I’m Yama the Bernard, a very opinionated Saint Bernard. After sliming the editors for months, I finally got my own column in Dog City Digest. I felt it was important to have my own column as Dog City’s spokesdog because we are frequently misunderstood. After all, you are human and we are dogs. Stay tuned for the next editions where I’ll bark my dogma!
● My dog is being friendly because his tail is wagging.
Possibly. But not always. It might mean we’re being friendly, but it might mean we’re feeling defensive. It definitely means we are feeling excited, but that excitement may not be in the positive format. Tail position is also important. A low tail might mean we’re feeling submissive or anxious. If my tail is high and vertical, I might be posturing to display my macho. Speed is also an indicator. Fast whips mean we’re super excited. We might lunge out defensively, or maybe we’re elated. If our tail is a broad sweep, it usually means we’re happy, but perhaps not if it’s elevated and hard. The best interpreter of tail language is knowing your dog and knowing what makes him tick. Observe the rest of his body language– a wiggly, soft posture is a good thing. If a passerby dog has a hard, tense posture, Yama recommends you to walk away even if the tail is wagging.
● My dog goes nuts when I return home, because he missed me and loves me.
What you’re seeing is a little bit of love, but it’s not quite that simple. It’s a dog with a bunch of pent up energy and you’re an excuse for us to vent. When we jump, spin, sprint, whine and bark, it’s what we do to try to calm ourselves down. Don’t pet us when we’re spazzing out. It only reinforces bad manners and can lead to problems like separation anxiety or destruction of your couch. What you’re seeing is excitement. And excitement is not always a good thing.
● My dog hates the neighbor’s dog.
When we pass by each other and bark, we’re just claiming our territory. High rise apartment living is very confusing for us because it’s hard to decipher where our territory begins and ends. What the heck is a strange dog doing in MY elevator! A barking spree might also mean that we are trying to meet each other, but we’re frustrated at the lack of opportunity. Just as all tail wags are not friendly, not all barks are aggression. If we met the neighbor’s dog and did not get along, it doesn’t mean we will hold a grudge forever. We don’t work that way. But what will affect us is your energy and your opinion of the matter when we meet again. The best solution is that we are introduced calmly outside of what we define as our territories. Allow us to greet in a neutral territory like the street and make us walk as a pack together. When the humans are relaxed in these situations, we will either learn to get along or ignore that dog.