It has occurred to me that Sam and I speak totally different languages. I understand English for the most part and he understands some other language that I’m not familiar with completely. And so this post is the inaugural edition of “Doglish 101,” a semi-regular column here around the Ranch that’s designed to help us figure out what the devil is going on in those communications with some of the more ‘intransigent’ hounds who shall remain nameless at this point but whose initials are Yosemite Sam.
Oh sure, most of the time he gets “sit,” “stay,” simple stuff like that. But as we all know from a recent
rant post, sometimes the wires seem to get bizarrely crossed. I’ve wondered whether my dog could be hard of hearing? I know I am with certain sounds and it’s not that selective hearing thing-no, it’s probably more like listening to extra loud rock & roll music as a teenager (heck I still like like my tunes loud so in my case, it’s not all that surprising that I’m half deaf). Sam on the other hand, well I think is either (a) just plain stubborn as all get-out (b) developmentally slow or (c) in need to of learning the language spoken by this humanoid.
Take for instance, the command “up.” When I say it, at least in my mind, I mean Sam should jump up on the sofa, or bed, or whatever and land with all 4 feet on said surface. What I don’t mean however is for him to start bouncing up and down like a cotton pickin’ pogo stick and hopping up on desks with all four feet like he recently did at the hospital. That command would be “feet” where during our training sessions, I lifted his front feet up onto a surface, provided loads of praise and lots of treats to get those brain synapses to fire in his little pea brain and associate the command with the physical act. It seemed so simple, its worked many times before, and yet, what he obviously hears is “jump up on this desk and embarrass the ever-lovin dickens out of Mom.”
Then there’s that whole thing about the command “come.” Sure Sam comes on command 99% of the time. That 1%, well that gets a little tricky. It’s like he is either thinking “Pfft, yeah not in this lifetime lady, I’ve got pee-mail to read and smells to check out and I’d rather not” or “La-la-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you with these paws in my ears.” When it suits him, he’ll come a-running, nearly crashing into me and then he turns into a silly wiggling mutt that seems to defy all possible forms of normal anatomy since it appears he has some sort of special hinge in the center of his back that vacillates back and forth like a Slinky toy. He’ll run up and then lean hard against my leg. Clearly he’s not prepared to be any kind of service dog to help out with balance issues and I have to brace myself to keep from falling over. I know I should be grateful he came, but…it’s not quite like how I pictured it in my mind and obviously a failure to understand Doglish. 😉
So tell me…is it just me not fully understanding the complexity of communication or have I entered the Twilight Zone of ‘Doglish 101?” Does it even matter?
Live, love, bark! <3
32 thoughts on “Doglish 101 – June 11, 2015”
If you have a kindle or other reader, get “The Other End of the Leash” by Patricia McConnell. Best book about dogs I ever read, and on my second read. It changed all my preconceptions. Lexi’s Mom.
I follow her blog and agree, she is pretty amazing.
I have always believed that all of my dogs — from our first poodle when I was 5 years old to Ducky — were or are beyond smart enough to know when to act “dumb” or goofy. They figured out a LONG time ago how to wrap us around their paws. Yet I know enough “Doglish” to know when they want to go outside
As for “Spouselish”? Forget it! If we ever figure it out, all the fun and frustration will cease to exist and make this a very boring world.
Yeah, I was never very good at spouslish either 🙂
Bentley prefers the term “deep-thinker” as he tends to mull over any command. He is very clear on knowing his self-servicing dialogue. He knows “eat and “treat” but “come” is one that he only understands if the first two are used in combination with the command! LOL!
Oh my gosh, I nearly snorted food reading that. Bentley is one clever pup!
I find pup language simpler than Spouse-lish which is full of even stranger behaviors and far more dangerous in its interpretation.
Both are deep & mysterious languages!
I feel that my Darcy has a mind of his own and i rather headstrong… he recognises ‘come’… I’ll say 75% of the time. Often he has his own aggenda tied up in his own pursuit of pleasure… such as sniffing out chipmonks, rabbits mice or worse.
Chase is not a fan of the word “stay”.
“Stay, don’t move.” – Me
“Stay? Wait… what… I’ll come with you!! I have to come with you. I’m coming with you.” – Chase
Haha, we never mastered the stay command, he is too into following me!
Following or herding?! BOL
Haha you can never tell for sure 😉
My shelties were exactly the same. They insisted on ‘keeping track’ of us at all times – I suspect they were just trying to herd us 🙂
Haha, it’s a sheltie thing for sure!
Hahaha, I almost spit food on this one.
First though I want to tell you that 99% recall is pretty damn good in my book. 🙂
Second, I can’t tell you how many times I tell Delilah to “Get out of the kitchen” yet when I say, “Go to the kitchen” she somehow does not know where it is. WTF is that about?
Kaci and Kali forget what “no” means when it is convenient.
In Doglish, apparently “no” means different things.
My Poodles have “Oh, were you talking to me?” down pat. I would like to read more about Doglish.
what you have here is a thinking decision making entity. Command…suggestion…tomato…tomahto….
I think he hears and he decides if it’s a good idea.
LeeAnna with Cole, another thinking poodle
Sometimes that thinking part is what gets poodles in trouble, isn’t it? But even the trainer said he’s got a fairly strong stubborn streak. Oye.
Sam, like my pups, seems to suffer from a case of selective deafness disorder. It always seems to act up at the worst times, but never when I have a good treat in hand.
Wait, what? Eko & Penny aren’t perfectly behaving pooches? I’m stunned!
They do have their own language. I did find though when I was trying to do a kitchen cooking photo shoot I wanted Gambler to put his paws up on the counter so I pointed and said up and up he went all four feet so I need to train better and use different words. my bad!
I hear that! Can’t say up or that’s what I’ll get. The 2 paws command is feet, but ‘we’ seem to have forgotten all that training! 😉
What I find intriguing is that I have all the problems and more with my kids and yet the dogs are quite responsive. Sure, I haven’t pushed the training and obedience to quite the levels you have but the general remarks down at the beach are that my dogs are pretty mellow and well behaved. Bilbo is a Border Collie and they are pretty smart and like order. I think the combination of Bilbo and my husband sorted Lady out. She’s no longer getting up on our kitchen table to steal food, like when she first arrived.
Hard to decide if kids are worse than dogs. I think it’s just aggravation disguised as 2 legs rather than 4 sometimes. 😉
“come” is probably the most difficult word in all languages :o) and even with big ears some doggies can overhear that… the weird thing is, that Easy pops up immediately when I call my husband or any different person :o)
Crackling the cheese wrapper seems to anchor the come command but it’s so much harder outside. Alas, I cannot compete with pee-mail and critter trails.
It really doesn’t matter whether he understands you or not because, ultimately he is going to do whatever he deems appropriate. If he needs you for anything, he will please you. If he does not need you for anything ……………………..!
Think of him as a child with super powers. If said child can out “cool” you; can out manoeuvre you; can out run you; can out damn near everything you ……… would you expect cooperation?
It also really doesn’t matter whether you understand him or not because he is likely to change his mind in the time it takes a squirrel to sneeze and draw attention to itself. You cannot predict what he will do unless you understand all the little earthly triggers that kick start his brain, and further understand which bits of brain are doing the driving; which bits change the gears, and which bits are on the throttle.
A recommendation: Enjoy him for who he is and do not get hung up on on irrelevant stuff like communicating. He will poop and pee when necessary. He will eat whenever he is given food, and also when he sees some that he can help himself to, and also when a simple hit ‘n’ run will get him forbidden delicacies. He will act super-intelligent when he feels it necessary to further his agenda. He will happily, and without any conscience whatsoever, prove that you have no control over him ………. and generally in public.
An easier question to answer would probably be “How do I communicate with my local politicians?” They have all the same traits as dogs…………. but need your vote periodically. That gives you a little power. Sam does not need any votes. He is in for life … and knows it! 🙂
You must have met Sam before I got him, because you have a pretty fair idea of how his brain works (or doesn’t work in some cases). Communication is vital when we’re visiting patients at the hospital and hospice. Funny how hospital administrators frown on dogs on a reception desk. Most of the time he’s good (poodles generally like to please) but sometimes… 😉
Nope ……. never met Sam, but two kids and a Ray provided a wonderful education on key issues like “how to stop wasting your time”; “why try and understand something that is totally out of your control anyway”; “how to appreciate them for who/what they are ….. even if it is incomprehensible.”
Have a great day ……….. and you too Sam! 🙂
🙂 Somehow that whole ‘stop wasting your time’ thing isn’t built into mom DNA but I’ll try to give it a go.