Is your pup trying to send you a message?
Are they sick, worried, bored, angry, frustrated, grieving, sad, confused…?
We don’t always pay attention to dog signals… and it can be very frustrating for your pet.
“Hey you! I’m talking here…!”
Worse yet, it can wind up costing your dog their life if you don’t make an effort to understand their form of communication.
We have a tendency to assume our pets are “acting badly out revenge” or simply getting “old and grumpy” when they misbehave.
In fact, your dog will never do anything to deliberately upset or disappoint you.
So, when their behavior changes, you seriously need to have a conversation with them and find out what’s going on in their mind or their body. What are they aware of that you don’t know yet?
Here are 3 dog signals that tell you it’s time to listen to your pet
There are three common signals your dog will send when they need your extra care and attention.
1. Don’t touch me!
Does your dog duck their head when you try to pat them? There could be a number of things going wrong here, including social issues like dominance or submission, or medical problems like a toothache, headache, earache…
If their vision is impaired, anything moving towards their head will make them extremely uncomfortable.
Pay attention to body cues like this. If they suddenly avoid you grooming their back or legs, or shift away when you try to pat them, there’s definitely a reason.
Your dog doesn’t have an aloof or spiteful bone in its body, so if they’re avoiding your touch it’s a signal of something going wrong in their body or mind, or environment that worries them.
And they need your help to sort it out.
2. I can’t eat that!
Has your dog suddenly become a picky eater?
It’s sweet to cater to your dog’s tastebuds… but, honestly, if they’re feeling good physically and mentally, a dog will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them.
They trust you for their nutrition, except when they snatch that tasty bit of cat poop on the walk…, so if they’re turning up their nose at the food dish?
First confirm that the food isn’t rancid, but if it’s okay? Then that’s one of the clearest dog signals that something isn’t right.
It doesn’t just have to be about a tummy ache, though. Maybe it’s a pain in their jaw or anxiety about something going on in their human’s life. It could be liver or kidney problems, or ulcers. They could feel toxic or temporarily nauseous from something else they ate, or they could be getting sick.
Dogs are incredibly intuitive creatures. Are you stressing about getting ready to move, changing jobs, maybe ending a relationship?
Your dog senses all of these things…
Of course, you should consult a veterinarian if your pup suddenly goes off their food, but taking the time to have a conversation with them can throw a light on any stress or pain they’re feeling on your behalf, or in their own body.
How could you know without talking to them what their actual experience is and how they feel?
And once you do know about it, you can deal with it properly… together.
3. I’m so scared!
You’re going to have to fight your first instinct on this one.
Your dog appears fearful… so your instincts tell you to cuddle and coddle them. You try to comfort them.
Now your furbaby has been rewarded for their anxious behavior – and you still don’t know what caused it.
If you encounter any dog exhibiting fear or stress signals, your priority should be finding the source of the perceived threat, not babying them in order to soothe them.
Rewarding them with attention and affection when they are in an unstable fearful mindset makes them think they are doing the right thing.
Good intentions, yes, but this only reinforces their fear…
The range in severity of the abuse can go from a neighbor who yells at your dog to puppy mills and dogfighting rings.
Once you’ve established that there isn’t an immediate threat to their physical well-being – or you’ve handled it so the threat is gone – you can work to redirect them from their fear and build their confidence.
Whatever the situation, your job during it is to communicate clearly with your dog, explain to them that they’re safe with you, and that you as Leader of the Pack are going to find the source of the threat and take care of it.
Dog signals can be blatantly obvious – like suddenly barking and snarling – or very subtle – like shifting away from your hand when you try to pet them on the head.
If there is tension in their body or they are unable to completely relax, those are dog signals for “something is wrong”.
Keep in mind that your dog is reading you – your emotions and your physical well-being – as keenly as a dear friend might and you’ll learn from them.
If you’re feeling anxious about a life transition, battling an illness, worrying about your finances, your dog is worrying right alongside you.
So, if your dog starts to exhibit some unacceptable or odd behaviors, see them for what they are…a sign that something isn’t right in their world…or perhaps, in yours.
Would you like to learn more about the soul connection between you and your pet? Or, would you like to explore the possibility of having a meaningful conversation with your dog?
If you’ve learned how to communicate with animals, all of your interactions should be informative and enlightening.
If you can’t yet communicate with your pets yourself heart to heart, mind to mind as I teach in The Heart School of Animal Communication, not to worry. You can either learn how to start with our free ebook Hidden Secrets to Communicating With Pets, or consult a professional pet communicator.