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How to read your dog’s body language

22/09/2021 - Advice

Your dog's body language is their number one way of communicating with others. Find out how, by learning about canine communication, you can build a better bond with your pet.

Have you ever gone abroad to another country where English isn’t the usual language spoken? Did you have a pen pal when you were at school when trying to learn another language? Maybe you’ve been in a situation before where you’ve tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you do and found it didn’t go quite to plan? When we don’t have a language in common with another human we can quite often end up communicating in gestures. Whilst this can be effective for simple things such as ordering drinks or buying food it’s difficult to communicate on a deeper level.  Building friendships with someone who doesn’t share your language can be trickier than with someone you can speak to easily.

Why it's important to understand your dog's body language
Thinking about how tricky communication between humans can be - how much more difficult could it be to effectively communicate between dogs and humans? Until science fiction becomes reality our dogs are not going to start talking to us. Yet we know that miscommunications can be frustrating for both sides of the relationship. This is why we feel really strongly at Nosey Barker that learning about our dogs body language is so important to help us build a fantastic relationship.

What is your dog telling you?
Dogs, and especially puppies, are super cute and sometimes we just can’t help but want to cuddle them. But for many dogs an over the top cuddle or excessive stroking isn’t really welcome. At Nosey Barker, we like the 5 second rule. It's where you stroke for 5 seconds then stop. If your dog moves away when you stop they have had enough. If they stay still they want to be close to you but have possibly had enough of the strokes. And if they nudge or paw you to continue they are asking for more of the same.

One of the things we often see in both our training community and Fellowship is conflict around putting on walking equipment such as collars and harnesses. It can be really helpful to film yourself putting on your dogs walking equipment and watching back. It's easier to spot things on film that can easily be missed when we are in the moment.
Does your dog back away when the harness appears? are they showing the white of their eye? or do they shake off after the equipment is on. By recognising when our dog’s body language is telling us they aren’t happy, we can make changes to support our dog.

Because my friends know I’m crazy about all things dog they often send me those “cute” videos of dogs and children interacting.  Sadly though, I often find them anything but cute.  Because if you spend some time looking at the body language of many of those dogs, they are desperately trying to communicate with their human that they are feeling uncomfortable.

How Nosey Barker uses doggy body language as a training tool
Being able to spot subtle communications from our dogs is really important when we are bringing up a puppy and working on socialisation. It's important to expose puppies and dogs to lots of different situations. But we have to be careful that they don’t become worried or overwhelmed.  Otherwise, we could end up with a pup who is nervous. In a previous blog, I spoke about witnessing a puppy party where, unfortunately there were puppies who were scared of other more boisterous puppies and weren’t listened to when they were trying to communicate this. This is why at Nosey Barker we always stress how important it is to choose appropriate friends for your dogs, and to keep an eye on body language during play between doggie pals.

Where to learn about dog body language
Dog body language can be really subtle and can also vary between breeds and between individual dogs. However, there are definitely things to look out for such as how the ears are being held and the position and movement of the tail.  We all need to spend some time getting to know the signs our own dogs give us.

By spending some time learning about doggie body language we can begin to understand our dogs more easily and we can communicate more effectively - which can only lead to a more magical friendship.

If you want to learn more about body language and how you can improve your knowledge to supercharge your relationship join our free Facebok Group...
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