For centuries man has tried to translate the “Ruffs”, “Yowls” and “Gruffs” of man’s best friend to no avail. But researchers at the University of Salford have been able to define 19 of the 47 dog gestures studied in footage by their owners.
“I wanted to better understand dogs and what they wanted from us … dogs are doing something similar to great apes, but they’re doing it across species. ” says study leader Hannah Worsley, a graduate student at the University of Salford in Manchester, England.
Dogs are using referential signals, which is a type of gesture conveying a message without using words. The study concluded that the following 19 referential dog signals mean:
- Head under – “Get me my toy”
- Roll over -- "Tickle my tummy"
- Head forward – “Scratch me”
- Hind leg stand – “Play with me”
- Head turn – “Get me that”
- Shuffle – “Scratch me”
- Back leg up – “Scratch me”
- Paw hover – “Get me my toy”
- Crawl under – “Get me my toy”
- Flick toy – “I’m hungry”
- Jump – “I’m hungry”
- Paw reach – “Give me that”
- Nose – “Scratch me”
- Lick – “Scratch me”
- Front paws on – “Open it”
- Paw rest – “Get me my toy”
- Head rub – “Get me my toy”
- Chomp – “Play with me”
- Paw – “Get me my toy”
As you can see, Fido may be redundant, and possibly dangle his participle. But many of us dog owners agree that these gestures hit the mark as we get positive reinforcement by our pets when we oblige, another sign they possess fine communication skills.
So when a dog puts both paws on the door, he wants it open. When he wiggles his body and tushee underneath the chair or your foot, he wants to be played with. When he lies back and lifts his leg, or presses his nose against you, he wants to be scratched. And when he stands on his hind legs, he wants food.
Now this is all fine and dandy but I’ll be impressed with researchers when they teach us how to translate to dogs the following:
- Let me sleep
- Keep Grandma from coming inside the house
- Quit pooping on my carpet……..
Daliah Wachs is a guest contributor to GCN news. Doctor Wachs is an MD, FAAFP and a Board Certified Family Physician. The Dr. Daliah Show , is nationally syndicated M-F from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm and Saturday from Noon-1:00 pm (all central times) at GCN.