On July 15, 2015 thirty-three Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) volunteers eagerly gathered to hear a presentation on canine body language offered by No Kill Pima County. “What Is My Dog Saying?” a PowerPoint presentation with over 100 slides including video and still photos, is an educational tool used for instructors, shelter staff and day care providers to help teach people about how to better understand dogs.
Canine body language is an often overlooked aspect of our interactions with dogs. Understanding their language, body language, helps us understand how dogs communicate with each other and us. The PowerPoint presentation by Carol A. Byrnes, CPDT-KA, of Spokane Washington was presented to PACC volunteers by local dog trainers Veronica Zimmerman and Kim Silver (also an NKPC board member). Volunteers at PACC overwhelmingly rated the presentation with high marks and positive feedback.
The presentation included information on body language indicating stress and arousal, calming, displacement and appeasement signals. Volunteers learned about how to interpret a dog’s eyes, mouth, tail, body position and even their breathing. Volunteers heard three key things to consider when going out into the world with their new knowledge:
- Body language is universal. Dogs are reading human body language every interaction we have with them.
- Behavior does not occur in a vacuum. The context in which it occurs is critical in interpreting behavior
- Both parties are talking, pay attention to the conversation. As far as dogs are concerned we are almost always in conversation so pay attention to your own body language, your dog is watching.
No Kill Pima County plans to offer more educational programs for PACC volunteers in the future including additional presentations of “What Is My Dog Saying?” If you are interested in future presentation dates email email@example.com