In the first two Blogs in this venue, we discussed learning to read the 3 mediums of Body Language, in order to gain some important insights into our beloved pooches. By understanding the 3 forms of expression, Posture, Gesture, and Sound, it gives us a better chance of problem solving when needed,and certainly helps cement a stronger bond between animal and human. One of the first questions I often ask myself when trying to relate to a an unfamiliar member of the 4 legged breeds, or one of my own is, “What is it they’re trying to tell me?” This question really helps in many situations, as it opens the doors of communication with a pet,while often building confidence in both dog and human in the area of problem solving. One important spinoff there, is that it can help keep dog anxiety levels under control, while also limiting certain bad habits. Eg:chewing on things you dont want to be destroyed or ruined, like that new pair of expensive sneakers you just bought last week! When you’re in sync with your dog, and have better understanding between the two of you, they are also far more cooperative and much easier to manage when need be. Some of this revolves around two keywords as well, Common Sense. If you live in a condo for example,and you decide to buy yourself a Golden Retriever, don’t be surprised if anxiety issues and bad habits start developing if you’re at work all day, and away from your home for 8 hrs or more, multiplied by 5 days a week. Especially when another key word works against the grain of solid harmony,so to speak. That key word is Exercise, and your young Golden companion needs plenty of it. When Exercise is denied, Body Language,via Sound and Gesture will be prominent, as this is a breed that absolutely must receive plenty of daily exercise to express all that pent up energy that builds while your away at work. Animals, much like humans do get bored.Is it any wonder the neighbors may ask about some of those strange noises coming out of your Condo? “Buster”, the yr.old Golden Retriever is bored stiff with all the inactivity, and takes it out by thumping that loose tennis ball he found in your closet on the wood flooring in the living room and hallways. The retired couple that live below you, look at each other with that puzzled look on their faces, as Buster scrambles across the floor chasing the ball while his longish nails are making those awful ” I got no brakes left” sliding and scratching noises above them! Lack of Proper exercise is the cause of the anxiety, stress and boredom and often are coupled with whimpering noises emanating from Buster the Golden Retriever and other breeds in the same scenario. Those noises underscore his frustration and his stress. Correct the behavior with plenty of daily regular exercise or else! The pattern will only continue and/or the behavior will likely get worse.
Other types of Sounds are directly related to past incidents that are filed in the memory banks and can surprisingly surface when least expected. My little pug Luci went ballistic on a much bigger neighborhood dog over an incident she witnessed at least 4 weeks prior to the outburst I speak of. Luci was really known in my neighborhood as a loving peacemaker, and being that she was well loved and a well balanced member of the Toy Family, this incident really underlines what I mentioned above about her memory and of going ballistic. Several years ago, I spent a lot of time exercising and helping to train my sister’s female Shiba/ miniature Husky cross whose name is Dakota. One day Dakota got into a shortlived scrap with a bigger lab cross breed in the main floor foyer entrance in my sister’s apartment block. It all started when the two dogs got too close to each other and their respective leashes got caught in a tangle. Dakota, who was a bit of a Canine Tomboy, took exception to the close proximity and let out a low growl. The two of them then went at it and it ended fairly quickly as I separated Dakota and the other dogs’ handler did the same. We tried to get them to sniff each other, but neither wanted any part of that scenario and both continued to growl at each other.We each went our separate ways and both dogs lived on different floors of the building. My little peacemaker Luci the Pug,witnessed the whole incident and obviously filed it in her memory for safe keeping. About a month later Luci, Dakota and I were heading back to my sister’s apartment after spending a good couple of hrs at the nearby offleash so Dakota could get some much needed exercise and a fresh air outing as my sister was at work all day and her daughter was at school.On our way up the ramp/walkway( there were 2 ramps off the same sidewalk, one if your walking East and the other West), I was actually carrying Luci in the’ Girlfriend’ position, just like in the blog pic you see here on these pages as she had inadvertently twisted her leg a little bit at the offleash and there was some tenderness in her right front paw. Anyways, Luci was just about at my eye level while being carried, when who does she spot going up the West ramp leading to the front entrance of the building? Why it’s the same lab cross who Dakota had the Foyer incident with. Within seconds, Luci vocally let the other dog have it. She barked incessantly and loudly at the offending Beast while letting much bigger buddy Dakota know that she had her Back! LOL! It was remarkable as she recognized the other dog she had only observed once before, and that was a month prior. As well, when she spotted the ‘Enemy’, we were at least 25 yards away! The volume and tone of her barking outburst I had never heard before, as she was normally known as a little Peacemaker. Myself and the other dog handler both learned something about sweet little Luci that day. Sound was the medium that was expressing the Body Language that day from the little Peacemaker. Of course, let’s not forget that smaller dogs will often exude bravery when theyre held at eye level or at least at higher ground than their object of displeasure. They tend to feel brave because they feel they’re protected by their owners that have elevated them. Normally, you want them at street level because thats what their world gives them, so its best that they get used to it, as that’s their reality and their environment. Do not coddle them, let them get exposed to the sights and sounds, dont over protect them, as they ll likely get used to that( crutch), and then they could well become yappy towards anything with 4 legs that moves into their line of vision. It’s always best to let them ‘naturalize’ with their environment and to just get used to things. It was only because of Luci’s tender paw that I carried her in the first place.
Its my experience and that of many others, to state that dogs pick up on Energy. Good Energy and Bad Energy to be specific. Its as powerful as some forms of psychic ability or the the gift that females are referenced in the 2 words, Woman’s Intuition. Dogs pick up on ENERGY, both good and bad, and from Humans and from other dogs. Puppies often exhibit ‘Puppy Energy’, much to the distaste of older, more seasoned dogs who really want very little to do with the young upstart who just entered the offleash area.They don’t want to be pawed , pushed and prodded by the youngster and the examples of ‘corrective’ behavior by the elders in the same postal code are numerous. Simply put, dogs learn from other dogs and it never hurts for us to pay attention. They get ‘Corrected’ all the time by their elders and the young ones learn by example and by watching the other dogs. Humans who dont ‘Correct’ their dogs are just asking for trouble. Correction does not involve pain. It’s more about Posture and Sound or certain sounds the human makes. If you’re consistent, those are the 2 keys. Body Language will often yield important clues as to what’s acceptable in the Dog world and what’s not. Posture, Gesture and Sound will be on display,so this is the time to observe and if you do need to step in before a bad situation can escalate, then by all means do so. Remember things like when your pet becomes ‘Dog tired’, that this phrase actually is important. When certain dogs become over tired from excess play, not being well hydrated, warmer outside temperatures or any combination of the above, it pays to pay attention. Fights, bites or even ganging up via rough play on one of the participants can happen. Watch the group dynamics, sometimes that lone ‘Rescue’ dog who is new to this environment,let alone his new home and handlers, is doing nothing but sniffing the ground in isolation. He’s well away from any of the other dogs and is doing so because hes actually afraid of the new environment and does not feel SAFE. He or she may in fact, be totally uncomfortable with one or more of the other animals and is sniffing the ground because he’s nervous and quite uncomfortable in this new environment. One clue could well be excess licking with tongue out like a human who licks his lips. Be careful there, because even though he may wag his tail upon approach, his lack of feeling secure and perhaps his past life incidents could actually make him aggressive towards another dog or human. Dont let the wagging tail fool you. It’s a learning curve for all involved, but no doubt learning to read the Tea leaves in the world of Posture, Gesture and Sound is often a very valuable tool.
Now get out there and Enjoy Your Pooches!