Category Archives: dog behavior

Are Dogs Hardwired to Listen to Us?

dogs hardwired dan lentzBy Linda Cole

We express ourselves every day in different ways, especially through verbal communication. You can usually tell if someone close to you is happy, angry or sad by the sound of their voice. As it turns out, human and canine brains are very similar when it comes to understanding the components of human speech. According to a 2014 study, dogs are hardwired to listen to us in much the same way we are hardwired to listen to others.

It’s no easy task sometimes to get a dog’s attention, which leaves one to wonder if he even heard what you said – let alone understood your words. However, dogs are very capable of understanding human speech as well as picking up on the tonal complexity in speech. If your dog doesn’t listen to you, it’s not because he isn’t paying attention. He can differentiate between human speech that has meaningful words and sounds with only emotional inflections. Scientists have known for some time that dogs “get” how we say things, but little is actually known on whether canines understand what we say to them.

The human brain processes important verbal information in speech in the left hemisphere, but the characteristic parts of speech are processed in the right hemisphere – e.g., the speaker is male or female, someone familiar to you, and emotional cues. When we listen to someone speaking, we hear the meaning of words in the right ear and emotional cues in the left ear. Most of us have a left-right cross link in our auditory organs; in other words, the right ear hears meaningful speech and is linked to the left hemisphere of the brain while the left ear hears emotional cues and is linked to the right hemisphere.
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The Science Behind a Dog’s “Guilty Look”

guilty look iconoclastBy Linda Cole

Anthropomorphism is when we place human characteristics or behaviors on animals, plants, and inanimate objects. Dog owners sometimes use it to confirm the guilt of their pet after finding a torn up pillow or other signs of misbehaving. It’s obvious who the culprit is when there’s only one pet in the home. When there’s multiple pets, placing blame on the one with the “guilty look” could be indicting an innocent pup, which can damage your relationship with your dog. There is science that explains what a dog’s guilty look actually is.

In recent years, scientists have begun studying the complexity of the dog’s mind, how they view their world, and which emotions they experience. We know dogs feel fear, anxiety, grief, affection, suspicion and other emotions, but not necessarily in the same way we do. Guilt is an emotional response acknowledging wrongdoing, which is something dog owners assume their pet understands because of the “guilty look.” In reality, that look isn’t what it appears to be.
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How to Help a Grieving Dog

dog grieving katjaBy Laurie Darroch

Dogs do have emotions as deep as grief. As loyal and loving as dogs are, there is plenty to show in their behavior that our dogs do indeed grieve the loss of a companion, whether human or other. Grieving can be about change too, such as a major move. No matter the reason for their grief, there are signs you can learn to recognize and methods you can use to help your grieving dog.

Recognize and Acknowledge

Since our dogs cannot speak to us in words, it’s important to learn to understand the language they do use – that of behavior and body language. As responsible pet owners and loving companions, over time we can learn how to recognize changes out of the norm. In the case of a lost companion, the source is obvious, but grief can be caused by other things as well. What signs does your dog show when they are depressed or grieving?
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Do Dogs Have a Sense of Humor?

dog humor nao-chaBy Linda Cole

Humor is defined as having the quality of being amusing or laughable. Comedians are people who have the ability to entertain and make us laugh, but what about our canine friends? Can they understand the concept of humor? One of my dogs, Riley, enjoys a good back scratching by rolling over on a patch of dry dirt, flinging her back legs in the air and squirming her bottom back and forth as she squeals with delight. I laugh every time and she seems to understand it’s something that amuses me. Canines are good at watching us and learning from our actions, but are they capable of understanding when they do something funny that makes us laugh and then repeat a particular behavior for our amusement? Do dogs have a sense of humor?

Anthropomorphism is when people attribute human characteristics to other animals, and it’s not difficult for many pet owners to see human characteristics in their dog or cat. There are no “proof positive” studies on canine humor, but researchers have found that dogs can laugh and express their happiness when playing with other dogs or humans. The laugh is a distinct pattern of breathy pants which is different from panting that indicates your pet is hot or tired from racing around. It’s not uncommon for a laughing dog to smile. Dogs are very capable of distinguishing laughter of other canines from normal panting. Research has shown that playing audio recordings of these distinct pants elicits a positive response from shelter dogs and may reduce their stress, promote positive social behavior and increase their chances of finding a forever home.
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Why Do Dogs Roll Around on Objects?

dogs roll tony alterBy Laurie Darroch

Dogs roll on their backs to show submissiveness or trust, and as an act of defense when fighting. They might also roll around on a toy, food or something they find during play or while exploring outside. When your dog rolls on his back on an object, he is doing it for a reason.


A dog rolling on their back may be showing that they are content. During play, a dog can expresses happiness and pleasure at the activity with every part of his body. Have you ever watched a dog rolling around on your bed on his back? It may just feel good to him. Certainly the exuberance with which they perform the activity is a sign of happiness. Rolling around on a favorite toy, for example, may just make them happy knowing that is their toy and they are staking their claim to it.
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5 Tips for Good Dog Park Behavior

dog park dave fayramBy Langley Cornwell

Being an owner of a dog at a dog park is a lot like being the parent of a toddler at a grocery store; only the behavior of the loved one you are at the dog park with can be a lot more uncertain. In fact, some people take their dogs to dog parks simply because they have nowhere else to let them run around. Because of this, the dog in question may have poor manners and pent up energy to deal with. This doesn’t have to be your problem. By following these five tips, you can make the best of the situation.

Do Leash Training

If your dog isn’t trained to behave around other dogs, it’s a good idea to start out with some basic leash training. Yes, you want your dog to be able to run free, but you can’t just open the gate and hope for the best. Leash training is a great way to get your dog to stick close to you whether a lead is attached or not. Dogs learn how to heel while on a leash, and can gradually move onto heeling without the leash. This is a crucial step in getting your dog to obey other rudimentary commands so you can have more control over him at a dog park.
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