What Are Dog Calming Signals
Dogs communicate in a number ways. This communication can be grouped in to three categories. One is auditory. A dog can emit a range of sounds including barks, growls, screams and yelps. The second group is smell or olfactory. Its main use in communication is to find out if a female dog would be receptive to mating. The third group is visual. This type of communication is similar to that shown by wolves. The term calming signals was developed by a Norwegian called Turid Rugaas. He identified a number of visual signals exhibited by dogs to show stress. They were an indication to a more aggressive dog that they were not a threat.
How To Read Your Dog’s Mind
Dogs will also use the signals in response to human activity. Learning these calming signals helps us work out what a dog is feeling. The signals are often used in combination. There are about 30 calming signals here is a list of the most common.
Turning the head to avoid eye contact
Sniffing the ground
Lip licking and lip smacking
Facial expressions including laid-back ears, mouth closed and lowered eyelids.
Moving very slowly
Turning the body away from the other dog
Lying down with the belly on the ground.
All of these signals show that the dog is not happy with a situation and is feeling stressed. If this is caused by something we are doing we should change our behavior because the next stage could be aggression.
Human behavior which can trigger calming signals
A Human’s face being placed too close to the dog’s face
Prolonged eye contact.
Hugging the dog
You ask the dog to do something he doesn’t want to do
Someone is walking directly at a dog
Bending over the dog
The dog feels cornered
A person sounds angry
Effects of Stress
The calming signals are the outward signs that a dog is stressed. Putting your dog in a stressful situation should be minimised. A dog’s body will react to being in a stressful situation. Adrenaline levels rise and, in turn, cortisol levels rise. Adrenaline can affect the anti-diuretic hormone which controls water balance. This can be the cause urinating when stressed.
Higher stress levels over an extended period will have an adverse effect on our dog’ health. We should look out for the signals and increase our dog’s sense of well being.