If your dog could speak… a human language that is… what might they say? Would they immediately start singing our praises? How much we clearly love them and how you care for them tirelessly?
That when you aren’t tending to them you go to work so that you can buy them the best of foods and squeakiest of toys? That while they might not always listen, deep down they want nothing but to please us?
All day long we make up stories as to what or dog is thinking or feeling.
We see them look up at us and most likely say, “I’ll simply die if you don’t give me another treat soon!” And so off we go to the treat cupboard and bring them yet another treat… on a plate… slightly warmed… just so they will be more comfortable and stop murdering us with those eyes.
When we see their tail begin to wag, and they are barking, we assume they must just be excited. Whining, they are crying. Mouth open, “look she’s smiling!”
Learn to Speak Dog
We obsess over our pets. And that’s mostly a good thing. But rather than obsessing over things like which booties to buy so their paws don’t get wet, I’d suggest we first learn how to ‘speak dog.’ Could you imagine if a foreign exchange student moved in with you and made no attempt to learn the language?
Learning to speak dog is easier than you might think. It just takes time and focused attention. Keep your eyes and ears open and just observe.
One of the best ways to learn is to leave your dog at home and park at the dog park, stay in your car, and watch. Yes, I’m encouraging you to be a ‘creeper.’
The reason I say leave your dog at home is because you need to focus. You can’t focus if you are worried/preoccupied by the responsibility of watching your dog or having them backing and whining in the backseat until you finally let them out.
If your dog will patiently sit and watch with you then get him/her a cup of coffee, and a pair of sunglasses and a trench coat too. You can creep together.
Take Some Body Language Notes
Focus on the dog as a whole and watch how the interactions play out. Then, break down your observation by body part. The head, the tail, the body, legs and ears. If you are up close or have binoculars (next level creepy dog watching… send me a picture if you complete this look) you can add eyes to the list. Are they up, down, forward, backwards, etc. The next step is to take a mental snap shot of the dogs body language and predict how things are going to go.
If going to the dog park solo is not an option then I’d suggest watching YouTube videos of dogs interacting with the audio Off so you aren’t swayed by the commentary.
There is a whole section of Body Language and Social skills in the Doggett Style online course that you can learn from as well.
Learning a language takes time.
Every dog is unique but there are fundamentals to the language that hold across all breeds… except for bulldogs. No snout, no tail, 4 inches off the ground, makes it really hard to tell what the hell they are saying. Just assume they want to nip at your heels and snort you a song and your are g2g.
Keep it up and know that you are loved!