Riley’s View: Doggie Body Language

Riley's View

A strangers hand coming at your face is generally a bit off putting. Don’t you think? Fortunately from a young age, I have learned that hands are safe, comforting and offer food and treats. Other dog’s may have not had the same experience. This article is for dog lovers who can’t help themselves and want to meet-n-greet every canine they see.

Some doggy science to begin with; there is a socialization period in dog’s which is from about six to sixteen weeks. This is known to be one of the most impressionable ages for dogs. A puppy who may have had less desirable experiences with human hands during this period may be predisposed to avoiding hands during his/her life. Alternatively, for those adolescent or adult dogs who received ample socialization and handling, hand adversity can still crop up following repeated negative experiences associated with human hands or arms.

Sammy

Take Sammy for instance, Sammy is a small mixed breed dog who was surrendered after his owners were nipped on several occasions while taking off his harness. From what I gather, the humans who owned Sammy loved him, they just didn’t know how to stop his nipping behavior, which allegedly came out of nowhere.

Most domestic canines (like me) are constantly communicating our state of mind through body language. When these cues are not interpreted correctly, or at all, we will step up the level of intensity to make a point. “Grrrr! Did you get that? I am afraid stop petting me.” We don’t mean to get nippy but sometimes all previous attempts to communicate fear or anxiety went unnoticed or simply disregarded.

My good friend Boogie the Boston Terrier stood still for hours so that his collaborator Lili Chin could capture these illustrations for you. Curious to learn more about dog body language? Consider downloading the Dog Decoder mobile app which has over sixty cute and informative canine body postures.

Displacement

In addition to interpreting canine communication correctly, there are a couple of basic approaches that you humans can be responsible for when greeting us dog.

As a general rule, dog’s do not hold sustained eye contact or directly face one another. These postures can be interpreted as a form of aggression. Before greeting a dog, consider turning your body to the side and squatting down. You’ll know if a dog wants to say hello, they will approach you. If/when a dog approaches you, hold out an outstretched hand and always pet from underneath the head first where the dog can see your arm and hand. Many dogs will tolerate physical affection on top of the head, most however prefer strangers start off with physical affection beneath the head where a dog can see your arm and hand i.e. under the chin, the chest or side of the body towards the front legs. This respectful approach is especially important for those nervous-nelly pooches that may be more sensitive.

In the words of Forrest Gump, that’s about all I have to say about that. Would you like to get Riley’s View on a pet care or dog training related question? Click the enclosed link to contact Riley today.

Licks and Love,

Riley

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Marc Elias, ABCDT is the CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Pooch Pals, the New York-based pet training and care service. After six years of experience working for corporations, Marc sought a less traditional role aligned with his background in client services, operations and marketing, paired with his love of animals and helping people. Today, Marc Elias is the Canine Executive Officer of Pooch Pals LLC with a dog training certification from the Animal Behavior College. Marc and his Goldendoodle Riley are active pet therapy volunteers certified by the Good Dog Foundation. Pooch Pals is committed to positive reinforcement dog training. They believe in creating a positive culture in New York City’s pet community, and they welcome clients who are as passionate as they are about receiving personal service for their dogs including positive reinforcement training.

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Riley’s View: Stressed Out Pup

Riley's View

Hi everyone,

Riley here. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a little stressed lately. There are a lot of changes in our house. Mom is about to have a human baby, and I think we are moving. I see boxes everywhere. I have no idea where we are going but I hope I am not about to be left behind.

I know I’m not the only urban canine encountering life changes. Some of my friends at the dog park were telling me their humans are not around as much lately which is causing stress. A big yellow bus comes by and scoops them up. As any dog will tell you, with fewer people around to pay attention to us, we can get lonely, bored, or anxious.

When I get nervous, I whine, bark, pace, or chew on things (like these boxes). That’s when my dad knows I need some canine guidance and support. He’ll give me one of my favorite toys, like a filled Kong or a Busy Buddy. Sometimes I’ll get yummy chew toys like NylaBones and Bully Sticks too. Interactive toys like the Busy Buddy give me something to focus on. My parents even give me my meals in puzzle toys, which is a lot of fun for me. Whether it’s mental or physical exercise I will enjoy it and my dad says it’s good for me.

Riley's View

To prevent me from getting nervous in the first place, my family tries to keep me on a regular schedule. They keep my feeding times the same and give me dedicated time to get attention and drain some energy. I don’t know what I would do without my daily morning walk through the park or my play time before bed.

I also know that when I’m feeling the most nervous and whine or show my family I’m upset, I never get any physical praise or attention. Instead they either ignore me or redirect my attention to these games we play. One of them is called GO GET IT. My dad has me come to him using the TOUCH command, then he will toss treats around the house and I get to scavenge for them.

I didn’t realize this, but my human tells me that when I get attention (like petting or belly rubs) for being nervous or anxious, I am more likely to be unstable in the future. I know it’s hard for mommy to play along, I can see she just wants to pet me and make me feel better. I did a quick search online apparently it checks out amongst other leading professionals in the dog training and behavior field. I guess dad knows a thing or two after all.

Here’s a video of me de-stressing with my Busy Buddy! I would love to see pictures or videos of all of my doggy friends too. Post them to our Facebook or Instagram pages with the hashtag #stressrelief.

Crossed paws, your friend for life.
Riley

 

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Marc Elias, ABCDT is the CEO (Canine Executive Officer) of Pooch Pals, the New York-based pet training and care service. After six years of experience working for corporations, Marc sought a less traditional role aligned with his background in client services, operations and marketing, paired with his love of animals and helping people. Today, Marc Elias is the Canine Executive Officer of Pooch Pals LLC with a dog training certification from the Animal Behavior College. Marc and his Goldendoodle Riley are active pet therapy volunteers certified by the Good Dog Foundation. Pooch Pals is committed to positive reinforcement dog training. They believe in creating a positive culture in New York City’s pet community, and they welcome clients who are as passionate as they are about receiving personal service for their dogs including positive reinforcement training.

Dear Maggie,

A Letter to My Dog

Although I didn’t rescue Maggie, she was in my life for more than 14 years. We lost her last year and it has been the hardest year without her. I have faith that I will find another westie .. this time I want to rescue … when the time is right. Mr. Darcy will be the one. My darling Maggie paved a very precious path of unconditional love and affection. I want to continue that in her honor. I love you Maggie… I will always love you and never forget you. xx

Breed: West Highland Terrier