Tips on Body Language

Being able to read your dog’s body language is a very important skill to develop. Knowing when your dog is stressed or fearful, when to respect your dog’s space, or when he might be getting ready to bite is key in keeping both you, other people, and your dog safe! If you have kids, teach your kids to respect your dog’s space and body language. Most dogs do not like to be hugged, which is something kids love to do. Similarly staring a dog in the eye, which is a normal human behavior, is very rude in the dog world and can make your dog very uncomfortable. For some dogs it may cause them to react in an 'aggressive' way.

Learning how to approach a dog, and teaching kids how to, is a valuable skill to learn:

  • Dogs, as a general rule, do not like to be petted on the head.

  • They don’t like someone covering over them.

  • they are not too fond of people coming straight up and touching them.

  • Therefore:

  1. Let your dog come to you. Do not ‘force’ them to hug or sit in your lap, if they don’t want to. Put your hand out and let them sniff first before petting them on the chest or back.

  2. Respect their space: If they are settled in their bed, teach your kids to leave them alone. The bed is their ‘safe haven’ where they should be able to relax.

  3. How to greet a strange dog: Stand with your side to the dog, gently pat your leg and see if the dog wants to come to you. If not, respect his choice. The dog will have his reasons. He may be fearful or apprehensive of strangers.  Likewise, if an owner walking her dog tells you “my dog doesn’t want you to pet him” – understand that the person is most likely not saying this to offend you, but the dog may be reactive to strangers.

  4. Be a Tree: Teach your kids what to do if your dog is getting overly aroused in a play situation. This makes some kids scared. Teaching them to stand still with their arm crossed or hanging down at the sides, and be a tree, will make your dog lose interest.

  • Remember you are your dog’s guardian.

  • She will look to you to protect her.

  • If she feels you can’t, she will have to defend herself the only way she knows how to.

  • learning to read her body language is an important tool in better understanding your dog.

Some videos on body language: