The Importance of Understanding Canine Body Language – Charlie’s High-Five

Living with a dog becomes a lot better if you understand canine body language. And since these beautiful beings can’t speak, understanding canine body language becomes even more essential if you want to have a deep relationship with your best friend. Also, paying attention to canine body language can reveal when your dog is out of sorts.

While the tail tells a lot, there are other ways a dog will communicate with you through canine body language. In Charlie: A Love Story, my book about my big Golden Retriever, there were many ways, some subtle and some not so subtle, that Charlie helped me understand how he felt or what he wanted. When his mouth was partially open and relaxed, I knew he was happy – life was good. On the other hand, if his ears were forward, his hackles up, his tail straight, his body somewhat stiff, then he was in his protective mode, ready to encounter a threat.

And then there was what I considered one of his cutest behaviors, lifting that front paw. Charlie’s high-five. In Charlie: A Love Story, there’s a picture of his doing this. That particular body language came to mean so many things. And in my mind, it became the canine body language that defined him. It could mean that he wanted to be petted, or that he was hungry. Or simply that he wanted to make contact. I had to figure this out, because it always meant something.

Whenever I saw Charlie do that behavior, I would respond. And because it would often make me laugh, I think that sometimes he did it because he knew it made me happy. I adored that behavior, and he knew that. So I reinforced this bit of canine body language in Charlie, and he ran with that. It was a key way he used to keep us very connected. Charlie’s use of that paw, that canine body language, reached across the canine-human barrier, helping to make our relationship very strong and very deep. Charlie‘s high-five lingers in my mind.

To find out more about Charlie: A Love Story, you can click on the following link: