Dog Communication: How To Effectively Communicate With Your Dog!
Effective communication with your dog maintains the pecking order in your home and ensures that you remain the best dog. Allowing your dog to dominate you in any way is unhealthy for your dog (and potentially dangerous for you, especially if you have a large dog).
Not understanding your dog’s behavior and how to train him properly is the cause of dissatisfaction with your dog. Some people will even give up their dogs and might even abandon them in some cases. All because they failed to properly communicate and understand their dog. What a terrible tragedy!
In fact, your dog communicates with you for much of the time you spend together. So not learning to understand your dog’s body language is similar to living your life with someone who speaks another language and never learning to communicate with that person by learning that other language.
Two-way communication with anyone in your life is obviously important, and especially with your dog who “speaks another language.”
Dogs love to play, but their main concern is often their position in the “pack.” Dogs will always try to get to the top dog position if you allow this to continue.
Some dogs do this as a game to see how much they can get away with (my Kara is like that). In reality, other dogs can take this problem very seriously and can threaten any member of the “pack” who is not devoted to them, sometimes even their owner. Large dogs often like to jump and stand with their front legs on the owner’s shoulders. This may be a friendly gesture, but it is often a dominating pose.
A best greeting to encourage your dog to use is to make your dog sit up and then offer your dog a greeting. In this way, the dog has assumed a subordinate position and you retain your leadership role and your “superior dog” position. And your dog loves this exchange with you. The important thing is that your dog understands his position in the “pack”.
One of the most tragic misinterpretations of body language I’ve ever heard of has to do with what’s called the canine smile. Many dogs, when happy and excited, pull their lips back in a happy smile, which is actually a gesture of submission. They are just very happy, but some owners have misinterpreted this submissive smile as a growl and, God forbid, some have even euthanized the dog due to what they thought was aggression on their dog.
Isn’t this tragic? And all because the owner hasn’t taken the time and trouble to understand what their dog is trying to communicate to them.
I’m sure you are in the category of people who can understand what your dog is saying, just like me.
On a lighter note, I was just talking to a friend recently (also a dog lover, she has four Jack Russell crosses) about how we often know exactly what our dog is saying. I was telling him how Jet, my Staffie defends himself with other dogs. In fact, he’s a pretty brave dog that will take on my Jet.
Some time ago when Jet and I were passing a house on our street where there is a big Japanese fighting dog, he ran away and decided to have a domination fight with Jet. He couldn’t believe it, but Jet won! (If you don’t know what Japanese fighting dogs look like, they are about four times the size of Jet.)
Anyway, ever since when we pass, that dog runs to his door and starts barking. Then Jet stops, looks directly at the dog, barks non-stop for several seconds and then turns and keeps walking.
I told Isadora, my friend, that Jet is saying to the dog: “Now listen to me … I thought I arranged this with you before – Don’t mess with me!” Isadora laughed, but understood completely. He commented that people who don’t have dogs would probably think we’re crazy to think we know what our dogs say.
(c) 2005, Brigitte Smith, Healthy Happy Dogs