Monday, April 16, 2012

Dog Speak

For the best dog-human relationship, I want to understand what my dog is telling me. To do that, I need to understand her body language. I know when her tail's wagging and her body's relaxed, she's happy. When she lies on her back with her belly exposed she feels secure. I've seen her "play bow" when she wants to play.  But I'm only brushing the surface here.

That's why I was delighted to discover this gem of a book, Dog Speak by Christiane Blenski (ISBN 978-1-845843-84-7, $19.95 US/9.99 UK, published by Hubble & Hattie.) It couldn't have come at a more opportune time, as we've been introducing Kelly to potential new dogs and I want to understand how the two dogs get along together.

The book is divided into three sections: The Polite Dog, The Aggressive Dog, The Talking Dog. Each page is full of excellent photographs of dogs reacting and interacting together to illustrate the points. I enjoyed the first section about the greeting ritual.
When a dog sees another dog, he it may sprint toward the stranger.
Then, a polite dog will approach diagonally and walk around the side, not head-on.
Then the dogs will walk around, sniff, strut, attempt to place his head on the other dog's back, etc.
During this ritual, the book suggests that the people not stare, call their dog or interfere so that the dogs can go through this ritual undisturbed.
If both dogs have decided that they like each other, you will see their bodies relax, tails wag, ears back and eyes moving side to side.
I learned more about how to tell if dogs like each other, dislike each other or are just disinterested.

One of the most common mistakes when trying to understand "dog talk" is anthropomorphism, or assuming they feel the same way as people do. When you read this book you'll get a much better understanding of what is really going on in various situations by the way the dog is holding her ears, tail, her facial expressions, whether she is panting or barking, etc. 

Dog Speak goes beyond the basics and gives you a deep-down understanding. There are sections for dogs and dogs, dogs and people, puppies and older dogs, and problem solving. This is an extremely helpful book, written in a fun, clear way. It will help you understand not only what your dog is saying, but also ways to respond in ways that will help your dog, and strengthen your bond.

I was provided with a copy of Dog Speak for review, but the opinions are 100% my own.

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