Raising the hackles

Although dogs tend not to communicate to much with their hair, you can discern some things from it.

First or all a scared or stressed dog is likely to shed more of their hair than normal. You may have seen this if your dog gets nervous during visits to your veterinarian. After the examination, you, the vet and the table are covered with your dog’s hair.

Dogs may also stick up their hair to communicate how they are feeling, which is called “piloerection,” or more colloquially, “raising the hackles.” Although dogs hair is most often raised over the withers (the area where the tops of a dog’s shoulder blades meet), dogs can raise their hair all along their spine. Dogs raise their hair when they’re aroused about something. It’s comparable to a person having goose bumps. Raised hackles can mean that a dog is afraid, angry, insecure, unsure, nervous or wildly excited about something.