All posts by ttemple


Understanding Canine Communication ~ Calming Signals

certified Dognition EvaluatorLike people, dogs are pretty much in constant communication when interacting with others and, just as is true for us, body language is key to understanding.

Dogs have a physical gesture vocabulary of their own and the more we learn about that vocabulary, the better we will be at understanding what our dogs are trying to convey to us and communicating back to them.

This is extremely important when stressful situations are a factor. People sometimes say their dog bit without warning. That is never the case. It can seem to be if the dog had been punished for giving warnings in the past. When we use punishment to stop a dog from communicating, we haven’t changed how he feels about the situation; we have only suppressed the natural warning signals that are important to look for and understand. And so, those signals, when given, should not be suppressed, but understood and answered.

Turid Rugaas developed our current understanding of “Calming Signals” — gestures that dogs use as ways to say “I don’t like that,” “Back off,” “Let’s take a break,” etc. Learning them will help you and your dog communicate much more effectively. Imagine your dog saying “we’re too close to that child. I’m scared” and you, not understanding, pulling him closer to the child saying “look. Come meet this nice boy!”

“He bit without warning” usually means we missed it because we didn’t understand what our dogs were saying.

Emily Larlham produced this video to help us learn to communicate more effectively with our dogs. She says:

“This video is about the secret language of dogs. Some of you might already know about Calming Signals, but the main population that find out about dog training through television programs might not.

In this video I will show you how you can use your dogs own language to communicate with them. I will also show you how to interpret your dogs language.

Turid Rugaas is an internationally renowned dog trainer who has studied and researched calming signals for over a decade! You can visit her site on calming signals to learn more AND PICK UP ONE OF HER BOOKS AND DVDS on the subject.”

For more, ¬†visit Turid Rugaas’s site


Success in Training

Like people, dogs are each unique and have many variables affecting their training, but the most important variable is you.

Your skillAnimals & Wildlife

Your attentiveness

Your consistency

These three, more than anything else, determine whether or not your dogs will reach their full potential and whether or not they will even do very simple behaviors when you ask. Continue reading