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What’s your dog trying to say?

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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:25AM



Dear Readers, Did you ever imagine what your dog would say if he or she could actually talk?

It would explain some of their weird behaviors such as barking, jumping, etc.

I flop down on the floor when I want to get picked up and cuddled, and I put my wet nose on the window when I want to go outside. It’s all about wanting attention.

Both humans and our dogs engage in these kinds of behaviors from time to time, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that — as long as the behavior stays within reasonable limits. Dogs that want attention may:

• Whine

• Vomit

• Feign lameness

• Chase lights or shadows

• Snap at “imaginary” flies

• Get into strange body contortions and postures

Does this sound like the behaviors of a 2-year-old human child?   

In the right context it’s OK for your dog to let you know it needs your attention. If a dog barks at his human as if to say, “Hey, you! Over here!” — in my opinion — that is perfectly acceptable communication provided your dog has something to convey (like a stranger at the door) and is otherwise being ignored.

Likewise, if you are engrossed in conversation and your dog paws at your leg to solicit your attention, or to be petted, it’s no big deal to respond if you’re up for it.

But what you have to remember is that your dog will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t according to how you respond. The old saying “give them an inch and they’ll take a mile” is especially true with some dogs. Once they learn that a behavior gets them attention, they won’t stop until they get it again.

Last week we talked about the dog attacking a vacuum cleaner. Now that was a funny story for everyone and brought a smile to the lips of everyone but the owner who replaces bags by the dozen. That dog behavior needs to be corrected.

Just this last week, in a Valparaiso leash-less dog park, Andrew Bray was walking his terrier dog Ferdinand.

A large husky-type dog was stung by a wasp just when Ferdinand walked by. The husky was in such pain that he associated Ferdinand with that pain and struck out at the little terrier. The poor little fella had six stitches and the owners of the other dog graciously paid for the vet visit. It was an unfortunate accident and most likely could not have been prevented.  



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