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Communication between man and dog

Dogs do not think like us humans. Logical thought is alien to them. It is not the dog, but the owner who must enter the canine world of learning and come around to the dog's way of looking at things! It is you who must understand the dog. Your knowledge, the observations of your dog and your experience with the dog will help you do this. Humans communicate by speech; dogs by the behaviour. The most important aspects of living with your dog are:

  • understanding and safety
  • patience and concentration
  • motivation and praise

Dog language - how do dogs communicate with humans?

Feelings can be expressed by specific behaviour or reactions. In this case, both individual as well as cumulative behaviours can occur. As a displacement activity, it attempts to reduce stress through behaviours such as yawning, barking or licking. However, behaviour patterns can also mean other things.

An overview of the most common types of behaviour:

Tail wagging back and forth, tail raise or straight; scampering about.


Jumping about in an inviting manner, head lowered and hindquarters raised and wagging, nudging, bringing an object or grunting, rolling over on its back, lying flat on its stomach and staring.


One ear or both ears back; dog makes itself smaller, bends over, hunches its back, head almost on the floor.


Yawning, freezing, ignoring commands, ears back, drooling, squealing.


Similar behaviour to subservience but more extreme, tail between legs, ears all the way back, body tightly curled up and close to the floor, fearful barking or howling.


Barking in a commanding manner, making itself look imposing, the dog stretches itself, the tail is up, commands are ignored, dog does what it pleases.


Body is tense, looking attentively, ears pricked up.


Reactions similar to those for overstraining, avoiding commands, freezing, breaking things, seeking its own activities such as chasing or running away.

Lack of stimulation

Withdraws into itself, lies down a lot, only comes slowly, squealing, whining, difficult to motivate.


Withdraws into itself, lies down a lot, difficult to motivate, scratching, shaking, lame, licking.


How do humans communicate with dogs?

A quiet and friendly voice is best. It makes the dog feel secure. The quieter the commands, praise and reprimands, the better it will understand and more closely it will bond with its owner/s. To stop it doing something in particular, a low grumble or “ugh” will usually suffice. If it stops, follow up immediately with praise! Always show the dog that you do not like what it is currently doing. As soon as it stops, however, show your approval of what it is doing now. Never shout at your dog! You should only raise your voice when the dog is some distance away, and the same applies to whistling loudly – then your dog will hear its commands at the same volume as it does when it is near to you and you speak quietly. Feelings such as rage, incomprehension, impatience, anger have no place in dealings with a dog. By expressing these emotions, humans are merely demonstrating their own helplessness and inability to handle a dog.

A command is what we humans teach dogs, for example, a guide dog will understand that the command “DOOR” means that it must open the doors. The dog learns through positive or negative reinforcement. It learns by linking specific and recurring situations (it always gets food whenever you rattle the food bowl. It quickly learns to interpret the noise alone as a signal that food is about to arrive), and it learns by observing the behaviour of other dogs. Important: You must also withdraw the command otherwise the dog decides for itself for how long it wants to sit, for example. A dog learns best through motivation and praise. As a result of the “sensitisation” used during guide dog training, dogs are receptive to many things and can very quickly carry out the tasks what their handlers want them to perform.