Ever found yourself wondering what your dog would say if he could talk? We’ve all done it and most of us will have had fairly lengthy but one-sided conversations with our pooches.
There is hope, however!
Scientists have discovered that dogs are communicating with us but not with words. They have 19 signals that we can learn to interpret which isn’t many, but could be enough to tell us what we need to know.
Researchers at the University of Salford found that our pooches will use several paw and body movements to prompt us to do what they want us to. The scientists got 37 dog owners to film footage of their pets whilst they were performing day-to-day tasks. It transpired that the dogs were using similar and recognisable movements to express what they wanted.
After carefully reviewing the footage of all the dogs, the scientists identified 19 gestures which appeared to carry a specific message. The desire for food was demonstrated through several different gestures but other movements had much more specific meanings.
Different dogs had their own special gestures and dogs would try alternative signals if their first attempt at getting their message across didn’t work. Clever chaps!
Here’s the 19 gestures that the researchers managed to identify:
Rolling over means “Tickle my tummy”
Head under means “Get me my toy”
Head forward means “Scratch me”
Standing on hind legs means “Play with me”
Head turn (towards an object) means “Get me that”
Shuffling means “Scratch me”
Back leg up means “Scratch me”
Paw hovering means “Get me my toy”
Crawling under means “Get me my toy”
Flicking a toy means “I’m hungry”
Jump means “I’m hungry”
Paw reach means “Give me that”
Nose means “Scratch me”
Licking means “Scratch me”
Front paws on something means “Open it”
Paw resting means “Get me my toy”
Head rubbing means “Get me my toy”
Chomp means “Play with me”
Paw means “Get me my toy”
Enlightenment or confusion?
Are you feeling enlightened? Perhaps you recognise many of these gestures or maybe they appear to mean something different to your dog. We should all be paying attention to our pet’s body language and gestures to see if they consistently use the same gestures in the same situations. It should be possible to deduce what the dog is asking for if we make a note of what we see.
Unsurprisingly, the dogs in the test mostly employed gestures when they wanted food. Nothing new there! Dogs have a limited vocabulary but it could prove useful to you if you could learn to understand it.
Last year, a study into canine gestures by the University of Portsmouth found that dogs raise their eyebrows when they are looked at and that they make more facial expressions when they are being looked at than when they are not.
Dogs really might have more to say than we thought!