If you are hanging out and then suddenly see your dog explode with the energy it can leave you feeling confused and worried. Is your dog simply excited, or are they about to attack someone? Thoughts raced through your mind, and you cannot help but feel anxiety rising in your heart.
This is an all too common scenario amongst pet owners. Especially people who have not had the experience to easily interpret their dog’s behavior. Even experienced pet owners can have this feeling that they are unfamiliar with a new dog.
Once you’re familiar with dogs is fairly easy to tell the difference between an excited one and an aggressive one. Sometimes a dog gets a little too excited, and while it can be a bit of a nuisance, it really is not going to cause any long-term problems.
On the other hand, a dog that gets too aggressive can be a huge problem for everyone involved. Your dog may end up hurting another dog, another person, or even themselves if you do not get them under control and quickly.
We have collected a few ideas and tips for you so that if you find yourself in this situation, you will know exactly what to do. The concerned pet owner does not just freeze. They educate themselves so they can handle any situation that comes at them.
Excitement and aggression are easy to confuse if you don’t know what to look for
Whenever dogs are communicating with each other from a human’s perspective, subtle differences may look almost exactly the same. Not to mention the fact that we do not speak their language at all naturally.
So even at our best, we are still simply trying to interpret what they are doing. However, in general, what you need to do is look at your dog’s behavior.
Whenever a dog is playful, even if they are high-energy, their body language will still be fairly relaxed. Some dogs will even look as if they have a smile on their face. An aggressive dog is easily differentiable from an excited one.
You will immediately notice a huge difference in the body language of a dog that is feeling aggressive.
They will look very tense and stiff rather than bouncy and loose. The way that they hold different parts of their body will be different and even the way that they bark and growl sound differently.
So if you want to be able to tell the difference between the two, you need to learn what to look for.
Look at the differences between their body language
The very first thing that you need to do is look at your dog’s body language. Do not listen to the way they sound or look at what they are doing. Simply observe how they are holding their body.
If your dog looks as if they are running on a mattress full of springs and has a pet in their step, they are almost definitely just excited. On the other hand, if you have a dog who is holding themselves low to the ground and is stiff as a board, they are feeling aggressive.
Right now would not be a good time to approach the aggressive dog as they may be likely to latch out.
What does their tail movement look like
The next part of the body that you should put your eyes on will be their tails. You can almost think of a dog’s tail as a sort of barometer for their emotional state.
Just remember that tail up means good mood, and tail down means bad. Now, exactly what type of mood they are in will depend on the circumstances, but this is a good rule of thumb.
If you notice that your dog’s tail is held either parallel or slightly below the hips but not between the legs, it’s a little more unclear how they feel. Most of the time, if a dog is showing this, they are uncertain how they feel themselves.
How are their ears being held
The next part of the body that you look at will be there in years. Now this will be a little different between breeds as some dogs have floppy ears, and others have perky years.
But, you will look at their orientation. If their ears are perked up as much as they can, then they are probably feeling excited or playful. In contrast, if the ears are laid flat or turned to the side, they are either feeling anxious or aggressive.
These two roles hold true, especially whenever their tails are matching. As if they have their ears up and there tails up, then they are almost definitely in a very good mood.
Look at the other dog’s body language
Now, after you have looked at your dog’s body language, the next thing you should do is check out the other dog.
Go through the same process that you just did and see if they are mirroring each other’s body language. If both dogs look like they are in a good mood, and even if they sound like they are vicious, it is most likely just play.
If both dogs have the body language of an aggressive dog, you need to intervene as soon as possible. It is going to get ugly quickly if you refuse to get involved.
Is one of the dogs trying to run away
Sometimes new pet owners may feel overwhelmed, trying to interpret their dog’s body language and the body language of another dog.
It is a little bit like learning a foreign language in expecting a person to be fluent in just a few days. Perhaps the easiest way to see if they are excited or if they are aggressive is to look at how willingly they are engaging with the other dog.
If they are not trying to run away, then you don’t have anything to worry about. However, if either your dog or the other dog is trying to get away desperately, they are not playing. You should definitely separate them, so they don’t hurt each other.