As a social animal, the dog constantly interacts and communicates with its environment and the beings that make it up. But by what means does he communicate with us?
Unfortunately, this is a mode we can neither understand nor use as our olfactory capacities are weak compared to the dog. We can, however, retain that:
Certain odors can modify his behavior (fear of pheromones, heat, etc.).
Some of our odors can also influence him, while he spreads them everywhere (urine).
Dogs often sniff each other from all sides and even tend to come and smell us, which is often embarrassing.
Good to know: some collars release soothing pheromones, which creates a lure for the dog and us because they tend to distort his understanding of situations and often lead, just as much as electric collars, to a state of acquired distress which is a serious behavioral disorder.
Who says social species says important physical proximity. Licking us, lying on our feet or against us, pushing our nose, scratching us with his paw, pulling us by the sleeve… are all forms of tactile communication from our dog. The playful behaviors he solicits, even if they are sometimes manly, are also part of it.
Note: a dog that licks us after hurting us is not apologizing; it is a sign of appeasement, of communication, that tells us “it’s over, there is no more conflict,” and it is then essential to send him a signal of appeasement in return.
Tactile communication, primarily through the production of playful behaviors, as long as the rules are respected (canine ethology), is probably the most powerful, quick, reliable, and long-lasting. It allows the dog to try out different behaviors and for us to make him understand the most adapted ones. We then have the following pattern: experience → production or modification of behavior → storage in memory → reuse if beneficial.
Gestural communication is a significant mode of communication between dogs (postures, mimics, gestures):
It is very often the manifestation of an emotional state (wagging tail, threat, ear posture, head posture, etc.).
The dog also uses it a lot with us, but there is so much subtlety on his part in this mode that we often only understand a global aspect of it.
On the other hand, the dog can understand the slightest of our gestures and the most nuanced facial expression (fear, anger, joy, etc.) and give them meaning. It is then possible to direct a dog without any words, just by gesture and facial expression, more quickly and efficiently than with any words.
Thus, accompanying each word with a gesture or a sign, or even preferring gesture or sign, will be much more easily understood and quickly assimilated by the dog.
Also called verbal communication, digital communication is the one we use between humans: verbal language. It includes text, words, sentences, semantics, content, utterance, and language, i.e., everything that conveys meaning:
This is the mode that we try to teach the dog all the time with the following injunctions: “sit”, “stand”, “lie down”, “mat”, “heel”, “come”, etc.
However, this is the only mode of communication inaccessible to the dog. It, therefore, requires a very long learning process that can only be conceived in terms of conditioning (word-attitude association), and its efficiency is very relative.