How to understand what your puppy is saying

 

To have a meaningful conversation we need to be able to both send and receive information. For humans this frequently means using words…..and sometimes lots of them! Dogs use lots of words too but they create words using their whole body. Our canine friends have a colourful language made up of an exquisite array of facial expressions, body postures, behaviours and vocalisations. Understanding their message means changing the way you take in information. See if you can take your dog’s whole body into account when translating their message.

The purpose of this video is to introduce some key signs that your dog may be feeling worried or even under threat. Sometimes these signs can be tricky for humans to notice and your dogs voice may not always be heard. Read the list below to identify some of the signs that may indicate your dog is worried.

 

Signs of worry 

Panting in the absence of exercise or heat;

Shedding;

Urination (Fear or Excitement);

Diarrhoea;

Licking their lips in the absence of a meal or drink;

Sneezing in the absence of an allergy;

Trembling in the absence of cool weather;

Sweaty paws;

Excessive salivation and sticky/ropey saliva;

Increased activity – pacing, fidgeting or hyper-vigilance;

Decreased activity or withdrawal (hiding);

Yawning despite a superb nights sleep (as adult dogs they only need roughly 8 hours of sleep in 24…just like us!);

Turning their head away or avoiding eye contact;

Slowly blinking as if tired;

Shaking their whole body in the absence of being wet;

Moving in slow motion;

Freezing;

Dilated pupils in the absence of darkness;

Can’t listen or respond to your guidance/cues;

Has limited, very limited or no ability to focus on training tasks;

Ignores or doesn’t appear interested in tasty treats you know are a winner at home.

 

What to do if you see these signs?

In a physically healthy dog these signs may be caused by ‘normal’ rationale worry (for example: there are treats in my owners hand and I really want one) and sometimes they may be ‘abnormal’ or irrational worry (for example: my owner is never ever, ever coming home). For abnormal or excessive worry follow the steps below:

Step 1: Some of these signs can be caused by physical disease and your regular veterinarian is always a terrific source of support and a great place to start investigations.

Step 2:  If you are not sure which, you are worried by how much your dog seems worried or you want to understand your dog better then Kalmpets can help. A general rule of thumb is to identify the source of worry and where possible help your dog feel supported through verbal praise/food (even better) and if possible create distance between them and the source of worry by moving away.