Part of my work as an animal behavioural therapist is conducting behavioural tests, most frequently on dogs.
We test for problem behaviour but also the response to children, other dogs, noise, sudden movement and especially socially acceptable behaviour towards people.
One of the things we are looking at is whether the dog is social and if it seeks to make friendly contact without being pushy or dominant. During this kind of social contact we look at the tail carriage. When interacting with humans a dog will normally lower the tail, even if this is minimal. This is a testimony of respect from the dog to the human, whether the person is its owner or not. If this basic respect is lacking there is always the possibility that if the dog is in a stressful or threatening situation it will more rapidly become aggressive or even bite..
Each breed has its own typical high, low or neutral tail carriage, with other positions in between.
Dominant or confident attitude:
High tail carriage
The corners of the mouth are drawn forward
A high body carriage, often stiff legged
Submissive or anxious, fearful attitude:
Low tail carriage
Corners of the mouth are back
A low body carriage
A Beagle will in general have his tail standing up like an antenna, but it can still move up or down, as can the curly tail of a Husky or the almost horizontal tail of the American Stafford.
In addition to the general stance of the dog (especially with regard to the tail) there are other ways the dog will communicate; tail wagging, barking, growling, marking territory, and baring the teeth and so on…
All of these will help you to determine the dog’s emotions and state of mind; stressed, friendly, anxious, insecure, menacing, aggressive etc…
We often consider anxiety and aggression to be a problem. Are anxiety and / or aggression acceptable in our society?
We are more tolerant of fear than we are of aggression, although this will depend to a degree on the outward appearance of the dog. Owners who opt for a smaller dog will accept that their dog is fearful whereas people who choose a large breed expect their dog to be cool and confident.
Signs of fear in a dog often go unrecognised. This is due mainly to our own insufficient understanding of the signals that the dog is giving us.
Think of the type of person who will buy a big tough looking dog such as a Doberman and they then imagine their dog will be just as tough as they are (or as they imagine themselves to be)..
We can accept fear or even aggression to a certain extent. However, remember, a fearful dog can be just as dangerous as an aggressive dog. As long as fear is kept within bounds, both we and the dog can cope, if the level of fear becomes unbearable both dog and owner will suffer the consequences.
Aggression in dogs is rarely tolerated although aggression is a normal, natural behaviour, necessary to survival. A dog can use verbal aggression such as barking to defend his territory. In addition, the dog can use non- verbal aggression such as biting to kill its prey or in extreme circumstances even a fight to the death with another dog or would you prefer that your dog just allows itself to be killed?
Aggression is a fundamental part of our society, just think of the quarrels you may have had with siblings, family members or friends. Some people will scream and shout, others revert to physical violence.. So why do we punish our dogs for something that we ourselves do? Obviously it is not possible to tolerate all types of aggression; we accept aggression to a certain degree;
Let us go back to body language, the tail carriage. How do men behave in the presence of women? This is can be seen in the context of Animal Reflection, the animal mirror that leads us to an understanding of who and what we are.
A man with an erect penis that he can not or will not keep under control shows, I believe, a lack of basic respect for women. They have no regard for intimacy, no desire to get to know the other person and explore their feelings. No, they let fly, heedlessly, a very dominant and intrusive action.
If you’re a woman and want to skip the intimacy and getting to know your partner then raw sex and animal lust on the first date is a possibility.
If you want a long term relationship based on mutual respect tail then the tail carriage should be reduced…
The choice is yours …you make the choice but you must be prepared to suffer the consequences.
Cats are confusing. When they want to show their intentions are friendly they will carry their tail high, straight up in fact. Rather confusing for their canine friends.
I would like to hear your opinion on this topic.
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