Our barking buddies can be as mysterious as the answer to the universe itself. Some recent advances in dog behavior studies have shed some light on their peculiarities and how we interact with man’s best friend.
Body language matters to them. A lot.
According to Dr. Bradshaw in The New Science of Understanding Dog Behavior, dogs are very sensitive to human body language. They notice the direction of our gaze and what it is we are saying by crossing our arms or otherwise. Dogs take body language more seriously and more intelligently than almost any other species. Interestingly, a dog will prefer to socialize with other humans than with other dogs, and always wants attention (whether good or bad). Look away, cross your arms and look bored to “punish” your dog.
They must be trained to be comfortable alone.
Bradshaw maintains that many dogs suffer from severe anxiety because they are left alone, craving human companionship and thinking with a brain that can’t comprehend time very well. Dogs get really worried thinking they will be left alone forever, so a routine that establishes the fact that you will come back every time you leave will make your dog fine with being alone for a while.
Bradshaw explains that a gradual routine is best, always grabbing your keys and your coat from the same spot, first just walking to the door then putting the items back. Next, grab the keys and coat, then open the door, shut it and come right back. You’ll want to gradually increase the degree to which you “leave,” starting with ten minutes and making your way up to hours.
Dogs can predict low blood pressure.
According to the Wall Street Journal, dogs notice the spikes and drop in insulin levels either because they smell something or notice small body language cues. Dogs can be trained to specifically notify sufferers of diabetes so that the person can treat themselves. It can be hard to tell if your blood sugar is low sometimes, and these diabetic alert dogs have saved countless lives.
In addition to detecting low blood pressure, they have been known to predict seizures.
Dogs are highly in tune with body language, but also have an amazing sense of smell. While unknown how dogs do it, they can also predict a seizure before it happens. Dogs that are trained to do so will paw at, bark at, or circle around their human, which means they are begging them to lie down in a safe place. The dog will then snuggle up next to the person (or on top of them) to protect them from injury.
Our furry friends have a lot more to them than we might think. Because dogs rely heavily on our body language to interpret how we feel about them and because they care so deeply about us, it makes dogs unique and great companions. Not to mention their super-dog ability to determine our state of health and protect us from harm says a lot about how incredible, yet mysterious the animal is. Our dogs give and give and give, while asking for little more than attention in return, so cuddle up on the couch and give them an extra treat today.