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Distance-increasing behaviours

Distance-increasing behaviours are intended to tell the other dog (or person) to move away (“give me more space!”). Distance-increasing behaviours can include:

  • agonistic pucker (nose wrinkled, teeth bared)
  • ears flattened or pressed back
  • intent stare
  • bark and lunge
  • head turned away
  • lip licking or tongue flicking can be a distance-increasing behaviour or appeasement signal, often included in the list of calming signals
  • tail lowered
  • splitting (dog goes between two other dogs to head off conflict)
  • crouch, head lower than body, tail down, legs bent
  • height seeking posture
  • tail raised
  • mouth closed
  • low growl
  • punctuated barking
  • paw lift

It is not unusual to see several distance-increasing behaviours at once.

Agonistic pucker

For other aspects of distance, see: zones, distance

Barbara Handelman:

Distance Increasing Behaviors:

(Also see Cut-Offs)

Distance increasing behaviors signal that an interaction may be too intense or prolonged for one canid’s comfort. He uses a variety of signals to let other canids, humans and animals of other species know that they should back off, or end the interaction.


A head turn is a displacement signal or a distance increasing behavior. It conveys that the dog doing the head turn wishes to distance himself from activity nearby. May be accompanied by: averted eyes, paw-lift, tongue flicks, and other distance increasing behaviors.


One comment on “Distance-increasing behaviours

  1. […] also cut-off signals, distance-increasing behaviours, zones. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

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