All Things Dog Blog
Is your dog trying to tell you something?

walk

We LOVE our dogs! I do. And I know you do. But, do we listen enough to what they’re trying to tell us? Much of the time we do, but I reckon we all miss at times. If you’re like, me you want to bring your dog everywhere with you. My Pluto is a pretty easy going gal, but there are times when I expect her to enjoy doing activities that I enjoy… why wouldn’t she? Well, she’s not me! Here’s a post by our trainer friends at dogLOGIC – in Sydney to help us all to better listen to our furry mates.

Have you ever taken the time to really pay attention to your dog and understand how he or she actually ‘feels’ when on a walk, or at the dog park, or at the local cafe??

Often, we expect our dogs to simply ‘fit in’ with what we want them to be doing – we think it’s great to be able to sit at the cafe and enjoy the newspaper and a morning coffee in the sun with our dog and we expect that our dog is enjoying it as well…but how is your dog actually feeling about it?? Does he pull back under the chair when someone walks past?…or bark or lunge at people or other dogs walking past?

If he does pull back, bark or growl, what do you do? Many people may reprimand the dog because the owner’s expectation is that the dog ‘should be having a good time’ and that the dog is displaying inappropriate behaviour, or worse, some owners may push their dog TOWARD the oncoming dog or person to be patted or to ‘say hi!’. But in these examples, your dog is telling you loud and clear that he’s absolutely NOT comfortable…he’s NOT having a good time…in fact, he may be extremely stressed, upset and/or fearful. And actually, his behaviour is ABSOLUTELY appropriate from a canine point of view.

Dogs communicate primarily through body language, but we humans pay very little attention to body language and so we tend to miss so many of the dog’s signals that are telling you he’s having a great time, or a not-so-great time! Often the first signal we pay attention to is when your dog growls or barks at another dog or a person. This is the dog’s way of saying ‘stay away, I’m scared or unsure of you’. But your dog has displayed many precursors to the growl (even if you haven’t noticed). A dog that is uncomfortable with a situation will move through a series of body language signals to try to avert a confrontation…they will often look away from ‘the scary thing’, or try to move away (but often they can’t as they’re on-lead), turn their body away, lift a lip and snarl and so on, but if all these fail, they will escalate to the growl, and if this doesn’t work to make ‘the scary thing’ go away, they’re likely to escalate to the air snap and eventually, the bite.

From the dog’s point of view, they will stop escalating at the point that ‘works’, ie. where the scary thing goes away. So it’s really important that we pay close attention to our dogs, and if they’re not happy, take them out of the situation. Not all dogs like all dogs…why should they? But don’t put your pup in a situation where they can’t cope…it’s simply not fair.

So the bottom line….pay attention to your dog, make sure he or she is really having a good time wherever you may be, and if they’re not having a good time, take them out of the situation. Sometimes this means that you have to adjust your expectations of your dog. If your dog is showing signs of being uncomfortable at the cafe, leave your pup at home, have your coffee on your own, and then go home and take your dog somewhere they DO enjoy…maybe a long walk…just with you!

This article was contributed by our lovely friends at  dogLOGIC – Dog Training, Puppy Training and general Dog Behavioural Solutions in Sydney. They are lovely people who use only training methods that are positive, fun and reward-based for both you and your dog. If you need any help with Puppy Pre-School, Pet Dog Manners Courses, Individual Behaviour Strategies, Appropriate Puppy Breed Selection & Multi-dog Household Strategies, give them a ring!

Contact details for dogLOGIC
e: info@doglogic.com.au
w: doglogic.com.au
Trudi Thorpe m: 0419 999 975
Julie Adams m: 0421 053 438

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