Canine Body Language – Distressed Dogs

Yesterday we looked at happy dogs. Most people can also recognize dogs that are in real distress.

These are pictures of dogs pushed beyond their level of tolerance. They feel the need to protect themselves. Typically dogs that are this distressed have already been warning us that they are uncomfortable and the signals have been ignored.


Most of us know that when a dog growls it is a warning.  If a dog is yelled at when s/he growls, the dog often stops growling.  But, the feeling behind the growl does not change and you are just turning of the early warning signal that the dog is getting distressed.  You can create a silent biter in that way.  The pressure inside the dog builds and the dog now has no way to communicate that until s/he is over the tolerance level and the dog feels the need to bite to protect him/herself.


If your dog growls at you, don’t yell at the dog.  Step back and figure out why the dog feels the need to growl.  Then, work on the issue.  If needed, contact a certified trainer in your area for help.


999098_536105933103165_300722057_nDogs tell us when they are feeling tense, before they become distressed. Check here tomorrow. We will look at different parts of the dog’s body and how they indicate that they are feeling tense. If we know these signs, we can intervene before they get overwhelmed.