Dogs are constantly talking to one another. They communicate between canines through a universally understood body language code. If us humans are able to recognize and translate these signals, our dogs will not only be eternally grateful, but also safer, more confident, and grounded.
Dog calming signals are most easily identified when your dog is in a new or worrisome situation. Most commonly, we might see the following gestures (modeled below by some of our very own My Fairy Dawg Mother rescue success stories). When you see your furpal give off one of these messages, what he’s trying to say is “I’m not okay!!! I am unhappy and anxious. But don’t worry bro, I have some top-notch self-soothing skills and I’m working on calming down.”
Additionally, active signals that take place while the dog is moving (walking slowly, “frozen” movements, play bow, or sniffing the ground but keeping the eyes up) typically indicate your dog would like to relocate, ASAP.
When these cues are exchanged between dogs, it helps to deescalate tension. When your dog gives YOU one of these signals, however, he’s probably trying to tell you that he could use a little bit of help getting out of that unsettling situation. It doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong, he could just use some backup from you, the pack leader.
The trick is to remain calm (use some of your own self-soothing skills) and get your pup to a happier place, either by physically moving him somewhere else or by offering some support. Maybe he likes to be pet on his chest, or maybe you can get him to sit and focus on you—just do anything you can to break the fixation and remind your dog that you are present, in control, and prepared to keep him safe, so he does not need to be afraid.
Whale Eye (When white is visible in the corner
The next time you take your furkid to the dog park or maybe take on a new foster dog, watch your kiddo for a bit. Pay attention and keep an eye out for these calming signals. You will open up a whole new world of communication between the two of you and promote a stronger pack dynamic in your household.