A Possible Use for Calming Signals?

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    re: Bev’s Q

    The crab itself is a CS and he will also walk slow, freeze, tail wag, turn away, lick lips … and these all result in a calmer meet as he’s calming himself and (i presume) communicating with the other dog too.

    I would ALSO say that these behaviours fit into A&A … (in an owners / people and dogs)

    Claire x


    yep…sure…and as i said i am not disagreeing per se but for me it too sweeping (like dom /sub … in itself it is not measurable in such a sweeping simple maner)..having studied it and applied to own dogs and observed in other dogs and have also done the negative approach too….to test if a so called calming signal is offered in a ‘negative’ situation ( brose bless her was my G pig for this..)….i have a slightly dif take and i really do not think it in the same sense of [email protected]….i am not saying such behaviours are not calming to some dogs..etc…that not where i am at…my disagreement is that they are not automatically [email protected]….. 😉


    nooooo…he does and it is for him….but……big but too…sweeping…can’t apply to all and there is where i am at because at times it is def not [email protected]

    back to where i at…re dog 1 dog 2


    I am rushing this cos in the middle of something – work does get in the way sometimes  :yes:

    Dead easy to list calming signals however – they arent always for calming are they?  Dogs arent just talking to other dogs – they use them for calming themselves also.   Calming signals in isolation mean absolutely nothing.  You have to look at the whole body language going on to see what is happening.

    Will come back to that later however here is a thing – look at this in human terms.

    Thumbs up signal can be so many different things

    I’m okay
    are you okay?
    I am safe (diving)
    go upstairs
    Hello (BSL)
    etc etc.

    Depends on situation….

    Lip licking – is dog offering appeasement, calming, appraisal or has it just eaten something tasty?  Or has it been cued to lick its lip when its owner says “bone”  ;D

    raised paw – appeasement, calming, appraisal or offering behaviour to be marked during training? learned behaviour ? 

    playbow – universally recognised by dogs, as hello – or I am of no threat or let’s play….

    All this stuff has to be in context – taken out of context – it means nothing. 

    Does a wagging tail mean happiness or pleasure – not always


    no i agree, signals of any sort can only be read within context whether human or dog, as hellen said a particular behaviour/action could mean 1 of 10 things but add that to other actions and it narrows down its meaning….

    so beau’s curve, could mean a calming signal but as i think bev was poitning out to me it wouldn’t be, its not a new introduction so is it more appeasing behaviour, i’d like to come and see you, are you going to play with me or splatter me???

    hmmmmmmmmmm pondering now (can you hear my brain struggling)?  :surprise:  :canadian:



    Bev – I’m not saying its “better” or “worse” than another method – its just one of the ways I piece together what my dogs say because thats how I was shown I could do it 🙂

    Yep, fraught with issues but there is no other context I really understand William’s behaviour in – he’s just totally bizarre, they’re how I know he is under mental stress or not.

    I cant really relate appeasement / appraisal very well.  Like for instance when Bonnie was snickling up to you I just see that as her being what i call puppy bonnie where she goes all daft and soft as butter – is she demanding social appraisal ?  She’s sooooo norty lol !! but cute too and you gotta love her when she’s like that I wish you’d got to see her and Misty ! 🙂

    Claire x


    as in the meerkat ad claire…simples…she demanding apprasisal…sure as hell not offering appeasement bless her :D..now wils…offers appeasement each and every time…he wants my appraisal so he offers appeasement first,,,bless his socks


    PS…i meant ‘simples’ for me  🙂 i love that ad  😀 i even googled meercats.com  ;D


    OMG arent meercats the best things !!  took harry to see some a while back little family were running round the hall with 50 odd kids mesmerised !!!!!


    How about this …

    Bonnie = me
    William = steve

    hahahahah – just came to me in a flash as i was describing wills as ‘meek’ shhh !!!!!!! dont tell !!!!!!! *giggling now*

    I will dig that misty video out 🙂 


    Ok…this is my take on calming signals…and I aint saying they do not exist….far from it…but it the general sweeping that is given that this means that that means this what I have a problem with because I have done the ‘testing’ with different dogs in various environments with different outside influencing factors so this is my own conclusion:  and I do have some evidence to back up the argument…

    I think that calming signals, or what in the modern climate are called calming signals, are a  survival instinct…they a diffuser in order to protect self only or to take a breather while assessment is made etc …. as Claire put it… a genetic programming …but…and this is where I deviate from them being either appraisal or appeasement…I think they a classically conditioned response…certainly to begin with…and in some cases that may move on to operant learnt and make choice behaviour(s)  but often they do not and remain classically conditioned. Whereas social appraisal or appeasement is an operant behaviour…the dog has choice, has learnt choice…the choice per se maybe as a result of classically conditioned calming signals that experience has re- enforced but for me it is often turned operant through the outside influences that makes a behaviour an operant behaviour…applied re-enforcement, reward or punishment etc etc

    The two examples I gave and the added in 2 dogs are:


    Brose…well balanced good manager from puppy hood…offered appeasement if she knew I was ‘cross’ expected appeasement from the pack if she had been cross with them…expected appraisal if she had succeeded in a task and would be disappointed if it not given…expected appraisal from her pack as her right to her status from the others…Claire think of how she worked at gaining appeasement from Bonnie but then having done that work expected social appraisal…The first time she did the curve was very much in response to stress in my voice….she was a puppy…nic had been injured …we practising recall…I had to get to hospital asap…I call her in and for the first time in her life she did the curve on  return…she responding to my stress …calming…classical…out of her control…like a fork down a plate that makes goose bumps….

    Second time …she was older…she has learnt defence and pack protection…she has learnt she now has choices…..she adored aunty meryl…she leaps out of car, shoots around the back to greet meryl…she in full wayhey find my aunty M mode…but…M is talking to a builder  working on her house and they having a bit of a heavy discussion…and builder has a woolly hat on…and brose didn’t do hats well…but she going at 90 miles an hour and shock horror when she saw the situation, she was surprised, it was not what she was expecting…M hardly ever has visitors and those she does have were known to brose…she curved but also barked her threat bark…assessed man with M…man in hat with M…voices raised…she curved on the run in while looking at M (classical un-controlled response to her own shock and M‘s stress) but rest of body went into protect stance with man…(while still half a curve)  she made a conscious choice and that over-ruled the classical reaction of  a ‘calmer ‘ that her body had kicked in and she sure as hell was not going to offer him any appeasement…not even after I cued her into a down and the guy said can we be friends and tried to offer her appraisal…

    Ami does that curve in similar situations but it minimal…but it not a calmer it a learnt response…more of body positioning and the hackles come up too….and unless cued in that situation would chose to go in heavy if the threat was real in her eyes after assessing …but she maintains the curved behaviour throughout the protection response…the only other time ami does the curve is to me when I come home…it the full curve…it her form of greeting me…and I have re-enforced that with my daft voice and ‘isyousebeingacrabfussfuss’…she never ever does it to another dog or another human this way

    Falkor does the turn away, lower body to make himself look smaller when ami has a go at him, she accepts that but then he appeases her by coming up to full height and licking her chops….he has turned the calming signal into an operant behaviour of accepting her demand for social appraisal and lets her know that yep…you can manage this…back off no worries I am doing as I am told….

    Different dogs different applications …no ‘sweeping’  for me in that it  means this and this and use like this…

    Appraisal and appeasement are very different in my book and easy to assess and use and re-enforce ….by comparison calming signals depends on the dog/nature/nurture/learning/temperament/cueing….it classical…am 99% sure…spent  7 years on this…but…happy to be proved wrong



    i think it is a genetic type thing but … another example i think

    william will sit and raise one paw which is a calming signal – he does this when under some kind of stress in our relationship.

    its also at some point been re-inforced by someone so that when you saw “paw” and reach a hand out he’ll offer the same behaviour – exponentially … if you really want him to its probably his most R+F behaviour !!!!  (but i do believe it is still operant not classical)

    BUT …. the stupid sounds he makes with it when under stress leads me to believe it is appeasement..?

    claire x


    exactly…i rest my case…. 🙂
    so a&a is not the same eh?  😉


    lets just say – i had a rather intense lesson this morning in A&A and i changed my mind … they not the same thing after all.

    claire x

    p.s. Bev you would be proud not one “ah ah” ALL DAY !!!!!!!! (so far)

    p.p.s. I am convinced that my neighbourhood is actually populated at a rate of 1:1 dogs to families atleast based on the park this morning …. where are all the dogs when I go in the winter !!!!!!!!!!


      ;D and ;D

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