My apologies for the title because Ray is clearly not a Dingo, but Dingo Lingo did have a nice flow to it, and we do have a number of Followers in Australia!
Ray, being my first “live-in” dog, has been an amazing education in so many ways. I knew that dogs wagged their tails when they were happy, but Ray showed me that how he wags his tail is probably more important than when he wags it, and can offer some very different messages which were advisable to learn!
He is a very “drooly” dog so seeing him having bouts of constantly licking his lips was to be expected …….. wasn’t it? Well, certainly not! Lip licking can be a sign of stress. I would have never come to that conclusion on my own. When Ray rolls over on to his back, is it because he would love a tummy rub (no lip licking) or is it a submissive “really prefer not to have to do this” gesture (lip licking)?
Working on improving Ray’s doggy social skills dictated we offer Ray a treat as soon as he sees another dog but before he tenses up over the possible meeting.. That piece of timing is critical if we want him to understand the message that we are trying to teach. To clarify that, we do not want him to learn that he gets a treat whenever he gets stressed over meeting another dog. In fact, quite the contrary, we want him to learn that good things happen (treats) when another dog approaches so there is no need to get stressed.
With the aid of a B.A.T. Course (Behaviour Adjustment Training), it was observed that Ray would turn his head slightly towards whoever was holding his leash whenever he saw another dog. This was explained as likely his way of looking to us for direction. The critical point – treat time!
There are so many other messages that we can learn by observing (and asking the right questions to the right people)! Why did Ray feel it necessary to bark initially at people and dogs who were approaching him? It now surprises me when I hear people apologizing for their dog’s persistent barking with “It’s what dogs do!” No doubt there are numerous reasons why a dog will bark but most, if not all, could probably be identified and subsequently addressed.
The main point of this Post however is simply body language!
What on earth does this mean? Those of you who do not know Ray (99.9% of you) can be forgiven for concluding that he is simply dealing with an end of nose irritant. We, however, know him better and can speculate on some possibilities.
“How about some freshwater? That stuff in the bowl is warm and has dead things in it!”
“Go for a walk now? Are you mad?”
“Bet you can’t do this!”
“This is what I think of that idea!”