Someone recently asked, “what is the best thing I can do to become a better dog guardian?”. This was such a good question that I thought I would put together a post about it.
So what is the answer? The best thing you can do to improve your dog training, improve your relationship with your dog and be a better dog guardian is to: learn how dog’s communicate.
Dog’s don’t communicate with words. They communicate in majority through body language. A lot of it is subtle and hard to notice if you don’t know what to look for. But learning how to read a dog’s body, what specific body movements mean, and what happy vs threatening body language cues are is the best thing you can do for your dog.
Most people do not understand dog body language. In fact, when I’ve asked clients “What does it mean when a dog’s tail is wagging?”, I usually hear a “they’re happy!”. When truly, it does not always mean this. A high tail that is wagging quickly is a warning sign that this dog is concerned and there may be impending conflict. This is what I mean about subtleties.
If you can understand what your dog is communicating, you will be better placed to meet their needs, understand what makes them uncomfortable, and provide them space when they need it.
Countless dog bites happen because people aren’t educated in canine body language. We commonly hear “the dog bit out of nowhere!” or “they’ve always been so good with the kids!” when in fact, the dog has been pleading for space for weeks, if not months. The number of “cute” dog and child videos on the internet that absolutely make me cringe are evidence of just how many of us misinterpret our dogs.
So, what’s the solution? Get educated! This is THE place to put the most effort into for your canine education. Below, I’ve included some amazing free resources and links to many great paid resources.
Bravo Dog’s free Body Language course:
Lili Chin’s free resources:
Lili Chin’s amazing book:
On Talking Terms with Dogs by Turid Rugaas (book):