Would you recognise a scared dog if you saw one?
We are all here because we love dogs, and the idea that we may not realise that a dog is frightened is a difficult one to process, but with a little effort and education, we can learn to see the signs quickly.
Dogs do not generally communicate their thoughts, feelings, and intentions verbally as we do. Most of their communication comes in the form of body language, some of which can appear extremely subtle to our human eyes. With education and time spent in careful observation, we will be able to recognise a scared dog and so can act to remedy that fear as soon as possible.
The obvious signals of a scared dog, the ones that almost everyone can recognise, are the ones that show an extremely scared dog. Before the dog reaches that level of fear there are a number of signs that they use to show increasing degrees of stress and worry. Other dogs who have been well socialised and have excellent dog to dog communication skills will recognise these signals and respond accordingly, giving the scared dog the room that they need to evade the source of their fear and feel better.
None of us like to think that any of our family members might be frightened, and that includes our companion animals – nobody wishes to be the cause of or contribute to their dog feeling uncomfortable and frightened. A scared dog is one placed under stress through the processes that fear starts in the dog’s body. A dog that is frequently put into situations that cause them to be stressed is at risk of behavioural and health consequences, neither of which are good things for the dog.
How then can we learn to identify the earliest possible signs of a scared dog?
Canine body language is one of the most important subjects that those who love dogs and share their lives with them can learn. In order to understand our dogs as much as we can, and to allow us to respect their feelings, their needs, wants, and requirements, we must be able to read their communication as much as possible. Given that dogs use body language as their main form of communication, any amount of time spent studying and learning what their movements and posture changes mean is the best investment we can make in their well-being and our relationship with them.