Today is Blog the Change for Animals day–this is a virtual event where bloggers from around the blogosphere come together in support of animals. Sharing inspiring stories, sharing information about rescues, and spreading information about a variety of causes. Blog the Change happens four times a year on 1/15, 4/15, 7/5, and 10/15. This is such an amazing event–in January I spent an entire week making my way through nearly all of the blogs that were a part of the blog hop. Unfortunately I can’t post the hop on wordpress, but you can find it by clicking the badge or the link up above. Please take a moment and visit a few of the blogs and see what’s going on!
I had intended on showcasing another rescue I’m fond of but I felt compelled to blog the change for Denver the “Guilty Dog.” Denver’s video went viral on youtube a few weeks ago and while Denver is ridiculously adorable, it absolutely hurt my heart. I couldn’t believe all the dog owners who passed this along and laughed–they were totally unaware of what Denver was actually trying to communicate with her body language. So, I was inspired to blog the change for all dogs who people call guilty because of their body language and who are subsequently punished–I want to educate dog owners about canine body language and hopefully dogs will not be punished just because they “look guilty”. For those of you who haven’t seen the video here it is….
Denver, and other “guilty” dogs are not showing their guilt. They read our body language, notice our breathing, smell our body chemicals, and hear our tone of voice–if any of those things are off, alarming, or concerning, the dog is going to respond by showing appeasement gestures (aka submissive gestures or stress signals). In the video Denver shows many of these, she looks away, lowers her head, yawns, licks her lips, shows a “whale eye” (sliver of white around the eyes), closes her eyes softly, wags a low and quick tail, and shows what’s called a submissive smile (or submissive grimace). Denver is not saying “I’m guilty, it was me and I’m sorry”… Denver is saying “I’m no threat to you, you are making me uncomfortable, please don’t hurt me. Calm down dad, it’s okay. Just relax a minute, please” Isn’t that sad? Denver is punished and has no idea why… all she was trying to communicate was that her owner was making her feel uncomfortable and scared.
Check out this video.. another “guilty” dog…
When a dog is giving those signals, he/she is incredibly uncomfortable and concerned. If you own a dog (or regularly around dogs), you should check out some body language books/photos and discover what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Poor Denver is desperately trying to communicate to her owner to calm down, but her owner is seemingly oblivious to the stress he is causing his dog. I wish people would just rethink what is actually happening in this video and not pass it along with such levity because it’s actually quite sad when you think of it from the point of view of reading Denver’s body language.
What type of calming signals do your dogs give when it’s bath time, or when you raise your voice, or when you clip nails, or when you etc… just take a minute and actually watch your dog… see how he/she is trying to communicate with you in the only way he/she knows how.
Here are some more photos with descriptions of appeasement gestures.
Happy Blog Hopping!!