"Properly trained, man can be a dog's best friend" ~ Corey Ford
Even though dogs have domesticated and living with us for thousands and thousands of years, many of us still don't know how to "listen" to what our dogs are telling us. Dogs "talk" a lot with their bodies but unfortunately we are often lacking the knowledge and tools to understand, which then again lead to escalated situations and behavioral issues, which otherwise could have been prevented. As a dog trainer, one of my essential goals is to help the communication getting more clear between dog and owner. I truly believe that the more we educate ourselves in dog language , the easier our lives will be living with a dog, which will increase the quality of life -for both dog and owner.
Doggone safe has a lot of helpful information about stress signals on their website. The information below is copied from their page Signs of Anxiety. Important information which should be part of any basic dog training class, so it can become more common knowledge.
Signs of Anxiety
These signs indicate that your dog is uncomfortable with the current situation and there is a need for intervention to prevent pushing the dog to the point of biting, and to make sure your canine friend is happy and not feeling anxious.
Please remember: It is a GOOD THING that a dog shows you that he is anxious or uncomfortable, rather than going straight to a bite. Never punish a dog for showing that he wants to be left alone by growling, leaving the situation or demonstrating more subtle signs. If you punish a dog for growling or breaking a stay to get way from a child you might suppress the warning or avoidance behavior and he might just bite without warning first the next time. The dog still feels exactly the same way about the child bothering him, but now he has no way to show it and no way out of the situation. Be glad if your dog gives a warning and take steps to modify the behavior of the child, condition the dog to enjoy the child and create safe spaces for both dog and child. See the parent information page and the dog owner information page to find out how to do this.
One Paw Raised (see photo below)
This is very cute but the dog is not happy and does not want to be petted or bothered.
She is worried.
Half Moon Eye (see photo below)
The dog just wants to be left alone. Watch for this one when kids are mauling the dog. This is a common expression in dogs that
being hugged. If you see the half moon eye when the kids approach
the dog or are interacting with the dog, it's time to intervene and
give them all something else to do.
Displacement Behaviors (see photo below)
Displacement behaviors are normal behaviors displayed out of context. They indicate conflict and anxiety. The dog wants to do something, but he is suppressing the urge to do it. He displaces the suppressed behavior with something else such as a lick or a yawn. For example, you are getting ready to go out and the dog hopes to go too. He is not sure what will happen next. He wants to jump on you or run out the door, but instead he yawns. The uncertainty of the situation causes conflict for the dog and the displacement behaviors are a manifestation of that conflict. The dog may want to bite a child who takes his bone, but instead he bites furiously at his own foot.
Some examples of displacement behaviors include
These are all things that dogs do anyway. It is important to look at the context to determine whether the dog is feeling anxious. For example: if it is bedtime and the dog gets up, stretches, yawns and goes to her bed, then that yawn was not a displacement behavior. If the kids are hugging the dog or lying on him and he yawns or starts licking at them over and over then this is displacement. He wants to get up and leave or even to bite, but he displaces that with yawning or licking them or himself. In this context the licking or yawning behavior tells you that the dog is uncomfortable with whatever the kids are doing and it is time for you to intervene. You must then either prevent the kids from doing this in the future or use positive training techniques to teach the dog to enjoy (not just tolerate) these actions from the kids. Visit the dog owner information page for advice on how to do this.
Sometimes dogs are more overt when they feel anxious and want to remove themselves from a situation. Please don't force a dog to stay in situation in which he feels anxious, especially if children are the source of his anxiety. Here are some examples:
Other Body Language Signs of Anxiety
All dogs should have a safe place, such as a crate or mat that they can go to when they want to be left alone. All family members and guests should be taught not to bother the dog when he is in his safe place. We have recently heard of a mat product which gives the dog a shock if he tries to leave it, thus teaching him to stay on the mat. This is not what we would consider a safe place for the dog. This is a dangerous product and you should not have one of these.
After reading about how a dog shows he is anxious and stressed, please see video below.
Thank God for a very patient and tolerant dog or this child would have been bitten and dog most likely euthanized even though it was sending A LOT of signs saying "Hey, I don't like this" and even tried to walk away.
Education is important in order for us to coexist with a different specie so we can communicate and 'listen' to each other . This wil help promote a relationship based on trust and respect , which is ultimately my goal with any relationship, man or animal.
As a dog trainer and animal lover, my wish is to help educate the owners, so they can have a harmonious relationship with the animal(s) in their lives. A relationship based on knowledge, trust and respect.