The best stressed dog therapy is to treat its owner > This Blog has often praised the value of pets as a wonderfully natural stress reliever. And if you are a dog lover they offer the added value of keeping you fit.
We were therefore rather shocked when a client said she believed her dog didn’t like her! Is such a thing possible? After all, ‘love is when your dog licks your face even after you left him alone all day’.
But how does a dog owner really know what their pet is thinking? This may now be possible thanks to a pack academics at the University of Portsmouth.
They claim to have discovered tell-tale signs of dog anxiety, such as licking their lips frequently to not wanting to play or eat. They have also found that dogs have evolved new muscles around the eyes to better communicate with humans.
Dog facial expressions decoded
They compared data between dogs and wolves, and came to the conclusion that dogs’ facial anatomies have evolved over time to make it easier to communicate with us. As a result we mere mortals can identify loads of dog facial expressions as well as what they mean.
Here are a few examples of their research >
- Commissures is a fancy word for the corners of your dog’s mouth where there are loads of muscles at work. The slacker the mouth the more relaxed your pet. But if the mouth is tight it is likely an indication of stress. This raises the question of where your dog picked up that stress!
- Head lowering is a submissive action, which is normal in a healthy relationship between owner and pet. Maybe our Tonic caller incorrectly interpreted this as sadness. In fact, such deferential signalling is a normal way for dogs to show they want to be part of what is happening.
- The position of your dog’s ears is a good guide for understanding your dog’s mood. For example, it will peel back its ears while licking your face to show that they mean you no harm. A relaxed, neutral position means the dog is not stressed.
- ‘Whale eye’ is a term used to specifically describe when the whites of a dog’s eyes are clearly visible. As a dog exhibiting such whale eyes could be fearful or anxious, it is best to leave them to relax, or at least until you can identify the source of their agitation. In comparison, the hard eye fixed stare means your dog is not happy with what it is looking at.
- The guilty look does not mean your dog feels guilty about their actions. It is simply trying to appease you with behaviour that has worked in the past. Submissiveness is often the best way to get an annoyed owner to relax!
Only love can make a dog wag its tail
“Dog owners don’t need bored graduates to tell them what their dog is thinking”, says a Tonic therapists. “For starters, a dog’s mood is usually a reflection of their owner’s state of mind. The natural bond between dog and man means owners will know their dog’s facial tics, submissive grins, naturally smiles and wagging tails.
“But what these bored under-graduates failed to mention was the cure for dog stress. In my opinion the best therapy is to treat the owner. But we would say that wouldn’t we as Tonic I not so good at dog therapy!”
As the saying goes…. ‘Show a dog an ounce of love and he’ll be your friend for life’ .