The Absence of Body Language IS Body Language

It is difficult to gauge the emotional reactions of dogs who are shut down (read a great blog post or two on what it means to be shut down here).


A dog’s intense fear/anxiety can mask their real reactions or exacerbate them. Some aggressive animals exhibit those behaviors clearly, while others who are shut down may not show any signs of aggression at all until they are more comfortable. I am not saying this because we think Jonah is aggressive, but we are taking his inability to adequately express himself seriously. He has also shown some anxious/guarding behavior and has growled at Frankie several times. Once while he was panicking trying to get back inside and she approached him (bad planning on our part) and three times when he is in his kennel (even with a secondary barrier keeping her about a foot away). Each time Frankie has responded appropriately by walking away with her hackles up. We are working on changing some things so these interactions don’t happen anymore (i.e. relocating the crate to a less traveled area) with a bigger space barrier.

Right now, he and Frankie can be out in the house together with the caveat they both have leashes on (for quick control if necessary). They mostly ignore each other but you can tell from both of their expressions that they get creeped out if the other one comes too close. The house rules are that two people need to be home and one person needs to be actively managing them (even if they are just lying on the couch). It may seem like an overabundance of caution but I don’t think so. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care.


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