Thursday, July 15, 2010

Language of The Legs

Watching dogs like I’ve never seen them before is a total preoccupation with me. If we are talking and there is a dog nearby, chances are I’m looking at the dog.

If you’ve read my posts on the “Satos” on the hill, you’ve read about stiff legged dog behavior. We’ve all seen it when dogs are introduced they may get up on their toes. It looks like their legs get stiff; gone is the relaxed lose gait.

So many times I’ve seen dogs react to each other without knowing what the signal was; haven’t you?

The stiff legs send the message, “Don’t mess with me.” On the toes means, “I am really ready.”

The street dogs or "Satos" send elaborate body language signals. One night a gang of dogs made a midnight visit to Stormy’s spot. They scoured every inch of my veranda sniffing out who knows. Stormy, a little Border Collie mixed with terrier is clearly unhappy his tail is down he follows them not on his toes, but with a stiff legged gait.

When they didn’t leave he laid down with his nose under the porch railing. Stormy signaled his displeasure, but not so loudly as to get his butt kicked.

Without having seen these exquisite displays I would have completely missed the exchange between Shaker and Cassie the rescue here to teach Shaker Rottweiler.

Cassie is a that’s mine kind of girl. Sometimes when it’s hot she doesn’t finish her food right away, but that doesn’t mean she’s into sharing. She’s here so they can improve their language skills, both dogs are abusers.

Cassie is sprawled in front of her dish. Shaker wants her food; she has her eye on him. We’ve seen this before; finally she gets up and eats her food, but not today.

Shaker stands tall, but not on his toes each step is with a very subtle stiff leg. I almost didn’t see it; it was minute. He walked right past her, as he began eating she turned her head away.

I put the two dysfunctional dogs together to work out some of their problems; what I’ve seen in response was a skilled communication. In the past I might have thought that he was trying to sneak past her, but know I know it to be a signal of how much he wanted that food. He relaxed when she turned her head away from the bowl.

I think it’s a big thing for a bully to give up resources to another dog that can’t take them by force. What caused her generous behavior? Could it be that he asked nicely?

1 comment:

  1. Who could say no to that beautiful face??

    But on a serious note... I have never thought any stiff legged display was "asking nice". Maybe there is more meaning to it than I have attributed. Maybe a cautious display? I guess sauntering over to her dish relaxed wouldn't have gone over very well. Very interesting. More!!!