There’s no doubt about it, dogs are amazing pets.
Thu 22 Mar 2018
There’s no doubt about it, dogs are amazing pets. You’ve only got to look at the skill of ‘ordinary’ family dogs involved in fun activities such as agility, flyball or the now extremely popular discipline of doggy dancing complete with complicated moves and lengthy routines to get an idea of what dogs can achieve if they’re given the chance to try a new skill and receive the correct training. Take for example, the highly trained professional dogs at work, acting as guide dogs and assistance dogs, giving people with often severe disabilities the freedom and support to lead an independent life they couldn’t enjoy with the help of their dog. And of course there’s the amazing dogs involved in mountain rescue operations, routinely saving lives, and the sniffer dogs capable of discovering explosives and illegal drugs.
Sadly the majority of dogs are never given the opportunity to discover their true capabilities and potential skills, apart from the basic dog commands they learn as puppies and never forget.
So, what skills and extraordinary talents have you discovered in your dog?
According to Pam in Suffolk they do. Pam owns a Border Collie called Pip, and a Cairn Terrier called Rosie, and she’s convinced they both know exactly when her husband is due home from work. She claims they even know when it’s the weekend.
She says “Both dogs get really excited and boisterous about half an hour before my husband is due home from work. He works in an office, and has a regular routine, and arrives home the same time during the week and they know it. My husband often goes fishing at the weekend, and can come home at any time then. They know this, and don’t make a fuss at his regular time at weekends, as they know he’s gone fishing and not to work!”
Obviously, dogs don’t wear watches, but they certainly are creatures who are aware of our habits and routines. It makes sense they understand, and react to our regular behaviour around the home, from the morning walk, the daily trip to the shops in the car, meal times, and the imminent arrival of their loved ones from work.
Dogs obviously remember people from the past, a bad experience at the vet, or a dislike of the grooming parlour, and can also recognise walks they may not have done for years.
Many dog owners are convinced their pets know they are about to go on holiday. Is this due to you discussing your planned trip, or the glossy holiday brochure on the table, or simply the suitcase being brought down and dusted off from the top of the wardrobe?
Dogs tend to ‘live in the moment’ rather than dwelling about the past, or worrying what may happen in 6 months time. So, it’s no surprise dogs recognise when they are hungry and become excited as their normal feeding time draws closer. Or could this simply be down to your regular routine of walking to the cupboard where the dog food is kept and picking up their regular feeding bowl that tells them it’s almost feeding time?
Most dogs understand simple, basic commands such as ‘sit’, ‘no’, ‘wait’, stay and ‘good boy’! Or do they really?
Think about how you SAY these words and the tone of your voice when you actually use them. The short, sharp authoritive command ‘sit’ might also work as the word ‘fit’ for example, or a praising warm ‘gooooood booooooy’ with cuddles could be ‘weeelll donnnnnne.’ Would your dog really notice the difference? Of course they also recognise a cheery, excited cry of ‘walkies’, as you pick up their dog lead and put your walking boots and coat on!
Dogs pick up on the intonation of your voice, your body language, hand signals and behaviour. As creatures that have made the huge leap from surviving in the wild to successfully adapting to live as part of the human pack, dogs have had to be sensitive to what is required of them to blend in successfully. This sensitivity is why we have to be very careful how we handle them so that we do not confuse or stress them by the mixed messages we can give out.
Jenny in Seaton, Devon owns a Springer Spaniel called Bilko. She explains “Bilko understands when we’re talking about him, or if I’m sad or happy, and when I have to go out without him, as he will just plonk himself in his basket, with a huge sigh. He also understands about 50 words, and I cannot say the word ‘walkies’ if discussing a walk we’ve been on or may do later. I say W-A-L-K-I-E-S as individual letters, to stop him getting excited.”
Maria Martinez is originally from Madrid and now lives in London, and believes her rescue dog Tito is bi-lingual. She says “Tito is a Westie, and 3 years old. He had very little training before I got him. He now understands all the basic commands in both English and Spanish.”
English, Spanish or just plain doggy speak? We’ve mastered the way to communicate with our dogs, and they have mastered the knack of understanding what we want and expect from them.
Dogs have an amazing sense of hearing, and an awesome sense of smell, that us mere humans simply do not possess. Modern humans watch weather forecast on the television, or look at up at the sky and see black, storm clouds approaching, to get an idea of an impending down pour or bad weather. Our ‘simpler’ ancestors used more intuitive methods - more like animals in fact. Dogs are very sensitive to changes in barometric pressure (as are some humans), that comes before a storm, they’re much more likely to hear a distant rumble of thunder before us too or smell and feel the ions’ activity in the air.
Perhaps, our talented, clever dogs should be given the job of forecasting our good old British weather!