What is he 'saying'? - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 11:33 PM Thread Starter
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What is he 'saying'?

These pics were taken within a 20 second time frame, and they speak 'volumes'. They show the natural progression of 'calming signals' in a dog that is faced with a situation that makes them feel nervous or threatened. Charlie was resting, and I approached him with the camera.
Name:  Dec2012 003 - Copy (640x480) (400x300).jpg
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Size:  100.6 KB-curious, watching me

Name:  Dec2012 004 - Copy (640x480) (400x300).jpg
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Size:  89.9 KB -the 'look away' - ears back, tension in his face/body, head turned away slightly- tells me he is nervous - worried

Name:  Dec2012 005 - Copy (640x480) (400x300).jpg
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Size:  89.3 KB- yawning - the 'look away' didn't work, so he is giving me a more obvious signal that he is become more nervous and is trying to calm himself.

These signals arise in many dog to dog (or dog to human) interactions when the dog is feeling nervous or threatened, they often happen quickly and are easy to miss if you aren't watching for them. The appropriate response to the 'look away' would have been to stop what I was doing and/or move away from him. I kept the camera on him and he responded with the more obvious 'yawn' telling me he was becoming more stressed with the situation, was trying to calm himself and he wanted me to stop, (which I did). Had I continued, he would have got up and moved away.
Our dogs 'speak' to us all the time, using body language, stress signals and calming signals - we owe it to them to listen.


'Don't pity the rescue dog. Adopt one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.'
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 11:38 PM
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Bella does that too when I point a camera (actually my phone) at her. It's really hard to get a decent picture of her. I literally have to follow her around, and continuously hit the button, and hope one turns out. Once she realizes what's going on, she comes charging up to me.

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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 01:51 AM
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Odie is a camera ham. He actually poses believe it or not. The hard part is to keep him standing still!!


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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 04:11 AM
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Thank you for this post.

I find super important that people with dog are aware of the body language of their dogs! They say so much without speaking that sometimes it is hard for us to listen...
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 03:44 PM
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This is an excellent post. Pictures speak more than a thousand words. Thank you for "documenting" it.


9 & half short years in my life but forever in my heart http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/...-my-buddy.html
"He took my heart and ran with it, and I hope he's running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his forever" - Patricia McConnell

Charlie could watch birds for hours and I could watch Charlie for hours too http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/...n-morning.html
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 10:20 PM Thread Starter
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Name:  070 (357x400).jpg
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Size:  97.0 KB'Lip licking' is another calming signal, most easily observed in dark or black faced dogs. A quick flip of the tongue over the nose or licking of the lips (unrelated to eating) is a sign the dog is in a stressful situation he is not sure how to deal with. He uses it to calm himself or to tell other dogs (or you) he is not sure of them or the situation.


'Don't pity the rescue dog. Adopt one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.'
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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-14-2013, 10:58 PM
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Wow, never thought about that. Thank you so much!


9 & half short years in my life but forever in my heart http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/...-my-buddy.html
"He took my heart and ran with it, and I hope he's running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his forever" - Patricia McConnell

Charlie could watch birds for hours and I could watch Charlie for hours too http://www.goldenretrieverforum.com/...n-morning.html
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 06:48 AM
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Thanks for posting. Very interesting stuff. Do you know of any good books on this subject.

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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 07:36 AM
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On Talking Terms With Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas. It is fascinating.

Amazon.com: turid rugaas calming signals: Books


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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 08:19 AM Thread Starter
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Canine Body Language by Brenda Aloff is a good intro to dog to dog communication.
DVD: Calming Signals What Your Dog Tells You by Turid Rugaas


'Don't pity the rescue dog. Adopt one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.'
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