We hear that communication is important in every aspect of our lives. With our spouse, our co-workers, our family, communicating effectively is the topic of a very large self-help section of the internet.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s the same with our dogs.
Teaching people to communicate with their dogs is the #1 thing that I do. Those of you who have met with me, know that I am constantly reading your dog’s body language, and interpreting what I see, so we can help them (and you) the most effective way possible. By teaching you how to read these signals, you can adjust your approach to help your dog cope with the situation and get through it successfully.
A lesson in Dog
Dogs are incredibly visual animals. They see details fairly well, and use those visual signals to communicate with each other. Kinda like sign language for deaf people. Here is a handout by Lili Chin (look up her illustrations, they are amazing!) These are the signals that dogs give to each other when they are feeling uncomfortable in a situation. Watch your dog on their next walk. Are they displaying any of these signals? What has happened right before the signal? As you walk, do you notice more of these signals? What happens if you give them a cookie during this event?
These are your dog’s whispers that they are not okay. If you listen to these whispers, then you don’t have to worry about yelling when something big happens. Do you have a dog who suddenly starts to bark at seemingly nothing? What about a dog who barks at other dogs? Start paying attention to the signals above while you are out.
It’s listening to those whispers that are going to make you a great dog owner. It teaches your dog to trust that you are not going to put them in a situation they can’t handle, and if they are struggling you are going to help them through it like a friend.
They are our best friends, are we taking time to listen?