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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

So I was wondering if you could clear up my poor, confused brain and help me understand calming signals?!

From what I've read and my understanding of it, they seem to be something a dog does when they're under stress, a way of calming both themselves and the situation however Jax only displays these signals when I would describe him as being relaxed?

For instance, Jax is nervous about a lot of things but I've never seen him yawn, lick his lips, chatter his teeth or anything like that when in those situations, it's always when he's half asleep and seemingly happy as Larry!

So am I simply reading Jax wrong or am I not understanding the concept fully?
 

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I've always heard that dogs yawn--and look for us to yawn--when they want reassurance of being secure and safe or feel secure and safe themselves. I will regularly yawn when I see my dog getting worked up over something (usually during a windstorm) and a few yawns from me and my husband, she will be "forced" to yawn by contageoun and then relax.

Dogs find their own coping mechanisms. Your dog may have found some things to do when nervous to calm himself that are not typical.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Thank you for replying, so they don't have to mean the dog is anxious but can also mean the dog is content and relaxed is that correct?

I'm just concerned that I'm reading the situation wrong and he's not enjoying my attention, he's relaxed in every sense of the word body language wise with nice soft eyes and yet he yawns, lip licks, chatters his teeth and everything, I know his anxious signals and after a lot of hard work, can read him like a book when he's working and he genuinely never shows the usual calming signals, it's all whale eyes and stiff, suspicious posture, it's when he's relaxed I'm unsure about, does that make sense?

To put it another way, I'm pretty sure Jax uses calming signals when he's at his most relaxed, is that normal?!
 

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Calming signals in dogs are probably more complex and involved than we truly understand. Most people who read up on calming signals probably get the gist of it and generally associate a dog displaying calming signals due to typical and obvious circumstances/situations. However, I found this category of why/when a dog might use calming signals when no apparent typical situation would warrant the use of calming signals.


"Displacement Behaviors"

"Displacement behaviors are normal behaviors displayed out of context. They indicate conflict and anxiety. The dog wants to do something, but he is suppressing the urge to do it. He displaces the suppressed behavior with something else such as a lick or a yawn. For example, you are getting ready to go out and the dog hopes to go too. He is not sure what will happen next. He wants to jump on you or run out the door, but instead he yawns. The uncertainty of the situation causes conflict for the dog and the displacement behaviors are a manifestation of that conflict. "



I haven't really researched this particular sector of the use of calming signals but it would seem there is plenty of information available if one chooses to investigate.

I guess my quick take ( guess ) on this is; a dog may use calming signals if there is any internal struggle going on regarding its ensuing behavior due to any situation where learned behavior ( acceptable ) is pitted against previous behavior ( unacceptable).


 
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