I also recall seeing a documentary where primates (chimps?) ..
When observing a dog’s body language to determine what is being communicated, it is crucial to observe the entire dog, as well as the situation/context, in order to accurately determine what is being conveyed. For example, a wagging tail does not necessarily mean a friendly dog. A moving tail, as a part of the dog’s body language that is readily identifiable, is often noticed first. However, if the dog’s body is stiff, the ears are back and the dog is in a crouching position, these other features of body language are telling you that this is not a happy dog.
to verbally communicte to me what they did, and that they
There are five common groups of canine communication signals. As you review the groups, please keep in mind that in a given situation a dog can demonstrate more than one of these groupings in response to the situation. For example, a dog may begin by displaying excitement signals in response to a stimulus, decide that stimulus is a threat, and switch to aggressive signals, fear signals, or even both. Also keep in mind that can drastically influence a dog’s response to a given situation. Again, we must look at thewhole dog and his body language, as well as the situation/environment in order to get the “big” picture of what the dog is communicating, what may happen next, and what our appropriate responses should be.
Humans can communicate what is going on with them, and dogs can, too. The difference is, while humans primarily use verbal communication, dogs mainly communicate non-verbally through the use of body language and secondarily through vocalizations. This body language includes tail carriage and motion, ear and eye position, body position and movement, and facial expressions. Knowledge of body language, and the ability to accurately identify it, will help decipher what a dog is trying to communicate.
American English by default, what about British?
We have discussed and shown some of the basics of dog communication and body language there is much more to learn if needed. For more information on dog communication and body language please go to these resources: