Do you know your dogs T.E.M.P.?

I have mentioned reading body language before in previous blogs/vlogs here on my site and on social media.


Today I want to drill down on T.E.M.P.


This info is something that we as dog trainers have followed for years and years, but it was Susan Garrett who brought the acronym to my attention. This is a great graphic that she designed that breaks it down.

T = Tail


What is your dog’s tail doing? Is it wagging? Is it held high? Is it tucked? These are all basic signs of what may be going on with your dog.


So, what do these different tails mean? A tucked tail has a greater chance of indicating anxiety, stress, or just being uncomfortable with a situation. I super high tail, arched over a dog's back can indicate a dog that is territorial, or who is showing other dogs that he/she is in charge. A low wagging tail could indicate nervousness, where a high wagging or circular wag could indicate happiness.


Here is the kicker, sometimes you have to see what the tail is doing in conjunction with the other TEMPs to really see the big picture.




E = Eyes and Ears


When considering your dog’s eyes, you are basically looking for a relaxed soft eye, much like a person. If the whites of your dog’s eyes are showing, this could indicate that your dog is worried or stressed. If they are very squinty, like slits, this could indicate that they are trying to calm themselves and others around them. If your dog is starring, this could be a precursor to a fight.


Their ear set can also indicate many things, of course taking into consideration the type of ears your dog may have. High set, low and floppy…heck they come in pretty much every shape and size. What you are looking for is are they pinned back tight against the head? This could indicate a worried or fearful dog. Are the ears perked up high facing forward? This can be excitement.


M = Mouth


Now the mouth can be one of two things…the sounds they make or what they are physically doing with their lips.


Let’s start off with sound. A dog that growls has a built-in warning. When we punish the warning (growl), then our dogs learn to be quiet and just react. For this reason, when I see people punish their dogs for growling, I just cringe, as they are removing the warning system.

Remember the growl is your dog's voice, they are giving you feedback on a situation, in which we should always listen.


Whining is another indicator, which could mean stress or excitement. This is another one to look at the big picture to help you decide what is going on.


Flat out barking could be pure excitement, could be an alert, could indicate a bored dog. Again, it is important to look at the other indicators to help you be your dog’s best advocate.


The physical aspect of your dog’s lips are also important. Are the lips relaxed, are they raised, can you see teeth? Is the dog licking his lips? Licking lips is a huge indicator that the dog is trying to calm themselves, be it from stress, over stimulus, excitement, and more. If your dog is licking their lips and does a half or full body shake, they are trying to calm themselves down.


P = Posture


When we look at the whole dog, we are able to see if they are relaxed, wagging their tails, ears up etc. As you get better at reading your dog, you will see more details making it easier to know what they are thinking.


Another thing to consider what is the whole body doing, is it frozen? This could be an indicator that they are ready to pounce on another dog, be it for play or to attack. Again, you have to look at all the signs.


If the dog has a low tail set and is crouching on the ground, he may be worried or stressed. A submissive dog may actually crawl on the ground, or even roll over and show his/her belly. This can be your dog showing submission or being nervous around strangers.



As you learn your dog, you can expand your knowledge to others, this will give you the confidence to know what other dogs are going to do before they do it. Allowing you to protect your dog when you are out and about.


Being your dog protector is key in keeping them safe, be it walking down the street, at the dog park, beach, hiking trails, and more.


If your dog has had problems in these areas, it may be best to work with a behavioral specialist in your area to help gain the skills necessary to help your dog cope with the stressors.


Essential Oil Support


In addition to working with a professional, I recommend the use of doTERRA Essential Oils for support.


My choice oils to help support dogs that may need additional confidence and socialization work are Copaiba, Vetiver, Balance, Serenity, and Adaptiv.


The best option is to allow your dog to self-select their favorite oil, and move forward with regular use.


Diffusing would be my top choice, pending the oil that your dog has chosen. Internal use with certain oils is also a great option for daily support.


Are you new to oils and want to test some of these options with your dogs? I am just an email away and am always happy to help.


CONNECT WITH ME! Join our Training Tribe and get a Free EO Dog Cheat Sheet

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