Imagine being in a strange world where you are surrounded by beings that are very different from you. You can’t understand the noises they are making. The facial expressions and body language sometimes are contradictory and confusing. How would you attempt to communicate with them? How would you try to tell these beings what you wanted or needed? Would you try to touch them and look in their eyes? Dance around in circles to attract their attention? What if you were scared, or cold, or hungry, or angry? How would you communicate that to them?
DOGS TALK USING BODY LANGUAGE
This is how our companion animals must feel every day until they learn how to show us
and tell us what is important to them. In Clarice Rutherford’s new children’s book, A Dog
is a Dog and that’s what makes him so special, she describes what a dog is saying to us through his body language and vocalizations. In today’s society, where there are many dogs at the park and in the neighborhood, it is important for children to learn early how to read and understand the body language of dogs.
THE SIGNALS DOGS USE ARE UNIVERSAL
The basic language of dogs has come from their ancestor, the wolf, and is consistent throughout the world. Although there are some variations in the language due to short tails, drop ears, hair hiding eyes and ears or shortened muzzles, the majority of signals remain the same. When a dog is approached rapidly, he will turn his head or glance from side to side if he is uncomfortable, signaling the person or dog to slow down. If you are wondering why your dog is suddenly very interested in sniffing a particular spot, look around and you may find that a dog is running up to him, or a jogger going by. This is also
a form of calming for either himself or the person or dog that is running by. Lip licking is also a way for dogs to calm themselves, or it can be used as a form of greeting, such as for a good friend.
DID YOU KNOW MOST DOGS WARN BEFORE THEY BITE?
While everyone is familiar with the happily wagging tail, the relaxed body, head up, tongue out, body language of the neighborhood “everybody’s buddy dog,” the warning signs that children and adults should watch for are a stiff tail, erect stance and a curled lip or growl. If the ears are back against the dog’s head, he averts his eyes, and his tail is tucked, he is fearful. Either of these two dogs may bite.
This and more can be learned from A Dog is a Dog and that’s what makes him so special, available at A DOG_IS_A_DOG. Rutherford’s book is an excellent resource to learn what makes a dog a dog. Loaded with illustrations and color photographs, she has included interesting tidbits, quick quizzes and games that you can play with your dog that uses his natural instincts. Learning to read what a dog is saying can be both fun and challenging. By encouraging your children as well as yourself to take the time to learn what dogs are saying you will create a closer and more meaningful relationship with your dog.