- Observe dogs’ body language: You can watch your own dog in the home, when out on walks and during play sessions. See how they interact with you and the world around them. Observe well socialised dogs interacting together and look at the way they communicate too. Video recordings are useful to pick up on subtle body-language and things that you might have missed.
- Watch how dogs’ use their senses: The dogs’ sense of smell is 10,000 times better than ours. See how they take in information using it. Encourage them to use it with scent games and give them time to have a good sniff when out on walks.
- Apply up to date methods of communication: It is now well known that trying to act like an alpha dog is an outdated method of training. Alpha rolls and muzzle grabbing only makes your dog think you are unpredictable and someone to fear. This can lead to self-defence aggression. Instead use positive reinforcement alongside quiet, non-threatening body language.
- Know how to respond if a dog chases or charges towards you in a threatening manner by following these tips:
- Remain still
- Remain silent
- Avoid direct eye contact
- Present a side-on, closed stance, using your peripheral vision to assess the situation
- Keep your hands and arms close to your body
- Quietly and very slowly move away backwards but DO NOT run
- Watching dogs’ play is great fun but sometimes things go a bit too far. Knowing when to step in and call a halt to the session is important. Look out for:
- One dog controlling the play session
- One dog doing all the chasing with the other trying to escape, crouching or cowering
- A dog displaying a high body stance – tail held high and ears erect
- Stiffness in the body and locked eye contact
If you observe any of these signals immediately distract the dogs by calling them away. Reward the recall and put them both under control.
So understanding canine body language is like learning a whole new language. Invest time and practice in getting it right and you will reap the benefits by having a more harmonious relationship!
If you are looking for a book – this one gives you more useful information:
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You can also learn more about canine communication through attending one of my hosted courses or contact me if you would like to be one of the first to enrol on my forthcoming online Canine Behaviour & Communication course