Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sarah Kalnajs Seminar: Body Language Overview

Last month, I attended a seminar presented by Sarah Kalnajs. I was really excited for it because I absolutely love her DVD The Language of Dogs, which is all about body language. Saturday's seminar presentation was basically an expanded version of the DVD (with bonus material on stress), except with lots of new footage. I have to say, Sarah is a genius at getting great video of dogs.

Sarah broke her presentation on body language down into five sections: signs of stress, anticipatory behaviors, cut-off or appeasement signals, distance increasing signals, and distance decreasing signals. Although I'm going to post about each section separately, it's important to keep in mind that body language does not happen this way. You may see body language from multiple categories at the same time, which makes sense since some categories go together neatly- signs of stress quite often accompany distance increasing signals, for example.

Regardless of category, you'll often see several different behaviors instead of just a single one. It's possible that a dog might be subtle with his body language, or that he might show conflicting signals, which is why it's important to take everything in context. Just because something can be a sign of stress (or appeasement, or anticipation, etc.), doesn't mean it is. Further, dogs don't go to seminars, so there will always be the odd dog that uses body language in ways that contradict what Sarah said. This doesn't mean she's wrong, it simply means that every dog is an individual, and as such, it's impossible to make broad generalizations that are correct 100% of the time.

I'm really looking forward to sharing this information with you. I know that the first time I saw Sarah's DVD, a whole new world opened up to me. I had no idea my dog was telling me so much. The more I learn, the more I am amazed by the subtleties to my dog's movements. And I know I'm missing a lot more than I catch. Still, I have been saving up a ton of photos of Maisy exhibiting various body language signals, so this series of posts promises to be awesome, informative, and adorable!

Here's a teaser photo to get you started. I absolutely love this photo in terms of body language. Look how beautifully the barely-eight-weeks-old Via communicates! (Too bad Maisy was kind of being a jerk, though.)


Kristine said...

It's so great you get to go to so many of these seminars. The amount of information you now have is incredible. I should find out if there are more sessions like that here than I realise. Unfortunately, I don't think many people are willing to travel to this little corner of the continent.

I look forward to reading what you've learned. Thank you so much for often taking the time to share everything.

Sophie said...

This sounds like an interesting seminar - I'm excited to hear about it!

I'm really jealous that you have the opportunity to visit so many seminars; and *extremely* thankful you take the time to share it all with us. :)

Crystal Thompson said...

I am fortunate to have a husband that supports me in these endeavors- he not only allows me to spend the money on them, but also comes with! :)

Ninso said...

I have a very important question. How do you pronounce Kalnajs?

Crystal Thompson said...

Ninso, that made me laugh. "Call-neye-s." Like Bill Nye? Rhymes with "guy," but plural.

Ninso said...

Thank you! It has been driving me crazy.

Tegan said...

I'm belated in replying to this, but I must comment about how great Sarah's DVD is. If she ever makes her way here, I'd definitely like to go watch. The anal-genital checkout was an amazing revelation to me - it's so common, how did I miss it?! And the footage in the DVD is illustrative and clear. Sadly, I only borrowed the DVD, but you've reminded me to put it on my Amazon wishlist. :)