Dogs are among the most popular pets in America. But while humans have long been fascinated by them, dogs themselves don’t always seem that curious about us. In fact, many people think that dogs communicate mainly through body language yawning when we enter a room or wagging our tails at visitors. However, there’s actually more going on than that.
It turns out that dogs can also communicate verbally using sounds and gestures just like any other animal. And even though dogs may be less vocal than some animals (cats included), they still possess an impressive array of communication skills. When researchers studied dog-human interactions, they found that dogs are capable of understanding spoken words as well as human pointing.
This means that dogs understand abstract concepts like “that one over there is your friend” or “this tree will help you get home.” They also understand concrete nouns such as “the ball,” which refers to something tangible. Another study showed that dogs were able to understand words referring to objects they couldn’t see, such as the word “cupboard”.
But how much does this mean to dogs? Are dogs really communicating with each other all the time, or are they simply responding to cues that come across clearly to them? We’ll take a look at what kinds of communication exist between dogs next.
Dog Communication Basics
While some people believe that dogs are quite adept at reading human body language, others say that dogs are very literal creatures and pick up only those signs that are easiest for them to notice. For instance, if you walk into a room full of strangers and start barking loudly, dogs might assume that you’re trying to warn them about impending danger.
On the other hand, if you walk into a room where everyone else has stopped talking because you’ve entered, then your barking would probably go unnoticed. That said, research shows that dogs do respond to human body language, so keep an eye out for some interesting clues!
We know that dogs can understand abstractions, but what exactly happens during that process? First, let’s talk about how dogs learn. When puppies first begin interacting with their littermates, they rely primarily on nonverbal communication. The mother teaches her offspring everything she knows about survival through olfactory sense meaning that she smells things out and communicates those scents to her pups.
As puppies grow older, however, they become increasingly dependent upon verbal communication. By the age of 4 months, puppies tend to follow simple commands like sit, stay and lie down. Once they reach adulthood, they need to master more complex tasks, including walking on a leash and sitting quietly without jumping around. These abilities depend on training and practice.
There are several different ways that dogs display their feelings and emotions. One type is called barks, meows, whines and yelps. Barks are short bursts of sound that typically convey aggression or fear. Whining is usually used to attract attention, especially in situations where another animal is being ignored. Meowing is meant to draw attention to oneself. Finally, yelping is often heard when dogs are playing together. It can also be used to signal pain or distress.
Communication Signals Between Dogs
As we mentioned before, there are plenty of ways that dogs can express themselves. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones.
Barks and Growls
One of the simplest forms of dog communication is bark. Barking is an aggressive form of communication that dogs use to assert dominance over other animals or alert their pack mates to potential threats. Because they’re loud and generally unpleasant noises, barks are rarely pleasant to hear unless they’re directed towards someone who deserves it.
If you happen to live near coyotes, wolves or bears, then you may find yourself hearing their own version of barks due to territorial disputes. A low growl is similar to a bark except that it’s quieter and comes after the noise of a bark. Unlike barks, growling doesn’t necessarily mean harm it’s often used to show submission or submission attempts.
A growl accompanied by a snarl is known as a snarl, which occurs when a dog displays both anger and fear simultaneously. Snarling is sometimes used to intimidate opponents, but it’s also employed by dogs who want to protect their owners against perceived physical attacks.
Whimpers and Whinings
Like barks, whimpering is a fairly aggressive way to convey emotion. Like growling, it’s intended to make its recipient feel uncomfortable. However, unlike growling, whimpering is soft enough to send shivers up anyone’s spine. While whimpering isn’t as dominant as other forms of dog communication, it’s widely understood by every member of a canine family.
Another type of whimper is called whining. Similar to whimpering, whining is used to ask for attention or comfort. Sometimes, however, it’s used to make demands. For example, if your cat starts whining to you while he’s stuck inside the trashcan, he’s likely asking for food. He may also be expressing his displeasure at having to remain locked away. Whimpering and whining are often confused for crying, although the former tends to be louder and higher pitched than the latter.
Other Types of Signs
Many other forms of communication exist between dogs besides barks, growls, whimpers and whine. Yipping is a high-pitched cry that’s often associated with play. Biting and snapping are aggressive behaviors that occur when dogs fight over territory or prey. Other signals include tail wags, head nods and lip smacking. Some experts claim that the ability to interpret these signals depends largely on early socialization and training.
Although we’ve discussed some common forms of dog communication here, it’s important to remember that no two dogs are alike. Every breed and individual dog possesses unique traits that should be taken into consideration when attempting to communicate effectively with them.