I was recently sitting on the subway across from a man who was staring at me intently. His gaze made me feel so uncomfortable that after a few minutes, I got up and moved to another seat.
Body language speaks volumes and our dogs (and cats) constantly pick up visual cues from us (and other animals) in order to predict our intention towards them. Patricia McConnell, PhD begins The Other End of the Leash with a chilling tale of how body language — even subtle changes in position and eye contact — can make a profound difference in how dogs respond to us. If you want real insight into how dogs think, this is a superb primer from a well known behaviorist.
And with the new year upon us, what better time to revisit dog-human communication and behavior. Some of my favorite books include:
- The Well-Adjusted Dog: 7 Steps to Lifelong Health and Happiness for Your Best Friend by Dr. Nicholas Dodman
- The Dog Who Loved Too Much: Tales, Treatments, and the Psychology of Dogs by Dr. Nicholas Dodman
- If Only They Could Speak: Stories about Pets and Their People by Dr. Nicholas Dodman.
- As you can probably tell, I’m a big Dodman fan. I interviewed him a few times when I was writing articles for the Tufts Veterinary School newsletter and he’s really top notch. He not only brings a veterinary background to bear, but is director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. That’s a mouthful, I know, but that’s his correct title.
And last but not least:
- How to Speak Dog: Mastering the Art of Dog-Human Communication by Stanley Coren; and
- Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior, and Evolution by Ramond Coppinger and Lorna Coppinger.
All of these are excellent resources and will help you to better understand our four-footed friends.