Dog Talk

dogDo you want to know what your dog’s saying to you? You might be able to know in a few years.

There’s an article in “The Atlantic” magazine reporting on a researcher who’s deciphered the yips and chirps of prairie dog communication.

The researcher said, “…it’s probably five to 10 years out. But I think we can get to the point where we can actually communicate back and forth in basic animal languages to dogs, cats, maybe farm animals…”

He also said “It’d be world-changing.” Think about the behavioral problems stemming from our inability to communicate effectively. A dog misses what the human expects, and the dog can’t get across to the human what it’s experiencing.

But if we could communicate, a dog could say, “You’re scaring me.” And you could respond, “Sorry, I didn’t realize that I was scaring you. I’ll give you more space.”

The idea made me think of Cesar Millan, “the dog whisperer,” and what might change if we knew what our dogs were saying to us. Cesar has lots of ┬ávaluable insights into dogs, and how we humans should interact with them for mutual benefit.

In a nutshell, Cesar claims a dog looks to his owner to be the “pack leader,” exhibiting calm assertive energy to let the pet know his place in the “pack.” When this dynamic isn’t in place, a dog will try to fill the pack leader void by acting out.

Cesar also has a couple of important hierarchies of a dog’s expectations. One is for a dog’s needs which are exercise, boundaries, and finally affection. Bad dogs are usually pets of owners who ignore levels or the owners emphasize lower priority needs over higher ones.

I’ve seen videos of Cesar speaking about this to a conference room full of American dog owners as he tries to help them with their “bad” dogs. Everyone in the room seemed to be overweight. So as he explained the priorities of exercising the dog first (before feeding it), then practicing boundaries, and lastly giving some affection. The audience was probably thinking “Exercise – no way,” then “Discipline – ok maybe occasionally,” and “Affection – that I can do.”

But Cesar’s recipe for a good dog is like a baking recipe – it needs to be followed as presented for it to work. I really wonder what’ll happen to the human and dog relationship when we can actually speak to each other. I not so sure most people will really want to know what their dog is saying.