Dogs are always observing us. They naturally register a tension in the shoulders, a facial expression or body and they react accordingly. They are amazing communicators because they watch us all the time. Shouldn’t we offer them the same courtesy? Yes we should.
Do you know whether your own dog is happy, worried, sad or scared? Do you know the less obvious signs like stress signals and changes in eye shape or ear position. Dogs communicate by scent predominantly but visual communication is also very important to them. They watch each other so carefully - and recognise tension, a threat or fear in each other quite nicely.
I would really like to think that everyone with a dog knew some canine communication. Just enough to know when the dog is asking to be left alone. Or scared of something in the environment – but I don’t think they do. It’s so common to see enthused people bending over obviously scared, leashed and unknown dogs. It pretty common to see dogs who are scared and worried taken directly towards the scary and worrying thing – by an oblivious human. And we must have all seen a stressed looking dog being pulled and pushed around by a child.
Learning canine communication is so important because it means our dogs are understood. Their requests are recognised and their space is respected. I would say that communication, regardless of whether its same or cross species is a two way street, yet I see so many dogs doing all the work. It’s vital to learn what dogs are saying because without that knowledge we can put them into difficult positions time and again. Without the respect that excellent communication creates, our poor dogs can feel forced, pushed around and even threatened – because nobody is listening.
And nobody wants to feel like that do they?