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Calming Signals?


Guest SusanP
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Guest SusanP

I was reading an article on calming signals in dogs, and I get how we humans can learn to read them. But I see advice on GT about using calming signals to help calm our dogs, and I don't get that from the article. Does this mean we should yawn when our dogs are nervous, or try to lick our noses?

 

Can someone outline the human use of calming signals that can help an anxious dog?

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Others are welcome to correct me, but I think it's more simply projecting a calm energy that your dog will pick up on. When your dog is scared, upset or in pain, you try not to be scared or upset with him and be calm and soothing instead. Since dogs pick up on your emotions, if you are scared or upset on behalf of your dog (humans are empathetic so that's natural for us to do that) then he will think there's darn good reason to be upset and then you'll feed each other. But if you can be calm for your dog, it really does help.

Sharon, Loki, Freyja, Capri (bridge angel and most beloved heart dog), Ajax (bridge angel) and Sweetie Pie (cat)

Visit Hound-Safe.com by Something Special Pet Supplies for muzzles and other dog safety products

:gh_bow

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Guest SusanP

I had the impression that the "calming signals" methods were more specific than that, though I agree that acting calm helps. As a parent of human children, we try to do that, too, but I remember that I could always see right through my own mother's attempts to look cheerful and calm when she really wasn't. There was a certain artificial tone to her voice I always picked up on. I'm not convinced we can hide our real feelings so easily!

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I know there's a book about calming signals in dogs, and, yes, they are specific things you can do with your dog. Yawning, turning your head to the side are two of them. Can't remember any others now, OR the author of the book! Hopefully Silverfish will chime in here 'cause I think she originally told me about the book!

Jeannine with Merlin, the crazed tabby cat and his sister, Jasmine, the brat-cat

With GTsiggieFromJenn.jpgAngel Cody(Roving Gemini), and Weenie the tortie waiting at the Bridge

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Some dogs use calming signals more than others. Black dogs will use the quick tongue lick more beacause it is that much more difficult to see their eyes and other facial expressions. It worked for me with my spooky/shy Grey. The author, Turid Rugaas, even told me (correctly) that I was contributing to the dog's fears of an elderly person - so the calm energy state is a component, but the signals are a definite language. Links in my Peggy's Photo Gallery here: http://www.pbase.com/johnfr/peggy

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Guest Bang_o_rama

I found the article I read about "calming signals" interesting at first, until I realized that the author (a Norwegian woman?) pretty much described anything less than throat-going-for as a calming signal. If all you have is a hammer....

 

But I think that there is some validity to it.

 

~D~

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Guest PhillyPups

Moe is very anxious. I do yawn, lick my lipe and look away and she then will come up to me. We half talk dog as I have not greeted her on all 4's with a butt sniff yet. :rofl:rofl

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Guest jaws4evr

What behavior exactly are you trying to calm? What you're reacting too will likely affect HOW you react.

 

Keeping your breathing slow and deep can be calming. Moving your body and eyes in a relaxed manner can be calming (no staring, no glancing every which direction). Yawning indeed is a pacifying signal so, yawn... slowly bending and picking something up off the ground can be a pacifying signal (ie saying if this pebble is interesting, there can't be anything to worry about.

 

If you have time, I suggest picking up "How to speak dog" by "stanley cohen" (i think that's his name), it was a very good book about dog communication.

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>> If all you have is a hammer....>>>

That's one way of looking at it. The task is to ensure that we have effective and sustainable 2-way communication with dogs who have issues. It's futile until you know you do. So Turid Rugass' 'Calming Signals' - whether they make use of displacement activity, calm the human, calm the dog indirectly or directly - can been seen as a modern analysis of many of the techniques which 'natural' dog trainers have been using down thru the ages. Look at yourself in the mirror when you say "Hello!", did you see that rapid tongue lick?

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Guest Bang_o_rama

>> Look at yourself in the mirror when you say "Hello!", did you see that rapid tongue lick?

Oh, if only I could lick my own nose....

~D~

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest SaddleWags

This is fascinating. Until now I have been totally unaware of these signals. I now have something new to research.

 

So when I come to my pup and they yawn. Are they telling me to stay around or to go away?

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I love that book, and use calming signals a lot. It helped a lot getting through Pogo's aggro phase. Thank goodness!

 

I even use or encourage "shaking off". I don't do it, but, using the "lazy training" method of putting a verbal cue on a desired behavior, I trained them all to "shake it off" when things get too wild or someone is uncomfortable with the action. It works! One will do it (usually Pogo), then the others do it, and then everyone is free to trot off in different directions.

 

Once you start to become aware of things like the licky-lick, the look away, the yawn, etc., it's ... very educational (even embarrassing) to see how often what humans do out of affection worries dogs. It's a wonder we don't all get chomped! :lol

 

My sister referred a friend of hers to me because of my own experience with an aggressive dog. She sent me a couple videos of her dogs "playing" in former happier times (before one became aggressive to the other), and I was able to see how the victim dog was trying her darndest to call off all the rude affronts of the aggressor dog. She would turn away, look away, sniff the ground, lick, and eventually bark and make a short push at the other dog, but she was being pretty polite about it so the dogs' owners just thought everyone was having a good time. They're now in consultation with UC Davis, so I hope they can work it out.

GT-siggy-spring12.jpg

My Inspirations: Grey Pogo, borzoi Katie, Meep the cat, AND MY BELOVED DH!!!
Missing Rowdy, Coco, Brilly, Happy and Wabi.

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Guest bigbrindlebunny

This is fascinating. Until now I have been totally unaware of these signals. I now have something new to research.

 

So when I come to my pup and they yawn. Are they telling me to stay around or to go away?

 

 

I've got the same question. What do you folks think?

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Guest kydie

I yawn, and close my eyes, and of coarse being calm yourself projects calm, but yawning gives the impression you are unconcerned about the situation and it is not that big of a deal, :) I know fireworks are an issue for some dogs, I leave town this time of year, but the stray firecracker is around too, I have no real issue with fireworks or thunder, I do feel the "birders"( as they are used to gunshots) keep the grey calm, the pack is not upset so this calm flows through. and the worst thing one can do when a dog is have a thunderphobia or fireworks issue is to try to calm the dog, that just makes it worse IMHO :huh

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I use calming signals every day, several times a day, with my Jack Russell, who is a super nervous little guy with wicked fear aggression.

Pam with Sockem the GH, Birdie the JRT, Osorno the chocolate lab, and Shelby the shepherd mix. Missing Clarice (1991-2007) and Lily (2004-2012), always in our hearts.

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