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194 Dog Communications 2010-02-24

dog tags, jingle, jingle

Our dog, Jake, is a good dog. And after living with him for six years, his behavior and language has become predictable. He uses howls, barks, grunts and body language to try to communicate with us. We understand him. He also talks to other dogs and people. We understand what he is saying to them too, though at times we have to translate for the humans, we assume the dogs understand him. Jake tells us what he wants. We do not all the time grant his wishes but he makes his requests quite clear.

Jake in the Backyard

But, it is not hard to communicate with him, he only needs a few things: eat, walk, eat, play, eat, petting, eat, safety, eat, and sleep. Of course any of his needs could lose their priority, if interrupted by the possibility of eating - after all, he is a dog. Knowing his needs, we understand his communication cues.

The howls close to six o’clock (morning or night) - mean he is ready for his meals.

The walrus howls - mean he is ready to play.

The purring grunts - mean he needs to be petted.

The gruff barks - mean he is scared but in a safe place.

The scared barks - mean he is scared and ready to run to a safe place.

Veering away from the walker as far as the leash will allow - means he sees another dog (no matter the size) approaching and he is just trying to be safe.

Him going to the stairwell - a storm is approaching, quick go to your safe place.

The howl-ish barks in the backyard - mean he hears noise from the telephone line and cannot find who is making it.

The jingle of his collar as he shakes it making a bell like noise - means that he is awake and needs attention.

Jake communicates with us. We understand him. What I am not clear about, is have we trained Jake to communicate with us or has Jake trained us to understand him? Probably, we have learned from each other.

Jake laying on his back, belly up

For example, in the early morning, five or so, Jake begins to stir. He jingles his collar and Amy, my wife, immediately responds, though asleep. Her motherly instinct kicks in and she moves over and Jake jumps on the bed. They cuddle and he falls back to sleep with her. Amy says she hates the jingle, but Jake looks like he smiles as he shakes his head causing the noise. Amy knows what the jingle means and responds. She has learned from him. If she does not make room in bed for him, he will continue to jingle the collar. Jake in turn has learned what to expect when he jingles. It is no wonder he smiles as he jumps in bed.

Happy dog tails.


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