Blocking or Cease and Desist for Dogs

Blocking usually occurs when a dog is unhappy with the behaviour of one or more other dogs - usually dogs who are playing roughly or look like they might
get into a fight. It can also happen when a group of dogs are doing a task, such as hunting, and a dog decides that one or more dogs are paying too much attention to something off task.

The blocking dog will walk between the two dogs (or a dog and the inappropriate object of attention.) The other dogs recognize this as a sign to cease and desist and go back to more appropriate behaviour.

Humans can do this as well, and it works well when a dog comes up and is over
enthusiastic about greeting your dog - i.e. won't stop sniffing. Even if one of the dogs has poor social skills and doesn't get what you are saying, the other dog is likely to feel like you are looking out for it (particularly important for your dog, who should feel like you will keep it safe!)

Blocking is not appropriate for breaking up a fight, but is appropriate when dogs are just starting to get overly amped up.  (For information on what to do and not do about fighting dogs check out Terrierman's (P. Burns)
article Knowing What NOT To Do in a Dogfight)

Tail Docking

My newest dog, an American Cocker Spaniel, has what was obviously a poorly done tail dock.  It was chopped off way too short and while I don't know his whole history, he is 11 and I don't think he ever learned to (or possibly was able to) wag it.  He's been getting acupuncture and VOM (Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation) for the last few weeks and he now can move his tail, but only does so accidentally so far.  It's pretty clear that he definitely would have been better off with his natural tail - besides, Cocker tails are beautiful!  (Photo of Undocked American Cocker)

Honestly, I really don't see any reason to crop a healthy tail, and Jing Men is not the only dog I've seen with a poorly done crop.  While injury prevention might sound reasonable,  most of the cropped dogs I've seen in my lifetime are not worked in the field (heck, Jing Men has trouble sniffing out his food dish, he'd never make it in the field!) and I've seen plenty of field dogs with long tails.  Since the point of this blog is to talk about dog body language, I'd like to point out that tail docking affects dogs ability to communicate.  Other dogs are unable to read the body of language of dogs with docked (and likely natural bob) tails.

American Veterinary Medical Association FAQ on Canine Tail Docking

Belly Rubs

I've seen a lot of mentions recently of research that supports the idea that dog behavior is not equivalent to wolf behavior. To me, this just makes common sense. An awful lot of dogs adore belly rubs and back scratches from people and are very motivated to get them, but as far as I know, there is no equivalent wolf behavior.

What do you think?

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