We humans are a verbal species. We long for our beloved canine companions to speak to us in words we can easily understand. While they have some capacity for vocal communication, they’ll never be able to deliver a soliloquy, or carry on long meaningful conversations with their humans. English is a second language for them. Their first is body talk – body language communication in which they generally say, quite clearly, exactly what they mean. Our problem, and as a result theirs, is that we humans tend to listen with our ears, rather than our eyes, and miss much of what they are saying.
Dogs do use some vocalizations in their daily communication with us and with each other (see “Canine Vocalizations,”). However, their body language is both more expressive and more prevalent – it’s continual! – so observing them in action is of more use than just listening to them.
There are those who have spent a lot of time trying to understand dog behavior and have become skilled at reading canine body language. They seem to interact naturally with dogs, using their own subtle body language to communicate, as much as or more than they use words. But time alone doesn’t grant this skill; there are also those who have spent a lot of time with dogs but are still woefully inept at properly interpreting the canine message.
Continue reading at Dogs Naturally Magazine.