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Body Language


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On another forum I use, there is some interesting discussion going on about canine body language and I wondered if it might be useful to have a similar thread here.

To start us off, this chart shows how anxiety is manifested, from very subtle early indicators through to the extreme of a bite.


A dog will almost always try to remove himself from a threat if he can, so at any point the behaviour has the potential for de-escalation.

Now, to put it in practice, what do you see in this image?

[Edit. Problem uploading - watch this space]
@JoanneF, I was told by the dog trainer to look out for these signs with Doris when she gets 'aggressive' as she does avoid eye contact and then licks her lips and then snaps if someone gets too close. I try and help with this and remove her from the situation and it seems to calm the whole situation. Great thread idea, and will most certainly help someone on here! :)
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:mad: The man is entering the dogs space and the dog looks stiffened and the dogs eyes are wide.
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Whites of eyes showing, tense posture, furrowed brow, ears back... If ever anyone deserved to get bitten, CM does.

@JoanneF, in your first picure, what does 'Lies down, leg up' mean? Is it to show the belly in a submissive gesture?
Possibly or it could be either lies down or raises a paw as a sign of appeasement?
I would also like to point out the grip he has on the dog's neck. The dog is being firmly held in position and is clearly unhappy. :emoji_angry:
At the risk of derailing the thread, does anyone have a dog who isn't comfortable being hugged by them (the owner)?
At the risk of derailing the thread, does anyone have a dog who isn't comfortable being hugged by them (the owner)?
Not a derail; you make a very valid point.
At the risk of derailing the thread, does anyone have a dog who isn't comfortable being hugged by them (the owner)?

Yes, and I suspect it's a lot more common than people realise. Jasper likes shows of affection to be low key - either a good ol' bum scratch, or an ear rub while he has his nose stuck in my groin. And if he's feeling really loving, he'll just rest his head against my leg and sigh.
Kay absolutely loves a cuddle but Clover never seeks them out and just seems to tolerate hugs and kisses, which I don't mind! Most of my dogs have turned out to be lapdogs and it's refreshing to have a dog that would rather be on the floor than in my arms!

Clover's the first of my dogs to seem uncomfortable with human affection (hugs and kisses, she doesn't like being stroked much either, definitely prefers a game).
At the risk of derailing the thread, does anyone have a dog who isn't comfortable being hugged by them (the owner)?
My old Beagle Benny didnt like affection to be initiated by us he was the one who came to us when he wanted affection. He liked his ears stroked and scratched but not hugs except from my daughter.

Murphy loves a cuddle and will come to us leaning in and wanting to be touched. His standard approach is to wander up and collapse against your leg belly showing, leg up..

Id say that scale is an indication. Some dogs go through each stage clearly, others may miss a stage or two some like Benny would start with growling the moment anyone invaded his space. Whereas Remy just went straight to the stiff as a board phase.

As for the smiling Mexican I see an idiot plain and simple.
@Mad Murphy makes an excellent point. What a dog (person?) tolerates from one person may well differ from what he tolerates from another.
Yup- got a corgi x that is very body conscious- no hugging and no prolonged eye contact. And he's really freaked by some people for no obvious reason- I think they remind of bad experiences in the past. But the best thing is that after a mere 6 years he doesn't go straight to bite! ;) (Oh the happy hours in A&E!) That's massive progress for Ricky.
I don't know if you are familiar with the five second rule for dogs that are uncomfortable with human contact - I mean shy and unsure dogs rather than the ones that clearly dislike it.

Stroke or touch for no more than five seconds then stop. If the dog initiates further touch by nudging or similar, stroke for a further five seconds and stop. Repeat only as long as the dog prompts you. This gives the dog control and helps his confidence in knowing he can stop the contact if and when he wishes.
Murphy has a strange but clear rule when it comes to strangers.. No dog means they are a threat and should be seen off.. Anyone with a dog is ok by him.. Last night we bumped into a perfect stranger withan 11 week old BC. I exchanged the normal oooh and ahh talk when met with a cute pup and meanwhile the owner reached down and tickled Murphys chin, he then pushed his head forward into her hand for more getting all soft and wiggely..

Bit further down the road he saw a man coming toward us on a mobile and decided the guy was a danger so he turned into the terminator and threatened to take the guy apart at the seams.
Ok, what about this one?

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