Communication can be described as a transmission of information between one animal and another, or between groups of animals, with the intention of affecting behavior. Typically, communication takes place using signals that may include verbal, tactile, odors, facial expressions and body movements. The communication exchange will usually have three components.
The purpose of the message is to change the attitude, mood or behavior of the recipient. The receivers response indicates whether the senders message, the function of the behavior, has served its purpose.
Dogs use their body to communicate visually, using the position of their ears, mouth, face, tail, hair, posture and position, to identify their emotional state. However,with variability among breeds, this is not always reliable. Postural signals change according to the dogs" emotion and mood flowing from one set of signals to another.
As we learn to interpret the exchange of body language and emotion between humans and dogs, we should bear in mind that any such exchange must serve some purpose for both participants. Because dogs use various postures to indicate their relationships to their environment, we need to recognize them as valuable clues about their emotional life; and we must not only recognize the signals, we must learn to assign appropriate meanings to them. Otherwise,we'll never get the most from our relationships with our dogs.
It is unrealistic to expect all dogs to grow up automatically to behave like Lassie. If owners understandably have rules and regulations as to how they would like their dog to behave, they should not keep these rules a secret from the dog. Otherwise, the poor dog will predictably break rules that he didn't even know existed and no doubt, be punished for these inevitable transgressions.
Both threatening and friendly signals help regulate canine social behavior. This social system serves to establish social status and preserve social unity. Many of these signals are instinctive and used without much voluntary control. Some signals are modified by the influence of experience. Communication signals are used to confirm or reject information received from others andserve the purpose of indicating one"s species, sex, sexual receptivity, status, and in general to negotiate social interactions.
There's a huge difference in how humans and canines interpret various actions. When some being violates canine social rules, often a growl or bite is issued. That's a problem since they live in a world controlled by humans, who while tolerating varying degrees of physical retribution/reactions from humans (spanking, slapping, hollering, sometimes more depending on the individual) do not tolerate such physical expressions from nonhuman animals.
Body language is nothing more than an external expression of an internal state. It is possible to change an emotional state by changing body posture and vice versa. This is why the advice to 'Stand up straight, smile and you'll feel better' actually works! In the case of aggression, imagine how hard it would be to be angry if you were sitting in a comfortable chair with your face and head relaxed.