Every year, many dogs are unjustly euthanized when normal canine communication is mistaken for aggression. The communication responsible for this confusion is what we’ve coined “Canine Deterrent Behaviour”.
Some deterrent behaviours include: baring teeth, barking, growling, hackles, lunging, nipping, nose butt, snapping, sneezing, staring, stiffening and more. Always remember that when reading canine body language, it’s important to put the part of the body you’re reading into context with the dog’s history, what the rest of the body is saying and what’s happening in the environment. A communication from any part of a dog’s body can have a variety of meanings depending on the situation.
You’ll commonly see adult dogs use deterrent behaviour to warn or discipline unruly or disrespectful pups or dogs with poor social skills. Although deterrent behaviour is widely accepted in humans, dogs are often not afforded the same right to communicate their discomfort and need for space.
Copyright March 2010 - Norma Jeanne Laurette * Greg Ceci, CCS - Canine Correspondence Studies, ACTT - Applied Canine Therapy & Training