Here are three beautiful Lurchers, all rescues left behind by travellers. 16-month-old Maggie, the one I was called out for, is the dog on the left, stretching. I was told that she was very withdrawn, does not interact with her human couple but loves the other two dogs.
Yesterday was an instance of how what I see through my own eyes can be something completely different.
All three dogs, including Maggie, came over and sniffed me politely when I arrived (I smell good of my own five dogs).[divider type=”white”]
Dog body language
Knowing she was hand shy, I didn’t try to touch Maggie, but soon she was making overtures of wary friendship. It was interesting dog body language. She was frequently bowing whilst yawning at the same time – which her people thought was simply stretching rather than trying to communicate. She had her body towards me but her head turned away as you can see. (When my own confident Lurcher Pip wants to initiate communication with play bows, his head will be up and he will be looking in my eyes).
Maggie is trying to ask for something – but the ‘look-aways’ and the yawning suggest it’s not the response she’s getting. People reach out. Maggie backs away from them. It’s like she is speaking a different language.
She obviously wants contact but not the kind of contact she is offered. She gets stroked and patted on top of her head and body. It’s clear she is a lot more comfortable being touched very gently on her front and around her ears.
Actually, I don’t think she is asking to be touched at all. Mirroring her own body language back to her is like replying. She’s seems happy with that – or a few gentle words.
There is another element to her behaviour. The older Lurcher Lucy, in the white box, is watching her all the time. Subtly controlling Maggie perhaps. I suspect this is inhibiting her. I watched her body language also.
I suggest Maggie is not touched at all for a while. At the same time, they can work on teaching her to come to them and ‘touch’ their hands with her nose upon request, secure in the knowledge that the hand won’t then reach out to her. She can also be taught to give and hold eye contact.
At present she is ‘one of the pack’ and largely left to relate to the dogs. She needs to be singled out and her dog-to-human communication skills worked on, to help to build up a bond with her humans.
Maggie is making some sweet overtures that are misunderstood.