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When dogs are feeling stressed or uncomfortable it is written all over their bodies. Dogs don’t bite without warning. They always communicate their discomfort through body language before exhibiting aggressive behavior. Your job is to learn to read your dog’s body language so you can interpret what he is saying and intervene when necessary. Once you are adept at interpreting the messages your dog is sending, give the dog space when you see the signs that your dog is uncomfortable.
Common signs of stress include:
- Lip Licking
- Turning Away
- Whale Eye – showing the white part of their eye
If you recognize your dog is uncomfortable, remove him from the situation and give him space. Utilize his crate or his “room” – a safe, quiet place divided by a baby gate. Once your dog is relaxed and the trigger of his stress is gone, allow him to rejoin the family. This isn’t a punishment for your dog, nor will he learn to be more afraid. Advocating for him in this manner will teach him that there is no need to progress his behavior because you are in control of the situation.
A professional trainer can help develop a plan of action to address a dog’s specific stressors. Do not hesitate to bring in a professional if you see your dog demonstrate signs of stress. The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers is a great resource.