Have you every wished you could talk to your four-legged best friend? Perhaps you’ve longed to understand what she’s telling you when hangs her head or suddenly erupts in frantic barking? Turid Rugaas might just grant that wish. In her concise, albeit information packed, work On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals, Rugaas shares decades worth of knowledge, observation and insights into the quiet language of dogs.
What is On Talking Terms with Dogs, and why does it exist?
Rugaas has been training dogs since 1969 and started her own dog training school Hagan Hundeskole in 1984. With nearly 50 years of experience, Rugaas has spent endless hours observing, teaching and listening to dogs. She has rehabilitated hundreds of aggressive canines, including her own beloved Vesla, who herself was positively instrumental in 11 years of dog aggression cases.
On Talking Terms with Dogs, or “Calming Signals” as it is affectionately referred to by readers, aims to help us better understand our beloved dogs. Pet owners, sports competitors, dog trainers, shelter workers, groomers and all other canine professionals can easily benefit from learning ‘dog-speak’. Understanding what your dog is trying to tell you lets you know when you can keep pushing, and when you should start pulling back. This becomes especially important when you are hoping to rehabilitate a dog with tricky behavioural issues such as fear or aggression. The language Rugaas decodes is spoken by all dogs of all breeds and all ages (to varying degrees of course – a docked Boxer or Bulldog can not communicate with its tail as easily as a Labrador can).
At best, I (and at least 500 others!) believe Turid Rugaas has achieved this goal. At worst, she’s contributed to monumental progress in the world of canine training and behaviour.
On Talking Terms is wonderfully clear and concise and at only 78 pages long, can be read cover to cover in one sitting. In addition, it is filled to the brim with colour photos of many breeds and mixes demonstrating each concept, posture or cue.
- the calming signals themselves, of which there are many. Some occur for only a quick moment, making them easy to miss
- how to improve your own observation of these microexpressions
- case studies
- stress in dogs – the dangers of letting it build, how to identify it and how to minimise stress and break the cycle
- how we can use calming signals when we handle and train our dogs
- what to do if you feel your dog has forgotten the language
By gaining a better understanding of how dogs communicate, and what they’re communicating, any future work with your dog becomes dramatically easier as well as more effective. The skills gained can propel your relationship and enrich both of your lives.
On Talking Terms is straightforward, to the point and easy to follow. Even those with no training, behaviour or dog experience will have an easy time capturing Rugaas’ concepts. Those of you who don’t enjoy reading will have no trouble with such a short, image filled guide.
On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals truly revolutionised how I saw, and subsequently behaved, around my dog. Not only did I begin to change my own body language to be less (unintentionally) confrontational, I was able to see when he was uncertain, uncomfortable or approaching his own personal tipping point. This allowed me to intervene before all hell broke loose, and prevent disaster time after time. The style and format of the book means that anyone, with any level of experience or comprehension, can follow the content without trouble.
Suddenly, you feel as though conversations between dogs are no longer happening in a foreign language. You can tell the exact point one’s about to pounce in play, one’s about to lose their cool, and you’ll figure out who’s doing all the button pushing (spoiler: it’s not always who you think!).
If you’re someone with an interest in canine body language, you own, live or work with dogs (especially those who show problematic behaviours with others), do yourself, your dog, and all dogs you’ll ever meet a favour: Read On Talking Terms with Dogs – it will change your life.
For international readers, you can pick up On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals with free worldwide shipping here via Book Depository.