The Real Reason Dogs Don’t Talk

I’ve often heard the phrase “I wonder what my dog would say if he could talk?” While this is a fun postulation for us humans I don’t think that dogs would talk to us even if they could. It would ruin a perfectly good racket!

Think about it for a moment; how many times has your dog approached you with the type of body language as our little cartoon friend here? Now when done in context it’s pretty easy to figure out what your dog wants. For instance if I have a hot dog in hand and my dog approaches me like this it’s a good bet that he’s saying “You need a hand with that?” If I have a tennis ball in my hand he’s probably saying “You gonna throw that?” And if I have a leash in my hand more than likely he’s saying “Let’s go for a walk!”

However when given out of context, I believe this loveable and irresistible body language is nothing but a devious ploy to get us to “throw behaviors” at them.

Let’s say you are sitting on the couch watching TV and your dog comes up to you mirroring our cartoon friend. You have no food, no toys about, and you’re not wearing you walking clothes. So what do you do?

You start working the way down the list of possible responses for this look. Let’s say you start with either taking the dog for a walk or letting them out in the back yard for a bit. Now even if the dog did need to go out and do their business, they know that coming back in with that same look on their face is liable to result in more human behaviors that they like.

Next you pick up a ball and start throwing it for your dog to chase and while this may or may not be what the look was for in the first place, it certainly won’t be the end. After a good game of fetch the dog is still giving you “the look” and so you decide a few treats are in order and offer them up as well. In fact the dog will keep giving you the look until it feels that you are about to go over the edge, they usually know how far they can push us. It’s their way of getting back at us for all those puppy pushups. In fact they probably have running bets with each other to see how many behaviors they can get us to chain together with just this one look.

Remember that just because our dogs can’t talk, doesn’t mean that they aren’t thinking. Especially when it comes to how best to train their humans to get them to do what they want!


Kevin, Jackie, Gavin, Annie, Tosha, Elbee


8 thoughts on “The Real Reason Dogs Don’t Talk”

  1. Hahaha – this is sooo true:) We are all trained to respond to “that look” and I go down that same list…you want up on the sofa? want to go for a walk? something wrong somewhere? is it going to storm? I know he will *always* want a cookie if he can manage it…he even tries to fool me into thinking that I didn’t give him one when we come back from a walk – he’ll sit in the “cookie” place on the rug near the kitchen and stare at the kitchen counter whence all wonderous cookies magically materialize – won’t follow me back to the living room as usual…just sits there, planted like a tree. This is going to get more confusing as I get older I have a feeling…

  2. Great post! my dogs certainly seem to enjoy training me! Just moments ago, my English Setter was very deliberately trying to get my hands away from the keyboard by moving his head in between. It’s apparently time to fuss & pet the dog, not pet the keyboard.

  3. I love your description of our response to those looks as “throwing behaviors.” It really hit home. I do it often (I guess that makes me an enabler?) I wish they would throw more behaviors at me! Clicker training is so effective at getting this behavior started, but sometimes I lack the patience to wait them out. (Bulldogs can be very, shall we say, “patient?”)
    Thanks for the great post.

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