How Dogs Communicate With Each Other?
Communication means deliberately transmitting and receiving information. From this perspective, dogs rarely “talk” as opposed to wolves.
Wolves are highly socialized creatures capable of cooperative activities. Intentional exchange of information for them is extremely important for coordination. Dogs have turned from predators into scavengers in the process of domestication: they have become less family-friendly, they no longer feed their offspring together, territorial behavior and territorial aggression have weakened. Dogs no longer need to communicate with congeners to survive.
The language of the animals can be of two different origins. On the one hand, it’s a genetically fixed mechanism for exchanging information. Male dogs, for example, recognize the smell of a female ready to mate without any training. Some poses of threat and conciliation are so similar in different breeds of dogs that they are inherited.
Therefore, dog communicative and demonstrative behavior also seems more primitive than wolf behavior. According to recent studies, dogs have preserved only 13 out of 24 forms of wolf warning and defensive behavior. Dogs have even made it easier to express emotions on their faces: they have only 13 of 33 wolf’s mimic elements left. Also, wolves know about 13 forms of an invitation of congeners to the game and dogs only 5. However, dogs have acquired the ability to exchange information with people. Dogs use barking to talk to humans. Humans read articles about understanding dogs.
But highly socialized animals can transmit socially significant signals through imitation. Dogs may have lost the ‘words’ conveyed by social learning because their copycat mechanisms have been destroyed. Wolf stays with its parents in the circle of related tribesmen up to 2-3 years and can learn from other more experienced tribesmen. At that time we remove dogs from their natural environment at the age of 2-4 months and place them in an environment of interspecific communication “dog-human”. And clearly, a human being is not able to teach a dog to growl and keep his tail straight with meaning.
Humans have also reduced the ability of dogs to talk to each other by changing their appearance. This change in appearance has either distorted the meaning of mimic and pantomimic signals or made it impossible to show them at all like dog ear positions meaning. Some dogs have become very long, others very short, some have ears hanging, some have half-hanging ears, some have very high ears, some have very low muzzles, some have very short muzzles and others have very long muzzles. Even with the help of the tails, it is already difficult to convey unambiguously interpreted information. Some breeds of dogs have obscenely long tails, others have rolled up tails all the time and others don’t have any. In this way, dogs have become foreigners to each other. There is no longer a common language.
So dogs have the most basic and easy to read genetically determined mechanisms and signals to communicate with each other. However, their communication channels are still the same as those transmitted to them by wolves: acoustic, visual, and olfactory (smells).
Dogs make quite a lot of sounds. They bark, growl, grumble, whine, howl, scream, and puff. As recent research has shown, dogs can distinguish between the barking of familiar and unfamiliar dogs. They react actively to other dogs barking, even when they are not seen barking. The tonality and duration of the sounds are thought to have a semantic meaning.
Context is particularly important for the understanding of dogs as the number of information signals is low. For example, barking can be joyful, inviting, threatening, or warning. The same goes for growling.
Mimic and pantomimic signals are transmitted through a visual information channel.
Although dogs’ mimic muscles are poorly developed, the attentive viewer can see some grimaces. The dog shows irritation, domination, aggression, fear, attention, interest, and relaxation with the help of mimicry of the mouth (position of the dog’s lips, tongue, the size of the opening of the mouth, the area of teeth and gums, the presence of wrinkles on the back of the nose). Not only dogs but also other species of animals, as well as humans, easily understand the threatening dog mimicry.
As you know, wolves transmit quite a lot of information to each other through the position of the ears and tail, as well as tail movement. Now imagine a pug trying to “talk” to an English bulldog with the help of the dog’s ear positions meaning, tail, and tail movement. It’s even hard to imagine them talking to each other!
The invitation to the game is one of the most common pantomime signals in dogs: they fall on the front paws with a cheerful (as far as anatomy permits) expression of the muzzle. Almost all dogs understand this signal.
The limited use of mimic and pantomimic signals has encouraged dogs to use the olfactor channel more often. So they immediately read the information under their tail when they meet.
It is also one of the reasons why dogs like to pee on poles and fences! Animals can get information about the sex, age, size, diet composition, marital readiness, physiological and health status in the smell that’s under the tail and above the urine mark.
So when your dog picks up his back paw at the next post, he doesn’t just urinate, he tells the whole dog world: I’m not neutered, my age is two years. I feed dry food. Healthy as a horse! Ready for love.
And be patient, don’t pull the dog when he reads another dog’s similar work. Everyone loves to read the latest news.
The answer to the question of how to know what a dog is saying is very simple. Since you’ve separated him from his family, you must become his new family. Talk as much as you can, and your understanding of each other will be high. The sooner you start communicating with your dog the stronger your bond will be. Of course, you should not limit your dog’s communication with other animals. Comprehensive progress is key to your dog’s physical and psychological health.
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