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Dawn Watson's Pet Tip of the Week: When a Dog "Speaks"

Dawn Watson/CNBNews Contributor


     LogoDogs have ways of communicating with dogs that differ from the ways in which he communicates with the humans in his pack. The signs are subtle, but if you understand canine body language you can easily interpret what Fido is saying.


   When your dog barks, he is speaking! However, barking constantly is a sign that he has not learned when to bark! For the incessant barker, try saying, “No,” calmly and giving him a sharp look—not a touch—to remind him that he is behaving inappropriately. Soon, he will bark once, then look at you for a sign that he is to stop.


   When a dog verbalizes at another dog—growls or whines—he is communicating with his own species. Allow him to speak his language! Don’t correct him for speaking “Dog”!


   When a dog growls, he is giving a warning. Whether he is growling at another dog or a human, he is indicating that he feels threatened. Don’t scold him for his response! Simply remove the offending dog, person, or child until the dog feels safe. Then, reintroduce the offending person or dog, slowly.


   Many people disagree with allowing a dog to growl, but if you think about a canine’s means of warning another of his feelings, you may change your mind. I have heard folks complain that their beloved pet bit someone or fought with another dog, “without warning”. In all likelihood, this is a dog that was corrected for growling and no longer feels safe expressing himself! If you allow him to tell you and those around you, what he is feeling you will more easily understand his needs.


   If you have questions about this, or any other dog-related issue please contact me on my cell phone at 856.981.8957 or email There is never a fee for an email or phone consultation, and we can often resolve a problem just by communicating via these methods.

Pictured: The author and Mishka



Wado udohiyu, (thank you very much in the Cherokee language)

Dawn Watson

Owner, Brother of the Wolf, LLC

Dog training and behavioral evaluations in Burlington, Gloucester, and Camden Counties