Our furry, four-legged friends understand us and even know how to express themselves; we just need to look for the right signals…
The other day, I visited a friend with a gorgeous yellow Labrador named Mischief. As I entered the house and met Mischief for the first time, she greeted me with the customary wag, sniffed me to see if I was trouble and licked my hand (her seal of approval). My friend then started telling me all her habits. For example, she would scratch against a certain cupboard every time she wanted her toys. Once given the toy, she would walk to the other side of the house, and sit with it for a while, only to bring it back when she was bored. If she wanted to go for a walk, she would pace up and down the corridor. And the most adorable habit of hers was that every time my friend would try to leave the house, she would grab on to one of her legs, as plea for her to stay!
Like Mischief, all our pets are trying to converse with us. They tell us when they are glad to see us, by wagging their tail uncontrollably. They ask us to take care of them when they are scared, by tucking their tail between their hind legs and crying. They show us how protective they are, by raising their hackles and growling at strangers they don’t trust.
Much as we consider them a part of our household, they too consider our home their own, and us as family. So, they watch what we do, and how we behave, and slowly comprehend what all of it means. Their spectrum of understanding may not be as vast as ours, but they do get to know the small things, which are also the most endearing. They know that if we are putting on our shoes, we are getting ready to leave the house; or if we open a kitchen cabinet at a certain time, it is likely that they are about to be fed. Similarly, dogs are also very intuitive creatures. So, if you are having a bad day, it is very likely that your dog knows it.
Many times people fail to understand what their pets are trying to say to them. They just classify their behaviour under ‘what dogs do’ but never think about why they do it. This often leads to accidents and unhappy situations. Let’s see how.
Separation anxiety: There are many families in which the young dog is left alone at home for long stretches of time. When the family returns, it finds some sort of disruption in the house caused by the pet. In such cases, it is a common practice to scold and punish the dog. However, you must understand that all this rowdy behaviour is a cry for attention. Dogs are children by heart, and to leave them alone is to make them feel deserted. They feel scared, and this rush of emotion makes them act out.
Attending to nature’s call: Dogs are toilet trained at a very young age. They know that doing their business inside the confines of the house is wrong, and they must only do so when taken for a walk or let outside. However, many times the urge consumes them. So, they try to tell us that they need to go out. They may do so by scratching at the front door, or pacing around it and whining. It is your duty to give this some attention, rather than scold them for being disorderly and look away.
Not well: Dogs may appear more sluggish when they are unwell. Their nose becomes dry due to the illness, and their ears are constantly drooping. Once you notice such signs in your pet, it is best to take him to the vet for a quick diagnosis.
Dogs are simple creatures. They have no hidden agendas or ulterior motives. They just ask for the most basic of their needs. If they act out, it’s not because they want to behave badly and be disciplined. It is because they have something to say. In their innocent heads, we understand them. However, many times we fail to do so. It is time for us to be more perceptive, and in the process, get to be more acquainted with our best friends of the other species.