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Body Language Bites - Examples

Make your observations! What do you see first? What else can you spot in this photo?

Black & tan German shepherd-

Face: ears drooped lower along the skull and rotated partially back, eyes rounded, eyebrows well defined and raised, mouth tightly shut

Head: looking away from the other dogs

Body: tense body, arched back with hips slightly parted

Tail: fully tucked under body

Context: meeting dogs off leash, on an outdoor beach with wide open space

Left golden retriever-

Face: ears rotated flat against head

Head: tilted slightly, lowered towards other dog's genital region

Body: leaning slightly forward towards dog, sideways

Tail: body height, loose and wide side to side wag

Right golden retriever-

Face: tight mouth but squinty eyes, relaxed eyebrows

Head: raised to sniff the other dog

Body: side facing other dog

Tail: loose, curvy, but raised high

Do you recognize the above body language cues in the video?


This photo was part of a stock photo series, in which the golden retrievers who live together meet the German shepherd.

What's your conclusion?


The German shepherd in this photo is displaying body language consistent with intense fear. Noting the degree of magnitude here is important for recognizing an urgency intervention. The dog's body language not merely concerned, worried or apprehensive, it is very scared. The golden retrievers in this photo are displaying prosocial and peaceful body language, but in this moment they are not offering space in response to the shepherd's avoidance and display of fear.

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