December 30, 2011
If only dogs could talk

A few days ago I was looking at a movie caller Marmaduke and the thought “What if they could really talk” crossed my mind.

In this movie, the dogs actually conversed among themselves in English. At first I thought that it was just another fantasy filled movie, but after a few moments, I actually began enjoying it and really began to realize how much research into dog behavior evidently was put into its making.{{more}}

In actuality, dogs do have a structured method of communication among themselves. It is not by words as we know it, but it is based on both vocalizations and a series of complex body motions. For example, in my everyday practice, I am confronted with cases where an older dog in a family dies. A few days after another dog in the family would be brought into the clinic showing symptoms of depression, not eating, somnolence, being quite unaware of its surroundings etc. On examination of such patients, most times there is nothing to convince me that the patient is actually sick, all of the parameters are normal and blood work is normal. The dog is not able to actually tell us anything in words but by its actions, we see clear signs of grieving. Some will snap out of it in a few days , while some take longer periods to get over the loss.

But, of course, there are occasions when a dog may have died from a contagious disease that has spread to another family dog, that would become genuinely ill.

Interpreting dogs body language:

Tail: How high or low the tail is held, in relation to how the dog’s breed naturally carries its tail, can signify the dog’s mood. When the tail is held high, it shows that the dog is alert and aware; this is very typical when a female is in heat, very interestingly, all of the bull dogs following her invariably have their tails held high.

The tail between the legs means that the dog is afraid or frightened. If the hair on the tail is bristled, the dog is saying that it is willing to defend itself. Small, slow wags of the tail say that the dog is questioning things around the environment it is in. Large, fast wags of the tail may be a sign of a happy , excited or an energetic dog. I know of some happy Pitt bulls whose tails will actually give you a hard lash due to the intensity of the tail wag and the wiry nature of the tail.

Lips: When a dog’s lips curl back, this shows that the dog has a strong urge to bite. I know of some exceptions where the lips of some dogs curl back when they are happy.

Ears: Ear position relates the dog’s level of attention, and reaction to a situation or animal. Erect ears facing forward means the dog is very attentive, they lay their ears back to capture the sounds surrounding them and also when in a submissive state.

I have a German Shepherd that could be very stubborn, if he is not in the mood to be bothered, when I call him the only reaction that tells me that he is hearing me, is a twitch of the ears.

To be continued next week……….