Friday, February 22, 2013

Book review: Dog Body Language Phrasebook by Trevor Warner

Liam yawning in front of a book
Everyone's a critic.
I got this little book ("Dog Body Language Phrasebook: 100 Ways to Read Their Signals" by Trevor Warner) as a Christmas gift, and I've been chipping away at it ever since. It's a tiny book, with a big picture and a small nugget of information on each page, so it works well as a quick diversion when the words won't come or I otherwise need to reset my brain so I can shift from one task to another.

Much of the information presented here will be familiar to people who have raised dogs or lived with dogs. By now, I would hope that most of us know what dogs mean when they wag their tails or play bow or bark excitedly. However, there's a significant amount of detail here that's useful for almost all dog owners. Much of this information concerns dog/dog communication.

When dogs are meeting up with one another for the first time, they're sending and receiving a tremendous number of signals regarding playfulness, excitement level, health and overall friendliness. This book breaks down those signals, and it uses photos so it's easy to see just what the author is describing. More than once, I've been at the dog park in the presence of a dog giving intensely aggressive signals, while the person in the background is screaming, "He's friendly!" It would be handy to thrust this book at those dog owners, and point to the specific body signals I've seen and they haven't. Perhaps if more people were educated about what dog aggression actually looks like, there would be fewer "accidental" dog fights.

I also noticed a few things about my own dog. For example, Liam often stands around with one front paw hiked up off the ground. I had no idea that this was considered a submissive gesture, but apparently, it is! So even know-it-alls like me can benefit from a book like this.

Plus the pictures are cute. 'Nuff said.