Man and Dog Interaction – What you should know
Man and dog interaction - non-verbal communication
It is unquestionable that many undesirable dog behaviors depend equally on an incorrect interaction pattern between man and dog, and especially due to our lack of knowledge concerning the canine language. Very trivially, we may interpret certain dog manifestations with human eyes, completely misinterpreting the meaning. In fact, the method preferred by dogs, contrary to mankind, is undoubtedly that of non-verbal communication, not involving the use of words.
Correctly communicating between man and dog is thus actually quite complex and the communication channels at our disposal are articulated through different channels: posture (position of the body within the area and the relationship between its parts), proxemics (study of gestures, behavior, space and distances), gestures, mimicry and contact.
Interaction between man and dog - posture
It’s fundamentally important to maintain absolute control of the posture when interacting with dogs; in fact, some dogs are very sensitive to our posture and radically change their disposition to interaction with just the smallest alteration in posture.
For example, dogs interpret being closely embraced not as a gesture of affection but of capture, invasion of its space and assertiveness; but if we keep our arms at our sides and our center of gravity on its axis, this posture tends to tranquilize and reassure the dog with respect to our intentions towards it.
Interaction between man and dog - contact
Other elements that must be taken into consideration are the contact and approach modes between man and dog. As regards contact it’s good to know that the dog's body can be divided into "cold areas" and "hot areas". Cold areas generally extend from the neck to the back and from the croup to the abdomen. The hot areas affect the head, back, tail and legs. Cold areas can be touched (right from the first meeting), respecting the general rules. The hot areas are not off-limits to contact, but rather they must be addressed with the right precautions, conquering them together with the confidence that the dog is addressing us.
As for the approach, in order to not be assertive or otherwise misunderstood by the dog, it’s always appropriate to approach by presenting a curve towards the dog without proceeding directly to it, not look at it but look away, slow down in vicinity of the dog, respect the individual distances and thus not bumping against it and extending at its side keeping your arms at your sides in a neutral and reassuring position.