Understanding Canine Body Language To Help Your Reactive Dog

The Need to Understand Body Language

Understanding dog body language is the single best thing you can do to help your reactive dog. Often owners of reactive dogs tell me how it feels like their dog is reacting out of nowhere and that it makes them nervous that they can’t predict when a reaction is likely to happen. Understanding their body language is the way to figure out when your dog is teetering on the verge of a reaction, which alleviates your nervous about a reaction surprising you. There are so many reasons that understanding dog body language will help you as I discuss in more depth below. 

Why Should You Understand Body Language

In addition to understanding your own dog, understanding dog body language allows you to: 

  • evaluate the behaviour of dogs you come across and decide if you need to help your dog, how much you need to help your dog
  • determine which dogs are likely to make good playmates for your dog when you get to the stage of doing greetings and more close contact work with other dogs 
  • determine which dogs you see on a walk are going to the best for your dog’s current stage of training and which are best avoided because they are incredibly likely to make your dog react no matter what you do to help your dog
  • have an idea of when your dog may be in pain, which can hugely contribute to reactive behaviour – read more on this HERE 
How To Learn About Canine Body Language 

In my opinion, the best way to learn about dog body language is to watch it. Ideally footage is slowed down to help you read each little bit. This is like when you learn a new language and you’re able to have a conversation with someone who understands you’re learning the language and need the new language to be spoken slower than normal to allow you to process with enough time to reply. By slowing down videos of dogs communicating we are able to pick up on and process all of those nuances that we might miss in a conversation at normal speed. My favourite starting place for learning canine body language is THIS video. 

I hope this post gives you a reason to learn dog body language. If you have any questions or want to learn how to read your dogs and the dogs you encounter on walks contact us via email. 

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