Over the years there has been ample research and articles on the subject of canine body language and how to understand it, but relatively little research has been done on the human owner's body language and speech and how the dog interprets these types of communication. One camp of diehard believers think that dogs most certainly can understand the human's verbal words; the other thinks that dogs are only able to decipher the body language displayed, regardless of what words go with that body language. Somewhere in-between is probably where the truth lies. This essay will discuss both sides of the debate and attempt to give valuable advice on how to improve the communication between humans and their dogs.
Animal Communication Systems versus Human Language
"Long before history began, our ancestors began an unwitting scientific experiment. Somehow humans managed to domesticate the wolf, and the two-legged masters began breeding their four-legged companions in a primitive form of genetic engineering that would, thousands of years later, result in Lassie, pooper scoopers and the Taco Bell Chihuahua" (Lemonick & van Dyk, 2002, p. 46). Since this "primitive form of genetic engineering," the relationships with our dogs have become closer and closer, until it's sometimes difficult to separate the species when naming family members. Down through the ages dogs and their human counterparts have evolved a great deal towards forging an ongoing, mutually beneficial relationship. But how far have we really come? When we ask Fido if he's missed us after coming home from a long day at the office, do we really believe he knows what we've asked him? When Fido gives us a great big grin, do we really know what he's trying to say?
According to the famous "dog whisperer" Cesar Millan, the universal language we can use to communicate with our dogs and that our dogs can use to communicate with us is "energy" (Millan & Peltier, 2006, p. 62). Through our emotions...