Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sarah Kalnajs Seminar: Anticipatory Behaviors

Anticipatory behaviors are also signs of stress, however, they're generally not as significant as the straight-up stress signals we talked about in the last post. Sarah said these behaviors are often a sign of eustress (that's the good kind). Still, stress is stress, and with it comes increased arousal and the possibility of aggression, so we are wise to notice and respond to stress when we see it.

Although these signals are classified as a general indication of excitement, remember that you have to take all things in context. They may indicate something more serious in your dog, just as some of the stress signals in the previous post indicated anticipation for some of the commenters' dogs.

Surprisingly, I've only got a video of one of these things!. If you have a photo or video of your dog doing one of these things, please send it along! I'd love to post it (with credit, of course!). My email address is available under the “contact” tab. I got a great response to the last post, so check back soon- I bet I'll have some then!

Smiling is very similar to the “submissive grin,” however while the latter is typically an appeasement behavior, smiling is an indicator of excitement, and is usually a signal of good stress. The difference is in how much of the teeth are showing. Smiling is when the dog lifts his front lips and shows just the front teeth. The submissive grin happens when the dog lifts his front lips and pulls the lips back so you can see the molars. In both cases, the mouth is closed.

The lovely Dahlia demonstrates her smiles here and here. Photos are courtesy of Crysania, who also posted several more links (and descriptions) in the comments.

Penis Crowning
This is when the tip of a male dog's penis comes out just slightly.

Stress Vocalizations
These behaviors include whining, dry panting, and howling. I've always thought this was straight up stress, but recently, Maisy has begun to do a lot of whining and panting when she's super excited to meet another dog. And, upon reflection, I guess she does do the dry panting when playing ball. And here's a bit a frustrated (and highly anticipatory) whining directed at the turkey in our neighbor's back yard:

Teeth Chattering
This is when the dog's teeth literally “chatter” or clack together. It's a very distinctive sound. It can be a sign of both good stress and bad stress, but either way, it's a sign of very high arousal. Unless it's related to anticipation, you need to remove the dog from the situation that's stressing him.

Piloerection is the fancy term for the dog's hair standing up. You've probably heard someone use the term “hackles up,” which is the hair over the shoulders standing up, but piloerection can also happen in other areas, such as the tail. This is a very definite sign of arousal, and while it's indicative of stress, it is not a sign of impending doom on its own. I found that interesting since it's often a signal that's used to portray an aggressive dog. Sidenote: Sarah said that piloerection is a sympathetic nervous response, which means the dog isn't aware that he's doing it.

 Do not approach this dog! In addition to piloerection, the dog's head and neck are low, 
the eyes are hard, and the stare is direct. This dog WILL bite if you come near her Kong. 
Photo courtesy of Sara Reusche.


2dogcrazy said...

Kane gets a piloerection whenever he sees another dog he really wants to meet or whenever we go to the dog park. He gets very excited; it's often accompanied by the dandruff I mentioned in your previous post.

Wish I could help you out with pics this time around, but I don't have any of those, I'm afraid. I never have a camera handy when he gets his "hackles" up and I don't think anyone wants to see his penis. lol.

The only time I've ever seen him penis crown is when I get out his clicker and treats!

Crystal Thompson said...

I'm sure Kane appreciates your restraint, lol.

Anita said...

My friend's Aussie smiles (and sneezes) when he's really excited to see you. It's the cutest thing, although might look scary if you thought he was lip lifting/growling instead. I don't have video, but if I get one I'll send it on over.

Crysania said...

Dahlia is a smiler! Usually it comes when she's getting belly rubs or when she's anticipating a treat or getting ready to do jumps in agility classes. Sometimes she lists her whole upper lip and sometimes just one side of it. I have a few pictures of it.

Smiles in anticipation of a treat:

She looks totally disgruntled here, but really she's excited about the jumps.

Belly rub smiles:
(I know it looks like she has whale-eye here, but I can assure you this was a moment of happiness as I rubbed her belly)

I hope any of those photos help!

Crysania said...

And ok so I got stuck on smiling because this is something that I love about Dahlia.

I've seen her have piloerection when running over to meet another dog. It's pretty rare, but I've seen it.

She also does the vocalizations, usually when she sees a dog that she knows and wants to greet. She definitely has her favourite dogs in the neighborhood and she makes a sort of whining/howling/talking noise when she sees them.

Crystal Thompson said...

Dahlia's so adorable. Thanks for sharing, I'll upload in just a minute. :)

Crystal Thompson said...

Oops, Flickr is awesome and won't let me download or hotlink to the photos, so I just put links in the blogger text. :) Thanks for sharing those!

Ninso said...

Elo teeth chatters all the time. Most commonly at meal times or when he thinks it's time to go play outside. He will also sometimes sniff Lok's urine or genitals and teeth chatter.

Kirby, CGC said...

I have heard Kirby whine when he sees other dogs or even hears them barking. He doesn't always bark back or go "terrier" on them, just whines. I can't determine why sometimes it's a whine and sometimes its a growly bark? Is the whine saying something like, "oh, I really want to see this dog or is it like, oh my gosh I'm getting very nervous here". I'm going to try to watch his body language more when this happens. Nice post!

Cheryl-Kirby's mom

Crystal Thompson said...

Maisy does a whine, and a whiny-growl, too. They seem to mean different things, but I definitely have to watch the rest of her body language to figure it out. Good luck! It's super fun to learn more about body language. :)

Tegan said...

I'll try to get a video of teeth chattering for you. My stud dog (as most stud dogs do) will chatter when he smells a bitch in heat. Hopefully his daughter will be coming in season soon (she's one year old and still not had a season!), so I can do some teasing and try to film the chatter. Sometimes he will also do similar behaviours just for smelling blood, and sometimes bitches do it to one another too - but certainly, the stud will be easiest to capture on tape. ;)

However, this post is old enough that probably no one will appreciate it. :P

Crystal Thompson said...

Thanks, Tegan! These posts actually get a fair amount of traffic, so it WILL be appreciated. :)