What your dog knows


By Tracie Korol

So much of a working relationship with your Best Friend is based on developing effective communication, in his language, in a tone he’ll understand. As humans we assume our way and our language makes the most sense. But in your dog’s world, it’s an entirely different ball game. When we understand how our dogs perceive our complicated world, communication get a whole lot easier.  Here’s what my lab friend, Sophie, wants you to know:

My Daily Routine

My day is divided into two important sections: Mealtime. And everything else.


Just because there doesn’t seem to be anything visible around to eat does not meant there is nothing around to eat.  All kinds of things are pretty tasty, you know. Plus, the act of staring at the underside of a table or chair on which a human is eating will usually set in motion a chain of events that eventually results in food for me, one way or another.

It goes without saying that we will carefully check the lower third of any space for edibles. Mouth-sized things which cannot be identified by sight or smell are considered gum.

When we actually receive a meal, we will submerge our heads into it. We will not look up until a minimum of 10 minutes after the obvious food is gone. This is important. Just because our dish is empty does not mean it is time to stop eating.

All food is ours until what time it is swallowed by another. The time it takes a bit of food to travel from plate to mouth via your hand is as good a time as any to stake a claim.

When it comes to selecting an appropriate beverage, location and packaging mean nothing. There are absolutely no exceptions.

If we really want something and all other attempts at getting it have failed, it is entirely appropriate to grovel shamelessly. Humans fall for it all the time. As a second tactic, we will stare intently at the object allowing long gelatinous strings of drool to leak like icicles from our mouths. This usually gets someone’s attention.

Everything Else

There are really only three important facial expressions we bother with: complete and overwhelming joy, sorrowful eyes, and nothing at all.  Humans will interpret sorrowful eyes as a need to give us something to eat to make them feel less guilty. This is OK with us.

Anytime that is not mealtime is potentially nap time. The best place to take a nap is in the middle of a busy room or in the corner of the couch we’re not supposed to get up on.  Most humans have not figured out the warm, hairy dent in the couch was made by us.  The most relaxing position, however, is on our side, all four limbs parallel. This tends to make humans think we’re dead.

The most practical way to get dry is to shake violently near a fully clothed person. A second effective way method is to wipe lengthwise on a light-colored piece of furniture or along the sliding glass doors.

Personal Safety

The greatest unacknowledged threat to life as we know it is squirrels. We will do whatever we can do to make sure there are none in our yards. This includes screaming maniacally, running after them though we know full well we will never catch them and/or digging escape tunnels for them to leave. We will do this forever.

Recreation and Leisure

Ball: There are two rules for ball.

The Common Form: we will chase a ball you throw and bring it back.

The Preferred Form: we will chase a ball you throw and then walk away.

Car: An open car door is an invitation to get in. Once inside, our only goal is to get out unless we’re going to the dump or to the beach.

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