dog who feels threatened and is trying to protect himself or someone else. But when a puppy is playing and makes this low throaty sound, it can also mean he’s having fun, particularly when playing competitive games, such as tugging or wrestling. Unfortunately, many owners misinterpret it as a growl and even punish their puppy in the belief they must put a stop to this aggressive threat.
  • Showing their teeth. Similarly, don’t confuse some teeth showing for a snarl; it may be a canine grin of submission. One way to tell the difference: Typically with a snarl, the lips go up, revealing the front canine teeth, while a submissive grin is more of a horizontal retraction of the lips and will cause wrinkles at the corner of the puppy’s mouth.
  • Running away from you. Because play is often mock scenarios of fighting, chasing and being chased, it’s sometimes hard to know when the line has been crossed from playing scared, for example, to really being scared. If your puppy runs away from you, he may want you to chase him, so he can play keep-away. If it’s all in play, he’ll keep looping around, enticing you to try again. His posture will be erect, his ears forward and up, and his tail high and wagging slowly. His mouth will often be open and panting, and his tongue may even loll to one side. But sometimes it passes beyond play, and he gets scared. In this case, he’ll try to stay farther away or hide. His posture will be lower, his ears back and down, and his movement slinkier. His tail will be tucked or down, and if he wags it, it will be quick short wags. His lips may be drawn back in a “worried” expression, and he will lick his lips often. If he exhibits these behaviors, stop doing whatever it is you’re doing immediately. You may inadvertently be using body postures that are frightening your pup.
  • Rolling onto his back. If he’s rolling around as if scratching his back, or if his head is lolled to one side, mouth open, rear legs flopped to either side and tail wagging slowing, then he’s probably relaxed (and often inviting you to rub his belly!). But if he’s lying partly to one side, with one front and one rear leg raised, head twisted but held off the ground, mouth closed, tail either still, tucked or wagging quickly, and especially if he urinates on himself — he’s scared and submissive.
  • Yawning. Like humans, dogs can yawn when they’re bored or sleepy. But if your dog is in a stressful situation, a yawn is an indication that he’s anxious or upset.
  • Mounting. Though it may be an embarrassing action — especially when you have company over — mounting isn’t always a sexual behavior. Mounting one another is normal for puppies at play, and occurs in both male and females, and to both same and opposite sexes. Often, it’s a declaration of who is temporarily the winner of the game. Puppies may also mount people, especially when playing or when simply excited about something. Though the behavior should be gently discouraged, rest assured that it’s part of normal puppy play. Simply detach him and give him something more acceptable to play with.
  • Suddenly stops playing. If your puppy is playing and suddenly stops, he may have to urinate — try to take him outside. It’s also possible that he’s tired. Remember, puppies are still young and may have short bursts of energy, followed by the need to take a nap. If he seems to tire too easily, he may have low blood sugar and need to eat more often (some toy breeds need to be fed every two to three hours for the first six months of life) or he may have heartworms. Call your vet if you think your puppy is abnormally tired.

The more you understand what your puppy is trying to tell you, the better you can work to create a happy household for both of you. And you might as well learn it now; he’ll probably keep this same basic body language throughout his life, just adding a few more messages to his repertoire as he matures.


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Please, Please, Please, Please, Do not leave your pets in your car!! We had our first case today. Dog was left in the car with windows rolled up, remember even 5min in the car can cause harm!!!

What Every Pet Owner Should Know About Preventing Fleas and Ticks


The thought of insects crawling on your skin and living off your blood probably, well, makes your skin crawl. Yet, too often as pet owners, we allow fleas and ticks to treat our pets like bed-and-breakfasts. And it is only after these pests make themselves at home that we might realize showing them the door can be difficult, expensive and painfully slow.

Fleas and ticks aren’t just irritating and distasteful; they can lead to medical problems. Flea allergies can cause severe itching and skin damage; fleas can also carry the causative agents of cat-scratch disease, while ticks carry the organisms that can lead to debilitating illnesses like Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. So it’s crucial to continuously and effectively prevent infestations of these parasites for the health and safety of our pets, our families and ourselves. 

Fleas: The Prolific, Perplexing Parasite

Consider the life cycle of the common flea: The average female can lay 40 to 50 eggs daily. The eggs develop into maggot-like larvae and progress to a cocoon stage called pupae. These pupae wait several weeks to months for the ideal temperature and humidity to mature into adult fleas. That single adult flea you find on your pet represents about 5 percent of the total flea problem in your home; eggs, larvae, and pupae comprise the rest. Your pet — and your home — can be infested before a single flea is found. And finding them can be tough, especially on cats, because of their constant grooming. That’s why a one-time treatment for fleas isn’t usually enough.

Pet owners often discover a flea problem because of a pet’s severe itching, which sometimes is due to flea allergy dermatitis — a sensitization to the flea’s saliva when it draws a blood meal. No pet is safe from fleas and their bites, but not all pets are hypersensitive to them. This means severe infestations can occur without your dog or cat showing any obvious discomfort. Therefore, it’s best to use preventive tactics to help keep fleas from infesting your pet and home in the first place.



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Four Games That Tap Into Your Cat’s Animal Instincts

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1. Bird Games

These games involve waving feather wand toys or other cat toys that require your cat to leap in the air and try to capture the flying object in her front paws. Select a safe, spacious area of your home so that your cat does not fly into any furniture.

2. Pounce Games

To play pounce properly, provide your cat with a way to be able to leap on an object moving on the ground. Create a target by moving your fingers under a bedspread or a throw blanket on the sofa. “Many cats seem to appear whenever you try to put on fresh sheets on your bed — you want to make the bed, but they see this as a great opportunity to play,” says Miller.

3. Rabbit Games

These games bring out a cat’s natural instinct to pull a toy into her belly while on her back, kick with her back legs and shake and bite a toy prey. Catnip-filled toy mice and lightweight fur toys with feathers are popular choices. You toss the toy across the floor for your cat to grab and deliver a few punches with her back legs.

4. Hide-and-Seek Games

These exercises unleash the predatory nature in cats, many of whom delight in the ability to hide and wait for their prey. That explains why your cat may hide under a skirted table or under your bed, and then spring out and make a surprise attack on your feet. Ouch! Save your toes by flushing your cat from her hiding spot by tossing a paper wad or cat toy for her to attack.