What’s It About?
Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas is a noted expert on canine body language, notably “calming signals” which are signals dogs give other dogs and humans that denote stress. These are dogs’ attempt to defuse situations that otherwise might result in fights or aggression. The DVD shows footage of many calming signals, how dogs use them, and how you can use them to calm your dog. This is the DVD format and companion to the popular book, “On Talking Terms with Dogs.” Note – this is not a professionally filmed DVD rather one done by dedicated amateur dog people; however, it does a good job of illustrating the canine body language subjects it addresses.
Norwegian dog trainer Turid Rugaas has studied canine social language for over 30 years. Turid is one of the most popular seminar presenters and travels worldwide sharing her insights and research.
Recorded 2006 Dogwise Publishing
Dogs have their own unique communication system consisting of postures, facial expressions and movements. In this DVD, leading Norwegian dog trainer and behaviourist, Turid Rugaas, an expert in canine body language, presents fascinating footage along with detailed explanations of the signals dogs show when they are anxious or scared. Rugaas explains how dogs use these signals to avoid conflict and how we can learn to use many of the same signals ourselves when interacting with dogs.
If you give your dog one Christmas present this year, let it be to learn his language!
Rugaas begins by examining what dogs are. She explains that they are hunters and pack animals, and therefore require a communication system in order to be able to hunt and avoid confrontation with one another. She explains that dogs do use some threatening signals but on the whole calming signals are used far more commonly. In this DVD, Rugaas explains and shows us how dogs use calming signals.
Rugaas explains each of the following calming signals, showing us examples of each one.
Looking Away: This is one of the signals that can be harder to see. It is often as subtle as the dog just sliding his eyes.
Turning Head: This is one of the most frequent signals and is used in many different situations. Rugaas explains how to approach a dog that looks away from us.
Turning Away: If a dog has found that turning his head has not achieved the desired result, he may then turn his whole body away.
Yawning: Dogs often use yawning for a purpose rather than just to signal they are tired. Rugaas explains it is one of the calming signals that we can use back to dogs to help relax them. We are shown some footage of the effect yawning has on a stressed and anxious dog.
Licking: Again, this can sometimes be hard to see as it can be as subtle as a brief flick of the tongue. If a dog displays calming signals such as licking around a child, we should help the dog by removing him from the situation, as he is trying to tell us they are not comfortable.
Slow Movement: Dogs find fast movement threatening, so strange dogs will always move towards one another slowly. Rugass shows us how, if we shout at our dogs to come, they will often move slowly towards us. This is a calming signal and not a display of dominance or aggression.
Sitting or Lying Down: Dogs will do this to each other or to us to try and calm the situation.
Sniffing: Rugaas shows us some film of how an adult dog uses sniffing to teach manners to young puppies that are pestering him. She also shows how a young puppy uses calming signals, including sniffing, to try and make friends with another shy young puppy.
Curving: Rugaas explains how, if we watch two strange dogs meeting for the first time, we will notice how they never walk straight up to one another. Instead, they will approach in a curving line. Rugaas shows how we can use this technique when out walking with our dogs on the lead, in order to avoid conflict.
Play Bows: These can sometimes simply be an invitation to play but also have the double meaning of being used as a calming signal.
Marking: This is another signal that can have several different meanings including stress, social interaction or as a calming signal.
Splitting up: This is a signal often misunderstood. Dogs will try to go in between other dogs or people in order to split them up if they sense there may be a conflict. Rugaas shows us how we can use this to our advantage in training.
Doing something else; If a dog feels uneasy or anxious he may pretend to be busy doing something else. This can include playing, eating, sniffing, etc.
Lifting Paw: This is not one of the most common calming signals.
Wagging Tail: A dog wagging his tail does not always mean he is happy; it can also be used to show fear, stress or excitement.
Rugaas believes that the majority of problems we encounter with dogs is down to a lack of understanding on our part. We often fail to pick up on the many calming signals that dogs communicate to each other and us.
She also comments on the importance of learning by association, which she believes to be the most important learning principle for dogs. Rugaas explains how common problems, such as the dog barking and lunging on the lead, can often be a result of bad association. She offers some solutions to this problem.
Rugaas continues that the language of dogs is universal. Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds can use it. Dogs are born knowing how to use calming signals and by around 6/7 weeks they have become experts in dog communication. Rugaas adds that the best education you can give your puppy is to let him meet other dogs and puppies in order for him to develop and build upon these extremely important social skills.
Rugaas then moves on to show us how we can use calming signals to help relax our dogs in difficult situations. She points out there is always something you can do, no matter how small, to help make the dog feel better. Dogs are visual animals and will notice small changes.
Rugaas also explains some common errors that we often make when approaching dogs that can make them feel uncomfortable. These include bending down towards the dog, standing over the dog, heavy petting and lifting the dog up.
Finally Rugaas urges us to go out there and observe dogs, as this is one of the best ways for us to learn what our dogs are trying to tell us. She explains that if we are able to use our dog’s language we can help them to feel more comfortable and relaxed in life.
This DVD is a real eye opener to the world of canine communication presented by one of the most influential people in the dog world.