The last two weekly tips have discussed calming signals between dogs. This week I want to focus on calming signals transferring between dogs and humans.
If you do not remember what calming signals are please see the weekly tips for the past two weeks.
When dogs are stressed they will perform calming signals even when no other dogs are present. For example: If your dog hears a loud sudden noise and becomes startled you may see him perform some calming signals such as lip licking, eye blinking, head turning, etc.
These signals can be used to our advantage. When your dog is stressed and is not performing any calming signals sit next your dog. Remember sitting is a calming signal and start performing some calming signals yourself. The ones that transfer the best from humans to dogs are lip licking, eye blinking and yawning. Eventually you will start to establish a rapport with your dog. Your dog may mirror the same calming signals you are displaying or start performing some other calming signals.
Be patient. It may take 20-30 minutes of recurring calming signals performed by you before your dog really starts to calm down.
Practice these in everyday situations where your dog is somewhat stressed. If your dog is showing extreme stress in any situation please contact Four Legged Scholars. Do NOT submerge your dog into a highly stressed situation and keep him there while you perform calming signals. If your dog is highly stressed a more gradual process will bring better results.
Johanna Teresi, Professional Owner and Trainer of Four Legged Scholars LLC