As a dog carer having a good understanding of dog body language can be extremely helpful. Although dogs do use sounds and signals, much of the information that they send is through their body language, specifically their facial expressions and body postures. Here at Tailster we always recommend doing meet and greets with any potential customers to ensure both you and the dog get on and everyone is happy with the arrangements.

You may find that someone is looking for care for their pet to keep them company as they are displaying signs of separation anxiety, this can be quite common in dogs and you can read more about the symptoms and how you could help here. Noticing how a dog may be feeling and knowing the best way to approach them can set you off on the right foot with the dog and help you secure that booking, but how can could you tell if the dog loves you?

Nervous dog body language

When dogs are stressed and nervous they exhibit many different kinds of behaviour that you can look out for. Some of these can include yawning, lip licking, shaking and a low tail carriage. 

When a dog is fearful it can be difficult to form a bond with them. However understanding the right way to approach them can make all the difference. keeping the following tips in mind, you can make friends even with the most timid dog.

  • Move slowly! Fast movements make a nervous dog even more worried
  • Avoid direct eye contact or staring into the dog’s eyes
  • Offer the dog treats - they will soon start to associate you with something good
  • Avoid reaching for the head. If the dog’s body signals are telling you it is okay to pet them, reach for under the chin or the chest. Most dogs do not enjoy having their head touched at first.
  • Avoid leaning over the dog. Instead, kneel, sit, or crouch near the dog. This is a lot less threatening to them
  • Speak softly and calmly. Loud noises will put them on edge

Excitable dog body language

Other dogs might be too eager and need a different approach. If faced by an extremely excited dog, stay calm:

  • Wait to greet the dog until it is in a sitting position. This will encourage good behaviour from the dog and help stop them jumping up every time they greet you. Owners will always appreciate if your dog can learn some good habits whilst they stay with you.
  • Stay relaxed- Dogs pick up on our demeanour and body language. If we have too much energy the dog will mimic our behaviour.

Introducing dogs

It is always best to get as much information as possible from the owners before introducing dogs. Finding out if a dog is regularly socialised, has any obvious anxieties and if they have been neutered or spayed can be helpful. Once you have all these details it is best to introduce the dogs in a neutral area. Keep the dogs on the lead and take them for a walk together. Watch out for the dog's body language to get a good idea how they feel about each other. This should get the dogs used to each others company whilst avoiding any tension.