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Behavior Tip of The Week

From the team at Pend Oreille Veterinary Service!


Dogs use a fascinating "language" to communicate their needs and emotions to humans and other dogs.  Other dogs are quick to understand.  However, most humans didn't learn how to speak "dog" so we struggle to make sense of these messages. How can we, as dog owners, improve our understanding of what dogs are trying to tell us?
 
A great way to start, is to learn how to recognize what behaviorists refer to as "canine calming signals".  These non-verbal gestures communicate various levels of fear and anxiety.  Why is it important that we learn to recognize them? If we misunderstand the signal, we risk triggering an undesirable behavior such as snapping, growling, nipping, or even biting.  Dogs remember these events, and are likely to repeat them if we don't take steps to prevent the same response in the future.
For example, this dog appears to be yawning.  It's true that dogs yawn when they are tired, but they also yawn like this when they are anxious or fearful.  If you see this behavior in your dog, do not approach until you have evaluated his surroundings. What could be happening to make your dog feel anxious? Children nearby?  Strangers, or even you, trying to approach too close or too fast?  A loud or unfamiliar noise? An unfamiliar dog trying to play when your dog is not interested? This dog is trying to avoid confrontation by communicating his need to be left alone.  He would rather be in a different circumstance, perhaps a more familiar environment, fewer people, or less noise.  Our response to his message is critical in reassuring him, and preventing unwanted behaviors.
 
Other calming signals you may notice include a "lick lip" not associated with hunger or food, turning of the head to the side to avoid eye contact, lifting of one front paw, and laying down with the belly on the ground.  Even the well recognized "play bow" can be confused for a dog's attempt to diffuse an uncomfortable situation.
 
In learning the meaning of "calming signals", you can better understand your dog's emotions and likely responses to specific situations.  In this way, you will get to know each other better, and become more skilled in predicting your dog's responses. With help from a behavior consultant, you can even change your dog's mind about how they feel in the same situations. 
 
You CAN teach your dog new tricks, no matter how old he (or she) is!

 

 

Great DIY Project to Help Your Cat

  

Here's a great DIY trick for your cat. Transform your bench into this secret hideaway for your cat. BUT wait! This bench doubles as a handy cat carrier; making transporting your pet to the veterinarian painless!

 

 

 

Meet the Team March

Meet our Amazing Team!

Meet the Team March is a perfect time to stop in for a visit and a tour of our new hospital while getting to know the team that cares for you pet! Visit our Facebook page to see daily posts about our entire team; medical, client relations, boarding and grooming!