CALMING SIGNAL? IS THAT LIKE THE BAT SIGNAL?
Well, kind of. Calming signals are your dog’s way of communicating they are uncomfortable / stressed and like Batman, we need to look for these signs so we can answer their call appropriately.
Since dogs respond to sight, sound, and touch it only makes sense that calming signals are a set of body language skills that use these senses. These actions help build and maintain healthy relationships, relieve stress, convey good will, and eliminate tension, all to make their feelings and intentions clear in order to avoid volatile situations.
Ultimately, it is good that your dog utilizes calming signals and they should NOT be punished for displaying them.
Much of what we know about calming signals comes from the work of Turid Rugaas, a Norwegian canine ethologist. Through her research we have learned the importance of dogs learning to display signals, either initially or in response to others, in order to avoid confrontation. In turn the other party hopefully recognizes the signal(s) and alters their behavior accordingly.
Though all breeds display calming signals, and many such signs, like panting or stretching, come naturally to most dogs, some signs are more obvious and / or developed in others in part due to physical differences. For instance, dogs with cropped tails or ears aren’t able to communicate as clearly, if at all, with these body parts like those with un-cropped tails / ears. And have you ever seen a small dog or puppy yawn when being picked up? This is possibly a calming behavior because, well, wouldn’t you be stressed if you were lifted so high off the ground?