This month’s Pearl of Wisdom comes from international dog trainer Turid Rugaas.
“Dogs and wolves have strong instincts for conflict solving, communication and cooperation.
Their repertoire also includes threatening signals, and when we are dealing with dogs we have a choice of how to behave; we can be calming, friendly and reassuring, or we can be threatening. Whatever we choose will have consequences for our relationship with the dog. When you are using threats to your dog, intentionally or unintentionally, the dog will use calming signals in order to try to calm you. For the conflict-solving dog, threats must be calmed down. I prefer to put it this way; Why on earth should we ever use threatening signals to dogs?
What signals are we talking about? We know at least 30 signals. Some signals are used for other things as well, in other situations. Some are so swift that we can hardly see them. It takes experience to see everything in every situation. But with experience and frequent observation, you will be able to catch a glimpse of them all, and you will always be able to tell how your dog is feeling. You will understand your dog much better. And isn’t that what we would all like? To really understand how they feel?”