Paw Lift – Dog Body Language

July 12th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

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.

 

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from:  https://www.pamdennison.com/asking-the-owner-is-great-but-how-about-asking-the-dog/

Asking the Owner is Great, But How About Asking the Dog?

Asking the Owner is Great, But How About Asking the Dog?
Pamela Dennison (c) 2017

Although people actually asking permission to pet your dog from a safe distance is verrry slowwwly on the rise (people are still racing up to strange dogs, still getting bit, still causing trauma to the dog, still thinking dogs are public property…sigh…), there is one part, equally important, that continues to be missed.

Asking the DOG!

True stories:
You ask to pet someone else’s dog. They say “yes, you may.” You walk right up to the dog, reach down and over the dog’s head with arm outstretched…and whammo! Instant dog bite.

I had this happen at my business about a month ago: A stranger walked in to inquire about dog training. She saw the cute Pug across the room and without an invitation, made a beeline for the dog. Dog was scared and started growling. I instantly stepped in between and the stranger started to walk around me to get to the dog. I had to hold the stranger by the shoulders to stop her. I asked her what she was doing. Her response, “I want to pet the dog.” I told her to look at the dog, “does it look like that dog wants to be pet?” (in the meantime the dog is still growling). Her reply, “But I want to pet the dog.” I told her “It’s not about what YOU want, it’s about if the dog wants you to approach and pet.” She wasn’t all that happy about me physically blocking her from getting to the dog, but finally backed off.

Even with the most innocent “ask and receive permission from the owner,” did you ever think to ASK the dog? Obviously we can’t “ask” the dog like we just did their owner, but if you’re observant and get out of your own internal wish to pet that dog come hell or high water, you can actually ask the dog.

When I’m petting a strange dog (after getting permission, although I have to say, I rarely ask to pet someone else’s dog, preferring to admire from a distance – yes even with my own clients dogs), I do NOT just walk up to it and thrust my hand in it’s face. I squat down sideways, look away, yawn, lick my lips, keep my hands to myself, and wait….I watch out of the corner of my eye to see if and how the dog approaches. If the dog comes up nicely (no head down, tail not tucked, not too timidly, no overt calming signals, etc.), I still wait…if the dog sniffs me, great. I still wait…(a dog sniffing you is NOT an invitation to pet it). If the dog inserts it’s face under my arm or hand with a typical “pet me” motion, then I do a few soft strokes on the chest and then take my hand away and wait…if the dog walks away, I let him move away – he’s allowed to have his own opinion about how and how much he’s willing to be touched. If the dog stays with me, I’ll pet a little more, then take my hand away again and wait… I give the dog an “out” so that if they want more petting, they can have it and if they don’t, I don’t pressure them to accept it.

There have been some dogs that when I approach sideways, tell me from many feet away that I’m too close. I don’t pressure the dog – I simply walk away. After all, we all have our own comfort zone, where we will allow, or not allow certain people to come into or stay out of it. It’s only fair to respect dogs for the same thing.

Take a look at the photo above. This dog isn’t all that thrilled about being pet on the head – you can see his head ducking and he’s licking his lips. If you aren’t aware of dog body language and you approach a dog inappropriately, be aware that you may be inviting a bite.

Educate yourself! THE best resource is Turid Rugaas and her book and DVD on Calming Signals. (www.dogwise.com) Get them both and be sure to watch the DVD a minimum of 12 times. I’ve watched it over 2,000 times. No lie.

This is a link to a fabulous article, that may help you put it all into more perspective – from the dog’s point of view. http://www.drandyroark.com/dog-not-petting-zoo/

Angel Fund Helps Save Life of Feral Cat Trapped in Attic

May 15th, 2019 by Animal Health Foundation

Sandra Schuelke is a person who cares about animals and the place where she lives.

She and her sister Sherry spearheaded an effort a few years ago to capture and neuter a growing population of feral cats in the gated, single-family condo development where they live in El Monte.

The project did not have the full support of everyone in the homeowners association.

“It took some time to get some of the neighbors on board,” Sandra said.  “They didn’t understand the program at first.  They thought that trapping them and removing them was the answer.  But research shows that you need a stable control group and every time you remove animals there is a vacuum effect and more will come in from the outside.  The stable colony keeps outsiders out.”

Since the effort began, she said, “we have trapped, neutered and released 45 adult cats.  We have been doing this for five years.  We have rescued 47 kittens and all of them have been put up for adoption through three different rescue operations.  I walk through the complex every day and keep an eye on ‘em and make sure there are no new ones.  That’s my daily volunteer work.  All the cats have been fixed.

“We’ve gone through two kitten seasons with no new litters and we’re coming up on our third.”

The colony does not cause any problems in the housing complex and is not especially visible, she said.   “The cats all have their places.  We have 142 homes in our complex so it’s about one cat for every three houses.”

A bit more than a year ago, however, that tranquility was broken.   One of the feral cats was missing and a neighbor reported that she was hearing the animal’s cries constantly from somewhere behind her house near the home of another community member.

“We searched high and low, in bushes, in peoples’ attics and garages, underneath patios – everywhere,” Sandra said.  “We didn’t find her but we kept hearing her voice from different places.”  The James family was particularly helpful in the search, she said.

“At one point I called the fire department because we thought the cat was in one of the homes.  The people in the house got really upset and wouldn’t let the firemen come into their house.”

A few weeks later, an electrician went into the attic of the house.

“He told the community handyman later that he had seen a cat there.  So I went back to the house and begged them to let me put a trap in the attic.  They let me do it.  But there was no need for a trap.  I was able to grab her.  We immediately took her to Community Companion Animal Hospital in Temple City.  She was severely dehydrated and weighed just 2.9 pounds. Her body temperature was 91 degrees. She was probably just hours from death.”

The cat – The James Family named her Delilah – had been trapped in the attic for about five weeks without food or water.  Sandra believes Delilah may have been frightened by painters and went down a ventilation pipe from the roof and fell into the attic.

The hospital immediately put Delilah on IV fluids and antibiotics and started feeding her with a syringe. She was in the hospital two weeks before she was released.

Sandra expressed her appreciation for the efforts of Dr. Joseph Pavlik, Dr. Joni Nasser, Dr. Neil Bodie and the hospital staff: “They were compassionate and they never gave up on her.  All the help from the hospital and Angel Fund was just wonderful.  I couldn’t have done it without everybody coming together.” Angel Fund contributed $250 to Delilah’s care and so did the hospital.  Sandra paid the remainder of the bill.

Today Delilah has not forgotten her feral roots.  The cat lives in an enclosure in Sandra’s bedroom.  “You usually would see it outdoors, not inside.  But it has two levels.  When I go in for cleaning, she goes into her little hideaway.  She can go there when she doesn’t want to be bothered.  When she wasn’t feeling well, I could pet her but not so much now.”

Sandra has two other cats but they do not have physical contact with Delilah.  “They are face to face with her, through the wire so they are getting familiar with one another.  I’d love it if she were friendly.  But she is who she is and I’m happy that she’s alive.

“I’m sure she is still traumatized from being stuck in that attic for so long and being in the hospital,” Sandra said.  She is hopeful that over time Delilah will become more friendly with her and her other cats and be fully integrated into the household.

Sandra – who works in health care administration in Pasadena – lives with her daughter, Rachel, who will be going to college in the fall, and her mother, Linda.

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