When I first met Benny he couldn’t look you straight into your eyes. He always looked from the side – wary, unsure and scared.
With a great deal of trust and nurturing, over the years that “look” has dissipated and I only see it when he is stressed and wants to take a break. It is as if he is saying “Help me … let me be by myself for a while, I am overwhelmed.”
A great deal of time in the Pet Partners Workshop is spent understanding how animals communicate and how they show us their displacement signals – signals that they are stressed.
Every animal is different and some display very subtle signs such as a quick rotary motion of their tail or licking or panting or drooling or sighing or yawning.Benny gives me that “look.”
In class the other day I saw that “look” for the first time when working. All the dogs and humans seemed a bit “off” that day – feeling stress of some sort. The children were what we call “squirrely” and unable to sit still.
At one point when we were listening to the lesson for the first part of the class, Benny lay down and faced towards me and gave me the “look.” His eyes were showing the whites and he gave a huge sigh.
I put his blanket over him as the signal he could rest and he did. He actually fell asleep for a little while. This de-stressed him. The children respected his need for privacy and a break and no one touched him but we all talked about signals and how dogs communicate with us and each other.
Then when we brought out the books and split up into smaller groups, Benny sat up and everything was good again. He loves being read to and knew this part of the class he would enjoy.
Learn how dogs speak and respect their signals and you will have the most wonderful relationship with your dog.