If you have a dog, or have ever had a dog you know of the bond between human and canine. In some cases this bond can be stronger than many personal bonds we have during our lifetime. The pain and grief you feel if you’ve ever lost a dog can be more intense and longer lasting than the grief you feel if you’ve lost a family member. To many people dogs are like their children, who never grow up. They are dependent on you for their whole lives, and the love and companionship they give is unconditional. We all talk to our dogs and wished (and sometimes believed) they understood us. If they could communicate with us, these are a few of the things, I’m sure, they would want us to know.
Whilst we sometimes look guilty, holding our heads in shame, lifting our eyebrows and looking at you with our puppy dog eyes, we don’t actually have the range of emotions to feel guilt. What we do have is an understanding of your body language and tone of voice to understand that you are not happy with us and we have learned that looking cute and guilty will likely get us out of trouble!
Whilst routine is good and we do like to know when we’re going to be fed and when we’re going for a walk, we can feel bored. As in your life, sometimes in our life, variety can be the spice of life. If you come home to find we’ve chewed a cushion or your slippers, we probably weren’t being naughty, rather we were lonely and bored. If you do have to leave us for some time, leave us with toys to stimulate us and chews to stop us getting bored. Maybe stimulate us at meal times with puzzle feeders. If we’re getting a bit boisterous and destructive, maybe take us on more walks and play with us some more.
If we are getting more destructive when you’re out, we may be displaying signs of anxiety. We’re afraid you may not come back. Being abandoned is a fear we’re sure you can relate to and some of us feel like this every time we’re left, even for a short while. If you live with a dog who feels like this, please speak with your Vet or an animal behaviourist on how we might be taught that we’re not being abandoned every time you nip to the shops.
If we walk in front of you and pull on the lead it doesn’t mean we’re trying to be the alpha dog or dominant of you. It means we’re excited to be walked, we’re loving the smells around us, and that we walk faster than you. If you have trained us to walk to heel, it would be nice to let us explore the smells in the air on our walks, as this is the only time we get to explore outside of our little domains most days.
With our great understanding of body language and your tone of voice we know how you are feeling. Dogs have been watching and understanding human body language for thousands of years. It helped us understand which people might give us food and pet us and it helped us avoid being beaten by people who didn’t want us near. More than understanding how you feel, we feel how you feel. If you’re happy, we’re happy. If you’re anxious, we’re anxious and looking out for the source of your anxiety.
When you’re at work do you work for payment, or for fear that your boss would punish you if you didn’t do exactly what they wanted when they wanted, even though your boss speaks a different language to you? That’s how we feel. We would much rather work for rewards. Treat us and give us some attention when we do the right thing and we will do it again and again!
We Love you more than anything in the world. We love you just the way you are. All we want in return is for you to love us too. We only have a relatively short life (no one really wants to think about this but we only live between 10 and 15 years on average), and we really want to spend as much time as we can with you.