Dog body language: fear and confidence

Quin was working with a dog named Benji one night, after she went to change the trashbag and he panicked. She spent the next little while showing him that trash bags weren’t scary, and videoed it. The video ended up showing too low, but I thought it worked out perfectly.

You see, the great thing about this video is that we’ve got just Benji’s legs. There’s usually so much to pay attention to that it’s hard to focus on just one thing at a time, but now we can. Woo hoo!

When a dog is feeling confident, his weight is balance squarely on all four legs. When they’re not, the weight shifts back, away from whatever they’re unsure of. Watching Benji, you can see how often his weight shifts back — even as he reaches forward for a treat. At the 21 second mark you’ll see his legs settle straight under him; it’s a change from before, though until you see it you might have thought that his legs before were settled straight under him.

You’ll see his nice square legs again at :56; take a look at the difference between that and seemingly square legs at :54. You can watch his legs, elbows, and how far his chest leans forward  to reach (while his legs are still leaning back) versus how much he doesn’t need to reach, as he becomes willing to walk closer and gains in confidence.

About an hour later — after I got home (this was all taking place while Benji is being boarded at my house) — we did it again. Check out the improvement! Well done, Quin! We’re doing our best to eliminate some of his fears while he’s here.



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