Calming Signals in Dogs

What are calming signals?

Your pet’s emotional health is one of the most important things along with the physical well-being. That’s why you should identify when your canine companion exhibits signs of anxiety or stress to avoid behavioral problems in the future.

Calming signals in dogs are:

  • Their innate capacity to avoid conflicts;
  • Their social skills;
  • The strong communication tools;
  • Rapid easy-to-miss movements;
  • Calming the timid or fearful dogs to create a contact.

In fact, your clever pet may use calming signals on another dog, himself or even you!

Once you learn how to decode the dog’s body signs and identify what the calming signals are, you can use them when communicating with new dogs. Furthermore, you can use calming signals to prevent your own timid, shy or anxious dog from stepping into conflict.

Calming signals purposes

Calming signals are often used for the following purposes:

  • Escaping a threatening situation caused by other dogs and people;
  • Avoiding conflicts and even fights;
  • Calming themselves down when feeling nervous or scared;
  • Showing goodwill;
  • Expressing readiness to cooperate;
  • Making other dogs and their owners feel good.

Dogs are incredibly sensitive to their owners’ anger, frustration, or inner turmoil imbalance. Using calming signals helps dogs make their owners feel more relaxed. If you’re keeping watch on your pet’s actions, you’ll learn the ways he communicates with others. Try to identify what social skills your dog uses when you approach other dogs strolling the street, neighbours or strangers. Pay close attention to your dog’s movements and reactions. Make sure that you can read your canine companion like an open book.

Dogs frequently use over 30 calming signals such as:

  • Head turning;
  • Yawing (to release stress);Calming signal head turn yawning
  • Sniffing the ground like mad;
  • Blinking eyes excessively;
  • Turning back on the ‘opponents’;
  • Completely ignoring other dogs and people;
  • Freezing (when feeling intimidated)
  • Looking softly;
  • Looking away (to avoid threatening situation);
  • Staring (a direct threat to other dogs);
  • Sitting or lying down (very calming signal for other pets);
  • Imitation of activity – the appearance of being busy;
  • Lifting one paw (a sign of insecurity);
  • Wagging tail (can mean anything from happiness to readiness to fight, that’s why it’s important to understand your dog and know how to identify his body language);Calming signal lip lick
  • Walking slowly (to calm other pets or persons down);
  • Fast movements (may be threatening gesture to other dogs);
  • Licking mouth or nose (used in some tight situation when facing other dog or person );
  • Curving (dogs greet each other in this manner as moving straight forward can be considered threatening);
  • Bowing playfully (that’s how your pet usually initiates play);
  • Splitting up (if your dog feels that tensions escalate, he places himself between other dogs or even you to escape a conflict).

Learn more about dog reactions

In fact, your dog’s emotional reactions are clear to understand if you take a closer look at each situation separately. For example, if your canine just finished eating his juicy meal and is licking his nose or lip, and there is no other dog around, this can’t be recognized as a calming signal. If your dog is yawning when waiting his turn in a veterinary clinic, probably he is not sleepy. More than likely, he feels uncomfortable and is just trying to calm down.

With calming signals, your dog communicates with his adored owner and those close to you. Once you observed one of the aforementioned calming signals, size up the situation. Try to understand what is your pet scared of or what makes him nervous and help your best friend to avoid undesirable stress. Probably you should change your position as it may be considered threatening. Since your dog may be afraid of children, avoid places packed with children playing and running around. Your precious pup should feel happy and safe. Identifying the calming signals your pet uses allows you to escape potentially dangerous situations. Make him feel excited during each stroll.

How to practice calming signals for your own safety

Furthermore, you can use calming signals when you are by yourself to avoid real danger from a strange dog. When you are walking alone and see a dog that clearly demonstrates his aggressive behavior, you may show him your goodwill by using one of the calming signals. Undoubtedly, some dog’s communication skills will be easy for you to practice. However hard you may try, you don’t have a tail to wag.

You may use some of them to help calm down an aggressive dog, for instance, start turning your head, blinking or yawning. Don’t stare at a dog as it might attack instantly. You may also lick your lip or stand still while waiting for him to approach. Move slowly, don’t make sudden and quick movements. Moreover, you can turn sideways. Turning your back will calm a nervous dog.

Whether you see that two dogs are barking at each other, place yourself between them to split them up but only if it won’t harm you. NEVER put your body between the fighting dogs.

Want to learn more about calming signals and their role in dogs’ and owners’ lives? Please buy this exciting book – “Calming Signals: What Your Dog Tells You” on DVD.

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