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The Canine couch

My daily morning walk with the dogs often feels like Groundhog Day, same time same conversations. Yes, conversations. Except ...

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The Canine couch

Date Posted: 12 Nov 2017 << back to blog list

My daily morning walk with the dogs often feels like Groundhog Day, same time same conversations. Yes, conversations. Except my conversations are with my dogs as opposed to passing the time of day with fellow humans. You know the type I mean “what are you doing over there?”, “don’t drag me!”, “no no no, stop it!” Kind of verbal banter that one has with their loyal canines.  Before you decide I belong in the funny farm, you know you do the same thing.  We all talk to our pets, it’s part of the reason why we have them in the first place, a sounding board for all our worries and daily conundrums and we secretly hope that they understand every word we say.  
Dogs are, like humans, born to communicate even if they don’t speak our lingo. Gestures or signals tell other dogs and other weird species like humans, what they are saying. And us humans give every day signals and gestures that cross the language barrier even if we don’t realise it.  But in a strange way, we have come to rely on this form of chit chat especially when we need a proverbial shoulder to cry on. Dogs in many ways have become our therapists but are we in danger of increasing the mental stress on our best friends because of this?
Each of my 10 adorable furry things has a different personality which I frankly enhance on a daily basis, by giving them voices. I don’t know how to say this other than I translate through their expressions and give a running commentary. Considering I have 5 Romanian rescues, one German Shepherd, one Chihuahua (from Mexico via Tooting), one Border terrier from the West Country, one Norfolk terrier from Rugby and a Yorkshire Terrier from Chelsea it’s no wonder that my linguistic skills are pushed to the limit and I have no idea what “don’t do that” in Romanian translates to other than a swear word. I know I will never have a career as TEFL teacher based on that one fact.
I have a few clients whose dogs’ ability to communicate could save a life. This is a game changer in their relationship. Those who are able to signal blood sugar changes, tell a deaf owner that the doorbell is ringing or understand what an autistic is saying without words. And to know when a person is grieving and needs a snout in the ear or just to be there when a child can’t sleep at night. A dog’s ability to understand human talk is so superior to our simple A-Z.  
As a trainer and behaviour consultant I am always asked “why does X do x?”. The answer is never simple and sometimes you have to delve deep into the psyche of the dog in the same way a therapist would do with its human counterpart. Is there a reason why they aren’t coming back on the first recall or why are they suddenly toileting on the doormat? Their signals may be subtle but important. One of my clients had to not only go through the death of a parent recently but also the departure of a child abroad (Australia, if you could go any further!) and her dog suffered too. Toileting inside, scared of going to the park and snapping at other dogs all gave the same answer, she didn’t want to leave home. Now there was a lot more to it but my behavioural reports can be somewhat long winded. 
And yet I have, definitely tongue in cheek, come to understand the needs and desires of my special brood of, let’s face it, socially challenged individuals. Whilst some need more of the Maudsley than muslin approach, our responsibility lies in our empathy and awareness of what our mini wolf is trying to tell us rather than how they make us feel. 
Understanding how our emotions impact on our canine companions is a vital part on building that bond we all strive for. I was blessed to have had almost 10 years with a dog who was the ultimate soul mate but I feel guilty for taking that bond for granted, I never saw the cancer that killed him. Or perhaps he never wanted me to. 
So back to conversations with my dogs….. “Danny Boy, why fox poo?”

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The Canine couch

My daily morning walk with the dogs often feels like Groundhog Day, same time same conversations. Yes, conversations. Except ...

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