Category Archives: Laurie Darroch

How Dogs Express Their Feelings and Needs

dogs express meredithBy Laurie Darroch

Although dogs do not speak the way humans do, they have no problem expressing their feelings and needs in other ways. Their emotions are simpler than those of their human companions. Understanding them is a matter of paying attention, training and getting to know your dog in order to comprehend what they are trying to tell us with any particular action or behavior.

Much of a dog’s behavior is based on instinct and not necessarily feeling in the way we think of it as humans. Ask anyone who loves a dog though, and they can tell you instances of their dog exhibiting what seems like almost human behavior and definite emotion, but it is different than ours. Dogs are very good communicators when we take the time to understand what they are saying to us in their own way.

Body Language

Body language is a more subtle way of communicating, but everything from the position of your dog’s ears, what they are doing with their tail, their body stance, or their eyes can relay feeling and need depending on what they are doing.

A frightened dog or one who has done something they know is wrong may tuck their tail between their legs in submission. An angry dog might put his ears back and exhibit an in-your-face offensive stance. A relaxed, happy, secure or submissive dog may roll on his back exposing his belly to you. A hungry dog might pace back and forth, or anxiously stand or sit near their bowl. Eye contact or lack of it can be a challenge or sign of submission or respect. A dog’s body language communicates a great deal of what they are feeling.
Read More »

EmailGoogle GmailBlogger PostTwitterFacebookGoogle+Share

Body Language and Behavior Signs That Show Fear in Dogs

fear WonderBy Laurie Darroch

Since dogs cannot communicate the way humans do, they let us know how they are feeling through body language and their own style of vocalizations. If you learn the cues your dog gives, behavior during situations they see as fearful or threatening may be more easily understood and dealt with.

Barking or Whimpering

Excessive barking or constant whimpering is one way a dog shows fear. What may be misconstrued as the dog misbehaving may merely be an expression of fear at the appearance of a stranger, being in new surroundings, experiencing pain or an injury, or the presence of something new and unknown in their territory. If you help your dog understand that whatever is upsetting them is something you can assist them with, your dog will calm down. Barking and whimpering are not just signs of a dog being territorial, angry or even excited and happy. They may be feeling fearful, and looking to you for reassurance and a solution.

Running Around or Pacing

If you have ever felt anxious about something in your own life, and pacing or walking around seemed to help release some of the tension caused by that fear, that is how a dog feels too. Dogs worry in their own way when they are scared or unsure of a situation. When your dog won’t sit still or paces nervously, pay attention. They may be telling you they are frightened about something. Working together, you can help your four legged companion through the situation.

Read More »

Tips to Help Your Dog Stay Cool in Hot Weather

keep cool OakleyBy Laurie Darroch

Dogs do not sweat the way humans do. They sweat through the pads of their feet and cool off by inhaling and exhaling air while panting to keep internal heat down.  Because their body cooling systems are less efficient, it is important to be aware of where your dog is on very hot days and to help your dog deal with the extreme temperatures.

Exercise Times

You may be able to handle a run in the middle of the day in the blazing sun with no problem, but your dog cannot cool off as easily as you can. With limited sweat glands, high energy exercise in the hottest part of the day can be stressful and dangerous for your dog, even if they seem eager to join in the activities. Walk or run in the morning or evening instead of during the highest temperatures of the day.

If you are away from home and out in the hottest weather with your dog, be sure to bring a container of water for your dog. Allow your dog a rest period and find shaded areas to help your dog cool down.

Read More »

How to Help a Child Overcome a Fear of Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Some children have a fear of dogs. Whether the cause is a previous bad experience with a dog, lack of exposure to dogs, general anxiety around them or a true deep fear, there are techniques you can use to help your child overcome that fear.

Fear stemming from a lack of exposure to dogs will be easier to overcome than an actual deep seated fear of dogs, but whatever the cause, try these methods to help your child overcome their fear.

Start Small

If you are planning to have a dog in the family, starting with a small puppy may be less threatening to a fearful child. A puppy may be energetic, but it is also needy and affectionate, and may easier for a fearful child to bond with.

Another route to go is to choose a dog that is used to being around children and is already fully trained. A calmer dog is less likely to frighten a fearful child than a very energetic, excitable dog.

Read More »

How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

By Laurie Darroch

Although dogs will play with just about anything, not every dog toy is safe or appropriate for each individual dog. Choose the toys for your dog as carefully as you would for a human child, to keep them entertained and safe.


Many dog toys are made specifically for a certain size of dog. Read the labels when looking for toys, and purchase the size range that is appropriate for your dog. A toy that is too big and unwieldy for a small dog or puppy may just frustrate the dog and they won’t play with it. A toy that is made for a small dog may be dangerous for a larger dog. It can even pose a choking hazard. Choose a toy that is the right size for your dog. If you have a puppy, replace his toys as he grows to keep the toys age and size appropriate.


Dog toys are made of every kind of material, from soft fabric to hard plastic or rubber and everything in between. A heavy or aggressive chewer may instantly destroy a toy that a smaller or less aggressive chewer plays with for a long time.

Always pay attention to labels. Check for toys that are non-toxic. If it is a homemade toy, be sure to use materials that are dog safe. It may look like a cute dog toy, but unless you are secure in the manufacturer or creator’s experience, it is better not to take a chance with an iffy toy.

Read More »

Coordinating Dog Training with Family Members

By Laurie Darroch

When you take a dog through training classes or train him yourself, it is important to have all members of your home on the same training program in order to reinforce the lessons. Two of the strongest reinforcers for learning and retaining what is learned are consistency and repetition, which is why all family members need to be on the same page with the training.

If you are going to training classes taught by an instructor, it’s a good idea to have more than one family member attend the classes. Although it sounds odd, in reality human companions are being trained at the same time their dog is going through the program. Humans learn the verbal and physical cues with which to train their dogs, and the dog learns how to understand and follow those lessons from both an outside trainer and their human companions. The same cues and words need to be used by all household members for each command, otherwise varied cues and commands may just confuse your dog.

If only one person is able to attend the actual lessons, there are options for learning and teaching at home afterward as well. To reinforce what you learn from a trainer, practice the lessons from each session immediately when you reach home to reinforce them in a different setting. Your dog will learn that the cues are the same regardless of the setting in which they are given. Share the lessons with the other household members and have them practice with your dog as well. Make it a group learning session once you are home.
Read More »