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Can dogs talk? We do, don’t we?
Our canine writer, Harry Basset (right), tells of his communication skills
B ASSET Hounds have rather a loud bark, as my owners will confirm. Some of us even howl from time to time,
but I don’t go in for that sort of thing; I think of the neighbours!
Instead, I have my own ways of communicating. For instance, when I want to tell my folks how pleased I am to see them return home, I bound for the back door, leap up and down and give out a few licks.
As a reward for this greeting, I am often fed a doggy treat. If they occasionally forget this part of the deal, I give them a big hint by sitting in the far corner of the kitchen, in front of the door to ‘my’ cupboard. A treat usually follows.
If I see food being prepared by someone in the house, I look them straight in the eye and offer them a paw. A piece of chicken might follow.
When I want to go out for a walk, I have a special noise I make and usually my lead appears and the door opens.
A recent study conducted by scientists at the University of Salford in Greater Manchester asked 37 owners to film their dogs, and after analysing the footage found “strong evidence” that dogs use gestures to communicate with people.
This won’t come as a surprise to anyone reading this column. Us canines have all sorts of cute, and not-so-cute, ways we try to tell our owners that we’re hungry, thirsty or want a walk.
Dogs have all sorts of subtle ways we try to tell folk what we want, and back-up gestures for when those fail.
Asking for food is, not surprising to me, one of the most popular requests dogs make, while playing, fussing and walks are other things we want from time to time.
Rolling over, lifting paws and jumping up are among the gestures we use. The study, which was published in the journal ‘Animal Cognition’, found that different dogs use different signals for the same request. It also decided that a ‘head turn’ means that dogs’ ability to communicate is more advanced than had been previously proven.
And when it comes to proper communication, some dogs have even learned how to write a column for their local monthly magazine!
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