We often miss the warning signs with our dogs and it’s in the little actions they’re doing, They tell us exactly what we need to know but We often miss them or misunderstand them. When I’m talking to people about warning signs that dogs can display when they’re frustrated or aggressive, a lot of people answer growling, snapping or biting. Sadly, these are signs that the dog has got too stressed and is likely to react badly. Most dogs will often show other signs before they bite or snap and these are the little things we need to watch out for. They display these signs to deflect the threat (or perceived threat) and restore some peace in their lives. When the object/person/dog etc. does not respond to this behaviour in the manner the dog wants, this is when the aggression and frustration comes out.
So, what are the little things to watch out for?
Yawning, licking, blinking, turning away, heckles up, stiffening up, lying down, avoiding eye contact and whale eye, standing crouched with tail tucked under them, creeping, walking away and The list goes on.
You can see how easily these may be missed and especially if you’re not paying attention. They can escalate quickly too so if you’re not sure, get your dog out of the situation. Do not reprimand them, they are telling you they don’t like the situation in their own language and telling you they want to retreat and diffuse their frustrated behaviour. Shouting, telling them off and especially hitting them, can make this behaviour worse, much worse in some circumstances. There are training techniques and tips to help with these situations so please contact a professional to ensure you do not make the behaviour worse.
So next time you're in a situation that is new to your dog, keep an eye out for these signs. It may save you both a lot of hassle and undue stress!