Many people assume that dogs have only a few ways to communicate with us and each other: growling; barking; baring teeth; snapping; and biting, for example.
These signals convey such a limited range of content and has in some way led to our misunderstanding of canine intelligence.
In fact, dogs have an extremely rich vocabulary of innate language, most of which is displayed as body language rather than vocalizations.
In addition to their core repertoire they are capable of learning a large amount of extra gestural and vocal language from us and the world around them.
The different signals are used in different situations to calm things; introduce practice behaviors; initiate play; threaten; or even relieve stress.
Some dogs may appear to lose their communication abilities due to lack of reinforcement or opportunities to practice, however, as they are built in capabilities, they can be recovered in most situations.
Understanding the level of stress or comfort in a dog aids training considerably, particularly for those handlers that choose the force-free approach to dog training.
Respecting a dog’s signals helps to build trust and an honest rapport between handler and dog that will prove invaluable in difﬁcult situations where we would like the dog to turn to us for guidance rather than follow a potentially dangerous reactive path.
This module of our 12 Week Course aims to introduce the learner to the myriad of canine communication modalities and teach them how to not only respect the emotional state of the day but to some level join the conversation.