Change the body, change the mind.
How many of us have clicked on some kind of snippet with the heading ‘How can you tell if X is lying?’ I think pretty much everyone wants to know about the things people’s eyes and hands do that would give them away, as liars. Unfortunately, it’s never as easy as that. The thing to always take in consideration is that person’s habitual posture and natural reactions to situations. What do they tend do when they are unsure, uneasy, nervous? What do they tend to do when they are calm, happy or excited? Sure body language or expressions can be generalised to being stressed or excited, however really knowing someone’s natural body language will make your analysis much more accurate.
Our animals do not lie, ever. They are so honest about how they are feeling about everything that is presented to them. They communicate through their reactions and their body posture. Some animals have been feeling a certain way for so long, that their body has adjusted it’s posture to the emotion.
Generally speaking, a reactive dog would be quite stiff and sensitive to touch on his hindquarters and tail. Terriers, tend to have a very upright posture (due to breeding specifics), which tend to get them into a lot of trouble because to other dogs, they look a bit threatening. Dogs whose eyes are covered with a fringe or long eyebrows have difficulty communicating with other dogs, they also have difficulty reading other dogs’ intentions, you can imagine that these dogs might always be on the defence, or just avoid social interactions with other dogs completely. Sometimes you might see a dog that seems a bit off balance, in this case check the dogs’s ears or tail, something might be medically wrong, or he might be compensating for another limb or part of the body that is uncomfortable or in pain.
We can help our dogs into a more balanced state of mind and balanced posture, to help them feel happier in their own skins. When dogs feel happier, they feel calm and they are able to learn.
The idea is to let your dog experience a different posture for a brief 1 to two seconds. If we try to force a dog into a different posture, we are only going to cause discomfort, perhaps pain, and do damage to our relationship. 1 to two seconds for now, is all that is needed.
You can do a simple exercise, by using the back of your hand. If your dog is not touch sensitive or reactive – you will know best, slowly, slide your hand over the dog’s back from neck to tail. This is how we say ‘hello, may I touch you?’ Your dog might say, “hells yeah!” And ask for more. Or he might say, “Not now, I have had a rough day” If your dog says ‘no thanks’ let him be, give him some time and do it again later. If your dog seem OK with being touched at the moment, have a look at what your dog’s tail look like. Is it hanging down or standing high up in the air? With the back of your hand, slowly and gently slide in an upwards motion with your dog’s tail resting on the back of your hand. You can do it once or twice if your dog is comfortable with it. You have just reminded your dog’s nervous system that his tail can lift up too. You might notice that the dog has lifted his tail up for a couple of minutes out of his own, and so you have influenced your dog’s posture as well as emotions as simple as that. If your dog has his tail straight up, you just do the opposite, sliding your hand with a downwards motion over your dog’s tail.
It’s really important to stop touching the dog often, and let him process how he feels about it. Give him a break and let him walk off if he needs to.
The nervous system is fascinating, it connects every single thing in our bodies and in our pets’ bodies. A small 1-2 second change can have a huge impact on the body, and to our logic such a short change might not mean anything, but don’t worry the nervous system will get the message through to where it needs to go.
If you are interested in learning more about how to influence your pet’s nervous system to assist him with healing, fearfulness, anxiety or just strengthening your bond, keep an eye out for Ttouch trainings and workshops. Ttouch basics is a must know when you have pets or work with animals.
By Tersha, Trainer / Team Leader