Whenever I talk about dog body language I tell folks to look for the most subtle signals and then ask…WHO, WHAT WHERE, WHEN AND WHY might their dog be displaying these signals at the moment. Below are some images I took a year ago with my daughter playing in her sandbox and our senior shepherd near by. What do you notice in this sequence?
Duke is relaxed and Kelsyann is playing while my son watches.
Duke is aware that Kelsyann has gotten up and he shifts his head positioning.
Duke shows displaced behavior (scratching) in response to kelsyann moving and the unpredictability of her actions.
Duke is licking and self soothing a bit now that Kelsyann is sitting and no longer standing and moving about.
Duke is looking to see what Kelsyann is doing.
Duke relaxes once again.
Duke is calm but is also aware and reacting to the actions of the unpredictable toddler. Many families are not aware that these subtle signals are communication. I know I was not and now that I know…I am much more able to assist my dog when he indicates discomfort, stress or anxiety. Learning a little bit can really help increase safety and decrease stress for dogs, parents and kids! These are lessons that once parents are aware they are better able to help their children become aware as they grow too!