by Melinda Brown
Dogs have an amazing ability to read our body language, but we tend to be kind of terrible at reading theirs. Despite all the time we may spend with our dogs, we tend to miss all the little things they do to show us how they’re feeling. Often this is because we are around our own dog so often we see the same things they do all the time and just think its normal. When dogs get stressed they will give us many signs to show they are reaching their limit. Once they’ve reached that limit, they can do things that may not be in their character, such as bite. It is simply the instinct most animals have to make whatever is bothering them back off. It is good to know how your dog is feeling so you can protect him. By keeping him from being so stressed he bites, you are saving him from having to experience that much stress and keeping the other dogs and people around you safe.
Here are some basic behaviors your dog does to tell you he is stressed: lip licking, tucked tail, ears down, yawning, avoiding eye contact, shaking and turning away. Of course, you have to look at the whole dog and not take one thing out of context. For example, a dog will yawn when she’s tired but if she is in the lobby of an animal hospital in the middle of the day and is yawning and lip licking and hiding under your chair she is probably not tired. She is nervous about this new place with all the weird smells and sounds. If she is allowed to continue in this anxious state every time she comes to the animal hospital, it will just get worse and worse, thus culminating in her eventually lashing out at the people who are trying to keep her healthy.
So how do you combat this anxiousness? One simple way is offering your dog small pea-sized treats every few seconds while he is in the lobby at the animal hospital and when he is on the table being examined by the doctor. This will give him some positive connections with this strange place. You want these treats to be ultra special so he will want to eat them no matter what is happening around him! If your dog is already so anxious he doesn’t take treats from you even in the parking lot of the animal hospital please email me (petstreat.training@
Here is a video to show you an example of dog behavior before they bite:
Here is a longer video with more information about dog behavior: https://www.youtube.com/watch?