Humans are a species that have struggled with self-esteem, or a lack thereof for hundreds of years. Throughout every human’s life, there is sure to come a point where they have wondered if they are smart enough, if they are as pretty or handsome as their friends are, or if they are just plain lovable.
But as dog owners, many of us overlook our pet’s self-esteem, often assuming that their behavior is due to a lack of training. Canines however, can also suffer from low self-confidence, which is why we have put together a list of common signs that are often indicators of pups with emotional baggage.
1. Tail Tucking
While a lowered tail can often indicate that a dog is relaxed, there is a difference if the tail is tucked between his legs. A tense, clamped tail that refuses movement, such as swaying, is one of the easiest signs to pick up on. A dog who exhibits this behavior is likely very unsure of his surroundings.
2. Ear Pinning
Much like a dog’s tail, our canine’s ears can speak volumes about their emotional well-being. Though dogs may pin their ears back when they are happy, an easy way to analyze if your dog is nervous or upset is to see if he is pairing this behavior with another, such as darting eyes, panting or a stiffened body.
3. Head Lowering
A submissive dog, who does not consider himself the alpha of his pack will often have a lowered head however it will be in line with the rest of his body’s axis. A fearful dog on the other hand, with no self-esteem, will crouch his head lower than the rest of his body and stare at the ground.
4. Avoiding Eye Contact
In the wild, dogs use eye contact to determine who the alpha of their pack is. Upon meeting, whoever looks away first is deemed submissive. This also translates in the world of dog ownership. A fearful dog will avoid eye contact with humans, even his owners, at all costs.
5. Cowering or Backing Away
Some dogs tend to show shyness to certain groups of people, whether it is children, men, tall people, or women with blond hair for example. A dog who lacks self esteem will show this by back-footing from the person he is scared of and making himself unavailable to an outstretched hand.
6. Showing His Belly
Another behavior that can have a double meaning, a calm and confident dog will sometimes sleep on his back to show that he is not fearful of his surroundings. That said, a dog who lacks self esteem uses this posture not while sleeping, but in panic. He offers his belly to his alpha, to show vulnerability. Mistaking this pose as a request for a rub may result in being bitten.
7. Fear Biting
While biting is typically seen as a sign of aggression, this is not always the case. For extremely fearful dogs, biting a human; regardless of whether it is his owner or not, is often a last resort and their way of asking us to “go away.” Though his owner may only be attempting to calm a dog down by using a soft touch, it may already be too late. If the dog is growling, avoid approaching him altogether until he settles.
Urinating as a sign of low self-esteem is a trait that can also be found in humans but for some reason, they are not punished. Instead humans are met with concern, pity and reassurance. And so should your dog! A dog who pees when uncomfortable, (if not medical,) is doing so in hopes that he will not be reprimanded and should be comforted instead of scolded.