When we’re trying to help our dogs feel better, it’s invaluable to be able to read their body language! Especially behaviors that mean our dogs are stressed. When you can read subtler signs of stress, you:
  • Are more in tune with when and why your dog is stressed
  • Are better able to see how much progress they are making
  • Can intervene and help them earlier (which = less practicing of their Big Feelings!)
In our session, we watched video examples of many common signs of stress. Refer to the Ladder of Aggression (from Horwitz and Mills) for a reminder of some of those behaviors, too.
A few common behaviors that might indicate mild to moderate stress in our dogs are:
  • A tense body
  • Lip licking
  • Staring
  • Head turning/eye aversion (Like when you see someone in the grocery store you don’t want to talk to)
  • Walking away
  • Pawing behaviors
  • Shaking off
  • Tail wagging
  • Displacement sniffing or grooming
  • Yawning

Most behaviors are multi-functional! (So how do we know if that lip lick was stress or just whetting his whistle?) We look for TWO things:

  1. Combinations of stress behaviors
  2. Body tension
You can also request a copy of the full Powerpoint presentation from your consultant. (Streamable video available in the future.)
Have questions about your dog’s body language? Let your trainer know and we can help you out!