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How Can I Tell if My Dog is Afraid?

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A guide to spotting fearful body language in dogs, and a chance to test out your skills.



You have to learn to read dog body language if you want to know when or if your dog is afraid.  This is a guide to spotting the signs.

Many people find it hard to tell when their dog is afraid and may even think their dog is okay when that’s not the case. This is very common but it can mean people are risking being bitten without knowing. And we can look after our dogs better if we know how to read canine body language.


Dog Body Language: Signs of Fear, Anxiety and Stress
There are many signs of fear, anxiety and stress in dogs. Things to look for include a tucked tail, ears back, licking the lips or nose, whale eye (wide eyes showing the whites of the eyes), looking away, lifting a paw, trembling or shaking, a low body posture, yawning, panting, grooming, sniffing, seeking out people (e.g. looking for comfort from you), hiding, not moving, a stiff or frozen posture, urinating and defecating.

Some…

Companion Animal Psychology News July 2018

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Cats high on catnip, the heritage of mutts, and sunk costs for mice - don't miss a thing with the latest news from Companion Animal Psychology.



Some of my favourites from around the web this month
“It takes patience to let the student run the show.” The pause that refreshes by Patricia McConnell PhD.

 “You know exactly what I'm talking about. There's a dog. Right there, right in front of you.” 10 things to do instead of patting that service dog by Kristi Benson CTC.

“Experts did little better than dog lovers — and nobody did very well — when asked to describe the heritage of various mutts.” What breeds make up this mutt? By James Gorman at NY Times.

Can we ever really know if animals are happy?Anna Brooks tackles an important question.

"Like so many other humans, you might find cats to be mysterious creatures. But believe it or not, it’s not that hard to make friends with a feline, if you know what to do." 10 science-backed tips for getting a cat to like you by Mi…

Interview with Lori Nanan

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Lori Nanan on training dogs to love nail trims and why slowing down is good for us.



Last week I wrote about desensitization and counter-conditioning in dog training, an important technique to help fearful dogs. Lori Nanan’s course Nailed It! shows people how to use this technique to teach dogs to love having their nails trimmed. I caught up with Lori to find out more (scroll down for the discount codes!).


Zazie: Why did you decide to write the course?

Lori: It started a few years ago. I had a dog, Rocco, who for his entire life nail care was pretty traumatic. I was never able to make it right and it really kind of ate away at me for most of his life. And when we brought Hazel home, I was sort of determined that that would never be the case for any other dog of mine. So I guess in 2014, 2015 I wrote a blog where I laid out steps that I followed in a training to plan to get Hazel comfortable with my handling of her legs and paws and restraining for toes, getting her to love a nail file – …

What is Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning in Dog Training?

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A user-friendly guide to desensitization and counter-conditioning for fearful dogs.



Whether you want to use counter-conditioning to get your dog to like other dogs, or desensitization to teach your dog that alone-time is okay, this guide is for you. It explains what these technical terms mean – and, importantly, the tips you need to know to get it right.

First, we’ll look at how to spot a fearful dog, because these techniques are often used to help resolve different kinds of fear.

Sometimes, desensitization and/or counter-conditioning are used alongside medication. If you are concerned about your pet or want to know if medication might help your dog, speak to your veterinarian.


Recognizing signs of fear in dogs
It can be difficult to recognize signs of fear in dogs, and people often miss it, even in situations where we know many dogs are afraid (e.g. fear at the vet or in response to loud noises).

This means many dogs are not being helped with their fears because their owner does not …

An Interview with Prof. Hal Herzog

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Hal Herzog on our complicated relationship with animals – and what it says about being human.



Prof. Hal Herzog’s fascinating book, Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It's So Hard to Think Straight About Animals was the Companion Animal Psychology Book Club choice for June 2018. I was thrilled to interview him about the book – and book club members asked some questions too.


Zazie: Many people have said the book is fascinating, and some have said it’s disturbing as well.

Hal: Oh good! Well that’s what I was going for!

Zazie: I think it’s because of what you refer to as “flagrant moral incoherence” when it comes to animals. Why is our relationship with animals so complicated?

Hal: That’s the whole theme of the book really. There’s a couple of answers to that. One is that when it comes to thorny moral issues, most of them are complicated. One of the reasons why I study human-animal relationships is I think they offer a window into how we think about ethical issues generally. So …