Do You Answer Your Dog’s Questions?

 

She doesn’t ask me in English, but Honey often has questions. I’ve learned over the years that our life together is better if I don’t ignore her when she’s asking me something.

Do you answer your dog’s questions?

Honey the golden retriever asks a question.

I have a question: Are we there yet?

Where Did He Go?

We had stopped at the South Carolina marina so Mike could build shelves for our boat in their workshop.

Honey the golden retriever at Lady's Island Marina.

This is the best place in the marina. I get to see everyone come and go.

I took Honey off the boat for a walk. Knowing Mike was back on the boat, she went happily with me,

But by the time we returned to the marina, Mike was just coming up the dock to go to the workshop. He greeted me and Honey. Then, while her back was turned, he disappeared.

Honey was very concerned.

She shows no anxiety when one or both of us leaves the boat. But if we split up on shore, she starts to worry.

Honey didn’t want to play. She didn’t want to greet friendly strangers. She didn’t want to return to the boat.

To set her mind at ease, I answered her question.

I walked her into the workshop where Mike was setting up. Once Honey knew where he was, she was happy to return to the boat.

What’s In Your Hand?

Well meaning strangers who want to treat my dog make me crazy.

Honey the golden retriever wants to see liver treats before she climbs the stairs.

Those are liver treats. I can smell them from here.

They clutch dried-out supermarket dog biscuits in their hands while telling my dog to sit. Then they get frustrated because she doesn’t stay seated even though they only asked her to sit, not to stay.

In the meantime, Honey can smell the treat and she’s getting frustrated.

After all, she did what they asked (sat). It’s not her fault she’s literal.

End result? I have a dog who gets aroused when strangers hold things in their hands—money, cell phones, wallets, keys, etc.

It doesn’t happen to me. Because I answer her question.

I open my hands and let her sniff.

Instantly, she knows what I’m holding isn’t food and her curiosity is sated.

Do You Love Me?

How much emptier would the internet be without videos of people’s pets lounging on their computers?

Sorry. I think it’s only advanced creatures, like humans, who go out of their way to be intentional nuisances.

Pets are simply asking a question.

Honey the golden retriever dog looks at a blog.

Maybe I should just take over the computer myself.

If Honey moves over to rest her head on my knee while I’m typing on the computer, she’s asking me a question. And if I simply push her away because she’s being a nuisance, I’m not answering her question.

And it’s the question we most want our animals to know the answer to. Right?

Honey the golden retriever loves.

Do you love me?

Your Turn: Do your pets ask you questions? What are they?

 

 

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Comments

  1. When I see them getting ready to go out, I sit up and put my head on one side to ask if I’m going with them. If they say “yes”, I go and wait by the door. If they say “no”, I settle down.

    The bipeds often ask me questions, such as ‘where is the cat / your toy / your chew / the other biped?’ I usually show them.

    • That’s very clever of you to ask if you need to get ready to go. Honey asks the same thing but she’s not as smart as you. She stands on me to tell me she’d like to go along.

  2. Those stoic faces speak volumes when we pay attention. Clearly Honey thinks you answered the last one quite well.
    P.S. LOVE the re-do appearance. It’s very cool!

  3. Misty turns to Google for most of her questions, but I do the love ones.

  4. “Are we coming along for this car ride?” and “Why are you not throwing the ball again?” would be typical questions from my pups. Honey is so sweet when she gets concerned where one of you is. Missy & Buzz are the same way.

    • Your pups are very polite to ask if they’re coming on a car ride. Honey doesn’t ask. She just jumps. And occasionally into strangers’ cars. 🙂

  5. Meagan & Merlin says:

    Merlin asks me to move from my seat so he can lay there, for food, for walks,and to go outside. If i have something in my hand he nnudges it upwards with his nose. So one day i was holding a drink and he nudges it up with his nose and spills it all over me lol.

    • BOL! Merlin was just practicing his nudging technique with your drink. Just wait till you see what he can do when you’re eating chicken. 🙂

  6. Every single time. I know each of my dogs very well and they’re all very communicative. Often J will ask me what they’re trying to say. I translate dog well.

    A couple of questions I get on a daily basis are:
    1) Are you making my food?
    2) Are we going to bed now?

    Both from Rodrigo.

    • Interesting that you’re the dog translator in your house. I am too.

      When my husband is standing right next to Honey’s empty water bowl, she’ll come to ME when she’s thirsty. A few moments of staring tells me to ask him to refill it.

      As for your questions–do you think Rodrigo is simply the designated question asker?

  7. Cheryl Chervitz says:

    One of my Boston’s is always asking for his walk about noon every day. He knows the time to start asking me. I always tell them I’m leaving too, they look at me when I go to the door as if saying “Am I going too?”. My girl who passed last July used to come to me and ask about bedtime. She would come out from the bedroom and look at me, turn around and head back to the bedroom until I went to bed.

    • Sounds like your pups are strong communicators.

      Love that your sweet girl reminded you to go to bed. I bet you think of her every night. <3

  8. Whenever I’m holding something, the dogs are right there sniffing or staring at my hand. It never really occurred to me they were just asking a question: “Whatcha got? Is that a treat?” and all I needed to do was answer it for them, to get them to stop following me around. What a great way to look at it!
    I’m going to pay more attention to the questions they’re asking now. Like if I’m putting on my shoes or coat, and the question is “Are we all going outside now?”. Luke will go to where his harness is hanging, and I think that’s his way of asking if we’re going for a walk.

    • Letting Honey sniff whatever is in my hand has been a real lifesaver. But I can rely on her to not grab it and run. I’ve fostered some dogs for whom it would be a real problem.

      Luke is clever to ask about going outside. What a smartie!

  9. Steph Berry says:

    I love this. I speak frequently about our dogs’ desire for information and clear communication – so many behaviors labeled as issues result from a lack of information. Clarity is kindness!

    • Excellent to know you’re spreading the word. “Clarity is kindness!” Love it!

      • Steph Berry says:

        Looks like a lost a chunk of text when posting – I meant for that to say that I speak frequently about the topic when I teach pet obedience classes. Helping dogs understand what we want them to do by being clear with cues and rewards, making sure they are not concerned about or distracted by the environment we have chosen to work in, and maintaining consistency about what we ask for and how we ask for it in various situations will help dogs to understand what we want. I love how thoughtful you are in your interactions with Honey – recognizing her curiosity or concern and giving her information is wonderful. 🙂

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