Archive for the ‘Behavior and Training’ Category

Debunking the “Alpha Dog” Theory

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

From the Whole Dog Journal   By   Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA

Subscribe to the Whole Dog Journal

Exerting “dominance” over your dog is the wrong way to build a good relationship.

The alpha myth is everywhere. Google “alpha dog” on the Internet and you get more than 85 million hits. Really. While not all the sites are about dominating your dog, there are literally millions of resources out there – websites, books, blogs, television shows, veterinarians, trainers and behavior professionals – instructing you to use force and intimidation to overpower your dog into submission. They say that you, the human, must be the alpha. They’re all wrong. Every single one of them.

The erroneous approach to canine social behavior known as dominance theory (two million-plus Google hits) is based on a study of captive zoo wolves conducted in the 1930s and 1940s by Swiss animal behaviorist Rudolph Schenkel, in which the scientist concluded that wolves in a pack fight to gain dominance, and the winner is the alpha wolf.

The Origin’s of the “Alpha” Dog Theory

Schenkel’s observations of captive wolf behavior were erroneously extrapolated to wild wolf behavior, and then to domestic dogs. It was postulated that wolves were in constant competition for higher rank in the hierarchy, and only the aggressive actions of the alpha male and female held the contenders in check. Other behaviorists following Schenkel’s lead also studied captive wolves and confirmed his findings: groups of unrelated wolves brought together in artificial captive environments do, indeed, engage in often-violent and bloody social struggles.

The problem is, that’s not normal wolf behavior. As David Mech stated in the introduction to his study of wild wolves (Mech, 2000), “Attempting to apply information about the behavior of assemblages of unrelated captive wolves to the familial structure of natural packs has resulted in considerable confusion. Such an approach is analogous to trying to draw inferences about human family dynamics by studying humans in refugee camps. The concept of the alpha wolf as a ‘top dog’ ruling a group of similar-aged compatriots (Schenkel 1947; Rabb et al. 1967; Fox 1971a; Zimen 1975, 1982; Lockwood 1979; van Hooff et al. 1987) is particularly misleading.”

What we know now, thanks to Mech and others, is that in the wild, a wolf pack is a family, consisting of a mated pair and their offspring of the past one to three years. Occasionally two or three families may group together. As the offspring mature they disperse from the pack; the only long-term members of the group are the breeding pair. By contrast, in captivity unrelated wolves are forced to live together for many years, creating tension between mature adults that doesn’t happen in a natural, wild pack.

Dominance-Based Training is Disrespectful to Your Dog

But that’s all about wolves anyway, not dogs. How did it happen that dog owners and trainers started thinking all that information (and misinformation) about wolf behavior had anything to do with dogs and dog behavior? The logic went something like, “Dogs are descended from wolves. Wolves live in hierarchical packs in which the aggressive alpha male rules over everyone else. Therefore, humans need to dominate their pet dogs to get them to behave.”

Perhaps the most popular advocate of this inaccurate concept, Cesar Millan, is only the latest in a long line of dominance-based trainers who advocate forceful techniques such as the alpha roll. Much of this style of training has roots in the military – which explains the emphasis on punishment.

As far back as 1906, Colonel Konrad Most was using heavy-handed techniques to train dogs in the German army, then police and service dogs. He was joined by William Koehler after the end of World War II.

Koehler also initially trained dogs for the military prior to his civilian dog-training career, and his writings advocated techniques that included hanging and helicoptering a dog into submission (into unconsciousness, if necessary). For example, to stop a dog from digging, Koehler suggested filling the hole with water and submerging the dog’s head in the water-filed hole until he was nearly drowned.

Fast-forward several years to 1978 and the emergence of the Monks of New Skete as the new model for dog training, asserting a philosophy that “understanding is the key to communication, compassion, and communion” with your dog. Sounds great, yes? The Monks were considered cutting edge at the time – but contrary to their benevolent image, they were in fact responsible for the widespread popularization of the “Alpha-Wolf Roll-Over” (now shortened to the alpha roll). Reviewing the early observations of captive wolves, the Monks concluded that the alpha roll is a useful tool for demonstrating one’s authority over a dog. Unfortunately, this is  a complete and utter misinterpretation of the submissive roll-over that is voluntarily offered by less assertive dogs, not forcibly commanded by stronger ones.

The Monks also advocated the frequent use of other physical punishments such as the scruff shake (grab both sides of the dog’s face and shake, lifting the dog off the ground) and cuffing under the dog’s chin with an open hand several times, hard enough to cause the dog to yelp.

While professing that “training dogs is about building a relationship that is based on respect and love and understanding,” even their most recent book, Divine Canine: The Monks’ Way to a Happy, Obedient Dog (2007), is still heavy on outdated, erroneous dominance theory. Immediately following their suggestion that “a kindly, gentle look tells the dog she is loved and accepted,” they say “But it is just as vital to communicate a stern reaction to bad behavior. A piercing, sustained stare into a dog’s eyes tells her who’s in charge; it establishes the proper hierarchy of dominance between person and pet.” (It’s also a great way to unwittingly elicit a strong aggressive response if you choose the wrong dog as the subject for your piercing, sustained stare.)

Despite the strong emergence of positive reinforcement-based training in the last 20 years, the Monks don’t seem to have grasped that the “respect” part needs to go both ways for a truly compassionate communion with your dog. Perhaps one of these days . . .

The Birth of Positive-Reinforcement Training

Just when it seemed that dog training had completely stagnated in turn-of-the-century military-style dominance-theory training, marine mammal trainer Karen Pryor wrote her seminal book, Don’t Shoot the Dog. Published in 1985, this small, unassuming volume was intended as a self-help book for human behavior. The author never dreamed that her modest book, paired with a small plastic box that made a clicking sound, would launch a massive paradigm shift in the world of dog training and behavior. But it did.

Forward progress was slow until 1993, when veterinary behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar founded the Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Dunbar’s vision of a forum for trainer education and networking has developed into an organization that now boasts nearly 6,000 members worldwide. While membership in the APDT is not restricted to positive reinforcement-based trainers, included in its guiding principles is this statement:

“We promote the use of reward-based training methods, thereby minimizing the use of aversive techniques.”

The establishment of this forum facilitated the rapid spread of information in the dog training world, enhanced by the creation of an online discussion list where members could compare notes and offer support for a scientific and dog-friendly approach to training.

Things were starting to look quite rosy for our dogs. The positive market literally mushroomed with books and videos from dozens of quality training and behavior professionals, including Jean Donaldson, Dr. Patricia McConnell, Dr. Karen Overall, Suzanne Hetts, and others. With advances in positive training and an increasingly educated dog training profession embracing the science of behavior and learning and passing good information on to their clients, pain-causing, abusive methods such as the alpha roll, scruff shake, hanging, drowning, and cuffing appeared to be headed the way of the passenger pigeon.

A Step-Backward for Positive-Reinforcement Training Techniques

Then, in the fall of 2004, the National Geographic Channel launched its soon-to-be wildly popular show, The Dog Whisperer. Dominance theory was back in vogue, with a vengeance. Today, everything from housetraining mistakes to jumping up to counter surfing to all forms of aggression is likely to be attributed to “dominance” by followers of the alpha-resurgence.

“But,” some will argue, “look at all the dogs who have been successfully trained throughout the past century using the dominance model. Those trainers can’t be all wrong.”

In fact, harsh force-based methods (in technical parlance, “positive punishment”) are a piece of operant conditioning, and as the decades have proven, those methods can work. They are especially good at shutting down behaviors – convincing a dog that it’s not safe to do anything unless instructed to do something. And yes, that works with some dogs. With others, not so much.

My own personal, unscientific theory is that dog personalities lie on a continuum from very soft to very tough. Harsh, old-fashioned dominance-theory methods can effectively suppress behaviors without obvious fallout (although there is always behavioral fallout) with dogs nearest the center of the personality continuum – those who are resilient enough to withstand the punishment, but not so tough and assertive that they fight back. Under dominance theory, when a dog fights back, you must fight back harder until he submits, in order to assert yourself as the pack leader, or alpha.

Problem is, sometimes they don’t submit, and the level of violence escalates. Or they submit for the moment, but may erupt aggressively again the next time a human does something violent and inappropriate to them. Under dominance-theory training, those dogs are often deemed incorrigible, not suitable for the work they’re being trained for nor safe as a family companion, and sentenced to death. Had they never been treated inappropriately, many might have been perfectly fine.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a very “soft” dog can be easily psychologically damaged by one enthusiastic inappropriate assertion of rank by a heavy-handed dominance trainer. This dog quickly shuts down – fearful and mistrusting of the humans in his world who are unpredictably and unfairly violent.

Most crossover trainers (those who used to train with old-fashioned methods and now are proud to promote positive reinforcement-based training) will tell you they successfully trained lots of dogs the old way. They loved their dogs and their dogs loved them.

I’m a crossover trainer and I know that’s true. I also would dearly love to be able to go back and redo all of that training, to be able to have an even better relationship with those dogs, to give them a less stressful life – one filled with even more joy than the one we shared together.

We Aren’t Dogs, and Our Dogs Know It

Finally, the very presumption that our dogs would even consider we humans to be members of their canine pack is simply ludicrous. They know how impossibly inept we are, for the most part, at reading and understanding the subtleties of canine body language. We are equally inept, if not even more so, at trying to mimic those subtleties. Any attempts on our part to somehow insert ourselves into their social structure and communicate meaningfully with them in this manner are simply doomed to failure. It’s about time we gave up trying to be dogs in a dog pack and accepted that we are humans co-existing with another species – and that we’re most successful doing so when we co-exist peacefully.

The fact is, successful social groups work because of voluntary deference, not because of aggressively enforced dominance. The whole point of social body language rituals is to avoid conflict and confrontation, not to cause it. Watch any group of dogs interacting. Time and time again you’ll see dogs deferring to each other. It’s not even always the same dog deferring:

Dog B: Hey, I’d really like to go first. Dog A: “By all means, be my guest.” Dog B passes down the narrow hallway.

Dog A: “I’d really like to have that bone.” Dog B: “Oh sure – I didn’t feel like chewing right now anyway.” Dog A gets the bone.

Social hierarchies do exist in groups of domesticated dogs and in many other species, including humans, and hierarchy can be fluid. As described above, one dog may be more assertive in one encounter, and more deferent in the next, depending on what’s at stake, and how strongly each dog feels about the outcome. There are a myriad of subtleties about how those hierarchies work, and how the members of a social group communicate – in any species.

Today, educated trainers are aware that canine-human interactions are not driven by social rank, but rather by reinforcement. Behaviors that are reinforced repeat and strengthen. If your dog repeats an inappropriate behavior such as counter surfing or getting on the sofa, it’s not because he’s trying to take over the world; it’s just because he’s been reinforced by finding food on the counter, or by being comfortable on the sofa. He’s a scavenger and an opportunist, and the goods are there for the taking. Figure out how to prevent him from being reinforced for the behaviors you don’t want, and reinforce him liberally for the ones you do, and you’re well on your way to having the relationship of mutual love, respect, communication, and communion that we all want to have with our dogs.

Pat Miller, CBCC-KA, CPDT-KA, is WDJ’s Training Editor. Author of numerous books on positive dog training, she lives in Fairplay, Maryland, site of her Peaceable Paws training center, where she offers dog training classes and courses for trainers.

Heart-Wrenching Study Shows The Long-Term Effect Yelling Can Have on Your Dog

Monday, November 11th, 2019
From SCIENCEALERT.COM by MICHELLE STARR  7 NOV 2019

Your dog may be the apple of your eye, but let’s be honest: she is an animal, with her own instincts and idiosyncrasies, and there are going to be times when she makes you want to tear your hair out.

According to a new study uploaded to pre-print server bioRxiv, aversive training such as punishment and negative reinforcement can have long-term negative effects on your dog’s mental state.

“Our results show that companion dogs trained using aversive-based methods experienced poorer welfare as compared to companion dogs trained using reward-based methods, at both the short- and the long-term level,” the researchers write in their paper.

“Specifically, dogs attending schools using aversive-based methods displayed more stress-related behaviours and body postures during training, higher elevations in cortisol levels after training, and were more ‘pessimistic’ in a cognitive bias task.”

This sort of research has been conducted before, and found that aversive training has negative effects, but it’s primarily been on police and laboratory dogs. In addition, the aversive training tends to be shock collar training, which is only one of several tools used.

So, led by biologist Ana Catarina Vieira de Castro of the Universidade do Porto in Portugal, the international team of researchers conducted their new study on companion dogs.

Each dog was filmed during the first 15 minutes of three training sessions, and saliva samples were taken to assess stress levels from training – three from each dog relaxing at home to establish baseline levels of stress hormone cortisol, and three from each dog after training.

The researchers also analysed the dogs’ behaviour during training to look for stress behaviours, such as yawning, lip-licking, paw-raising and yelping.

Unsurprisingly, the dogs in the aversive training classes showed elevated stress behaviours, particularly yawning and lip-licking. Their saliva also had significantly increased levels of cortisol compared to when they were relaxing at home.

By contrast, the positive reinforcement dogs were pretty chill – far fewer stress behaviours, and much more normal cortisol levels.

The next step was to assess the longer term effects of this stress. A month after the dogs were assessed at training, 79 of them were then trained to associate a bowl on one side of a room with a sausage snack. If the bowl was on that side, it always held a delicious treat; if located on the other side, the bowl never had the treat. (All bowls were rubbed with sausage to ensure the smell didn’t give the game away.)

Sure enough, the more aversive training a dog had received, the more slowly it approached the bowl. Interestingly, dogs from the reward-based training group actually learnt the bowl location task faster than the aversive-training dogs.

This suggests that reward-based training may actually be more effective, although the researchers suggest this may be because the dogs already understand treat-based training methods. It’s possible that the other group would learn more quickly were an aversive method applied – more research needs to be done to determine this.

Overall, though, the results seem to imply that aversive training doesn’t necessarily have an edge over reward training, and that reward training is much better for your dog’s happiness.

“Critically,” the researchers said, “our study points to the fact that the welfare of companion dogs trained with aversive-based methods appears to be at risk.”

The full paper is available on bioRxiv ahead of peer review.

Listen, and remove the trigger. DO NOT PUNISH THE GROWL!

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Fire Your Dog Trainer If He/She

Sunday, November 3rd, 2019

Stages of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

From www.dogdementia.com

Which Dog Is Relaxed?

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

The Yellow Dog Project — Giving dogs their much-needed space

Analysis by Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
  • If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way
  • The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space
  • Dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems, dogs in pain from recent surgery, service dogs in training or dogs who are fearful and anxious
  • If your dog is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training
  • Avoid approaching any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not

If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon tied to her collar, do not approach her, pet her or otherwise bother her in any way. While it’s a good idea to take this stance with any dog you’re not familiar with, The Yellow Dog Project (TYDP) is a global movement trying to popularize the use of yellow ribbons as a way to educate and alert people about dogs who need their space.

Yellow Dogs are not necessarily aggressive or dangerous, but might have issues with fear or be in pain due to recent surgery. If approached, such a dog could snap, growl or become anxious and stressed, which is what the yellow ribbon is intended to prevent.

The Yellow Dog Project identifies dogs who need space

The Yellow Dog Project was founded by Tara Palardy, a graduate of Animal Behavior College, in 2013 to support dogs who are anxious and may display reactive behaviors if approached. The color yellow was chosen for ribbons because it’s widely understood as a cautionary color.1

In addition to dogs who may be fearful or in pain, dogs wearing yellow ribbons may be rescue or shelter dogs who have behavioral problems they haven’t yet overcome. They may also be dogs in training to be work or service dogs. According to the not-for-profit Yellow Dog Project:2

The Yellow Dog Project seeks to educate appropriate ways to approach or make contact with a dog with permission of a dog owner only, whether or not a dog is a ‘yellow dog.’ They also seek to promote the use of yellow ribbons to identify yellow dogs needing extra space.”

The Project makes it clear that putting a yellow ribbon on your dog is not a way to mark her as a bad dog or a confession that people must stay away or risk getting bitten. Some people may avoid using a yellow ribbon for their dog for this reason, but doing so shouldn’t bring about embarrassment.

“Wearing a yellow ribbon is NOT an admission of guilt,” TYDP notes. “Dogs can have space issues for a variety of reasons and you are not the only person with a yellow dog. There are most likely many people in your community who are ‘hiding’ their pet issues rather than working on them. Be proud of your furry family member and the work you are putting into him/her!”3

A yellow ribbon is not a substitute for proper training

As the word gets out about what a yellow ribbon on a dog’s collar means, it may become more common in public places. However, if your dog truly is aggressive, a yellow ribbon is not enough of a warning or a substitute for proper training.

“If you have an outright aggressive dog, you must seek proper training from a qualified professional. This organization promotes the awareness of dogs who need space, but it is not an excuse for lack of training,” TYDP explains.4 If your dog has been abused, has fear aggression or territorial aggression, basic obedience training is important, but so is evaluating the dog’s history and environment to determine what may be driving the problem behaviors.

Behavior problems in dogs can almost always be traced to their environment, past or present, and may include the food they eat, the way they spend their time, the bond they have with their owners, previous training (or lack thereof), training methods and many other factors. Reward-based training is one effective and compassionate way to change unwanted behaviors in dogs, including some forms of aggression.

Always ask before petting

TYDP is a great idea to alert passersby that they shouldn’t approach your shy, nervous or recuperating dog. Your dog is a good candidate for a yellow ribbon if she behaves aggressively or acts timid, shy or skittish when approached by strangers or other dogs.

If you feel your dog could benefit from wearing a yellow ribbon, be prepared to explain its meaning to strangers, and also talk with your veterinarian, a positive dog trainer or a veterinary behaviorist to help your dog work through any undesirable behaviors. That being said, for some dogs, a yellow ribbon may always be recommended.

It’s a good idea, however, to simply assume that you shouldn’t approach any dog you don’t know without first asking the owner’s permission — whether she’s wearing a yellow ribbon or not.

Sometimes, it’s possible to easily observe a dog’s body language to understand whether it’s friendly, relaxed and open to being approached or frightened, stressed and not interested in interacting. Other times, a dog’s shyness or stress signals can be far more subtle and easy to miss. For instance, yawning and licking her lips are ways your dog may signal that she’s feeling stressed.

Further, many dogs dislike being petted on their heads, especially when it’s from a stranger. Yet, this is the way many strangers approach dogs they’re not familiar with. A far better option than approaching a dog in passing is to ask her owner if it’s OK to pet her. Even then, respect boundaries, let the dog initiate contact first and avoid invading her personal space.

Household Poisons to Keep Away From Your Dog

Saturday, July 13th, 2019

 — Sarah Archer

You might be emotionally ready for a dog to come into your life. Maybe you’ve done all the research and figured out what breed is most compatible for your lifestyle. You’ve even visited your new furry friend at a shelter and decided it’s time to bring them home. But is your home ready for them to arrive? Have you made sure that nothing poisonous is available for them to get into. 

Certain plants can be poisonous to dogs if eaten so it’s important to do some research on which might be generally bad to keep in the house. For example, azaleas or tulip bulbs are toxic for dogs and while you don’t think your dog would eat those things, they just might. You’ll want to check your yard for illness causing elements as well including, foxtails which can be very bad for dogs if they consume them. 

Household products you might not expect to have to worry about may make your dog sick if they ingest them. Dryer sheets, for example, and detergent in general needs to be stowed where dogs cannot get at them. In addition, for outdoor material, make sure you switch to fertilizers, weed killers, and ice melt products that are safe for animals. 

When it comes to human food, there are a number of items that are just fine for people but poisonous for dogs. In particular, caffeine and chocolate are pretty well known as making dogs ill, but other items like grapes, onions, and anything with the sweetener xylitol (which is in mints and gum) should be avoided for health reasons.

There are many ways to make sure a dog is comfortable in your home but securing your shelves and cabinets to be certain that they are not able to consume something that will injure them is a huge priority. Give some thought to how you will reorganize the house to make sure that they can never come in contact with something that will make them ill. 

If this seems at all overwhelming, there are some good sites that have checklists to help you make sure your home is one hundred percent dog ready. Look below some further tips from Your Best Digs on how to keep your furry friend safe on arrival.

 

Sarah Archer

Sarah is a Content and PR manager at Your Best Digs. She’s passionate about evaluating everyday home products to help customers save time and money. When she’s not putting a product’s promise to the test, you’ll find her hiking a local trail or collecting stamps in her passport. 

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

Friday, July 12th, 2019

Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

BY  | OCT 1, 2016 | DOG BODY LANGUAGE

A paw lift is when one paw is lifted ever so slightly off the ground. It is different to a paw lift when stalking or hunting, which can be quite rigid; this paw lift can seem a bit more tentative. Depending on the rest of the dog’s body language and context, it is generally used when the dog may be feeling conflicted, anxious or anticipating something.

Here are a few examples of situations where a dog may offer a paw lift:

  • This was an observation of a dog that had not been socialized much with people. She was not comfortable approaching and was quite fearful. She would create space; her body was low and hunched over, her tail curled under, and her mouth was closed. Tension was seen in her face muscles and her eyes were quite wide. Her head was turned away and her ears were scanning and listening for sound, alternating between being back and then to the side. Along with the body language, she lifted her paw a few times while standing in this tense pose. The paw lift, along with all the other body language, paints a picture of a dog that is fearful and feeling very uncertain in this situation.
  • One dog is approached by another dog. The approaching dog walks into the other dog’s space, standing quite close, with a stiff square body, head held high and ears slightly forward; his whole body seems stiff when moving, and he gives a bit of direct eye contact. This approach is a bit too direct and it seems to unsettle the other dog; it is difficult to walk away as she tries to keep her eye on the dog that has approached and taken space so quickly. She does a slight head turn and a paw lift. She is showing she is uncomfortable with this interaction.
  • A person is asking a dog to sit. This is taking a while and the dog does not seem to be responding. The person tries to lure the dog into a sitting position, moving his hand closer to the dog’s head. The dog takes a step back and does a paw lift. The dog may feel a bit of pressure and be uncomfortable with the person’s hand moving into her space along with this unknown request to sit.
  • A dog is sitting and observing his guardian, who might be preparing something. As the dog watches with wide eyes and ears forward, he does a paw lift. This dog may be anticipating something and showing a bit of discourse in trying to figure something out.
  • There is a loud, sudden noise. The dog freezes, his eyes widen, his ears go up and are alert, and he does a paw lift. The sudden noise was unsettling; he shows his discomfort by doing a paw lift whilst he tries to figure out what the sound was.

These are just a few examples; there may be many more. Start observing to see if you can notice any paw lifts in different contexts. As discussed below, interpretations such as the above examples should not be attempted without careful observation and consideration of all aspects of the situation.

What is meant by stress?

When I mention stress, this does not necessarily imply negative emotion. I mean stress in the physiological sense. So certain body language signals can mean the dog is feeling some sort of emotional discourse. This discourse could range from positive to negative emotion. Both excitement and fear could have similar effects on the body, with various hormones being released and activating the sympathetic nervous system. The dog may be feeling uncomfortable/fearful or it could also be excited about something. When analyzing stress in body language, it is worth noting the frequency and intensity of the various body language signals.

A few notes to consider when observing dog body language:

Observation before interpretation

Interpretations should be offered only once you have observed the complete interaction and taken note of the wider picture. To offer an unbiased interpretation of the body language, observe and take note of the situation, taking into account the dog’s whole body, the body language signals, and environment first before offering an interpretation. List all the body language you see in the order that it occurs; try to be as descriptive as possible without adding any emotional language. For instance, saying a dog looks happy is not descriptive and would be seen as an interpretation rather than an observation.

You could, however, list what you observe: ears to the side, eyes almond shaped, slight shortening of the eye, mouth open, long lips, tongue out, body moving loosely, body facing side-on, tail wagging at a slow even pace at body level.

From the observation, I could interpret that the dog seems relaxed or comfortable. I still prefer to say relaxed rather than happy, as I feel you will truly never know exactly what the dog may be feeling on the inside emotionally. It is quite likely the dog may be feeling happy, but I prefer to comment on how the dog is behaving in response to the situation rather than presuming internal emotional states.

The importance of viewing body language within context

Interpretations can vary depending on the context. It is possible for certain body language to be used in different contexts and have subtle differences in meaning within those contexts. Individual body language signals should not be observed in isolation; the wider picture should be considered. Take note of what the dog’s body as a whole is saying. Keep in mind each dog is an individual with varying skills and experiences. What may be typical for one individual may not be for another. In order to observe body language in context, consider the following: the situation, body language signals, the body language expressed by all parts of the dog’s body, environment, and individuals involved. It is worth noting how the body language changes with feedback from the environment or the other individuals interacting.

 

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?

Monday, July 8th, 2019

Does Your Dog REALLY Want to be Petted?