Fearful Dog Week on Dogster!

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with the dogs, and that spending time on dogster in some sense relieves any "cases...


Hi everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with the dogs, and that spending time on dogster in some sense relieves any “cases of the Mondays” you may be encountering today.

This week, I wanted to discuss specifically fearful behaviors and reactivity in dogs. It’s an issue that so many pet parents and canines struggle with and, since much aggression is based in fear, is also a public health issue.

Rehabilitating a fearful dog takes time, commitment, and dedication. Sometimes the process can be slow-moving and frustrating for dog owners. This week, I hope to provide you with a variety of training, management, and calming aids that you can employ to help build your dog’s confidence.

One of the most useful skills a handler of a fearful or reactive dog can possess is an understanding of canine body language. If we are able to read and respond to emotional signals in dogs, we are better able to expedite the rehabilitation process through using careful management to keep the dog under her threshold.

Here are a few resources which may help you better understand your dog’s body language and communications (all books and videos available from Dogwise):


Canine Behavior: A Photo-Illustrated Handbook by Barbara Handelman

Canine Body Language: A Photographic Guide by Brenda Aloff

Dog Language: An Encyclopedia of Canine Behavior by Roger Abrantes

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas


Body Language of Canine Play – How to Tell if Your Dog is Really Having Fun by Terry Ryan

Canine Behavior Series: Body Postures & Evaluating Behavioral Health by Suzanne Hetts and Daniel Estep

Canine Fear, Aggression, and Play by Jean Donaldson

Dog Language Seminar DVD set by Roger Abrantes

Dog Talk – Understanding Canine Body Language and Communication by Donna Duford

On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals DVD from Turid Rugaas

Reading Between the Lines by Patricia McConnell

The Language of Dogs by Sarah Kalnajs


Doggone Safe: Doggone Safe is an organization committed to public safety through the promotion of training humans on how to behave around both strange and familiar dogs, read and respond to body language signals, and be a responsible dog trainer. You may find their Speak Dog section to be especially helpful.

Talking Dog: Body Language from Stacy Braslau-Schneck, owner of Stacy’s Wag ‘n Train.

Sue Sternberg’s Body Language Ethogram.

Dr. Karen Overall’s Behavior Signals Interpreted with Body Postures

Dog Body Language Diagrams from Diamonds in the Ruff

This list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, as there are a variety of great resources on the topic of body language available to dog owners. Help me make this blog better by sharing your favorites in the comments section!

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