Cesar Explains Dog Body Language
Cesar Milan
Presented By
Cesar 911

Cesar Millan Shows How to Read a Dog's Body Language Before They Attack

Dog training expert Cesar Millan demonstrates how to snap a dog out of attack mode before she goes for the first bite!

Nani the pitbull is a powerful dog with a bad habit of fighting other dogs. This is extremely dangerous, especially when the instigating dog is a strong and powerful pitbull, like Nani. Dog fights can lead to serious injuries, or even death, for the animals and people involved. They can also result in costly lawsuits, medical or vet bills, or could even cause the dog to be forcibly removed from the home. Therefore, the best way to resolve a dog fight is to prevent the attack from occurring in the first place. On this episode of “Cesar 911,” Dog Trainer Cesar Millan demonstrates how he can prevent Nani from attacking by interpreting her body language. 

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In order to stop a dog from attacking, you first have to understand how to interpret her body language, which is something Nani’s owner didn’t have the knowledge or experience to do. While introducing Nani to his personal pack, Cesar finds that Nani would curve her body before trying to attack. Cesar says, “what happens is she’s curving, and then she grabs,” and compares Nani’s approach to that of a crocodile preparing to strike. When Nani displayed these behaviors, Cesar made sure to correct her before she went for the bite. 

Next, you have to assess your dog’s energy through cues given in her body language. While training Nani, Cesar looks for moments where she goes from relaxed to on edge, and points out the moments where Nani goes from curious to tense. Nani’s drive to attack comes while she is feeling tense or stressed. 

Luckily, Nani proves to Cesar that she is a fearful dog who is capable of rehabilitation. Cesar corrects Nani several times during their training session with his pack, and she quickly starts to show signs of improvement. Almost miraculously, Nani is soon willing to roll over and submit to another dog she has never met before by revealing her belly. As Cesar explains, Nani is using “the most vulnerable position she can practice” when she shows her belly. Cesar sees this as a  very significant step in Nani’s rehabilitation that demonstrates she is not beyond saving.  

However, Cesar stresses the importance of understanding your dog’s body language and energy correctly. When you correct your dog, you want to make sure you are correcting at the right time and for the right reason. If you correct your dog at the wrong time or for the wrong reason, you may confuse your pup and accidentally encourage undesirable behaviors. 

If you are concerned about your dog potentially going on the attack or trying to bite, here are some additional behaviors to look out for: 

- The dog is tense and stiff. This may be accompanied with ears back or flat, lips pursed tightly together, and a low or tucked tail. 
- The dog is puffed up and tense. He may be making himself seem big, such as by puffing out his chest, if he wants to dominate his target. He may also raise his hackles and hold his tail to the level of his back. 
- The dog is growling or snarling. Unless you recognize play behaviors, such as a play bow, your safest bet is to assume the dog is exhibiting aggressive behavior or is unhappy. 
- The dog lifts the corner of his lip to show his teeth, or bares all his teeth. 
- The dog stares at you or its intended target for an extended period of time, especially while exhibiting other tense behaviors. 
- The dog stalks you, almost like he is trying to hunt you. Typically, the dog’s head will also be low to the ground and his body will be stiff. 
- The dog is trying to flee the situation, but cannot. If the dog feels trapped and can’t get away from what is scaring or bothering him, he may turn to aggression to defend himself. 
- If the dog has resource guarding issues, and someone tries to take away a prized possession or high value treat, the dog may try to bite. 

By understanding the warning signs and your pet’s body language, you can easily prevent potential attacks or dog bites before they even occur! 

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