Calming Signals, Distance Increasing Signals & Distance Decreasing Signals

In this post, we’ll discuss the different signals that dogs use to communicate to us if they are feeling anxious, if they want some room to breathe, or if they want us or even other dogs to come closer. Calming signals are used by dogs to try & keep a situation calm. Calming signals can be both offered & returned. By learning these signals it will better help us to read our dog’s minds.

Calming signals include

  • Look Away (they turn their head to the side away from people & other dogs)
  • Yawning (dogs can yawn to express their feelings. So yawning in dogs doesn’t necessarily mean that they are tired).
  • Sniffing (becomes interested in not much of anything).
  • Paw lifts (they lift one of their front paws off the ground).
  • Shake offs (they can do a partial shake, or they might shake their whole body). Dogs will also shake off if they feel stressed, & you thought dogs only shake off when they get wet.
  • Scratching
  • Blinking
  • Lip or nose licking
  • Tongue flicking
  • Moving in an arc ( not taking a direct path to either approach or leave. Instead they will move in a semi-circle).
  • Sitting or laying down
  • Stretching
  • Making a soft face (ears pinned back, soft eyes, etc).

Now, let’s talk about distance increasing signals. Dogs use distance-increasing signals as a way of saying (you’re making me uncomfortable please give me some space).

Distance increasing signals include.

  • Agonistic pucker, (nose wrinkled, teeth bared)
  • Ears flattened (pinned back).
  • Intense stare
  • Bark & lunge
  • Head turned away
  • Lip licking or tongue flicking
  • Tail lowered
  • Splitting (dog goes between two other dogs to head off conflict).
  • Crouch (head lower than its body, tail down & legs bent).
  • Height seeking posture
  • Tail raised
  • Mouth closed
  • Low growl
  • Punctuated barking
  • Paw lift

It’s not uncommon for a dog to display several of these signs @ the same time. The third & final type of signal we will discuss in this post is going to be distance decreasing signals. Dogs use these to signal to people & other dogs, (I’m friendly & I mean you no harm, please come closer). They are as followed.

  • Play bow
  • Easy wagging tail, circle wagging like a windmill. Just because a dog wags its tail doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a happy dog. Sometimes dogs wag their tails when they are aroused.
  • Submissive grinning
  • Submissively licking other dogs
  • Soliciting care signals
  • Relaxed posture
  • Soft eyes

If you are interested in learning more about communicating with your dog stay right here. I enjoy writing these posts & I hope you enjoy reading them. If there are topics that you would like me to write about feel free to drop me a line & I would be happy to write a post about that topic. Dogs are very fascinating & if we just take some time to listen to what they have to say we can have a better relationship with our dogs because we understand what they are telling us.

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