Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dog Body Language - Pay Attention To It

For two years I've taken Jes, my Old English Bulldog, to PetSmart for her grooming. When I take her into the grooming salon they pet her and fuss over her like we all expect our dog's caregivers to do.  They know her name, they give her a treat. So from all appearances it looks to me like a good place to have Jes groomed. 

But a few months ago, she started behaving differently when we would enter PetSmart. She would pull back on her leash at the front door.  She didn't want to go into PetSmart. The closer we got to the grooming salon (at the back of the store) the more she pulled back. Anyone who has a pet knows that pulling back on a leash is dog body language for "I don't want to go."  The closer we got to the salon, the stronger the dog body language became.  In addition to pulling back on her leash, she began trembling.  

The last time I took her to be groomed the groomer used the new nail file as opposed to the old nail clippers.  I wondered if that was the problem.  So this time I asked them to clip her nails instead of filing them.  After she was groomed I picked her up and we went to buy a bone, as we always do after grooming.  But she didn’t even want to get a bone.  She just wanted out of PetSmart. 

I began taking her to PetSmart to buy bones and just walk around the store. I was trying to associate PetSmart with “good” for her as opposed to “bad.”  After several trips, she got to the point where she would go in the store, but once we got halfway in, closer to the groomer, she started pulling back and trembling again.  

I knew I had to find a new groomer for her.  I have no idea what happened when I wasn’t in the grooming salon or what happened in the back room but I knew from her dog body language that she was totally stressed at PetSmart.  I also knew I’d have to pay more for an independent groomer but I couldn’t subject Jes to whatever it was that stressed her out. 

Guess what – I found an independent groomer who Jes loves AND she charges the same amount as PetSmart!  Jes loves this new groomer.  How do I know?  Dog body language. 

If you’d like to learn more about dog body language, visit  

What does this dog body language tell you?  Find out at BestFriends

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