Humans and communication

Communication - the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs.

Every living thing communicates in their own way.  Some are better than others at the art of communication.  Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who offers the most minimal reply in their communications?  Could it even be considered communication when you have to work so hard to get it?  You want some feedback and it is literally like pulling teeth trying to get anything that you can use.  It is frustrating for us and frustrating for dogs.  I have often watched dogs in their daily life who receive little or no communications from their human guardian.  The dog may be wary, fearful, aggressive, overly bold, defiant etc. but they receive no feedback.  What a horrible thing for a dog. 

Life is all about communicating with others.  Communicating with our dogs should be an ongoing and never ending process.  The fact that humans communicate little with their body and more with words is already a handicap in the dog world.  Can we learn to communicate through body language for our dogs?  Most definitely.  Of course how well you communicate will be determined by how much you watch and are aware.  Throwing out meaningless communications are just as bad as not communicating at all.  When you learn to communicate with your dog in silence, it is a beautiful thing. 

I use body language a great deal with dogs; both with my own and others.  Dogs 'get' body language communications very quickly; it is a quick and easy way to send a message. ie.  Luke has taken up a new favorite spot in the last couple of weeks.  I think it is because he wants to know where I am at all times.  The spot is directly in the path for me going up or down stairs.  This means that he will know when I am moving and can follow.  But he is very old and I do not want him getting up every time that I have to run upstairs to grab something.  So when I approach his 'spot' I change my body posture to let him know that I am coming right back.  I lower my posture and turn slightly so he understands that I am saying something and put my hand out.  This is all it takes for him to know that he does not have to get up and I can run upstairs and back down; without him struggling to get to his feet for nothing. 

I am very much a 'need to know' type of person.  It drives me mad when I want information that is not given to me.  This can be the result of a lack of communication.  There are good communicators and bad communicators.   Communication is about sharing information; but just because someone talks a lot does not mean that they are a good communicator.  Often the more that is said the less is communicated.   In the human world we have speech; our words can say a lot but the lack of words can as well.  We also have reading between the lines; do you get what someone says when they don't actually say it?  When we communicate through text, email or IM; much is lost because we have a lack of tone in our voice and the absence of visual body language.  People often misinterpret what I say in an email or text because this important part of communicating is missing. 

Communicating is so very important in our day to day.  When there is a lack of communication or poor communication, much is lost in the sharing of information.  Our dogs can grow frustrated with no communication just like we humans do.  Watch, listen, share and give feedback.