Calming signals - the basics of dog communication every dog lover should know
Every dog keeper knows that barking or whining is not the only way of dog communication. Other communication is, for example, calming signals by which the dog calms himself or us, shows his excitement or shows that the situation is not serious at all. The knowledge of such signals helps to read dog behavior better and avoid any potential problems.
The term Calming signals was made famous by Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas in her book with the same title. By photos and descriptions of situations she pointed out to dogs' body language used by dogs to tell us something. According to Turid Rugaas, dogs have about 30 such signals and use them every day. However, the selection and frequency of such signals may vary.
Lying in wait and invitation to play
We can see calming signals, for example, while walking, when we meet another dog. Our dog may crouch or even lie down, go around the other dog in an arc and then sniff, turn his head, and look away ... By all this the dog shows to the unknown dog that he is not a threat. An invitation to play, when the front paws are stretched, the butt is up in the air and the tail is wagging, is also one of the calming signals.
On the other hand, dogs show other physical signals when they do not like the situation and are stressed. We can observe this, for example, in video compilations showing small kids trying to clamber into dogs' beds. A dog may lick himself, yawn, turn his head away, stretch and shake off. Parents may enthuse about the cute situation, but the dog does not feel comfortable and shows it to us. In such case it is good to intervene and do not force the dog to use stronger signal to claim a territory.
The feeling of guilt avoids dogs
We can also watch videos with a dog feeling seemingly regretful about table's leg being chewed up or pillow being torn apart. The dog turns away and rolls his eyes. By this behavior that is often misinterpreted as remorse, the dog reassures us as he understood that something was going on. But the feeling of guilt is missing!
By understanding calming signals, we just can better understand the dog's world and get a chance to improve the relationship with our doggie.