Learning to listen to dogs (25.11.19)
Yesterday I went on my second course (the first was.a refresher for my first aid course a couple of weeks ago). This was run by the Dog Training College called 'Canine Body Language' and I have to say I have been looking forward to it for a few months now. To my mind, anything that helps me to understand Whiz and importantly my clients' dogs has to be a good thing.
This course definitely delivered and we had a lot of information given to us over the course of the day. Dogs communicate through their ears, eyes, mouth, tail, hair (think raised hackles) and general posturing so there is a lot to keep an eye on. We talked about the different aspects to each of the different areas and explained why certain things happen and after each section we were shown multiple photos and asked to identify what the dog was telling us in the photos. This was harder than it may sound as there were so many little nuances that would be easy to miss.
We then covered emotions, brain differences and fear coping strategy where the basics come down to fight, freeze or flight plus arousal in dogs where they are exposed to stressful/exciting situations. If a dog is in a stressful situation, arousal can take 72 hours to die down and if during that time they are exposed to more difficult situations it obviously takes a long time for the dog to let go of it. Like people, some dogs can deal with stress and others can just have a melt down and a lot of this depends on how they were socialised as a puppy.
Contentment/happiness was also covered which was good to hear about and we learned about the 'happy signs' with dogs. There were a few of us dog walkers on the course and we also talked about safe ways to introduce dogs for the first time which was very useful for us.
One of the slides we were shown was called the pyramid of aggression and it shows the levels a dog will go through before it resorts to biting.
We were taught to never punish a grown as this is a final warning before a bite happens and if we punish the growl we could be at risk of being bitten. The dog is doing all s/he can to tell us not to push it but ignore a growl at your own peril. It is a normal part of communication between dogs, precedes a bite and should never be punished.
Our day finished by watching videos of dogs playing and we noted the various behaviours the dogs were exhibiting and what this could mean. This was really helpful and we all found we were noticing things that would have escaped our attention before.
I thoroughly enjoyed attending this course and now this has whetted my appetite for more! I want to keep learning even though I am a bit long in the tooth! I was watching the interaction between Jess, Jasper, Buddie and Whiz this lunchtime and could definitely spot things we talked about yesterday. I am always really careful which dogs I put together in my group walks but having done this course will give me knowledge of signs that all may not be quite going to plan and I will know when/if to step in - I hope not to have to so let's see how it goes.