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Thread: Calming Signs I Use with My Dogs

  1. #1
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    Default Calming Signs I Use with My Dogs

    Because some people showed and interest, I will tell you what we do. But it has been many years of living with dogs, many dogs and we always have at least four dogs. I will be honest from the beginning and tell you that I use these, but my dogs have a good grounding in Obedience and Annabelle's initial training for Dog and people aggression was counter conditioning and desensitisation with the help of a great trainer/behaviourist.
    But once she learned to cope, she would still get "stuck" occasionally as some of my other dogs do too. By having so many problems with her and by having a history of re-training problem horses (hubby is a trainer) I knew that we had to look at what dogs do naturally to help her more. Just like we do with re-training troubled horses.
    My calming signs for Annabelle and any other dog I know are really quite simple.
    When Annabelle starts to show very early signs of possible aggression I use them. It means you have to be able to read your dogs. Annabelle only has to get slightly taller and I will get her attention and lick my lips, blink and if I think she is really stressed I yawn. Turid Rugaas has some amazing books and video on this, but I also saw a guy who studied wolves point this out many years ago.
    I can make Tessa yawn, by yawning at her and she will calm right down.
    The most important part is reading your dog and knowing the signals they give. Once the dogs are in fight mode this is all too late, you have to see the before.
    When Annabelle used to get stressed, which is why she was aggressive, I would again make her look at me and lick my lips/blink, look away.
    I have even used this in a couple of Obedience Trails in the "sit/stay" with both Annabelle and Tessa.
    Annabelle had a dog break next to her and it first went to her and started licking her face, I looked at her and just blinked and licked my lips....She sat through it all. that was her first CCD leg. The Judge was amazed and said her nearly asked the Steward to get the dog, but saw she was coping. Tessa had a dog fight start next to her in one of her legs and she stayed, because I did the same.
    Of course you have to familiarize your dog with the fact that you do calming signs. And you have to do it before the "s...t hits the fan". It is all about being very aware of your dogs.
    It has got Annabelle through many tough spots and many people have no idea you are doing it. Initially with strangers, it gave her comfort.
    It is what I love about having a "pack"...My Katy is my teacher now. She will let me know when things are likely to happen in any dog environment. katy is a peacemaker and when free, she will run into a pair of dogs that might show some aggression. She runs through them and tries to distract. It worries her when she does it, but she always does it.
    She also warns me when Annabelle is tense. If it is directed at another dog, she will often stand in front of Annabelle and lower herself, licking and yawning.
    Spend time with your dogs and watch them, you can guide them. you just need to be very aware.
    Just like with horses, but slightly different signs. I just love spending time watching my animals and learning from them.
    Pets are forever

  2. #2

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    Great post Newf.. I have used yawning many times to bring a dog down who is aggitated... I will try the licking of the lips... they are great teachers if we take the time to listen to them...

  3. #3
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    Thanks newfsie

    I'm sure my mastiff would pick this up fairly quickly, so I'll start with him. The puppy might not be so on-the-ball

  4. #4

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    Great post!
    I'm doing counter conditioning with my dog at the moment for his dog aggression. It's going alright, however I think I may end up using some calming signals after the initial counter conditioning. So how aggressive was she originally? It's just because, well she seems to be pretty good now by the sounds of it, and I could really use some inspiration sometimes...

    I've yet to buy the actual book, but I have read a bit about calming signals, and have used the lip licking one. Actually, I think I did use it on my dog the other day when there was a bit of a challenging situation with a dog running around across the road playing fetch and I wanted to calm him down a bit. Anyway, he used to have some resource gaurding issues over me, and would attack my other dog if she came towards me and he was with me.

    He's gotten better, but the other day, I called my other dog Deedee over. She started to come towards me, but then looked at Sparky (the gaurder) and cowered. I gave the lip licking and looking away calming signal to him (which I would think is the same as licking and blinking). Then Sparky did the same to HER. She took another step. He did the calming signal again, and she ran up to us. Now she's been so much more confident and isn't so afraid of Sparky anymore. I love calming signals haha.

  5. #5
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    Annabelle nearly killed Tessa in her first week here....And if we had not both been home it might have been so. She also used to charge at people and never acually bit, but was very scary. this was not lead aggression as both times she was off lead with the times we saw with dogs. She challenged my hubby on her first day with us, the vet behaviourist ( who told us to PTS her) and the Dog trainer/behaviourist who helped us with her. It was all fear based. When she thought she had no way out. She never did anything to me. Annabelle was 14 month when we got her and it took at least six month before I would happily walk her on lead. Now she goes anywhere with us, is very friendly and loves other dogs. BUT..........I always watch her and I protect her from other dogs and people that are not "right" for her. I would never re-home her and would never expect her to be 100%. But her and Tessa are good now and in the past year, she is now nearly four, there has only been one incident. When a dog attacked her. But she stopped when I checked her and came right back. But again. I watch out for her.
    She is a lovely dog and well loved at the Kennel Club. Now our social butterfly wirh people and friendly with well socialized dogs and extremely good with puppies, even rude ones
    Pets are forever

  6. #6

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    Um WOW... these work (sorry it's not that I didn't believe you I just didn't realise how well they work).....

    On our morning walk and Miss Lilly gets SUPER excited by any dog that barks behind a fence, whether they bark nicely or nastily. Going past the 'ferrals' across the road (they are horrendous barkers, get no attention, escape repeatedly and bite people... nothing gets done) she wanted to pull incesantly toward the fence (Boof just trundles past ignoring completely) so I stopped got her focus on me, licked lips and blinked eyes, she calmly sat and then walked on with me not paying much more attention.

    Newfsie is this how it's meant to work? It seemed too easy, LOL

    PS.... history on ferrals.... went to walk through front gate yesterday morning for walk and they 'appeared' in the front yard from the neighbours yard, the red cattle dog went to come running up the front yard barking at us (in our own freakin yard), Boof promptly put an end to that, one MASSIVE WOOF and a blood curdling growl and he retreated, I then made boof n lilly sit and they continued with a few more little barks n growls, I scoulded the ferrals and they slowly moved off. This intrigued me as knowing how much Lilly pulls like crazy when excited by another dog, neither of them did it when they were cranky. So I was extra impressed when the 'calming signs' worked on her this morning after yesterday morning.

    I haven't seen them get aggressive towards another dog until yesterday morning (understandably so though, I was pretty happy with their reaction), they do however get crazy excited by other dogs!
    Last edited by Shelby-001; 04-19-2011 at 09:03 AM. Reason: Added some history

  7. #7
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    Wow... I'm going to try this as soon as I get home!

    Do you have any resources (books, dvds etc) you can recommend for training/behaviour?

    Cheers.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by random View Post
    Wow... I'm going to try this as soon as I get home!

    Do you have any resources (books, dvds etc) you can recommend for training/behaviour?

    Cheers.
    Turid Rugaas has some amazing books and video on this. Also Google calming signals.
    But remember the basic obedience training is still very important.
    Pets are forever

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