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Dog calming signals: recognize and understand these essential messages

Calming signals are behaviors that dogs use to defuse tense situations, avoid conflicts, or express discomfort. Recognizing and understanding these signals is important for dog owners to ensure the well-being and safety of their pet. How do you recognize them? How to interpret them?
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Author
Team Jagger.Lewis
Date of publication
March 30, 2023

Calming signals are behaviors that dogs use to defuse tense situations, avoid conflicts, or express discomfort. Recognizing and understanding these signals is important for dog owners to ensure the well-being and safety of their pet. How do you recognize them? How to interpret them?
Calming signals: what are they?

Lick your snout

It can express discomfort or stress about a situation. This behavior can be observed when a dog is confronted with another dog, a stranger, or a new situation.

Yawn 

Dogs often yawn to show that they are stressed by a situation and seek to ease the tensions. Learn more...


Look away 

When a dog looks the other way, it signals that it does not want conflict and seeks to ease the situation. This behavior can be observed when a dog is confronted by another dog or a human that frightens him.

Scratching or licking

A dog that scratches or licks excessively may be communicating stress or discomfort. This behavior can be a way for the dog to calm down and relax in a stressful situation.

Wag your tail slowly

Learn more about the messages your dog communicates through the tail.


How to recognize and interpret calming signals

To recognize and interpret calming signals in a dog, it is important to take into account the context and other communication signals emitted by the animal.

For example, during a walk, your dog meets another dog who impresses him. Your dog looks the other way, licks his snout, and yawns.

In this context, these calming signals indicate that your dog is stressed by the presence of the other dog and is looking to avoid a conflict. It can also happen that if you have guests at home, your dog scratches and licks excessively.

This behavior can be interpreted as a calming signal, indicating that your dog is uncomfortable with the presence of guests and is looking to calm down.

How to react?


Adapt your behavior

When you see a calming signal from your dog, the first step is to assess your own behavior and the environment. Ask yourself if there is anything in the current situation that could be a source of stress for your dog and look for ways to remedy it. For example, if you're stroking him and he starts licking his lips, he may not like the way you touch him. In this case, adapt your caress or stop it temporarily to allow your dog to relax.

Reassure your dog

It is important to reinforce desired behaviors and to reassure your dog when he is stressed. If your dog is giving a calming signal, respond calmly and reassuringly by speaking softly, gently stroking, or offering a treat, if appropriate to the situation. By positively reinforcing calming signals, you are encouraging your dog to use them to communicate with you, which will facilitate your mutual understanding and strengthen your bond.

Do not punish or ignore calming signals

It is essential not to punish or ignore your dog's calming signals. Punishment or indifference can worsen your dog's stress and lead to behavioral or communication problems. Responding to calming signals in an empathetic and respectful manner is important to promote your dog's trust and well-being.

Understanding and responding to the dog's calming signals is crucial to establishing a healthy and respectful relationship with your four-legged friend.

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