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Friday, March 30, 2012

What does "Woof" really mean??

I never realized a dog could be emotionally hurt by another dog and Zappa and Brut have had quite a run at doing that.  Back and forth, playing favorites, jealousy, respect and lack of it, each of them trying to take on and handle the lead and the thousands of mistakes have contributed to all of these feelings.  And I have realized by witnessing these two dogs how easy it is to hurt someone by not knowing them.  Not knowing what someone has been through and not being able to understand where they are coming from and how the canine human relationship can become so misconstrued.

Communicating to each other in foreign languages and body signals.  Each of us misinterpreting the other on so many different levels, yet somehow finding that line of common ground enough to co-habituate together.  I mean when you really think about it, it’s a wonder the dogs even stay with us.  We expect them to understand us, EVERY TIME, that it is so easy to forget that this is a two way street.  I think as humans it is so easy for us to vocalize our needs and that our dependence on words is so much like breathing that we forget there is a second party involved.  An entirely different species, in fact!  I mean really when you think about it so cut and dry like that, doesn’t it just blow your mind?  It has become common ground to have animals in our home and yards and cars it is almost like we have almost forgotten, that they really aren’t human!! 

I mean think about it…when your dog suddenly stands up and comes to you wagging their tail and barks happy barks…what in the world is he saying?  Thinking?  Nobody knows what the language of “Woof” really means?  Even if we play the guessing game with them and they respond to one word more than the other and we think, “that’s what that means,” does it mean it hold true for the next time?  Is it like potatoe and patatoe?  We still don’t know what the dog was saying, as an actual word or phrase.  It’s like trying to talk to aliens if you really think about it.  BOL!!  Because really we say the same word to mean the same thing and I would go as far to say I think dogs are much smarter than humans, they can learn much easier because we give them more reasons to do so.  Like tasty treats or fun toys or our attention.  How much do we really apply that to our dog?  I would think logically there would be some similarities, but as far as the actual approach…who knows.  Because we come up against the language barrier again and never really knowing what “Woof” means.   Does the way we say it, sound like the way they say it??

I mean think about if we all suddenly went mute, how would you communicate to your dog?  Would you be able to break everything into their language without using words and still convey what you needed and wanted to say?  What if you had to speak with your body using dog language, could you do it?  Do you think you could do it for an hour?  Half hour?  15 minutes?  Maybe that would be a good challenge.  It would be interesting, wouldn’t it? 

What do you think, can you do something with your dog without using any words and still find way to do it??

And if anyone thinks this might be an interesting topic for an official challenge, let me know in the comments and any other thoughts you might have.  :)

7 comments:

zeeFM said...

Interesting idea and challenge ! I sometimes ask "What is it ?" etc Zeus when he's barking and I really wish I knew what he's talking about ! Though I guess the only sign language I can really read is when he needs to go loo !

Pamela said...

Such a thoughtful post. We do expect so much from dogs. We make them fit into a life that is totally alien to them and get angry when they don't know exactly what we want from them all the time.

One of my favorite trainers/writers, Suzanne Clothier says we should talk to our dogs less. Language is something we do for ourselves but it's not the most effective way to communicate with our dogs.

I chatter a lot when I'm out with Honey. But I'm trying to learn how to be more still and quiet... like she is.

Gail said...

I pretty much can tell what mine are saying with the bark. They have a different sound for each thing, deer bark is way different from snake bark so I can tell before I ever look what the problem is.

Then there is also the most compelling "look"...that gets me affects me more.

Ours also work with hand signals and do seem to read our body language. It's a good working relationship.

I have ditched word verification and have no trouble with spam.

Sarah said...

I'd like to think I know what most of their barks mean. The barking at the wind thing gets me every time though - THERE IS NOTHING THERE!

I love having silent training sessions with Hurley. He's so good with hand signals that we can spend a while just practicing & being silent. Until he ruins it by getting bored and whining at me! He's the chatty one in our relationship. :)

Bassetmomma said...

Hmmmm....very interesting post. I seriously don't think I could do it though! :)

Emily said...

Think about training a deaf dog who relies on your visual cues... sort of a similar concept. It's interesting how dogs have different body language and different barks that mean so many different things.

Linda said...

Some good thoughts to ponder. I had a dog that was deaf and in order to communicate with him I had to find hand gestures and use body language to talk to him. As he grew older, his sight failed, as well, which then meant the signals I gave him had to be touching and I learned how to give him a few different touches that told him what I wanted.

Dogs are so good at adapting and we could certainly learn a lot from them about a lot of things.