Our bodies are constantly speaking to our dogs – whether we want them to or not. Look at how your dog responds when you swear or cry, laugh or run around like a kid. They pick up on our energy and often respond to it.
But of course it’s so much more than that. When we’re sitting on the ground, we’re our softest while standing makes us louder. Walking towards a dog can cause them to walk away while walking away seems to pull them close. Dogs respond to our body language constantly, the question is are you listening.
At pranaDOGS we use our bodies to consciously speak to our dogs. For example, if we’re working with an anxious or nervous dog we walk backwards toward them – to soften the impact. If we’re working with an over-the-top dog we put on our no-nonsense demeanor and stay cool even if we have to repeat ourselves.
Think of those dogs on leash who act badly when they see another dog. Within weeks the dogs person anticipates the behavior and actively works to avoid it. They may tighten up on the leash or cross the street. These behaviors signal to the dog that their response isn’t working and they need to increase it. The humans reaction to the dog causes the dog to escalate their behavior.
Shy, anxious or nervous dogs often signal their concern by licking the front of their nose. When I’m first working with an extremely nervous dog I’ll count the number of times they lick as I approach. Then actively work to build their confidence so they eventually stop licking altogether.