Since this task deals specifically with animal behavior, it will help you immensely to do a little research on the subject. Luckily for all us dog owners, you don't need to be formally educated in the subject matter, but simply willing to learn.
Just as humans tell each other a lot without words, so too, do dogs. Some common signs of potential aggression or just basic unfriendliness, include:
- Raised Hair
Much like cats, dogs' hair will stand up on the back of their spine to show their fear or hate of something. This is typically a precursor to them becoming potentially violent and it's your responsibility as a dog owner to pay attention to what your puppy is communicating.
Growling isn't something you can or should train out of your puppy. While it's not the friendliness manners, it is a form of communication. Growling tells other dogs that your puppy wants his or her space. Think of it as a warning.
- Tail Between the Legs
This is one many of us are familiar with, even if we're new pet owners. A dog with their tail between their legs is a universal sign of fear. When introducing your puppy to others, watching their tails is an easy way to see how they're responding to a potential new friend or foe.
- Closed Mouth
A happy, inviting dog will often be "smiling": tongue out, and ready to meet, be met, and play with others. A dog with a closed mouth is a commonly unfriendly sign and you and your puppy may want to proceed with caution.
- Rigid, Raised Tail
When it comes to two dogs meeting, no matter their breed, sex, or age, their tails should be loose and wagging. A tail that is raised high, at a point, and stiff is a sign of being alert and potentially uninterested in socializing.
- Stiff Posture (Frozen)
While two dogs meet-and-greet, you may notice that sometimes one dog may have stiff body posture. You can see their tension in the way their paws are planted firmly while another dog sniffs around them or tries to play.
Other signs to look for when introducing your puppy to others include:
- Lying on Their Back
A dog that lies on its back in front of another dog, exposing their soft, vulnerable tummies, is showing that he or she is submissive. This is generally a good sign which you can take to mean, "I don't feel threatened" as well as "I'm not threatening".
- Downward Dog
Sometimes we may think our dogs are actually pronounced yogis, practiced in the way of yoga. If you've ever witnessed your pup in a playful mood, it's likely you've seen them reach their front two paws out in front of them while keeping their back erect and tail high in the air, wagging away. Dogs doing this to each other are communicating that they want to play with each other.
- Wagging Tail
When it comes to reading doggie body language, an easy one is a wagging tail - a sign of friendliness between dogs. However, this only relates if the wagging tail is relatively relaxed. A wagging tail held very high can actually be a sign of threat or potential aggression, while a wagging tail held low could indicate fear or worry.
- Floppy Tongue
As dog owners, we want to see that pink tongue out and happy. While we know a tongue out is typically a sign of being thirsty or hot, a loose tongue also indicates a relaxed pup.
All of these signs are important to learn before beginning some of these training methods. Train yourself to recognize them the next time your puppy meets someone new. Any warning signs seen in your puppy or the dog they're meeting should result in putting distance between the two dogs. Any other body language should indicate that your puppy or the dog they're meeting is ready to enjoy a new play pal.