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So my wife to be and myself started a dancing course in preparation of our marriage party. We totally enjoy dancing together and would love to do it more often and especially also doing it at home. Problem is, as much as we like it, our dog seems to not like it.

If it is important, the dog is a 9 years old Shiba Inu. So having quite their own head.

So what happens is, whenever we start dancing the moment our dog notices it he first observes it carefully for a few seconds. If we stop at that point, he will sometimes even for minutes stare down the position we stopped dancing at. If we continue he first comes closer to us sometimes circling us and (nervously?) nudging our heels. If we then don't stop he starts intensive barking until we stop it.

We first thought that this was just another of the kinda weird quirks of our adorable doggy, but I learned today from another couple that their dog behaved in a similar way when they were practicing dancing at home. So I did some research on the matter.

dog whines and barks when we dance, my dog hates it when I dance and traindogsonline where some of the articles I read so far.

Sadly this is all just hypothesizes about why a dog might behave that way and the third one I linked is the only one coming at least close to a proposal how to solve this problem (Which essentially writes "Try to make your dog getting used to it").

So I think for our dog it is just the "not knowing why we do it and finding it unusual" kind of reaction. I mean she really freaks out about it and sometimes even seems kinda... distraught.

Also she starts whining, once she hears our steps, if we separate our-self into another room for dancing.

So my question is, given her reaction to us dancing:

What would be a good way of getting our dog used to us regularly dancing together, when it makes her in some way feel scared?

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  • I would have two strategies in mind: 1) Have a third person dancing with you or your wife to be, and the other would calm down the dog. If this works change the place with your wife to be. After this works change so the third person calms the dog and in finish let the third person go. Or 2) train your dog to stay in a specific place, like others do for human meals(The dog is in one corner of the kitchen but not allowed at the table) and award it after a small amount of time for staying there while the dancing. Then increase the time you dance slowly to a whole song and further. The dog ... Nov 21, 2021 at 7:17
  • ... would learn to trust you and your judgment to classify the situation as not dangerous. Nov 21, 2021 at 7:19
  • @Allerleirauh: Thanks for your ideas so far. About having the dog to stay in a specific place while we dance, we tried that already. But the dog just started barking at us while being at that place. The other thing might be worth a try, just not sure if we could get a 3rd person for that.
    – dhein
    Nov 21, 2021 at 8:34
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    I assume you need to award the dog before it starts to bark. Then I hope the dog will manage to bark later and later until you can dance a whole song ;) Nov 22, 2021 at 15:25

1 Answer 1

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All I can offer is my own explanation of why dogs react that way:

Dogs communicate much more than humans nonverbal. They have a range of facial expressions, but the way they hold and move their body also communicates a lot. I highly recommend watching this video: Understanding Dog Body Language - Part 2 (and Part 1 if you're interested. They're both very good.)

You see that a loose body language in dogs usually signals a playfulness. Loose body language includes things like very fluid motions of the spine and head, moving the legs in a manner that looks almost uncoordinated or like dancing and quickly moving or jumping back and forth. The same aspects can be found in certain styles of dancing, most prominent in latin styles with very fluid motions.

Tense body language signals stress and warns of a confrontation. It includes a very straight and stiff spine, head and limbs, stiff posing interrupted by jerky movements. These are also movements found in human dances, especially in ballroom dance styles.

So seeing you dancing might give your dog the impression that you're playing a game he doesn't understand. He might want to play with you. He might also want to stop you because not understanding something makes dogs uncomfortable, especially if their caregivers act in a way they don't understand. He might also want to stop you from fighting each other (which you don't do, but he understands your body language that way).

Really the only way for you to dance without his interference is to

  • Either lock him out of the room while you dance and ignore his whining,
  • or put him in his crate or bed in the same room (you might utilize the leash to keep him in his bed) and get him used to you dancing together from afar. Throwing treats in his direction when he's calm can help, but once he sees that you're not fighting and he's not allowed to participate in the game a few times, he should get used to it. If not, lock him out instead. He might whine, but he'll survive.

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