Tag: dog aggressive behavior cues

Dogster: Photo Friday

Dogster defines itself as “Expert info. Community know-how.” I want to share a page from their Web site plus a post. I found dogster, while looking for sites that promote adoption and provide sound guidance on raising a dog.

Dogs 101

“Give your dog a better life. You know you should. Our Dogs 101 section is chockfull of helpful tips for taking your dog on a trip or choosing the best pet accessories for your home. We’ll steer you towards the best options for beds, collars, carriers and all sorts of dog gear, and assist you in everything from finding a dog-friendly business to decoding pet insurance lingo or choosing your next pet’s name! Read up on the documents you’ll need for your next international trip with your dog or get advice from the pros on taking the perfect dog picture. Your dog deserves the best and we’re here to help with Dogs 101.”

IMG 4817

So far dogstar has turned out to be a good fit for my interests, values and understanding of how to give dogs good lives. Sign up for a free membership (or login with Facebook) to set up email reminders on topics of interest.

I just read, Some Common Triggers For Dog Aggression. “Today, we will review some of the most common triggers for dog aggression.” Check out the rest of this post and community comments at Some Common Triggers For Dog Aggression.

Dogs say, “I’m okay. I’m not sure about you.”

“We’ve got to stop greeting like this.”

Anxious dogs show stress in greeting rituals. And size matters to dogs, they know when they’re out numbered or when a new dog towers over them. Little dogs often don’t have the proper language to handle dog parks.

For little dogs, a watchful eye and good socialization to other dogs, adds confidence.

Sydney has gained skills with each new outing. Here, he is meeting a new dog. This moment opened an afternoon of happy play.

If you want to learn more about helping small dogs learn social cues and stay safe at dog parks, read my post Wolfish or Puppyish? Dogs Speak  on the difference in languages dogs speak

Sid meet  greet

Too Much Barking?


How much is too much?

And what can you do if your dog’s barking is bugging you?

What you do really depends on your dog. Why is he or she barking? And when?

Asking a dog not to bark is like asking a person not to talk. Also barking serves different purposes. Dogs give one or two barks in greeting and bark from excitement when they want to play. Dogs bark when they know they are about to do something they love like take a walk. Barking often serves as signals, sending messages like “I’m lonely. I’m hungry. I’m scared.” Dogs also yowl, yelp and yip.

Being territorial animals, dogs bark as a warning. They have excellent hearing and know far in advance, when anyone approaches. Delivery workers and mail carriers hear dogs in houses, garages, and yards, conveying messages like, “Stay away! Stay back! Keep out!”

Dogs can also display high-levels of aggression, warning strangers to keep away from their human parent. A fearful or aggressive display can be changed with supervised socialization and training. Group training helps dogs meet new people and other dogs in a non-threatening manner.

My dog Sydney lets me know when anyone approaches our house. He alerts me with three or four mid-level barks, wanting me to go look out our front window. I follow and look outside then say, “Okay. That’s our neighbor.” If he continues to bark, I tell him, “Quiet.” Most of the time, Sydney relaxes and stops barking.

But this has not been a quick process, training him to stop barking on command. Our whole family continues to show Sydney what we mean when we say, “Sydney, quiet.”

When Sydney has a “barking day” I use distraction. A favorite toy, a yummy chew stick or a quick game of “Find It” tend to get his mind off barking. When distraction does not work, I resort to keeping him in my office with me, this way he cannot keep guarding the house or barking from boredom. We reinforce the “Quiet,” command—often. Sydney receives a treat when he quiets for at least 30 seconds.

The most challenging habit Sydney persists in is his over-the-top yelling, high-pitched greetings. These displays of excitement cause distress. He doesn’t seem to get that his squealing yells hurt the ears of the people he loves. Sometimes, we briefly isolate him in another room as guests arrive. We don’t let Sydney out until he is quiet. As a last resort, we use a water squirt bottle.  If he will not quiet, he gets one squirt of water, which serves to interrupt barking fits. These days he doesn’t need the squirt bottle. The cue word “quiet” lets him know to stop barking.

Know that some dog breeds were designed to bark for specific purposes.

Find humane methods of teaching your dog to quiet on command and socialize him to accept other people and animals.

For more insight to barking and how to deal with it, I suggest reading a humorous, short book from DogFancy, Barking: Simple Solutions (Simple Solutions Series) by Kim Campbell Thornton  http://amzn.to/kpEOmU

When does your dog bark?

Have you ever solved a barking problem? How did you do it?

Stop Dog Fights Before They Start

Not all dogs speak the same language.

Dog Leaders watch dogs.  By watching, Dog Leaders pay attention to social cues that signal friendly or aggressive behavior in dogs. Dog safety always comes first. Dog Leaders keep an eye on dog-to-dog greetings because first meetings between dogs can turn into fights.

Wise dog parents and Dog Leaders teach their dogs to sit or wait before greeting new people or new dogs. In the social world of dogs, the language difference between aggressive or dominant and puppyish or submissive dogs may turn dangerous. Plus due to size differences in dogs, a greeting might turn life threatening for a young or small dog. Dog Leaders supervise their dogs before they greet one another and during the greeting ritual. A dog-to-dog greeting can turn to a sudden dogfight due to mixed messages.

I'm okay and so are you.
Well-mannered Dog-to-Dog Greeting

Here is a friendly greeting. Both dogs look relaxed. They notice each other without aggressive stares, neither dog is puffing itself up, straining or standing rigid with tail held straight up. One dog sits, showing respect for the slightly more dominant dog. The closed mouth on the Mohawk dog is a neutral expression. The husky is panting, showing excitement or a need to cool off. The body language of both dogs is saying, “We’re close to being equals.” and “I recognize your polite behavior.”

Safety Tips

Tell your dog to sit before greeting another dog. Teach your dog to wait for your signal or special words like, “Okay” or “Say hello.” This gives you time to scan you dog’s body language and look at the new dog.

A Dog Leader looks at his or her dog, thinking:

  • •Is my dog relaxed?
  • •Is my dog wagging his tail slowly?
  • •Is my dog showing any fear?
  • •Is my dog showing any aggression?

If your dog is showing fear or aggression, it is best to skip greeting.

What confidant, calm and friendly interest looks like:

  • Ears pulled back against the head
  • Tail held high, not rigid
  • Blinking eyes
  • Relaxed open mouth or mouth closed, leaning a little forward
  • Tail level with body, not stiff yet pointing away from the dog
  • Tail held lower than body yet off the legs, sometimes swishing

Do not risk an aggressive or fearful greeting.

Dog Leaders keep dogs from fighting or getting hurt.

What fear looks like:

  • Ears pulled back flat with wrinkled forehead, teeth bared
  • Eyes turned away to avoid direct eye contact
  • Hair bristles only on shoulders
  • Tail tucked between legs
  • Tail bristling only at the tip
  • Licking the air

What aggression looks like:

  • Ears forward with bared teeth and wrinkled nose
  • Direct eye-to-eye stare
  • Lips curled up to expose some teeth
  • Lips curled to show most of the teeth, wrinkling above nose, mouth open
  • Lips curled showing teeth and gums, nose wrinkled
  • Tail straight out or straight up and stiff
  • Hair bristles on shoulders
  • Body slightly forward, feet braced
  • Upright body with stiff-legged stance

How to Speak Dog by Stanley Coren inspired this post. You will find a link to this book on my page Books for Dog Lovers.

What do you do to keep your dog safe when you are walking by other dogs?

Is your dog relaxed and confident when he greets new dogs?

Do you visit dog parks or public parks with your dog?

How do you keep your dog safe if another dog displays aggression?