Calming signals...list

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Postby Marinepits » July 3rd, 2008, 2:38 pm

Best book I've found yet on calming signals:

Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide Interpreting the Native Language of the Domestic Dog
by Brenda Aloff

http://www.amazon.com/Canine-Body-Langu ... 078&sr=8-2

She has wonderful pics and explanations about body language and calming signals.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » July 3rd, 2008, 2:39 pm

That book is my bible.
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 9th, 2008, 10:32 am

nicole wrote:what about "shaking off" ?

I've seen dogs do this after play fighting gets a little out of hand. I'll break it up, and my dogs will shake off (like they have water on them) almost as if to "shake off" bad energy and any tension.


Yup, dogs shake to release tension and stress, and to signal to the others that "it's all cool". 8)

Often too, a dog will shake to kind of relax itself...our Service Dogs do it a lot after lying down in public for a while...they'll get up from under the table, and shake...we always tell people that they're re-adjusting their "clothing".
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Postby TremontD » July 13th, 2008, 10:07 pm

furever_pit wrote:Great thread! I'll have to try using some of these signals to calm some of the dogs at work. I'd never thought of that. :|

I'd like to add one thing though. Yes, the paw lifting is used as a calming signal. However, it is also important to be aware of the fact that when a dog lifts its paw and places it on you that this is a sign of dominance.

I know that when Dylan lifts his paw it is a dominance thing 99% of the time. He doesn't do this to me so much anymore because he's getting the picture but he does it to everyone else. They all think he's being friendly but I know what's really going on...once he gets his paw on you you're fighting an uphill battle if you want any respect. But that's just my dog.


I have often found the paw placement to be a signal to me that my dog (or subject dog) is attempting to one up me. It's called "topping" and I've found it to happen often during obedience, especially if the dog has been a bit spoiled or coddled. When a dog is attempting to elevate his/her position in the pack, they often throw out signs like placing a paw (or their head) over another dog's back...just another way to determine who fhe boss is. If I'm working on a more important issue, I usually ignore it. If It needs to be addressed, I simply place my foot gently over the dogs foot...switching positions. We're constantly being tested by these marvelous creatures!

In addition, pawing can be considered "raking." That is actually an agressive move (one that causes a considerable amount of pain if you don't have a thick coat of fur)...another attempt at elevating position.
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 13th, 2008, 10:28 pm

My dogs paw at each other all of the time to initiate play...one paw...patting at the other dog's face or head. :dance:

This is the same maneuver that they do with me while playing.

No "dominance" problems here...just plain ol' being a dog and using their paws to play.
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby Marinepits » July 13th, 2008, 10:41 pm

Katy and Shorty put their paws on the boys' heads and backs a lot and it isn't always in play. NO ONE is allowed to put a paw on Katy, though -- she'll beat up whoever would dare to do that.

Tucker likes to "box" when he plays and he does use his paws like hands sometimes.

Interesting about the "raking". Shorty does that when she isn't getting her way. She'll put a paw on your leg and act all cute, but she'll start curling her toes and then eventually rake your leg if you tell her "no" or to "get off". I never really thought about it possibly being dominant behaviour -- I always considered it more of bratty/bitchy behaviour. Makes sense, though. She does have a bit of a Napolean complex. :D
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 13th, 2008, 10:44 pm

I just see it as an attention getting device, not as a "dominance" move. Dogs do what works...and hey, raking claws down your leg sure does get attention! :wink:
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby katiek0417 » July 14th, 2008, 5:06 am

TheRedQueen wrote:I just see it as an attention getting device, not as a "dominance" move. Dogs do what works...and hey, raking claws down your leg sure does get attention! :wink:


Right, and remember sometimes ANY attention is seen as good in the dog's eyes.
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Postby LaylaWoobie » July 14th, 2008, 4:09 pm

Layla puts her paw on Riggs' face when they're playing, but that's more of a "no hunny, we can't do it now, our moms are looking" :rolleyes2:
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Postby airwalk » July 14th, 2008, 5:18 pm

Scooter and Magic both box when playing, but they both are clear that in the pack order Scooter is higher.

Scooter is also a "paw on" kind of guy, but it's not a dominance move, it's simply attention getting. Interestingly, when he is in his vest and "working" I never have any "paw on" challenges, he just doesn't ever bring his paw up to place it on anyone.
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Postby Marinepits » July 14th, 2008, 5:35 pm

Interesting. Both Katy and Shorty will put their paws on the boys' backs and heads and most of the time, the boys will slowly back down and withdraw from the situation. This usually happens when one of the boys have something that one of the girls wants.

I guess, like with all behaviours, it's the context of the situation where you observe the behaviour.
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Postby airwalk » July 14th, 2008, 5:49 pm

Marinepits wrote:I guess, like with all behaviours, it's the context of the situation where you observe the behaviour.


I agree!
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Postby TremontD » July 14th, 2008, 6:20 pm

I am fascinated by the language of the canine. Every move they make is a signal or a message to us and their counterparts. I used to tell my trainer that I wished a manual would come with our dogs...kind of a dog dictionary! I've spent countless hours in the classroom and on the field studying behavior and still have so much to learn! I am by no means an expert, and please know that everything that I post here is my opinion based soley on what I've learned through study and observation. The signals are subtle...a tilt of the head, a twitch of the tail, ear position, eye contact, body movements, and on and on. I've whelped only two of my own litters, but learned so much from watching the dam teaching the pups. Most importantly, playing is an act of learning the behaviors that the dog will need as an adult for self-preservation. They're also clearly establishing pack order right in the whelping box. Even my adult dogs hone their skills by playing or "play fighting." It's during this play that you will see all of the moves used in real fighting...just to a lessor extent, and there have been times when I've had to step in as the leader of my pack of 6 (I include my husband in this number) to restore order.

When my high-drive female, Ahnya, was 10 weeks old I brought her to my mother's to meet Katie...a 6 year-old Yorkie. The first thing my Ahnya did was walk right over and very purposefully position herself with her head over Katie's back. I couldn't believe I had witnessed such a perfect display of dominance with a 10-week old puppy! Dogs are ingenious opportunists!

Breed also highly influences behavior. My herders will actually circle each other and come in from behind. They think they're stealthy! There is very clear order here...right down to the omega (my poor old American bred shepherd. Yes...I'm a pointy eared fan!
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Postby TheRedQueen » June 5th, 2011, 11:48 am

Great link with pics of Appeasement Signals:
http://reactivechampion.blogspot.com/20 ... ement.html
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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