There is a great (short) book written by Trudi Rugrats entitled Calming Signals. It’s all about the language dogs have for communicating with each other. Dogs, being flock animals, have a language that consists of a big vocabulary of tail, face, body, ears, sounds, expression, and movement. Dogs natural way of communicating is very foreign to the average human, but by reading this book, you can become much more in-tuned with what a dog is saying at any given time. The canine’s go-to communication tools are called calming signals.
Calming signals are used by dogs to establish a social hierarchy, but also to resolve any conflicts that arise. For instance, if a dog approaches another head-on, with hackles raised and eyes piercing, he is showing very aggressive signals to the other dog. Now, if the other dog raises his hackles and stares back, well, that’s not good. However, if the other dog simply lowers his head, turns away and sniffs the ground, chances are a confrontation is averted.
Rugaas goes through many true-life stories about many different situations in which dogs use calming signals. I found it inspiring to imagine all the scenarios she took me through and seeing how the dogs, and her, interacted. By the end of the book, I had a much better appreciation for dog language and a deeper respect for canines. If you read the book, these skills will be carried over to your future interactions with dogs, and I’m sure, it will be highly beneficial to you and your dog’s relationship.