We all know that dogs cannot speak or even think like a human but they are very capable of getting through to you what they wish you to know.
Everyone knows what your dog means when you are enjoying a meal and he sits there staring at you with a sad, neglected look, drooling all over the carpet… “Please, I haven’t eaten anything for a week at least.” We avoid this by feeding our dog first and then refusing his pleas. He will try this sometimes with strangers but I just have to say “No begging.” He will then take a big gulp, hang his head in shame and wander off somewhere to lie down.
We have a Rottweiler called Killer. The reason for this name is that we live in a house in Indonesia that is somewhat remote and the neighbours, knowing the dog’s name, are somewhat loathe to bother us.
Killer is coming up to about two years now. He of course has learned the usual doggy instruction names like no, sit, stay, speak, out, fetch, down, roll over, heel etc, as well as the ones he likes like walk, food, chicken (his favourite), kitty, play, ball, bone, stick. He also knows all the names of the family members and a few friends. Apart from names, he has learned that when we get dressed, we are going out so he waits in anticipation to see whether he is coming with us or he hears the dreaded word “stay.” He is also rather good at understanding things. He somehow manages to put two unrelated words together. For instance, he knows the name of my wife, “Yuyun” and also the word “walk.” When he asks me to take him out for a walk and I am busy, I can say “Yuyun walk.” He will then leave me and go and look for her and lead her to the door.
It is a struggle training him as Yuyun still thinks that he is that little bundle of fur she arrived home with a couple of years ago and she continues to spoil him to death. I try to explain to her that dogs are pack animals and need to have a leader and that, if he keeps getting his own way, he will think that HE is the leader but all this falls on deaf ears.
5 am every morning on the nose, Killer give ME the nose, instructing me to stagger out of bed and let him out. I must explain that here in Indonesia which is a Moslem country the people here are generally scared of any dog and totally petrified of a large one like ours. Thus I am unable to just open the door and let him run around but rather have to accompany him. So, I get taken for an early morning walk while my beloved wife whose “baby” this is, continues sleeping.
After sniffing around the neighbourhood for twenty minutes, marking his territory, I am allowed to return home but not to sleep. Oh no. It is now play time! There are various games that Killer enjoys. One is having me chase him around the house. When he wants to do this, he picks up some object say a bone or a rag and approaches me growling, defying me to take it away from him. When I make a move, he will back up waiting for me to make a grab for the object at which time he will take off running, glancing over his shoulder to make sure that I am following. We play this game until I am out of breath which, at 5.30 am, does not take too long.
Another game that he likes is for me to shut him in the bedroom while I take his ball and hide it somewhere in the house. Doesn’t matter where it is, he will eventually come up with it. He starts off by looking in all the obvious places and only when that doesn’t work he sticks his nose in the air and commences a serious search. In order to inform me that this is the game that he has selected, he will go to one of the difficult places that has been selected in the past, like a closed drawer, sniff at it, bark and then stare at me longingly. He will keep on repeating these actions until I give in and produce the ball.
Sometimes we take him out to the park which is just a few metres from the house. He likes for Yuyun to run to the other side of the field while I instruct him to sit and stay. He keeps his beady eye on the wife until she is almost out of site at which time I say “Get Yuyun!” Off he goes at full speed, completely freaking out any people who happen to be playing or walking in the park and who think that Killer is about to attack her and maul her to death.
Whenever Killer wants to go out he will bark and then run back and forth between the door and me. If it is an emergency he will whine. If he is hungry he will run over to his bowel, stare at it, then run over to the food bag and stare at that and then stare at me. If I ignore him he will bark to get my attention and go through the process again. The other day, Yuyun picked up one of his bones and placed it on top of the wall outside the house. A few hours later Killer trotted outside for something, looked up and spotted the bone. He came back into the house looking for me and instructed me to follow him by barking and backing up to the door. Once outside, he looked up at the bone and then at me. I didn’t even know that it was there so it took a few seconds to sink in what he was trying to tell me.
We live in a rather large house with about twelve rooms. Often I had to ask my wife something and not wanting to shout, ended up searching all the rooms inevitably finding her in the last one. Now I just call the dog and say “Find Yuyun.” After he takes off, I just wait for his bark and then know where the wife is. Dogs do have their uses.
If, when walking up to Killer, he rolls over onto his back, he is telling me to scratch his belly. Doesn’t matter what else is going on in the house, belly scratching supersedes all and killer remains in a euphoric state until I stop.
If I say something to him that he does not understand, he will cock his head to one side telling me. “I haven’t a clue what you are talking about.” Or, if it is something that he thinks sounds too good to be true, he will wait for confirmation before getting too excited.
Whenever I hug and kiss my wife, Killer will stare at us jealously. I know exactly what he is thinking. “Hey, that’s my mother you are messing with.”
So there you are. I am sure that we understand most of what our dog is trying to tell us and, with a little patience, you can get to understand yours also.