Dog Communication: Top Ten Dog-Bonding Moments

The more you communicate with your dog, the stronger the relationship you can build with it. I hear this message over and over as I talk to dog owners, “My Doggie Says…” readers, and the guests I’ve interviewed on the “My Doggie Says…” show. If you are close to your dog, every once in a while, you will experience a special “dog-bonding” moment. Here, from my daily experience with Callie and from some of my guests on the show, are the “Top Ten Dog-Bonding Moments” for 2008.

#10. Just to “kick” things off, my soccer matches with Callie are always very special moments. From the time she sticks her nose through the sliding glass door to invite me to play, right up to the last “noser” it feels like I’m playing with a human — it’s true paw-to-paw combat.

#9. Ted Kerasote, author of Merle’s door, gets a couple winners this year. His concept of dog’s “reading the news” is a great insight. Next time you take your dog for a walk, notice how much sniffing it does. Ted says it’s a dog’s way of “reading the news.” He says, “It takes me some time to read the newspaper, why shouldn’t a dog have five or ten minutes in the morning to ‘read the news.'” Sniffing is a dogs way of checking out his world and discovering what’s going on.

#8. Carla Genender, author of “Dog Sense,” gets two spots, too. Carla did such a good job of observing dogs, their personalities, and their interactions that she learned a lot about human interactions. By watching her dogs, she learned that it’s a good idea to “speak up about things that are important to you.”

#7. Gordy Leitz and Owen Keefe are K9 police officers in Scottsdale and Mesa, Arizona. They had such great appreciation for their K9 service dogs and their predecessors that they led the charge in creating a monument to the 17 Arizona police dogs that gave their lives in service to the community.

#6. Jean, a reader of “My Doggie Says…” called me and said, “Your book helped me get through the holidays. I lost my husband in the fall, and my Golden Retriever, Nala, is my best pal now. ‘My Doggie Says…’ helped me feel closer to her through some difficult times.”

#5. A “My Doggie Says…” reader stepped on her deaf dog’s tail. Because she had taught the dog some sign language, she moved her fist in a circular motion on her chest to say “I’m sorry.” Her dog put its paw on her fist and followed the circular motions. She was blown away by the dog’s sensitivity.

#4. While “reading the news” in the dark one night (dogs have the advantage of being able to do this), Callie started sniffing around Barbara’s car, and after a complete circle of the car, she found our daughter’s hat that had fallen out of the car. She sniffed it from a distance, and then gradually closed in.

#3. Callie’s fervent request, “Can’t I please sleep in the hallway for a while?” Callie usually sleeps on our bed, or nearby, in the bedroom. But one night something was bugging her, and she did a quick little inspection of the house. When I tried to get her back into the bedroom, she looked me in the eye and sent a message that was totally clear: “I’d really like to sleep in the hallway for a while.” Sometimes, it feels really good to understand your dog’s messages and let them make their own decisions.

#2. Carla Genender’s observations of dogs led her to another insight about human relationships: “Allow yourself to be vulnerable.”

#1. This is my all-time favorite. It’s from Ted Kerasote’s “Merle’s Door.” When Ted tries to get Merle to go bird hunting, which Merle doesn’t like to do, Merle retrieves a pheasant, but instead of presenting it to Ted, Merle spits it out at Ted’s feet and backs away from Ted’s “job well done.” Merle was saying, “Ted, I can do this, I just don’t like to.” And, of course, the communication was completed when Ted got the message and decided not to make Merle hunt for birds any more.

Here are the Top Ten Dog-Bonding Moments as heard on the “My Doggie Says…” show on December 15, 2008.

The “My Doggie Says…” show helps listeners gain a deeper appreciation for “Man’s Best Friend.” The show is broadcast live from 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. on Wednesday nights, on KFNX 1100, Phoenix. It is streamed live on Host Fred Haney interviews experts on all aspects of dogs and dog ownership. The show is also available as a podcast on iTunes. Go to the iTunes store, click on “Podcast,” and search for “My Doggie Says…”

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