Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Wag Factor - Why your Dog's Tail and Ears are Important for Communication

Dogs convey subtle nuances with their ears and tail positions as well as posture, eye contact, raising of fur and overall facial expressions. A pug is at a definite disadvantage for communicating facial expression just as an Aussie Shepperd is at a disadvantage due to their docked tail.  These disadvantages can put these dogs at major risk for being misunderstood and possible targets of attack as their moods are considerably more difficult to interpret.  Some dogs are further disadvantaged when humans take it upon themselves to have the ears altered to a permanent upright position.  It may look good to some, but it becomes a disadvantage to your dog. When ears are cropped, creating an immobile ear, this can nullify the dog's signaling ability, causing potential problems.

The practice has been outlawed in the UK but in many other countries, owners are routinely docking purebreds.

In a book entitled Dogs Never Lie About Love, written by Canadian author, Jeffrey Mason, he says
Tails as we all know are subtle and marvelous carriers of meaning, but when I acquired my present family dog I was not prepared for the complexity of a dog's ears.  The expressiveness of Sasha's ears is something to behold.  She can say as much with her ears as we do with our mouths.
Also, in addition to ear reductions, some purebred owners also practice tail cutting, something which is also now illegal in the UK.  Some unfortunate dogs such as the Doberman are often deprived of both full ears and a tail.  According to Bruce Fogle, a British veterinarian and author, he states "Docked boxer dogs in particular have a higher incidence of back pain than those with tails.  A tail is built to wag at a healthy speed.  The fast metronome motion of a stump places excessive strain on the lower back, causing inflammation and eventual arthritic changes in the back bones."

We need to consider what is best for the dog as opposed to what we THINK looks best for our dog.  Keeping the ears and tail natural will help enable your dog to have better communication skills, resulting in a healthy, more well balanced, happy dog.

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