I’ve always said I didn’t want a dog smarter than I was. But I may have one.
In fact, I think my dog understands me better than I understand her.
Interpreting The Dog
How much time do we spend interpreting our dogs?
Okay, that was a single woof. Does Honey need to go outside? Is she thirsty? Or is she asking for her dinner fifteen minutes early?
Gee, I’m surprised Honey’s not up yet. Is she sick? Or just sleepy?
And then there are all the other ways we look for help to understand their behavior.
We look for clues to their temperament in their breed mixes. We watch television shows and read books by people who proclaim to know why dogs behave the way they do. And we ask other people with dogs if they have the same experience with their dog that we have with ours.
Heck, some of us spend an awful lot of time trying to understand creatures that are supposedly simpler than humans.
Interpreting The Human
I’ve never once caught Honey reading a book about human behavior. Or watching a tv show about understanding humans. Or asking other dogs for advice.
Somehow she just knows me.
When I start getting ready to go out, she continues lounging when she knows I’m going somewhere without her. She gets up into place to have her leash put on when she knows I’m taking her with me.
I don’t think I’m doing much different. But I never fool Honey.
If you’ve ever had a dog with separation anxiety, you know that you’re supposed to leave the house quietly without a fuss.
You don’t want to have a pattern for leaving that gives your dog time to get anxious.
Some experts even tell you to leave by another door or even the window to surprise your dogs.
It never fooled my highly anxious first dogs, Agatha and Christie.
All I got for my trouble were anxious dogs and some crushed shrubs.
Why Dogs Understand Humans So Well
I’ve watched Honey to figure out why she understands me so well.
I bet there are some lessons for humans who want to understand dogs (and other humans) as well as dogs understand us.
Okay, some dogs are pretty verbal. But even the talkiest husky is not as obsessed with his own voice as the shyest human.
I know I miss a lot because I’m always talking.
But Honey doesn’t. She just listens. And watches.
Even when they don’t seem to be looking, dogs are watching us.
Our eyes and brains are not evolved to catch movement as well as dogs do. But I know I’m not using my powers of observation as much as Honey is.
Many dogs will follow us around the house. Some try to touch us when we’re at rest.
Most dogs even follow us into the bathroom.
No wonder dogs know us so well. After 26 years of marriage, my husband is occasionally a mystery to me.
But maybe it’s just because I’ve never followed him into the bathroom.
What looks true probably is
How many times do we see something and second guess ourselves? Or create elaborate explanations for things that are obvious to others?
Dogs don’t do that.
If they see a human going to the kitchen when they’re feeling hungry, they assume dinner is coming. They don’t ask themselves if the human is trying to get away from them. Or planning to redecorate.
Hungry. Human. Kitchen. Food.
And y’know what? They’re right.
Have an open heart
Sometimes I listen to my own thoughts and realize how suspicious I am.
I always assume the worst.
But most humans are not as untrustworthy as I suspect they are. Not once I look at them with an open heart.
For the most part, people are just doing what they feel they need to do to be happy. It doesn’t mean they don’t do stupid stuff.
But it’s not usually directed against me.
Dogs don’t assume the people they live with are going to hurt them. Sometimes it’s their downfall.
But usually, a dog’s open heart allows them to find the lovable in nearly everyone.
Let’s Understand Our Dogs Better
I wonder what would happen if everyone who lived with dogs understood them as well as they understand us?
I bet we’d end up understanding them far better than we do by watching shows and reading books.
Because the real expert in dog behavior is right beside us. Shedding on our couch.
Your Turn: Do you feel like your dog understands you better than you understand him or her?