Understanding Dog Body Language (Holiday Safety)

With Thanksgiving coming up, it is an important time to talk about dog body language. Whether you have kids coming over to your home meeting your dogs, or your kids are going to someone’s house to meet their dog, it is important that everyone have a safe relaxing holiday.

The first thing we have to teach our kids is that dogs cannot speak, but that does not mean they can’t communicate.

This is a great place to start!  Become a Dog Detective

This website will help you and your child navigate reading a dog’s body language. It is not as simple as you might think!


For instance, I bet we can all tell the dog in this picture does not want to be hugged, right?

But did you also know this dog doesn’t want a hug or a pet?


It is not as easy to tell, is it? Especially if you are a child. We must teach them to look for things like lip licking, eye brows raised, or head turning away to give us clues that the dog doesn’t want affection or attention. I see grown-ups continuing to pet a dog that has turned its head away all the time. When a dog turns its head or body away from you it wants the petting to stop but it is so subtle we miss it. I always hear people say the dog bit with no warning, but I can tell you that is almost never the case. Dogs give us warnings, we just don’t recognize them.

So, your holiday season mission, should you chose to accept it, is to sit down with your children and check out the dog detective website above. Teach them the subtle signs dogs give that mean they don’t want any attention. Explain to your children that it is nothing personal that Aunt Sally’s dog doesn’t want to give them a kiss or be petted. Dogs are just like us. Some are outgoing and some aren’t. Sometimes they want to be loved on and sometimes they want space. Learning your dog’s language is what is going to keep everyone happy and healthy this season!

Here is another graphic showing the different ways dogs tell us they want space. Please note I do not own any of these pictures, so if you know the artist, please let me know so I can give them credit. Also, please check me out on Facebook and my website: badbehaviorgooddog.com.


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