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When you’re trying to photograph multiple dogs, and you want them to look in the same direction, try walking another dog in their line of sight.

20140117 Expressions of alertness

There’s a similar expression of alertness on both Bows’ faces, but their tails hint at how differently they regard an unknown, approaching dog.

Bowdu’s tail always remains high atop his back, and his whiskers will pull ever so slightly forward half a second before he marches forward with a slightly stiff, guarded greeting. He wants to know who’s entering his space, but he’s not interested in making friends. Often, his tail will wag vigorously as he checks out the other dog’s undercarriage, but it’s more an indication of his arousal than of his friendliness. Greetings are like border patrol checks to him, and to maintain vigilance against unlawful trespass, he refuses to allow any of his muscles to even suggest that he’s willing to yield.

By contrast, when Bowpi sees a strange dog, her tail will gently unfurl and coil downwards. Hers is a fairly relaxed tail; she’s not scared or upset, and not tightly tucking her tail underneath or between her legs. Her tail never wags for other dogs, and certainly not in a down position. I take it both as an expression of her own anticipation, and her signal to other dogs that she’s non-confrontational and friendly. Other dogs seem to get the message, anyway, and readily accept Bowpi’s inspections whereas Bowdu just makes other dogs nervous if he starts to ramp up the interrogation.

20140117 Interrogation