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Reading Your Dog... and why it's important!

The new year has brought on some new habits for myself and the dogs, which is what is prompting this week’s Training Tuesday Tip.

Since Jan 1st, the dogs and I have been walking/hiking every weekday (weekends are full of family time), and so it is not too crazy, I alternate taking a different dog each day, which means someone gets a bonus day with me each week.

The other day we were out on the trail, in a lovely little creek bed full of trees and boulders, when we heard a dog barking just up the trail.

Now, I always hike on a leash. Not just because we have leash laws, but because I do not always trust that people can control their dogs properly. This day, was no exception to that thought process.

Shortly after we heard the bark, the dog appeared, bounding towards us with reckless abandonment. With the owner shouting “she’s friendly”.

I get that her dog was friendly, which if I am being honest, as I was reading the dog's body language and she could have definitely gotten herself into trouble with the wrong dog.

Rumor (who was the lucky dog of the day) just ignored her advances. One of my friends calmly took her collar so she would stop harassing Rumor and allowed the owner to collect her dog.

We moved along our merry way, without incident.

BUT HERE IS THE THING…..if Rumor had not been as well-socialized dog, that interaction could have been devastating.

This has prompted me to share some body language tips with you, so if you are out and about and run into this type of situation, you can gauge how it is going to go, allowing you to read what the dog's body language is telling you.

Signs of Calming

- Look away, averting eye contact

- Blinking or squinting eyes

- Tongue flick or lip licking

- Yawning and sniffing

- Full or part body shake

Signs of Stress

- Tail down

- Rounded body

- Braced front legs

- Panting

- White around eyes showing (normally with fear, called Whale Eye)

- Ears drawn back

- Pupils dilated

- Drooling

Recognizing these signs in your dog and those around you can help you determine the best course of action to take moving forward.

There is always something to learn when it comes to our dogs, when we learn to speak their language, we can bridge the language barrier.

XXX ~ Bree


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