For years I have used a sound, a growl, to indicate to dogs that I don’t like their behavior. Those of you who have attended my behavioral-obedience classes, or a BOSS Dog Clinic, or have had me in for a private consultation and use this sound, also know how well it works. That includes those individuals who have come over from the “dark side” and now can actually train dogs because they can communicate correctly and effectively.
Those who claim to be “dog trainers” have poo-pooed the sound, responded with disdain, said it’s stupid, claimed “we don’t need to make sounds like dogs, we’re not dogs, are we?” In short, they have told owners it BS.
Perhaps these people engage in this dismissive attitude because they don’t understand dogs and are too ego-driven to do right by them. I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’s because they can’t really work dogs that they fight so hard to defend their failing methods. The problem with that is the dogs they come into contact with suffer from these “trainers’” hubris.
However, a study recently published in the Animal Behavior journal, is now showing that dogs “rely on context-dependent signals when they growl at each other”.
My answer to that is, “Well, DUH!” Dogs have been growling at each other since time began. They understand it and they respect it.
Aahhtt!! is what I growl — the dogs get it. You who have been instructed by me get it. Science is discovering it. It should only take another 20 years for those calling themselves “dog trainers” to get on board.
To read about this, you can go to msnbc.com and read Dogs Understand Growls, Even if We Don’t. Or you can go to ‘The bone is mine’: affective and referential aspects of dog growls for an abstract of the authors’ article.