You are probably already listening to your dog’s communication with you just through a tail wag for hello or pawing/whining to go outside or receive a treat. But did you know that they might also use calming signals to promote peace and stave of aggression?
Like wolves, they display calming signals to let others know that they’re friendly and to help diffuse stressful situations.
These signals can be quite subtle and many owners miss them entirely. Sometimes they mistakenly punish their dogs for giving a calming signal that is miscommunicated. Dogs can be trained to respond to a whispered command rather than a loud, firm voice. The angry sounding voice might elicit calming signals, which your dog may use to show you there’s no need to yell. So therefore, a dog may get punished for trying to communicate a useful message.
Here are different calming signals your dog might use. Yawning, licking, turning away, play bow, sniffing the ground, walking slowly, sitting down, lifting a paw, walking in a curve, smiling, scratching, wagging his tail, urinating on himself, trying to lick your face, making a soft face, laying down with the belly on the ground, blinking and shaking.
By all means, try to respond in a calm manner if your dog is giving you a calming signal. Lower your voice and slow your movements. However, do not assume these calming signals will subdue an aggressive dog. Amazingly, the average dog understands about 165 different words. Dogs pay attention to the tone of our voices, the pitch and rhythms in our speech and to even distinguish between meaningful and meaningless sounds. Your dog also recognizes non-verbal communications. Some other methods of communication from your dog are:
- Submission display by tucking their tails and lying on their backs.
- Wagging their tails to the right side when they encounter something pleasant.
- Staring at you because he/she wants something.
- He/she may also stare at you to try and figure out your thoughts.
- Licking you may be a means of getting attention, to say “hello”.
Because we are in a world where we have come to expect those around us to understand what we are trying to communicate, it’s only fair to make a lifetime commitment to try and understand the language of the pets we have committed to care for. Always communicate clearly and effectively. Remember, our pets are sometimes our best and most devoted friends and just might save someone’s life some day. Their calming use in nursing homes has done wonders for the elderly. Be kind, considerate and responsible for caring for your devoted pet.