Show Me – Say What?

Christina & Chester

Not much causes as many problems
in relationships as does a lack of communication. Whether human to human, or human to dog;
listening to what the other party is telling you will help circumvent
unnecessary misunderstandings. While
humans may use words as their main form of communication, dogs primarily
communicate with visual cues or body language.
When those go unheeded, verbal communication, such as growling or
barking, may ensue.

of us have seen that all too common video of an adorable toddler riding his dog
like a pony. Or the video of a child
pulling a dog’s face towards his own. The child
and dog are filmed by an adult who will then comment how “sweet” and “funny” it
is. The majority of dogs, even the most
tolerant ones, will not find invasions of personal space amusing. If we look closely and study the dog’s body
language, we can see all the warning signs.
The dog attempting to move away, eyes wide, licking their lips, trying
at all costs to remove themselves from this uncomfortable situation. Perhaps we see a yawn or even a subtle
curling of the lip. One thing’s for
sure, if we pay attention, we can almost hear the dog asking for help. Sadly, those pleas virtually always go
unanswered resulting in a child needing stitches and a dog being blamed. The dog’s fate will practically be sealed and
he may even pay for this transgression with his life. The caretaker will undoubtedly lament that
“this was totally unexpected” and that Buster had “never done anything like
this before”. If only the adult had
“listened” more closely, this unfortunate accident would have been avoided.

dogs are eager to communicate, all we have to do is allow them to do so and
listen. Allowing a dog to communicate
means that we must not correct appropriate forms of communication, such as
avoidance, a lip curl, a growl or even barking. Many people become alarmed when
their dog growls or barks and are quick to correct these behaviors. A dog that verbalizes his discomfort has
probably exhausted all other, more subtle, forms of appropriate
communication. He is now begging you to
listen. Be open to receiving his
messages and keep matters from escalating to the point where Buster feels his
only way out of an uncomfortable situation is to bite the adorable toddler
sitting on him.

If you enjoy Christina’s writing, check her books out! She is the author of “Chester Gigolo: Diary of a Dog Star” and “Insider Training: Chester Gigolo’s Dog Training Secrets Revealed” for which she won the 2016 DWAA Captain Haggerty award for Best Training Book and the 11th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Animals & Pets). She is also a contributing author to “Animal Stars: Behind the Scenes with Your Favorite Animal Actors”. She has written multiple articles which have appeared in various international publications.