What are calming signals?
You already know them! We will often associate them with indifference, boredom, or fatigue, when in reality your dog is using calming signals on you. Here they are:
- Shaking off
- Licking chops
- Averting eyes
- Sniffing the ground
- Lying down
- Sitting down
- Lifting paw
- Moving slowly
- Making a detour
- Playing bow
When a dog shows these types of behavior, ask yourself questions. A confused order or the tone of your voice can lead a dog to signal his uncertainty or his stress to you. When you take your dog in your arms, does your dog lick his chops? Did you ever thing that it might be because it doesn’t like that. Can you see that knowing calming signals will enable you to better understand your dog?
How to use them?
During its life, a dog will face all kinds of stressful situations and that’s when you’ll be able to use the signals to help calm our dog. Here are the signals YOU can do to calm your dog:
- Averting the eyes or turning the head
- Licking lips
By watching you doing that, your dog can do the same and calm down more easily. However, if the dog doesn’t calm down, you will have the cause of its stress and handle the situation correctly in order to avoid any kind of trauma.
So, now that you know how to “speak dog”, have fun watching dog interacting with each other and use the signals. You can also signal the dogs you meet that you’re using their language, which will make you appear less intimidating than someone who doesn’t speak.
Catherine Gouillard, BSc Biology
Certified Animal Behaviour specialist