How Dogs Communicate With Other Species

Dog communicate with other species as if they are dogs unless and until they learn or are taught otherwise.  Years ago, I had a rabbit that strongly objected to having his tail sniffed by dogs and when a single hop away did not discourage them, he would kick the dog in the face.  Dogs that met him learned quickly not to greet rabbits as if they were dogs.   It is much better for everyone if you carefully supervise your dog around other animals and train it to treat other animals in a manner that they will find mutually safe and respectful.

Dogs also try to communicate with humans like they communicate with dogs.  (Of course, we do the same thing - or else you wouldn't catch so many of us chatting away at our dogs.)  Some of these communication methods are benign or even useful to us if we learn to use them ourselves - like yawning, for instance.  Some methods of dog communication are inappropriate for dogs to use with humans - like nose biting as a greeting - and the dog needs to be trained not to use them.  Dogs will learn on their own what works and what doesn't, but that doesn't mean that you'll like what they decide is effective - like barking.

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Kris said...

I really do love this blog. I've found it so much more effective when my dogs are barking to just thank them, then tell them enough. works much better than yelling and getting upset. I guess they probably think I'm upset at whatever they're barking at. I always feel so victorious when I correctly understand what they're trying to tell me.

Juli said...

Thanks for the compliment! It is great when we really are communicating with our dogs!

I've heard that dogs interpret yelling as barking, so when we yell at their barking, it just encourages them. "Thank you" does seem to work much better.

Anonymous said...

hi, just located your blog. my dog(rescue) greatly suffered becasue of my ignorance and other people's - he was attcked twice-brutal, but injuries i guess were even worse because i never let his leash go, whil,le otehr dogs were off leash and much larger than him.( i was adviced not to ever let him off leash outside, since he is mix pitbull) . now he is agrressive and am i, i have to admit, but it needs change. i wanted to ask what do you mean by "nose biting" as a greeting? my dog was attacked second time by the other dog with biting on his nose and gradually progressed to getting his whole head in his mouth. it didn't look like a greeting- it was - snap snap snap. blood blood blood.( again- if i had the leash off- may be this whole thing would be different). i read a lot the last few months- turns out there was literature about body language and much more.. too bad all i was adviced on a consistent basis by many "helping" people was to "watch for my own dog not turn out aggressive",, so he got it alll... the wounds.. the scars.. and now we both have a problem( cant walk .. i believe major problem is me- not trusting any more otehr dogs, howver the more knowlegde i have - the better i feel!)! would you please tell me about my question- nose biting as a greeting. a.

Anonymous said...

the sniffing suggestion was great! instead of discouraging my dog to sniff now( as cesar millan who i dsocvered few montsh ago as well suggests, i will encourage him so as you suggested - brilliant- and try to teach him to sniff on command! thank you! a.