Understanding your dogs body language

At K9 FUNdamentals, teaching our clients to read their dog’s body language is similar to teaching someone defensive driving. In other words, it not just about force-free methodologies on how to train your dog to heel, sit, lie or walk nicely but also becoming aware of what to look out for and anticipate ahead of an undesirable behaviour occurring.

Think of scenarios such as the following:

You’re both enjoying a walk and you happen to meet someone else’s dog. All appears calm and fine at first and the greetings between the two dogs are going well. However, a few moments later things escalate and then either one or both dogs are growling which then turns into a fight.

Your dog is happily playing or walking when all of a sudden it spots another dog nearby or in the distance. Barking and lead pulling ensue as your dog furiously wants to get near the other dog. Your every attempt to calm it down isn’t having much success.

We’ve all heard that all too common calling out by other dog’s owners when their dog comes running up to meet yours – “It’s okay my dog is harmless and is REALLY friendly!”. However, you fur kid doesn’t appear to be that keen with a strange dog rushing up to it. Out of politeness you decided to take the owners word for it.....

We all come across that complete stranger at the park, street, beach who wants to pat your dog. In the past you’ve obliged and all goes well with the impromptu meet and greet. However, this time you notice that your dog seems to take exception to this person by shying away.

Communication channels between dogs and humans is usually through our voice commands or hand signals, then our dog feeds back to us through their actions or body language. For humans, reading dog body language feedback shouldn’t only be used when we want our dog to do something. This is particularly pertinent when you know that your dog is displaying reactive tendencies, has a sensitive nature or can be over-excited.

In the dog world our dogs are communicating with each other all the time, solely through their body language. Once you start to get the handle of what your dog is saying through its body language the same observations can then be applied when it comes to reading the body language of other dogs.

At K9 FUNdamentals, when we work with owners and their dogs, we take the approach of not just what your dogs is telling you but also signals of what other dogs are saying through their body language before or during an interaction. In other words, knowing when greetings and play are polite or when its time to separate and create a manageable distance before things escalate. Can you spot the signs?

While there are many common body language traits displayed by dogs, the triggers that sometimes result in a less than desirable reaction tend to be more unique to individual dogs. At K9 FUNdamentals, we work with owners to identify what these triggers might be and then work with you on a plan to help desensitise and manage your dog. If you’d like to learn more by having a One-to-one consultation, please get in contact with us either by phone or email. We'd love to help!