Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.

Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #136 Understanding and Interpreting Your Dog's Body Language: Part Two

December 07, 2023 Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of Season 4 Episode 136
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #136 Understanding and Interpreting Your Dog's Body Language: Part Two
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
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Dog Training Today with Will Bangura for Pet Parents, Kids & Family, Pets and Animals, and Dog Training Professionals. This is a Education & How To Dog Training Podcast.
Dog Training Today with Will Bangura: #136 Understanding and Interpreting Your Dog's Body Language: Part Two
Dec 07, 2023 Season 4 Episode 136
Will Bangura, M.S., CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, FFCP is a World Renowned Dog Behaviorist, Certified Dog Behavior Consultant, Certified Professional Dog Trainer, and a Fear Free Certified Professional with over 36 years of experience with the most difficult of

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Ready to crack the code of your dog's unspoken language? This episode of Dog Training Today promises to uncover the complexities of canine body language, illuminating the signs that speak volumes about your four-legged friend's emotions and intentions. We delve into the world of tail wagging, pawing, barking - signals that, when correctly interpreted, can help you navigate your relationship with your pet more effectively.

We discuss distance increasing signals - those warning signs your pet displays when they feel threatened or uneasy. Recognizing these behaviors can turn training sessions from a struggle to a joy, while fostering a stronger bond between you and your furry friend. We'll also guide you through powerful behavior modification tools like counter conditioning and desensitization - a boon for dogs dealing with anxiety, phobias or aggression.

We wrap up with a deep dive into how understanding your dog's body language can teach them to be relaxed and calm through exposure therapy and counter conditioning. Equip yourself with the knowledge to help your canine companion navigate the world with confidence. And keep in mind, this is part two of our series on canine body language, so be sure to tune in to part one for a complete understanding. Get set for happy listening and happier dog training!

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Ready to crack the code of your dog's unspoken language? This episode of Dog Training Today promises to uncover the complexities of canine body language, illuminating the signs that speak volumes about your four-legged friend's emotions and intentions. We delve into the world of tail wagging, pawing, barking - signals that, when correctly interpreted, can help you navigate your relationship with your pet more effectively.

We discuss distance increasing signals - those warning signs your pet displays when they feel threatened or uneasy. Recognizing these behaviors can turn training sessions from a struggle to a joy, while fostering a stronger bond between you and your furry friend. We'll also guide you through powerful behavior modification tools like counter conditioning and desensitization - a boon for dogs dealing with anxiety, phobias or aggression.

We wrap up with a deep dive into how understanding your dog's body language can teach them to be relaxed and calm through exposure therapy and counter conditioning. Equip yourself with the knowledge to help your canine companion navigate the world with confidence. And keep in mind, this is part two of our series on canine body language, so be sure to tune in to part one for a complete understanding. Get set for happy listening and happier dog training!

Support the Show.

If you need professional help please visit my Dog Behaviorist website.
Go here for Free Dog Training Articles

Speaker 1:

Did you know that dogs, in their canine body language, can communicate with other dogs or with people with their body language saying hey, you're too close, I need you to move back, I need distance. Did you know that there's all kinds of communication that dogs give that tell us that they need distance? Do you know that a lot of times when a tail is wagging, it does not mean that the dog is friendly? Yes, sometimes when the tail wags they're friendly, but there's a lot of different types of tail wagging in canine body language and it doesn't always mean that the dog is friendly. Don't go anywhere. We're going to be getting into part two in depth of canine body language when we come back. Here. Expert will Van Goura.

Speaker 1:

Would you like to go on? Wookiees? Good day pet lovers. Hey, thanks for joining me. I'm Will Van Goura.

Speaker 1:

This is another episode of Dog Training Today. This is actually part two of our series in understanding canine body language. If you haven't listened to part one, you might want to go ahead and check out part one of the canine body language series, and you can do that by going to the Dog Training Today audio podcast. Wherever you get your podcast. Maybe you get your podcast on Apple Podcasts, maybe on Spotify, I'm not sure but wherever you listen to your podcast, go ahead, do a search for Dog Training Today and look for part one of canine body language.

Speaker 1:

In part one, we went through different stress signals that dogs can communicate in their body language. We also went through different calming signals that dogs can communicate in their canine body language, and I had mentioned in the last podcast how important it is to be able to understand canine body language. Wouldn't it be nice if we could ask our dogs how they're feeling, what's going on? What are they thinking? Especially when we've got dogs that have anxiety, fears, phobias, aggression, reactivity, wouldn't it be nice to be able to know what they're feeling, what they're thinking? Well, the good news is you can. And it's all about understanding the various little subtleties, the many, many different signals that dog put off in their canine body language, how they communicate. Now they're communicating to other dogs, they're communicating to ourselves. They're displaying these canine body language displays which are telling us all about how they feel, what's the underlying emotional state, what is your dog's intentions, and we can predict the outcome of behaviors when we understand canine body language. But the other reason why canine body language is so important is that when we're trying to help dogs, when we're trying to modify the behavior of dogs that again have anxiety, fears, phobias, reactivity, aggression, we have to do what's called counter conditioning and desensitization. That's where we're changing the underlying emotional state.

Speaker 1:

So let's say, for example, you've got a dog that is aggressive towards strange dogs. Well, no animal goes into fight or flight unless they perceive something is threatening. And to perceive something is threatening there's a level of stress, there's a level of fear, there's a level of anxiety. And when we're talking about counter conditioning and desensitization, another word we could use could be exposure therapy. We're exposing the dog to its triggers. So, for example, in this case it would be strange dogs. But in order to be able to do really good exposure therapy and help your dog learn to relax, be calm, help your dog change its underlying emotional state and its perception of the trigger In this case, a strange dog. In order to be able to do that, you have to have a great understanding of canine body language. When clients hire me and I primarily specialize in dogs, again with anxiety, fears, phobias, aggression and reactivity Every single one of my clients it's a requirement they have to take an in-depth course and it's a course for pet professionals on canine body language. That's how important canine body language is when you're trying to help a dog with anxiety, fears, phobias, reactivity and aggression. Oftentimes, the determining factor between your success or your failure is going to be how well you understand canine body language. Now, granted, that's just one of many things you need to know. It can be very complicated dealing with dogs that have these severe behavior problems, but canine body language is critical.

Speaker 1:

So let's get into the meat and potatoes of today's podcast. We're talking about part two in canine body language. The first thing we're going to talk about are distance increasing signals, dogs that are stressed out, dogs that have anxiety, dogs that are fearful, dogs that are in front of a trigger that they don't like. They may think it's scary. They will display canine body language signals that are going to say hey, I need distance, you are too close. One of the distance increasing signals is growling. You know a low, guttural sound that signals that the dog has discomfort or the dog's irritated. The dog is nervous, scared. That growling is a distance increasing signal. It's communication, it serves as a warning.

Speaker 1:

Now, many of you and not just pet parents, but many of you dog trainers also Are making a huge mistake. You're correcting the growling, the growling, and if you correct the growling, you're going to end up with a dog that bites with no warning. We never, ever, ever correct these behaviors in their canine body language because it's communication, it's a warning. We don't want to effectively cut off the communication that the dog is trying to give us. We need that, it's important, we need to work with that.

Speaker 1:

Another distance increasing signal would be bearing teeth. You know dogs may show their teeth as a warning hey, back off to give them space. But again, if we're correcting that behavior and you know there's a lot of dog trainers very they've got great intentions but you don't know that. You don't know there's no requirement in the dog training field to be educated. So if you're a dog trainer, you're not certified, you've not gone through formal education. You need to. There's a reason why people are formally educated. And if you're a pet parent, you need to do your due diligence when you're looking for someone to help you, to make sure that they're certified, make sure they've had formal education and they know what they're doing. All right, okay, getting back to distance increasing signals. We talked about growling, we talked about bearing teeth. The next thing would be snarling, and snarling is a combination of growling and bearing teeth.

Speaker 1:

And again, this is communication. This is a very clear warning signal. I need distance, I need space Back off. You don't want to correct that. You need to know that. All right.

Speaker 1:

Another distance increasing signal is the hard stare. Yep, a dog might give a direct, very intense stare to communicate hey, I'm uncomfortable. And also they're trying to say, hey, I need space. Again, these are distance increasing signals. Another distance increasing signal is the raising of hackles. A dog's hair may stand up along their spine when they feel threatened or defensive. That's a distance increasing signal. By the way, the technical term for the dog's hair standing up along their spine isn't hackles, it's called pylorection. Pylorection is the term for that, okay, another distance increasing signal is a stiff body posture. If you happen to notice a very stiff, very rigid posture with the dog, that can indicate the dog is feeling threatened. If the dog gets pushed further, it may take further action, it might actually go into biting Again. The dog needs space.

Speaker 1:

Some additional distance increasing signals are lunging. Right, think about these behaviors. What is the function? All behaviors have a function Lunging A dog does that to try to ward off what they feel is threatening. Right, I mean, hey, if a dog comes lunging after me, I'm backing off. That behavior is functional. Don't correct that behavior.

Speaker 1:

Now, I'm not trying to give these dogs a pass. None of these behaviors are okay. But when we punish them, when we correct these behaviors, all we're doing is suppressing the outward behavior. We're not doing anything to change that underlying emotional state which is motivating these behaviors. When you correct, when you punish these behaviors, besides eliminating the very important warning and communication that you need from the dog, you are going to get a dog that won't give warnings, will attack, will bite without warning. Now it's going to be very difficult to deal with because the dog's not giving any signals because you punished them. We are not giving the dog a pass. I don't want you to think I'm saying this is okay, it's not, but we can't be punishing it. There's other things we need to do, and that's counter conditioning and desensitization. That's how you deal with this exposure therapy, but to be successful with it you've gotta understand the body language, all right. So we talked about lunging.

Speaker 1:

Another distance increasing signal is barking aggressively. So aggressive or loud barking, and a lot of times this is accompanied by a dog's stiff body posture or other warning signals, okay, showing that the dog wants more space. Another distance increasing signal is a raised tail. Now a dog might raise its tail stiffly, either straight up or sometimes it can be arched over their back, and that is also signaling hey, I'm asserting myself and I'm demanding more distance. Remember, tails can mean lots of different things. A standing tail, for example. A dog may try to make themselves appear larger by standing tall, puffing out their chest, signaling that they want more distance. So, besides that raised tail, they may stand really tall. They try to make themselves appear larger, right, they want distance. Another distance increasing signal is a quick head turn. A dog might turn their head quickly towards the perceived threat, as a warning to hey, back off, I need distance.

Speaker 1:

Another distance increasing signal is stamping or scraping the ground. A dog might stamp or scrape the ground with their front or their hind paws to communicate their need for space and to communicate their assertiveness All right, keeping with the distance increasing signals. The next one is blocking or body checking. A dog might use their body to block access to another dog or another person, pushing them away to create more distance. Another distance increasing signal is the low growl. Now, we talked about the growl before, but a dog may emit a low, rumbling growl when approached, signaling their discomfort, their desire for more space, more distance between you and them. Okay, all right. The last distance increasing signal we're gonna talk about is the snap or the air bite. A dog might snap or air bite without making contact and again, that's a warning they want space, they're perceiving a threat, they're saying, hey, I need space, I need distance back off.

Speaker 1:

Think about what we do when we correct those behaviors, when we punish those behaviors. We need to be dealing with the dog's underlying emotional state. Those behaviors will go away when that dog is calm, when the dog is confident, when the dog is not experiencing any threats, when the dog doesn't feel stressed, when the dog's not afraid, when the dog doesn't have anxiety, when we change the underlying emotional state and we change the association with the trigger, the unwanted behaviors go away. But when we punish the outward behaviors, we merely suppress them temporarily. It's smoke and mirrors. We think everything's going good, and maybe it does for a month or two, but it always comes back. Why? Because the outward behaviors really not the problem. It's a problem. It needs to be addressed. But how it needs to be addressed is by hey, what's motivating those behaviors? And that's the underlying emotional state and that's what needs to change. You change that, the behaviors change. Okay.

Speaker 1:

The next area of canine body language that we wanna get into are what we call appeasement signals. Licking a dog might lick another dog's face, or a dog might lick a person's hand to show submission and to show appeasement. Licking another dog or licking a person sometimes that means they're showing submission or appeasement. Again, you've gotta take the environment into account. You've gotta take all of the dog's other canine body language signals that it might be displaying when you're trying to interpret what's happening. Sometimes the dog's just licking, okay, all right. Getting back into more appeasement signals A low tail wag all right. A very slow, very low wagging tail. That can indicate that a dog is trying to appease for a sort of individual whether it be a more assertive dog, whether it be more assertive person that low tail wag, very slow, very low tail wag, can indicate that the dog is trying to appease somebody All right.

Speaker 1:

Another appeasing signal is the submissive grin. A dog may show a submissive grin by lifting their lips and showing their teeth in a non-aggressive manner. Some people mistake this for a dog that's smiling. Yeah, it looks like a smile because they're raising their lip. You see their teeth. They're not aggressive, but it's really a submissive grin. It's an appeasement signal Okay.

Speaker 1:

Another appeasement signal rolling over. A dog might roll over onto their back, exposing their belly to show submission and to show appeasement. It's not always about a belly rub okay, all right. Here's some additional appeasement signals crouching a dog might crouch down load of the ground to show submission and appeasement, either towards another dog or another person. Okay.

Speaker 1:

A tucked tail a dog. They might tuck their tail between their legs, often covering their genitals, to demonstrate submission, to demonstrate appeasement okay. Also, another signal. That's an appeasing signal averting the gaze A dog could avoid making direct eye contact by looking away, and in that case they're signaling their submission, they're signaling their appeasement, okay. The next one. The next appeasing signal ears back. A dog may pin their ears back against their head to show submission and appeasement. The next one, the next appeasement signal offering a paw. A dog might lift and offer a paw to another dog or a person and that can be a gesture of submission and appeasement. A lot of times people are thinking, oh, my dog wants to shake, when really it's an appeasement signal okay, all right. The next appeasement signal is a flattened body. A dog could press their body close to the ground, making themselves appear smaller, to signal their submission or their appeasement.

Speaker 1:

Okay, urination another possible appeasement signal. A dog might display submissive urination right, especially when greeting or interacting with more dominant or assertive individuals, as a sign of appeasement. The next one, the last one I'm gonna talk about in terms of appeasement signals, would be chewing or mouthing. You know, a dog might gently chew or mouth another dog's muzzle or a person's hand, and sometimes that can be a sign of submission, of appeasement. All right, now, those are our P'sman signals. The next thing we talked about distance increasing signals where the dog wants more space. But they also, in their canine body language, can display distance decreasing signals where they want to be closer. They want you or another dog to be closer. They're communicating hey, it's okay, you can come closer. So a tail wagging. But here's the kicker A high, fast wagging tail can signal that the dog is friendly and wants to engage. Okay now, relaxed body posture right when a dog with a relaxed body posture and soft eyes, when we see that that is a dog that might be trying to decrease distance and engage with others, whether it be people or dogs A playbow a playbow is a distance decreasing signal that signals to a dog that it wants to engage in friendly play and it wants to decrease the distance between itself and the other dog.

Speaker 1:

Another distance decreasing signal is curving approach. A dog might approach another dog. It might approach another person in a curving, non-linear path as far as them, trying to signal that they're friendly and they wanna decrease the distance between them. Another distance decreasing signal is the nose-to-nose greeting. That's right. Dogs may touch noses as a friendly greeting, signaling that they wanna be closer. Another distance decreasing signal is leaning or nudging. A dog might lean into or nudge another dog or a person to show their desire for closeness or attention. Okay, all right, here's some additional distance decreasing signals Playful hopping or bouncing. You know, a dog might hop around or bounce around playfully in that type of manner, signaling their desire to engage and decrease the distance between themselves and others. Also a distance decreasing signal the gentle tail wag A dog. They may wag their tail in a gentle, relaxed manner to show that they're friendly and they wanna decrease the distance. Another distance decreasing signal that can occur as vocalizing. A dog could make friendly vocalization, such as whining or a soft bark, to signal their desire to engage and decrease the distance. Another distance decreasing signal that dogs can display is rubbing or nuzzling. A dog might rub or nuzzle against another dog or person to show their desire for closeness and interaction.

Speaker 1:

Moving along in additional distance decreasing signals. One of them is engaging in mutual grooming. Dogs may engage in mutual grooming, such as licking each other's faces or ears as a way to bond and decrease the distance between them. Another distance decreasing signal is circling A dog. You may see a dog circle around another dog or circle around another person, sniffing and wagging their tail as a friendly greeting and a sign that they wanna decrease the distance between them. Another distance decreasing signal would be offering a toy. A dog might bring a toy to another dog or a person, again inviting them to play, inviting them to engage, signaling their desire to decrease the distance between them. And then the last distance decreasing signal I'm gonna talk about is swaying, the swaying walk. A dog could walk with a swaying relaxed gate towards another dog or towards another person to show that they're friendly and that they wanna decrease the distance between them. Those are going to be the distance decreasing signals.

Speaker 1:

All right, the next area of canine body language that I wanna talk about are play signals. Okay, and we've got the playbow, when a dog lowers their front end while keeping their rear end raised and that signaling that they wanna engage in friendly play. Bouncing. A dog may bounce up and down, often with a loose and wiggly body, to invite play. They might want to start chasing and running to invite play. They initiate that chase and other running games to engage in play.

Speaker 1:

Another play signal is light nipping or mouthing, and a lot of people don't understand. They think that anytime the dog's using its mouth that it's biting and it's aggressive. No, light nipping or mouthing. Dogs may gently nip or mout at another dog or even a person during play, and this is the type of nipping or mouthing that does not cause harm. Another play signal pawing A dog may paw at another dog, or the dog may paw at another person to invite them to play and they're showing that hey, I'm friendly.

Speaker 1:

Another play signal could be vocalizing dogs. They may make playful noises, such as barking or grunting, to invite play and communicate their excitement. All right, some additional play signals playful growling and again, this is where you really gotta take things into context. All right, playful growling is not the same growling, that is, the distance decreasing growling where the dog feels threatened and they want space. In this case, the playful growling. A dog might emit a low, non-threatening growl, but this happens during play and what that does is it just signals their excitement and their engagement and then activity. All right.

Speaker 1:

Another play signal is tug of war. A dog might initiate a game of tug of war by offering a toy or a rope to another dog or a person, inviting them to play Fetch. That's another play signal. A dog could show interest in playing fetch by bringing a ball or a toy or dropping it near another dog or a person, indicating their desire to play. All right, here's one that everybody's talked about. Another play signal the zoomies. That's right, dogs may engage in spontaneous burst of energy. You know what? They are? Running around in circles or fast, erratic patterns to signal their excitement and to signal their playful mood. Yeah, that's what it means. Now, another play signal rolling on the ground. A dog might roll on the ground or expose their belly during play, inviting others to join in the fun. How about playful pouncing? Another play signal A dog may pounce on a toy or playfully pounce towards another dog or a person and they're trying to initiate play.

Speaker 1:

Another play signal, the last one I'm going to talk about. We talked earlier about that swaying or that wiggly body. Right, so a dog could display a swaying or wiggly body during play, indicating their excitement and desire to engage with others. So, yes, in that case. So we talked about distance decreasing signals and that swaying was a distance decreasing signal, but it's also a play signal. It can be both.

Speaker 1:

All right, the next area of canine body language we're going to talk about, and this is something you really need to pay attention. This is where a lot of people get this wrong, and that's tail position signals. Okay, now let's talk about a high tail. A tail held high can indicate that there is a lot of arousal in the dog. It can indicate a great deal of alertness or dominance. A high, stiff tail can also signal aggression. Okay, now what about the neutral tail? A tail held in the neutral position, either raised or lowered, usually indicates that the dog is relaxed, that the dog is content. All right, now the low tail a tail held low, near or below the level of the dog's body. That can indicate uncertainty or anxiety or submission. And of course, we've got the tucked tail. A tucked tail between the legs often signals fear, often signals that the dog is stressed, and it can be a signal of submission.

Speaker 1:

Now you have to take into context your specific dog and how they carry their tail. Different dogs have different tail carriages. You know maybe you've got a dog that even when it's thrilled and happy, the tail is low, near or below the level of your dog's body and we might think, okay, that indicates uncertainty or anxiety or submission. But that's not always the case. See canine body language. There are gray areas. You need to look at the entire dog, all of its canine body language and the environment that it's in. Now, this is part two of canine body language. Make sure that you're listening. Make sure that you're listening to part one, the first canine body language podcast, so that this will also make sense. All right, now it's not just the position of the tail that is communication, but also the wagging of the tail. All right, so a fast, high wag, a fast, high wagging tail, usually indicates excitement and happiness, however. However, it can also signal arousal or assertiveness, especially if the tail is held stiffly. Okay, all right. What about the loose, wide wagging tail? A tail that wags in a very wide, loose arc often indicates a very friendly and relaxed dog. Sometimes that tail movement is known as the windmill, again, because it wags in a very wide, very loose arc. Okay, all right. Another tail wagging signal is the low, slow wag. A low, slow wagging tail can signal uncertainty in the dog. It can signal that the dog has some insecurities. It can also signal appeasement. Okay, that type of wag is usually accompanied by submissive body language. So you might see other submissive or appeasement type signals in the dog's body language that has a low, slow wag. All right. Tail wagging with full body movement Well, when a dog's entire body wiggles along with their tail, well, that's usually an indication that the dog is very happy, very excited to see somebody. Okay, Now, another tail wagging signal, the last one we're going to talk about, is the tail wagging to one side.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, a lot of people don't know this, including a lot of dog trainers. A tail wagging, that is, wagging predominantly to one side, can mean different things. So, for example, if the tail is wagging more to the dog's right, the tail, as it's going left to right, back and forth, it breaks further to the dog's right. All right, that can signal positive emotions such as happiness or the dog having interest. However, if the tail is wagging more to the dog's left, you know that tail's breaking further to the left in that wag. That can signal negative emotions such as anxiety or stress or caution. So watch that tail wag. Does it break more to the left, where the dog might be a little bit anxious, or does it break further to the right, where the dog is happy? I find that one to be very interesting.

Speaker 1:

All right, let's go into some other canine body language signals, and this is going to be barking signals. Okay, can you notice the differences in the way that your dog barks? So, for example, an alarm bark. An alarm bark is very sharp. It's a very sharp, loud barking, and that often indicates that the dog's alerting to something that they perceive as a potential threat, such as an unknown person approaching their territory or an unknown dog approaching them. All right, then we've got the attention seeking bark. That's that high-pitched, repetitive bark that signals that the dog is seeking attention or wants something from you, the pet parent. Have you experienced that with your dog? Your dog wants some kind of a toy or food or play and they start that high-pitched, repetitive barking. Well, that's attention seeking. And then we've got the playful bark. A higher-pitched, lighter bark usually indicates the dog is excited and wants to engage in play. Then the other bark that we note is the frustration bark. Okay, a lower-pitched repetitive bark, though Lower-pitched repetitive bark, that can signal that a dog is frustrated or that it's agitated, often due to being unable to reach a desired object or a person. And then the last barking signal that I want to talk about is the fear bark. When we're talking about the fear bark, that is, a high-pitched, rapid series of barks, and when there's that high-pitched, rapid series of barks, that can indicate that a dog is afraid and trying to warn off a perceived threat.

Speaker 1:

All right, now let's talk about some other vocalizations and what they mean. Okay, so let's talk about whining. Whining, I'm talking about a high-pitched vocalization and that can indicate a variety of different emotions, such as stress, anxiety, discomfort or a need for attention. Dogs might whine when they want something like food or play or when they're separated from their pet parents. All right, let's talk about crying. Crying can be similar to whining it's similar in pitch and, in this case, whining. Sometimes that might indicate pain or discomfort or distress. Dogs may cry if they're physically injured or if they're experiencing great emotional distress. Whimpering well, that's a little different. Whimpering is a softer, more subtle vocalization, but this too can signal fear, can signal stress or submission. You know dogs may whimper when they're in an uncomfortable or unfamiliar situation or when they're unsure of how to respond to perceived threats. Okay, all right.

Speaker 1:

Now canine body language signals can fall into multiple categories and this is where you really need to take into consideration the entire aggregate of canine body language. So, for example, you may have a dog that has its ears pinned back, but you're playing and the dog's happy. Well, those ears being pinned back don't mean that the dog is stressed. So the context, the environment, what was happening we're playing is very different than maybe going for a walk and there's some strange dogs and we see the ears being pinned back. Okay, so let's talk about the tail wagging, so distance decreasing signals that we talked about before. A gentle, relaxed tail wag can indicate a friendly and non-threatening demeanor, signaling a desire to decrease the distance between the dog and others. However, it can also be a stress signal. A low, slow wag with a tense body can indicate stress or uncertainty. It can also be a play signal a fast, high tail wag combined with a loose, wiggly body. That can signal excitement and an invitation to play. All right, pawing okay.

Speaker 1:

Pawing is another one that can fall into different categories. It can be a play signal A dog can paw at another dog or a person to invite play, to show that they're friendly. But a dog may lift a paw as a distance decreasing signal. They may lift their paw and offer it to another dog or a person to signal that they want to engage and decrease the distance between them. And there's some gray areas when it comes to vocalization too. So there's the distance increasing signal where aggressive or loud barking can intimidate a dog that wants more space. It can also be a play signal. Dogs may make playful noises, such as barking or grunting, to invite play and communicate their excitement. So that's why it's important to really understand the little nuances with all the canine body language signals because, again, they're not always black and white. Distance decreasing signals, like a dog could make friendly vocalization, such as whining or soft barks to signal their desire to engage and decrease distance between them, but other whining could mean distress.

Speaker 1:

You've got to take into consideration what's happening in the environment. What other canine body language signals are going along with the one signal that you're talking about? Going back to the different canine body language signals that can fall into multiple categories that are a little gray nipping or mouthing. You know that can be a play signal and they play with other dogs or people. They're not causing harm. But it can also be nipping and mouthing. It could also be an appeasement signal. The dog might gently chew or mout another dog's muzzle or a person's hand as a sign of submission and appeasement. Whether it's being back, they can be a stress signal, but they can also be an appeasement signal. I mentioned to you some dogs, like my dog, when we play, the ears go back Again, taking into consideration what's going on in the environment, what's happening and what are the other aspects of the dog's canine body language communicating All right.

Speaker 1:

Another area that is a little gray is licking, for example. One of the stress signals that dogs can display is they may repeatedly lick their lips right when they're feeling anxious or nervous. Well, an appeasement signal. One of them is a dog may lick another dog's face or a person's hand to show submission and appeasement. So how are they using their tongue? How are they licking? Yawning All right. These yawn when they're stressed or when they're uncomfortable, and that yawn might be prolonged and more exaggerated than, say, a typical yawn. But a dog might yawn as a way to self-soothe and to calm themselves down in a stressful situation, as well as to communicate their non-threatening intentions. So yawning can be both a stress signal and a calming signal Turning their head away.

Speaker 1:

Turning their head away can be a calming signal, where a dog might turn their head away to avoid direct eye contact, signaling hey, I'm not a threat and they're trying to calm the situation. But it can also be a stress signal. Turning the head away may also be a sign of discomfort, as the dog tries to avoid a perceived threat or an unpleasant stimulus. Sniffing the ground Okay, sniffing the ground? Well, dogs may suddenly sniff the ground, a signal that they're not interested in confrontation, thereby trying to calm the situation. In that case, the sniffing of the ground is a calming signal, but sniffing the ground can also be a displacement behavior, a stress signal indicating that the dog is feeling anxious or uncertain about the surroundings. All right, let's talk about sitting or lying down. Dogs might sit or lie down to show that they're not a threat and they're trying to calm the situation. That's a calming signal, but sitting or lying down could also be a sign of stress, especially when the dog is tense, refuses to move in response to a stressful situation or stimulus.

Speaker 1:

That's why, I say it over and over again, it's absolutely crucial to consider the context and other body language cues when you're interpreting a dog's emotions and their intentions. Those signals can vary between individual dogs and individual situations, but having a good grasp of canine body language is something that will allow you to be able to again understand what your dog's underlying emotions are, what its thoughts are, what its intentions are. When you can understand the canine body language, you can begin to work a lot smarter in terms of understanding what your dog needs. As I've said before, canine body language is absolutely crucial when it comes to being able to teach your dog to be relaxed and calm, do the exposure therapy of counter conditioning and desensitization. Make sure that you've listened to part one of the canine body language podcast. If you haven't, have a good day everybody. See you next week.

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