How do you communicate?

Loud and clear. 

Do you communicate in black and white?  Are you clear in your expectations, desires and directions?  There are all sorts of communicators; good and bad; both in humans and in dogs.  But there are far more bad communicators in our species, humans.

Some people barely communicate at all; leaving others shrugging and guessing with the lack of material conveyed.  Others just communicate poorly as they make their way through their delivery of information.  Have you ever had a conversation that left you walking on eggshells?  I have.  The more questions I asked the more information was held back.  The person I was speaking to felt as though I was on the attack instead of simply trying to retrieve important information from her.  Sensing that she was uncomfortable with my questions; I explained that I just needed to know some very specific facts.  My explanation did not ease the situation; there was a misunderstanding in our communication.  It can leave you feeling like you shouldn't ask for any more enlightenment, which is a lose, lose situation. 

Life is about the give and take of information.  Not all communications are monumental; many are tiny pieces that make up a great deal of knowledge.  When our dogs communicate, we miss much of it; more so if we have no idea how they communicate.  We  miss read and humanize much of what our dogs say. 

We owe it to our dogs to learn how they communicate so that we can better understand the dogs we share our life with.  I often dissect behaviors to enhance a guardians understanding of their dog.  Typically their dog's communications have been misread and misunderstood which leads to more confusion for human and dog.  Dogs are not like us, they are far better at communicating than we can ever hope to be.  Humanizing canine behavior is a disservice to their communication abilities.  Sure, we must use our human terms to describe their behaviors but they are far from humans.  Their world is much more black and white than ours. 

Humans tend to use a great deal of gray in their communications.  Hedging, manipulating, lying and holding back of information are all things that interfere with real communication.  We do that, dogs do not.  Dogs tell it like it is and if we cannot understand what they are saying we fall back to a human take on it.  If our best guess is in the art of human communication then it will be a very wrong guess.  Dogs do not talk human. 

I am a need to know type of person.  I like to glean as much information from communications that I can.  Whether it be a human/human, human/canine or canine/canine interaction; I like to know what is being said and understand it to the best of my ability.  Dogs use their body first and then sound.  Humans have lost most of our body language abilities and rely solely on our voice.  But all is not lost if you fine tune your body language skills.  You can improve your body language skills and your dog can help.  By watching your dog watch you, you can learn a great deal.

A fallout of watching dogs so closely has been observing human body language.  Oh yes, we still use it but we don't even know we are using it much of the time.  The person who should be doing the reading is not and the one who is delivering, may not even know that they are relaying information with their body.  Our dogs know, they are constantly watching us and if you think they aren't; then that is another failure of ours as humans. 

Communication is quite an art; dogs are far superior to us with regards to this skill.  We should take a lesson or two from our dogs and pay attention, watch, listen and learn.  Communication is a fascinating subject; no matter who is doing or not doing.