Have you ever winked at another person in agreement? Have you even known someone to wink at a person when they didn’t have good intentions? Likely, you have observed that every time someone winks they have great intent. Well, dogs are the same way. But, dogs don’t wink, instead they blink to express intent. Reading a dog’s body language is a great skill possess. No more being left in the dark, you will be able to pin point your dog’s mood regardless of the environment. An uncertain dog will also offer body cues in the form of caution. A lot of the times a dog that lack confidence will demonstrate body language that indicates caution. I will describe and show you how to identify both blinking and caution.
Blinking : Have you ever noticed how often your dog blinks? Canines use blinking of the eyes to communicate their intentions with another dog. One thing you can count on is that a blinking dog has good intentions and is sending a message of friendliness to another canine. Dogs will use a blink to attempt to come into another
dog’s personal space. They may pair a blink with looking away, to appear passive. At times, a canine will use a blink with a dominant dog to avoid any issues of conflict.
Blinking: Here is a great example of a polite approach by the Husky, giving an intentional blink to communicate a non-threatening pass by.
Careful/Caution : A dog that is insecure will display caution. Puppies will also show carefulness as they learn to explore the world around them. I have found that rescue dogs with previous environmental issues will show great caution towards various objects. In the case of a dog that needs to have more confidence, when it shows interest in something with caution, it is a good sign of growth. The important thing to keep in mind is to not pressure the dog to the point in which it retreats (goes away). Patience will be needed as you cannot rush dogs to further explore; it will happen when they are ready. Likely, the canine will move slowly toward what it’s interested in. Expression of carefulness and caution comes in the form of locked (braced) front legs, rear legs far away from the dog, stretched out neck, and a tongue flick.
Caution: Most of the little dog’s body weight is backward, so although his nose is forward and sniffing, it is ready to run back at any moment. Braced front legs as well as how backward the body is positioned tells us he is in a caution mode. Allow the dog to work through it because he is already doing what we want, exploring! A dog that is sniffing and investigating is coming out of its shell.
I’m sure you are having a lot of ah-ha moments as you make the connection of body language signals you have seen your dog display. You may not have known what they meant and now that you can pin point certain body language cues you are likely finding it fun being able to better recognize what is going on in your dog’s head. I’m glad you are educating yourself about how canines think and act. Rest assured that there are a lot more body language signals than just blinking and caution. I have written a series of articles explaining many other body language cues so be sure to familiarize yourself with all the body signs dogs offer, in the series (Reading Body Language.)