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How to Communicate With a Dog

Updated on December 7, 2012
Dogs know how to communicate instinctively with each other.
Dogs know how to communicate instinctively with each other. | Source

Communication and Dogs

Understanding how dogs communicate amongst themselves can be a very helpful tool in terms of figuring out the best ways to go about communicating with a dog as a human.

Some dog owners feel, even in these enlightened times, that in order to get a point across with man's best friend, you have to be aggressive or overly assertive. I've met dog owners who really shouldn't BE pet owners because they have a Hitler complex when it comes to their dogs.

On the other hand, there are far too many dog owners out there who don't understand the importance of being alpha and that by earning that position, you actually gain the respect of your pet and allow him peace of mind--as in he knows who's the boss and he's content with that.

Speaking dog is in a sense like learning a foreign language or even in some cases, sign language. In the canine world, body language speaks volumes and as the photo illustrates, pecking orders are very much in play. Gabby (on the right) always defers to her uncle Griffin and one can almost imagine her dog voice saying to him "So what do you think we should do Uncle Griff? You decide--you're the boss."

Griffin on the other hand, seems to be contemplating the plan of action--which he will have no trouble conveying to his omega counterpart as soon as he decides what he wants to do. And she will willingly follow him no matter what because they have established their own mode of communication. (In our household, they are both omegas actually to alpha Denaya but Griffin is higher in the pecking order than Gabby who assumes the lower position at this point.)

It works great between dogs. They're able to effectively communicate happiness, malaise, fear, anger, dominance, and a host of other "emotions" or feelings quickly and without hesitation. As pet owners, in order to maintain our alpha status, it's important that we also adopt these skills and know how to effectively communicate, not just coexist, with our dogs.

Figuring Out How Dogs Communicate

This author has 3 malamutes and one of my favorite things to do is just sit back and watch them communicate with each other. Then if you expand that to watching how they deal in the world, it really opens up your mind as to how a human companion can best communicate what you want them to do--and the tricky part--have them understand and respond.

The first step in learning to communicate with dogs is to look at the "emotions" or feelings that dogs have and what they mean.

  • Vocalization -- malamutes especially are super vocal and within that one part of their nature, there is a huge variety of reasons why they vocalize. They can show happiness by howling when they want to go for a walk.

    They can also vocalize when an aggressive dog is coming at them snarling.

    They can also vocalize because they hear another dog howling or bark/howl because they see someone behind the fence.

    Malamutes can just vocalize "because"--they want something (like dinner or that friend they want to come and pet them).

Even as puppies, dogs learn how to speak to each other and get their points across.
Even as puppies, dogs learn how to speak to each other and get their points across. | Source
  • Eye contact--many people feel that looking a dog in the eye is a dare for dominance. This author disagrees. My dogs making eye contact with me is the only way I will let my dogs eat, come in or do important things. They are required to look me directly in the eye and acknowledge me before they are "released."

    Dogs will usually look away after a few seconds but that is a sign of their submission to the human alpha--that is appropriate behavior.

    A bad sign is when a dog appears "fixated" on something, isn't responding and its pupils become more dilated. This means that the dog is poised and may be experiencing a fight or flight response.

Griffin is entirely focused on me and wants me to know he's paying total attention.
Griffin is entirely focused on me and wants me to know he's paying total attention. | Source
  • Posture and body stance -- many dog owners assume that because a dog is wagging its tail that all is well. Consider this--a dog can be wagging its tail merrily along and in the blink of an eye stop wagging which means there's something seriously wrong and the dog can go from relaxed and happy to aggressive and attacking. Why? Because wagging tails don't mean anything--it's all about the dog's body stance and posture.

    Wagging can sometimes be a sign of stress so it's best to take in the whole picture. A dog who is focused as if there's no tomorrow is stressed by something and may need reassurance or diversion to keep him or her from doing something bad.

    If a dog is standing straight with its tail up and wagging a bit, one can assume that the dog is feeling confident. The pupils are small and the dog is engaged with his or her surroundings rather than rigid or stiff in posture.

    A dog who wants to play may bend its body forward with its front legs bowed and its back legs hoisted up in a playful position.

    Many breeds (especially mals and other northern breeds) "slam" which means they put their entire body into a sway and playfully bang into each other to show affection, playfulness and even in some ways communicate dominance. They may even "slam" their human counterparts in an effort to play or engage someone's attention.

Puppy Griffin is definitely ready to play and is telling Denaya he wants a romp.
Puppy Griffin is definitely ready to play and is telling Denaya he wants a romp. | Source
Later as a young adolescent, Griffin getting into the groove with the malamute slam.
Later as a young adolescent, Griffin getting into the groove with the malamute slam. | Source
  • Rolling over -- this can be a playful behavior as in I want my belly scratched or it can also be used as an avoidance type behavior such as I don't want to go outside or have my nails clipped right now.
  • Pacing -- usually dogs pace when they're nervous though some breeds might pace if they're excited, anticipating something like a walk or they may be bored and stressed. My Griffin paces the room the entire time at the vet because it's a very stressful experience (apparently) for him.
  • Hackles up -- when a dog raises the hair on its neck or back, that means it has gone to an aggressive or fight mode. It is usually the result of the dog feeling a threat of some kind.
  • Cowering, hiding, tail tucked between the legs -- these are all signs of a dog who's experiencing an anxiety reaction or fear. Even though some people feel that a frightened dog isn't a threat, they are simply because they may bite or attack out of fear.
  • Aggressive stance or rigidity -- this means a dog has lost itself in the moment and may be on the verge of attack. Their focus is on the object they feel they must fight and this is definitely a situation that can get out of control fast.
  • Turning the head side to side -- this can indicate curiosity or mystery. It's a dog's way of being inquisitive and trying to figure something out. Like why is that toy you're holding squeaking at me like that?
  • Shaking of the head or body -- a rousing behavior as in getting up from a nap or coming out of a crate. This signals the end of an activity and their intent to move to doing something else.
  • Humping or mounting -- this is usually done as a show of dominance--to other dogs and to communicate a desire to be "top dog." Training is a good way to obliterate this behavior because it can be the result of not feeling confident "enough."

What IS this thing called water and why is it splashing all over me?
What IS this thing called water and why is it splashing all over me? | Source
  • Pawing or using the head to bump your hand -- this is purely an attention getter. They are saying "pay attention to me right now."

Or they use it to impart communication to the canine members of their pack.  Griffin is getting Gabby's attention.
Or they use it to impart communication to the canine members of their pack. Griffin is getting Gabby's attention. | Source
  • Tails it is -- different types of tail positions signify different things.

    Upright tail (not locked and rigid) means the dog is happy and confident.

    A tail which is pretty neutral or lower than the dog's body means he's relaxed.

    A tail that's tucked or down usually signifies fear and/or anxiety. Remember that if the tail is tucked or down and it's wagging, that doesn't mean he or she is happy. Wagging can be a sign of nervousness.

    Fast wagging can also be a sign of a dog who's decided to do something naughty such as tearing up a pillow or digging a nice big hole!

Griffin's very relaxed here as you can see by his tail position--despite the fact that he's trying to figure out how he can escape,
Griffin's very relaxed here as you can see by his tail position--despite the fact that he's trying to figure out how he can escape, | Source
  • Ears -- dogs that are paying attention to something have upright ears that may even be more forward facing and illustrates their focus.

    Flattened ears mean the dog is fearful.

    If the ears are in front and close to the head, it can indicate aggression about to happen.

    On some dog breeds, the ears pulled back but not flat can be interpreted as sadness or feeling badly.

Gabby always seems to want to know how to learn about something and most often her ears are always upright.
Gabby always seems to want to know how to learn about something and most often her ears are always upright. | Source


  • Eyes -- fully open eyes means the dog is engaged and ready for anything.

    A dog who goes into a staring contest may be thinking of exerting dominance or becoming aggressive to establish his place in the "pack."

    Dogs who avoid eye contact with humans or other dogs are submissive by nature and mean to show they are omega rather than alpha.

    Winking or blinking may be a sign of fun and games.

    A dog with fierce, narrowed eyes usually indicates aggression or attack mode may be near.

Staring wide-eyed at you is a good sign that your dog wants to communicate.
Staring wide-eyed at you is a good sign that your dog wants to communicate. | Source
Dogs who know that the human is alpha often break eye contact as a show of respect.
Dogs who know that the human is alpha often break eye contact as a show of respect. | Source
Winking is usually a sign of fun and games.
Winking is usually a sign of fun and games. | Source
  • Yawns -- a yawn can mean a dog is tired just like humans. It can also be a release of tension.

    A dog may also yawn in new situations.

    Dogs and people both have yawns which are contagious.

Dogs yawn for many reasons but just like human yawns, they can be catching...yawn.
Dogs yawn for many reasons but just like human yawns, they can be catching...yawn. | Source
  • Smiling -- if a dog is relaxed and happy, he or she can smile!

Gabby laughing at a joke she heard down at the dog park.
Gabby laughing at a joke she heard down at the dog park. | Source
  • Licking lips -- if a dog is excessively licking its lips, it can indicate stress.

    However, when a dog licks another dog (as my younger mal does to our older mal often), it shows that she is submissive to her.

Since a puppy, Gabby has always shown submissive behavior towards Denaya.
Since a puppy, Gabby has always shown submissive behavior towards Denaya. | Source
  • Snarling or teeth showing -- this indicates aggression and the intent to bite. It's usually associated with a rigid posture and/or hackles up.

As they say, every dog has its day and this is one of Griffin's rare grumpy behavior moments.
As they say, every dog has its day and this is one of Griffin's rare grumpy behavior moments. | Source

Human to Dog Communication

So how does the human counterpart speak dog in such a way as to coexist with their faithful companion and still maintain a mutually satisfying relationship? Very carefully! Actually it's not as hard as it might seem.

What a dog owner should avoid is one of two scenarios that really are not good for the dog and certainly don't lend themselves to happy pet owners (or the people around them).

  • You don't want a dog who is afraid of your every move, look or word--while some people believe this is the right way to exist with a dog, I vehemently disagree as it is only a means to dominate an animal.
  • Just as ineffective is the relationship where the dog is leader of the pack and the owner isn't capable or unwilling to take back the alpha role. Surprisingly, this can be seen in situations with small dogs (in fact quite often) just as easily as with larger or more "difficult" breeds, such as this author's infamous malamutes. Small dogs can take over much more easily sometimes because people don't feel threatened by their size.

The ideal communication between dog and his owner or family is one in which they understand each other but most importantly, they respect one another.

In the dog world, respect must be earned. Dogs are one of the smartest creatures on the planet and they do have standards. In order to be leader of the pack, the human counterpart has to prove that they will take care of the dog or dogs, provide for them, and protect them should the need arise. In the natural world, that's what alpha means.

So how do you communicate with a dog and get "down to his level" in terms of getting what you want out of the relationship?

Interaction between dogs and humans is an ongoing exercise.
Interaction between dogs and humans is an ongoing exercise. | Source

Communicating with Your Dog

  • Speak to your dog in a tone of voice they understand

    High pitched, squeaky and happy voice means excitement. If you don't want your dog to react and react in an exuberant way right now--don't use it! Think of this when you approach other people's dogs as well. Many people squeal exuberantly while approaching my 3 malamutes on leash exclaiming "snow dogs" in high squeaking voices....coming straight at them. Why? Because they're excited. Yet the humans seem to be astounded that my dogs respond by being...well....excited and literally freaking out! They gave them the wrong message! Use this voice when you mean to be crazy, when you want the dog to run and howl and play full out with you. Don't use it for commands or for "casual" interaction.

    Normal tone of voice. Use this much as you would with a family member or a friend. "Let's go outside, Griff" or "Let's go" (moving them on from a halt/sit at a corner on a walk). Dogs consider your normal voice your relaxed mode and they will be relaxed as well.

    Stern and lower register voice. Even if you're a woman, stern is good in terms of dog speak. Even combine it with body actions such as stomping your foot. Malamutes can be quarrelsome and get into snits with each other from time to time. I've never had to physically break up a dog fight but I've been in on the beginning of one. All I've had to do is use my stern voice (LOUDLY) and stomp my foot. When your dog is doing something you don't like, he or she needs to know you mean to point that out. You can't do a soft, high squeaky voice to get this point across. You have to use a stern, chopped, louder, deeper voice to let them know it was not something you wanted them to do. Just like kids, discipline and authority are necessary.

    Clicks, whistles, kissing noises. All of these can be signals and used as you develop them with your dog. I use a series of verbal clicks if I want my dog to pick up the pace while running (much like in horseback riding). This transfers later on to scooter work. Anything you use to communicate with your dog that works, keep it in your tool kit.
  • Body language. Dogs are physical by nature whether they're small or huge. They slam each other, they hump each other to show who's boss and they growl and snarl at each other to establish pecking order or teach younger pups a lesson. No--we don't have to hump our dogs or bite them to get their attention. But we do have to keep in mind how their brain and personalities work.

    Let's get physical. Most dogs respond better to thumps, pats, even tussles to communicate. Cuddling is great but most dogs want some actual demonstration of physicality from their owners. This author wrestles with all our malamutes on a regular basis though I've learned not to encourage certain behaviors such as nipping, pinning, or overly aggressive behaviors. Dogs can become confused by these types of "play" behaviors, especially certain breeds. This is not to say that our play times are not rambunctious but they are "in control"--by the human. The last thing I want to train my dogs to do is to become overly excited and misinterpret play for the need to attack or be dominant towards anyone.

    Don't tower over your dog. While being alpha is really important, dogs that are threatened usually don't respond as well as dogs that are confident. Get down to their level and you will have much more success in getting them to trust you, getting them to respond to you, and getting them to want to please you.

    Don't approach dogs straight on -- especially at a fast pace. I can't stress this enough. I have 3 really big dogs. When people excitedly come marching at them squeaking and squealing I seriously wish I had a tazer. REALLY? I want to say "stop right there and think this through" but it usually happens so quickly it's out of my control. Approach a dog from the side and you are not a threat. Extend your hand and show them that you are not a threat and things will go much better--for the dog and for the owner who might happen to be standing there holding 250+ pounds of quivering, happy dogs.
  • Remember the positive reward system. If you really want to have a good dog and one that communicates well with you, sweeten the pot by remembering the old addage about you attract more flies with honey than vinegar. If your dog gets the idea that he or she is doing something really cool that totally pleases you (by way of it being reinforced with treats especially but praise as well), you've established a great way of communicating. You've let your dog know you plan on rewarding him or her for things you want repeated. That's priceless. It's like giving them an allowance!
  • Forget the past. If your dog does something and you don't catch him or her in the physical act of doing it--leave it alone and do not by any way or means try and correct them for it. It's a training moment gone and unfortunately you need to wait for the next one. People who believe that their dog "knows" they did something bad may be right but trying to discuss it with them after the fact or worse, punishing them after the fact--waste of time and unfair to the dog. Concentrate on what you can correct while you are physically present. It's called training for a reason and goes on for a long, long time no matter what age the dog.
  • If you can't make time for your dog, you should not have one. Same as with kids. A dog needs your attention, not just food and water and shelter. A dog needs you, the human, to love them, to communicate with them, to exercise them and also to stimulate them. Most dogs need a job or an activity or exercise. Without that, they do bad things. So if you decide to take on the responsibility of a human canine relationship--you need to be aware that it will take up your time. Just like any other real relationship.
  • Don't abuse your dog for any reason! I don't care how bad a dog is or how many things a dog gets into, does wrong--there is absolutely NO excuse for hitting, punching, kicking, throwing, or otherwise hurting a dog. Especially one you have to be your faithful companion. Abuse is abuse and rather than teach the dog a lesson or extort obedience, you will make the dog loathe you and be afraid of you. Most importantly, a dog cannot respect someone who is abusive--the way of the wild is to EARN respect not demand it, especially by physical abuse or neglect. "Dogs are people too" is a popular way of thinking of our canine partners. This author has little tolerance for people who seek to exert their "strength" over animals who only want love and care. Please don't be "that guy."
  • Have a set of rules. People who let their dogs determine who goes out the door first, who gets the most part of the bed, who can grab food off the counter, etc. are letting their pets call the shots. Just like in any relationship, you have to have rules and they should be consistent. Train your dog to do the right thing and they will! They want to please us and they want a positive relationship, not a negative one with us. Since humans are the ones with the bigger brain and the reasoning ability, it stands to reason that WE should be the ones who write the rules, not our dogs. Sometimes, it takes actively sitting down and writing a list of what we expect from our dogs--and then setting about getting those behaviors to happen. Like counter surfing. This author has been working on this very typical though aggravating malamute behavior for some time and it does work--but you have to be consistent and expect success.

Communication with Dogs

Talking to Your Dog

Many people say to this author "they're just dogs." I do agree that indeed they are just dogs but then on the other hand, the dogs I've been privileged to know over the years have always snuck into my heart and taught me something--about life and about myself.

While they aren't human, I'd almost rather have some of my dogs in my life over some of the people I've encountered. As a general rule, I've always found dogs to be respectful and easy to deal with but I think my attitude towards them has helped make that possible.

In this author's humble opinion, the days and years we have with our dogs are far too short and one of the most precious gifts we can receive. It's vital to make the most of our time with them and learn to communicate to ensure a happy and memorable experience. I've been fortunate so far to have had many wonderful companions and a scrapbook full of unforgettable moments.

Dogs know how to greet each other and communicate instinctively.  We can learn a lot just watching them communicate.
Dogs know how to greet each other and communicate instinctively. We can learn a lot just watching them communicate. | Source


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      4 years ago

      Hi! I just now saw this article and can I say it is one of the most well written and interesting articles I've ever read!! I have a little pup Ditka (yes after the Bears coach, my dads obsessed) and we have a really sweet relationship. I'm his favorite person and I suppose you could say he's dubbed me as his person. He always sleeps in my bed and follows me around the house and in fact when he was younger we had to take him on walks to the school bus with me because he would get so anxious when I left for school and try to follow me (he succeeded about five times before we started walking him with me) and let me tell you I have that same problem with the approach head on thing!!! As a rule of thumb I have always approached dogs from the side especially if I don't know them but I never realized the effect it has on dogs until we got Ditka! I mean Ditka is protective of me when we go on walks (he growls at strangers and other dogs.... Never children though and it normally stops when I pet him and tell him it's okay and they let him sniff them before trying to touch him) normally he is just a little jumpy and growls with a little raised fur but he subsides when I let him know I'm okay and he's okay and it all works out. (He wouldn't hurt a fly unless I was in real danger) but once I was walking him and this older man who had seen Ditka being doted on by this little girl and her mother we had met while walking (he loves children so he had no problem with her loving on him as he loves being spoilt and loved) decided that he was friendly and comes straight at him quickly and determined. Now he obviously meant no harm but he was a stranger and his walk could easily be seen as aggressive or challenging and since he was a stranger and an adult Ditka felt threatened and thought I was in legitimate danger and started growling at the man, baring his teeth, narrowing his eyes, raised hackles the whole nine yards and started curling into me positively feral looking. I mean I was scared (not for myself but for the man) and I told him to stop where he was but he didn't listen and as he got within ten feet of me Ditka jumped at him to make him back away and I could barely hold on to the leash. The man started yelling at me to control my dog and got angry at me for Ditka's understandable behavior and I was aghast! I managed to calm Ditka down by picking him up and walking a little ways away from the man and using my most soothing tone to calm him while cuddling and petting him and then I explained to the man why Ditka had reacted the way he did and he simply could not wrap his head around the fact that it was his fault for not asking me before approaching to pet my dog and approaching directly in front of him not from the side and had to spend 10 minutes explaining to this man what was wrong with what he did and it was really frustrating!! So yeah you're preaching to the choir there friend!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks, Dinkan--I share your love of dogs~ Appreciate the read and the time to leave a comment as well!

    • dinkan53 profile image


      6 years ago from India

      I love dogs, wonderful writings and cute pictures. Your dogs are gorgeous. Really enjoyed your hub. I appreciate your effort to write this article. Thanks, voted and shared.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Hey Tebo--yes indeed about the approaching from the side--I just had a painful reminder of this lesson that caused me to burst into tears. My pregnant daughter came at my big 95 pound Griffin a few weeks ago without thinking and for her troubles, got a poke in the stomach from him. He misinterpreted her approach and I felt SO bad--I cried for an hour worrying something happened to her baby. Thankfully it didn't but I've had so many people do that to him I think he's just goofed up by it. The next day, she'd learned her lesson and came at him from the side and NO PROBLEM! As to my Griffin in his "tub"--he now hates the water--he had a kind of bad experience though at a lake--but my younger one will not stay out of it! We had to upgrade to a much bigger size as well~

    • tebo profile image


      6 years ago from New Zealand

      What a lovely hub with so many beautiful photos. Your dogs are beautiful. I love dogs and I really love it when my dog tilts his head to the side which usually means, "can I come for a ride in the car?". Approaching dogs from the side is a good piece of advice. I'm sure I must have read it before, but needed a reminder. Good to see one of your dogs in the water - thought I might get one of those for my dog for Christmas. He loves the water.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping by SunsetSky and for leaving a thoughtful comment. Dogs are one of my passions so it is an "easy" topic for me to address usually.

      Helen--I agree with you--different strokes for different folks. Our rescued malamute is not into "play" of any kind. She's always been a very serious dog. But she does love being petted and fawned over and demands it by putting her head under your hand as if to say "don't stop petting me please!" My younger 2 are just looking for trouble all the time--ha ha--they love being "coerced" into playing--ha--they are always ready to go. I actually bring them in just so I can be around them when I'm working since I work at home--it's a nice comfort and they seem to enjoy the constant interaction. Better than sitting outside trying to figure out what to do! Thanks for stopping in - and happy holidays!

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 

      6 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Hi Audrey, having had my own dogs for nearly 30 years now, this hub is definately one of the most sensible and best I've read on dog-human communication.

      I agree with you on all the points you have made and I also 'eye' my dogs and I also wrestle with the ones that enjoy it. My Border Collie, Roy, you wouldn't restle with, he prefers interaction on a gentler level and 'working'. Kassy the Lab pup is obviously different and enjoys a good tangle around when playing tug. So its a case of treating each dog as an individual especially when there are different breeds in the house.

      An awesome and fascinating hub with loads of great information for new dog owners but also experienced ones as well!! Voted up + shared!

    • SunsetSky profile image


      6 years ago from USA

      Great hub! I'm glad you took the time to write it and I hope that many people read it and learn the proper way to treat and train a dog.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      How sweet, Monis--thank you BOTH~~~

    • Monis Mas profile image


      6 years ago

      Now my husband loves your article too! I had to copy, and email it to him! :-)

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks Lifetips for stopping by!

    • lifetips123 profile image

      Praveen P.V. Nair 

      6 years ago from Trivandrum

      hi akirchner, it is a nice article on dogs. i love dogs. But as u said in this article, i tried this in my past with my dog and you know you are right and i am astonished that dogs can communicate with us. keep in touch

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Monis....definitely agree with you about dogs over people at times! I really can't believe how people think. You are dead right though--if we don't train our dogs, they don't know what to do and look to us for that guidance. I'm completely bowled over by people who think dogs are just supposed to sit in the yard and do nothing or be taught nothing...and then they're upset when their dogs don't "behave." Crazy!

    • Monis Mas profile image


      6 years ago

      What a sad story. And disturbing. You are so right, some people are not meant to have pets, nor children!

      I too feel that training is much needed, because it creates a peace of mind for dogs, since they really seek some sort of routine to feel content.

      And I too prefer dogs over some people! Go figure!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks for stopping in and for your kind words, Monis. I truly do not want to sound like I'm judging other folks but I do have a passion for dogs and how they 'should' be treated. We recently had a terrible thing happen with a neighbor who was letting their dog (who they RESCUED no less) jump their fence into the wetlands no less which is behind our homes. The dog literally jumped into MY yard with my 3 malamutes--who did nothing--however, he was becoming a total nuisance, knocking boards out of OUR fence--which in turn could have resulted in our dogs getting loose which in this neck of the woods would probably have gotten them shot! Understandably, we were upset.

      We spoke to them on numerous occasions, even offered to help them "fix" the problem so that he could not jump out and harass our dogs---all to no avail. They were too busy--mind you the dog sat in their yard with their other psycho dog all day long--never walked, never played with, never ANYTHING. Finally after their dog knocked out another fence board, we called the policewoman who deals with dog problems in our area. Our neighbor's solution? They were going to opt for euthanasia of the dog!!! Are you kidding me? That's the ONLY solution here?

      This just illustrates (to me) why some folks do not belong having dogs (or children in many cases as it seems to be across the board stupidity sometimes)....their son thankfully took the dog but my point is--wasn't there SOME other way that they could have trained their dog(s), taken more time with him, trained him? Communicated with him? It's just sad--again--a disposable animal. Had I the time, I would have trained the dog myself though they have another one (still there) who is completely psycho and needs work as well. If only I didn't have real jobs, I think I would train dogs and travel around saving them!

    • Monis Mas profile image


      6 years ago

      This is an amazing hub! I absolutely loved it. "I've met dog owners who really shouldn't BE pet owners because they have a Hitler complex when it comes to their dogs." - so true! I have a rat terrier, who I love to death, and I agree with you on so many levels here! You have a great knowledge on the subject. And photos of your dogs are one of a kind! Your dogs are gorgeous! Voted up and interesting!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Suhail--thanks so much for stopping by. Oddly, we never see malamutes either--I figure it is because most people are afraid to take them out in public to be honest. Ours are very well trained--that is not to say we don't have troubles--mostly because of other people and their dogs being off leash, coming at them, snarling, things like that--but we take ours everywhere. I bet there are some hidden away that you never see--sadly.

      Indeed, labs and setters are "safe dogs" and you see them everywhere. I do see why of course and having had labs myself, I adore them as well. It is the rare fellow or lady though who knows our dogs' breed and comes up to give them some attention the "best" way--I had a fellow come at Griffin and Denaya slidig right into them from the side, kneeling down and just putting his arms around their necks. They were thrilled--he was too.

      And yes, indeed, Griffin is no longer a pup--he is now 3 and Gabby 1-1/2 waiting for her real brain to arrive. Naya must be 13 or 14 now and still doing so well our vet is astonished. How quickly the time passes but I try and look at every day as a gift. They are SO much fun. I'm glad you liked the article~ Thanks for being a dog person!

      NCBier--I should do more vids or a show--my dogs are absolutely pure entertainment. They are very physical with each other and Griffin especially is a great user of his paws. He does a Panda routine as I call it where he gives me not one but BOTH paws when I ask him to shake--he looks so ridiculous but it makes everyone laugh. Definitely he is my "hands on" dog~ or was that paws on? Denaya is a head woman herself--she gets her points across with a nudge--as in pet me NOW which can be interesting if you happen to have a cup of coffee in that hand or a glass of red wine! I think our dogs are our entertainment most of the time--thanks for sharing them with me!!

    • NCBIer profile image


      6 years ago

      Amazing hub! I love all the moments you captured with your camera, especially Griffin getting Gabby's attention. There is just nothing like a dog to make your life complete. Rated up, useful and shared.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 

      6 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Those malamutes look gorgeous. I remember you hiking with the two older ones. I am assuming that the pup is grown a lot to be accompanying you as well. I don't see malamutes in my city at all. I live in a very dog friendly neighbourhood and you will find huskies, German Sheps, and even one samoyed, but to my utter astonishment, I have only seen one malamute in recent years and that too in a dog park nearby.

      I think people are just getting too many of those gentle breeds like Goldens and Labs at the cost of other breeds that used to be very popular till 90s, e.g. Irish Setters.

      This is an excellent hub. Very useful for people like me, whose lot of spare time activities are spent with dogs. Thanks to your hub, I have quite a bit of information on dog language now. The only place I am lacking is to decipher it spontaneously.

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Ah yes, BJ--he is my most favorite dog ever--and I've had some fact ALL are my favs~ He definitely has the most personality of any one I've ever had the privilege to cohabitate with and his eyes are most definitely expressive. He is just so full of life and so unique in his expressions--whether they are vocal, lifestyle (like watching his nature shows) or his eyes--I actually took that photo while he was sitting outside my living room in "his" chair looking in the window AT ME which is his way of saying hello---I'm still out here, mom--did you forget about me? You can definitely "feel" his eyes upon you~ I do believe he should be in pictures--on the big screen--he'd work for food~

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      This hub should be required reading, Audrey, for everyone who has ever owned a dog or wished to own one. Full of excellent, realistic suggestions for communicating with your dog and understanding their body language.

      That Griffin is something else. His eyes in the third photo shown are mesmerizing. What a manipulator he could be!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Hey Lela--from your lips indeed to God's ears~~~ I get into a lot of trouble with my constant input about dogs with family and friends and am always defending my beliefs but guess what--I believe it and all that you say is COMPLETELY true and then some.

      I have neighbors and friends who have dogs that they completely neglect and wonder why they get into so much trouble...oh duh pal~! I actually MISS my Gabs and Griff being pups--it was just that much fun watching them figure out life....although I do not miss the chewing~ It's just part of life to spend time nurturing something IF you plan on having them grow to be responsible or to know how to behave properly.

      My favorite pet peeve--everything (and everyone) it seems is disposable. People get a dog so they can look good or they "think" they can take care of them. If they can't--oh well--it's just a dog after all~ I only hope and pray that these people get the experience in another life and that they get to come back and be disposed of. To me, everything in our lives is precious and we should hold onto it and enjoy it until the day we breathe no more. I plan on using up all my love and emotions until that day--and I know you will too. Thanks for the great input! Like minds and all that....

    • Austinstar profile image


      6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      "If you can't make time for your dog, you should not have one"

      Everyone who wants a dog should be required to 'make time' for one. Puppies are a ton of work at first and need lots of time with humans. Full grown dogs (adopted) still need plenty of time to assimilate into their environment. Dogs are no substitute for a good alarm system or object with witch to impress your friends.

      Dogs are very much like 2 year old children. They must be nurtured to thrive.

      So don't get a dog just on a whim. Plan to accept a dog as a member of the family and read all of Audrey's hubs! She knows dogs.

      Great hub, girl. I think it should be Hub of the Day!

    • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

      Audrey Kirchner 

      6 years ago from Washington

      Thanks so much for commenting Paul--I've had dogs all my life and have learned these things from experience. We feel that our dogs are part of our family and in turn, we have been rewarded with some of the richest of experiences with them.

      Thanks so much, Jaye--as most people figure out--I love my dogs passionately but I also love all the dogs out there and feel that sometimes they need a little more help on their road to being the best that they can be~ without joining the Army.....

      Hooray, Chris--another dog with a happy home and someone who loves him. I so miss my Gabs and Griff being pups--they were just so much fun to work with. We got our Denaya after she'd been abused almost literally to death so hers was a little different situation but our now 11 or 12 years with her have been wonderful as well. They are all so special--but then I tend to think all dogs are special and have so much potential if we but tap into it!

      LRC--from your lips to God's ears~~ I love to write about my dogs so no worries though. I only hope it helps some folks or at least they agree with me~

      Robin--I thank you for your kind comment and if my dogs could read, I'm sure they would probably agree with you. My Griff does watch TV (only nature shows) faithfully but I simply can't get him to read the computer...unless there's a dog on there or a bear~

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 

      6 years ago from New York

      This is an excellent resource for current dog owners and newbies embarking on adoption of a canine companion. We must anoint you the new dog whisperer. Excellent hub with great "dog" sense.

    • lrc7815 profile image

      Linda Crist 

      6 years ago from Central Virginia

      This is a wonderful hub that anyone who has a dog should read. Your photos are awesome too. You made a big investment of time and knowledge and I hope this one gets lots of traffic. Voted up, awesome, useful and I will be sharing it.

    • CMerritt profile image

      Chris Merritt 

      6 years ago from Pendleton, Indiana

      My family just got our dog around 6 months ago as a puppy. He is now a 60 pound labradoodle...and your advise is spot on, on my line of logic. Paying attention to them and how the act is so important. Our dog is a very smart one, and has been so easy to train. He has really become part of our family.

      I really enjoyed reading this hub and I thank you.


    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 

      6 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This is an excellent article about communication with canines, Audrey, and one I will read again. Voted Up+++ and shared. Jaye

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      6 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      This is an awesome hub. I have had dogs before and agree with everything you say about dogs and their ways of communicating. Voted up, sharing, and pinning.


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