Monday, January 27, 2014

Tongue happy?

I recently commented in a discussion on this video on Patricia McConnell's blog about do dogs "kiss to dismiss" This is the link to her thoughts about it and then below is my response to the video. (

I watched this video several times before commenting and then again & again & again. As I watch, I think this dog is using the lick as a distancing behavior. I feel the dog is guarding the bone but not to the degree that most people think of as resource guarding. All the calming signals are stacking up. The intensity of the lick increases the more invasive the child gets and when the child backs away or stops the licking also stops. I would say the dog had been trained to have great tolerance when items are taken away, either through R+ or through means of reprimand.
The reasons why I see guarding. The ears are never forward, but one time that I noticed, but always back in a slightly stressed fashion. The dog is very fixated on the bone when not licking the child's face; when the kid is waving it around the dog is following it with his eyes. The licking happens when the child is very involved with the bone or has possession of it. While the dog isn't growling and does seem to be very gentle, he uses his feet several times to stop the child's hand & he moves away from the kid like giving the cold shoulder (calming signal). After moving, and the kid comes back in closer, the licking goes to the most extreme and he licks and licks and licks. Could it be the tongue flick calming signal but making contact with skin? The lick isn't going from chin to the forehead, they are quick repetitive licks. Tongue flicks  are another distancing signal. Around 1:25 after regaining the bone the dog becomes quite still & starts intently sniffing the bone, another displacement/distancing behavior. After the kid reaches for the bone again the dog gives a direct stare, although maybe not a hard stare. In the dog world, direct eye contact or direct staring should lead the other dog to respectfully move away or increase distance. To then make his point more clear, the dog gets up and licks a lot, almost as to say enough is enough. It would have been interesting to see if left uninterrupted would the dog have licked until the kid crawled away and then the dog taken his bone and relocated?
 I would be interested to see other footage of this "Kiss to Dismiss". In this case, I feel strongly it is a distancing behavior based off of all the other calming signals the dog is giving.

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