Elsa clearly saying "I really want to play with you but I'm a bit apprehensive of your buffness." This was a young 9 month old Golden who was indeed very burly and confident for his age. Elsa was almost 6 mos in this photo.
As I stood bleary eyed this morning, watching the dogs; it was not yet 5 am. It was still dark so I threw on the outside light. Just as I did I caught Elsa in full zoom; she had spotted my son and that was enough to send her into an excited frenzy. She zoomed at least three full times around growling at both Luke and my son on the way by. Finally she jammed on her brakes and they all came in for breakfast snacks. What a happy, happy dog she is; she truly is a cup half full kind of gal. This lead me to thinking about how dogs are what they are, no BS.
Dogs don't lie; they just don't. Dogs don't tell you how much they like you and then stab you in the back. They do not lead you along in hopes of a happy ending and then throw in the bad news twist. Dogs simply don't tell you one thing and do another; if dogs don't like you then you are going to know it. If they feel neutral about you then they'll tell you that as well. Dogs tell it like it is; honest, reliable, forthright and true.
How many videos are out there in cyber land of seemingly friendly dogs being pet by a human when they suddenly lunge up and bite the human in the face? How strange the humans think; they were being friendly one minute and the next moment they snapped. WRONG. If the human was watching and reading the dog they would have clearly seem that the dog was not happy and friendly one minute and then a mad dog the next. The dog was very clear right from the start; it was the human who got the messages crossed, as humans do.
Over the years my dogs have given me very clear signals when they do not like someone. I listen carefully when they give me this type of information. On three particular occasions they have been very astute with their readings and the people they did not like were people that I did not even want in my house. Dogs are beyond amazing at sharing their feelings. Of course each dog is different but they all speak the same language. If you understand dog behavior then you can read them all; some are an easier read than others. Many dogs are free and open with their communications while others are a bit tougher to pull out.
A dog's language is subtle so subtle that most of their communications are missed by the human eye. This is one reason that I love action and candid photography so much. Being a huge fan of watching canine behavior; a posed photo holds no appeal to me. It offers nothing as far as emotion. But shoot an interaction, a spontaneous moment or split second and it can hold so much.
Sometimes when we are at the park or beach and my dogs are interacting with other canines, I will call Luke away from another dog. More often than not it is a dominant male that has in a matter of seconds already sent Luke several threatening signals; which knowing my boy like I do will not be tolerated. I step in before there can be any further communications. I redirect Luke and we move on.
I remember years ago; I was telling a woman about how my dogs tell me things. She had a bunch of dogs of her own but had never tapped into the whole communication thing. It was perhaps because all of her dogs lived outdoors, out of the house, away from the family. I was really surprised when I heard that they were all yorkie type dogs. Who has a pile of small dogs like this living outside? No dog, no matter what size should live away from the family, outside. Okay, anyway. She wanted to know how I knew what my dogs were saying. I explained that I knew my dogs inside and out. I knew their personalities so well that the slightest eyebrow raise could give me notice of something wrong. Having her dogs outside meant that she had no connection to them once so ever. There was no way she could know about her dogs as she should.
When a dog gives us a communication; it is up to us to deal with that communication. Perhaps a dog tell us that they are really not comfortable with people coming and petting them. They have told us this by their body language; so once we receive this information we then need to adjust our own behavior to assist theirs. Too many people see shy or fearful behavior as a flaw and try to force the issue. They have seen the signs but force the issue; which is actually ignoring our dogs clear communication. They have told us that they feel uncomfortable and yet we humans try to mask that by force; this almost always backfires and we wonder why? Dogs are so much clearer and honest about what they say.
It truly is sad to me when people miss out on all the communications they could be having with their dog/dogs.
Dogs speak the truth; they will not tell you one thing and do another. Watch and listen, there is no other way to no other way to understand what your dog is telling you.