Communication with our canine friends is difficult. Humans communicate via body language for up to 90% of their communication. Verbal language, which has helped to elevate humans to the top of the civilization tree, is not possible for canines. Thus, our furry four footed friends must rely solely on body language, facial expressions and vocal sounds like growls, howls and barks.
The way in which a canine (wolf or domestic dog) holds itself and the expression on its face can give us an indication of whether the animal is feeling fear, anger or uncertainty. The wolf able to use a diverse range of facial expressions to visually communicate it moods. These signals rang from a very small shift in weight from right to left, up to the obvious ones of standing over a prone wolf with its teeth bared to indicate dominion.
- Dominance – identified through a tall and stiff legged stance. The dominant animals ears are forward and erect with the hairs (hackles) on its neck raised slightly. In addition, the tail may be held veritcally and curled forward toward the back. This type of posturing asserts rank in the packs pecking order.
- Submission comes in two identifiable forms. They are active and passive roles. – in an active submission, the canine lowers its body below that of the other animal and its lips are drawn back while the ears are laid back flat. The submissive animal may also lick its muzzle, lower its back legs or do what seems to be a rapid tongue poking. Its tail will be lowered and may in fact go completely between its legs. Passive behaviour in a submissive animal may include more defined and intensified posturing. The animal may role onto its back and reveal its soft underbelly and throat to the dominate wolf (dog). It may also draw its paws up towards its body and whimper.
- Anger – this is generally indicated via stiffly erect ears and bristling hackles down the extent of the animals back. The wolf (dog) will draw up its lips and expose its teeth and growl deep in its throat as a warning. This behaivour can also be accompanied by an arched back and aggressive movements.
- Aggression – this is an emotion that mimics some of the anger posturing. An aggressive wolf (dog) will snarl and raise its hackles as well as crouch as if preparing to spring in an attack.
- Fear – this emotion may be difficult to tell from anger at first glance. However, there are obvious differences. An animal feeling fear will try to make itself appear smaller than it actually is. The ears may flatten back on its head while its tail tucks between its legs. The difficulty in interpretation comes because these gestures may be accompanied by barking and an arched back.
- Suspicion – the animal (wolf or dog) will pull its ears back along its head and narrow its eyes just as humans narrow theirs when they suspect something is wrong. The tail will point straight out behind it almost parallel to the ground when it senses danger.
- Tension – may accompany suspicion. A canine that is tense will display a tail that is pointing straight out behind it. This gesture may be associated with a crouching posture as if the animal will spring into action at any moment.
- Defensive – this is as much a warning as it is a defence. The animals ears will lay back on it head and it may snarl.
- Hunting – while some domestic dogs do not hunt, those that do or have been bred for hunting will display similar body language to a wolf. There is a controlled tension in the body and the tail will be out-streetched directly behind it.
- Relaxation – is seen when the canine (wolf or dog) has a drooping tail. The tail might wag from side to side minimally while pointing straight at the ground. The animal may sit/lie in a pose resembling the sphinx or lie completely on its side.
- Happiness – a wolf will display happiness in much the same manner as dogs. It may wag its tail rapidly from side to side to indicate excitement and pleasure. Another indication of happiness may be a lolling tongue which rolls out the side of the animals mouth.
- Playfulness – playful canines (wolf or dog) will pick its tail up and hold it quite high while wagging it back and forth. The animal may prance and jump around and may even appear to bow before you placing its ches against the ground with its behind in the air.
Source of information: http://www.cosmosmith.com/wolf_links.html