There was this BBC Article that made a splash a while back. It said that dogs are like people, their brains are wired with a preference to sides. Left Hand and Right Hand.
There’s a difference.
With dogs, it’s Right Hand is Pleasing, Left Hand is Unsure.
Human says nice things to me and I understand so my tail wags towards the right.
Human says something I don’t like or don’t understand, I’ll wag my tail towards the left because my human is great.
Or something approaching that.
But hey, we can work with that, right, Rack?
Rack being my McNab SuperDog(TM).
The first walk of the day can be as much as two and a half hours before dawn here. Sometimes I am even awake at that ludicrous hour. Four-Stupid-Go-Back-To-Bed-O’Clock-You-Moron is what my watch can say. I almost never sleep in until sunrise.
It seems that the stupid is strong in my head at that time because I tend to talk with Rack at that hour more than I do when it’s a little later.
I may not be as lucid as I would normally be later on in the day, but this works.
I go on about our circuit of the city, walking around in a big loop and I’m muttering along. Why not, the only person awake at that hour is my dog, and perhaps the cleaning crew in the stores and bars here.
Nobody seems to mind.
I do have to be careful when I’m talking and telling jokes and generally muttering along because Rack listens.
Having read that article while trying to clear out my folder of web links, I will say that this time, it stuck in mind.
Rack is one of the happiest dogs out there that I have ever met. He’s constantly wagging his tail. If your dog, whether a herding dog or not, does not have a tail, you are missing something.
We’d be walking along and I’d ask him what he sees. Sometimes I know already, its’ that cute Border Collie “teen” girl down the way. He’ll wag right because he really likes her even if he’s now a full adult and she isn’t quite.
Other times, I ask, and he isn’t sure, so he wags left.
He heard someone talking and recognized the voice, but heard some banging as well, so it started wag right then left.
There are some incredibly badly trained dogs around here. He’s now learned how to spot them. Some are seen every day or so and he knows them by scent. After all, Dogs are primarily led by their noses. If he catches that scent or hears their bark, the tail wag stops completely.
Just this morning, an hour and a half before dawn since I slept in a bit, I said “when we get home, we’re going to open up some of that new food. You like that new food, don’t you?”
Well at this point I knew he was listening. He looked back and did that dog-smile with mouth agape and wagged strongly to the right.
Trust in Dog, they know what they want.
I am sure it won’t work for everyone. Some people just never figured out a strong bond with their dogs. Other dogs are just too happy for words and you can’t really convince them to say “no” to anything. Not us, he knows.
Last night I wanted a late snacek. A piece of cheese off that block of Jarlsberg that I use in my Mac and Cheese. It tastes like Swiss and has a strong scent to it.
Rack was laying down and asleep. I had carved off three slices of the cheese and sat down in the chair.
About mid way through the first slice, he stood up. Deciding to come over, he wanted some but was definitely not sure whether he should beg for it. After all we have a no begging policy here that is unevenly enforced.
Wag left. Wag strongly left.
Definitely unsure but since I did not chase him off, that shifted to an equal wag, then a decidedly strong wag right.
He had his head wedged between my leg and the arm of the chair.
“Rack what do you want?”
He really wanted that cheese. Strong wag right.
“You know you should not be begging!” Wag Left. Strong wag left. Walked away practicing Avoidance.
I finished part 1 of 3. Setting the rest of the cheese on the handrest of the laptop, it was out of sight. Not that that matters to dogs, mind you.
He walked over to his mat and instead of sitting on it, he sat next to it boring holes through me with twin brown laser beams. His tail was back to wagging right.
I took a tiny piece of cheese rind and sat it on the arm of the chair.
I had some fool idea that a high value treat like a morsel of Jarlsberg was going to work for training him to stay put.
It was gone in a flash.
“Are you sure you don’t have some Labrador Retriever in you?”
I don’t think he understood that but definite Wag Right behavior there. He was convinced that he was getting more cheese.
He would be right. But only when I finished.
I did give him that cheese eventually but this just goes to prove. If you watch your dog closely, and learn what he is saying to you, you may be able to have a conversation with them.
You just have to listen.