What’s your body saying?

What's your body saying

Anyone who sees me on Facebook already knows: I have a new dog. I also have an old dog, although the new dog is older than the old dog. Last year, we adopted 5-month-old Bookie, a cute, clownish puggle, (half pug, half beagle.) A few weeks ago, we adopted Dash from a shar-pei rescue organization. Dash is half shar-pei and — like Bookie — half pug. Shar-peis were originally bred as guard dogs. In a royal court, here’s how I would cast my two dogs:

Court jester backed up by the new guard.
Court jester backed up by the new guard.

Dash: royal guard

Bookie: court jester

In many ways, Dash is more gentle than little Bookie, whose play can be too rough. But when it comes to body language, Dash is vastly more regal and intimidating. Which brings me to today’s topic. Watching both dogs exit the house this morning, I was struck by Bookie’s leisurely amble compared to Dash’s commanding charge, head high, tail erect, scanning for intruders. Anyone seeing that body language, even someone not familiar with dog behavior, would instantly understand and respect its meaning.

Since we’re often presenting to large crowds, how we MOVE may be more important — particularly to spectators in the back of the assembly — than what we say. Do we move confidently, striding from one side of the room to the other, or do we stand timidly, shoulders hunched over the microphone? Confident, INTENTIONAL movement will communicate “I’m in charge” more quickly to a young audience than even a series of claps they’ve been trained to mimic. [Read more…]