OpinionJune 5, 2024
Discover the intricate world of dog communication, from eye gaze to body posture, and learn how these loyal companions convey messages beyond their barks. Explore their rich history and diverse roles in human society.
Sue Vogelsanger
Sue Vogelsanger
Sue Vogelsanger

There is more to a domestic dog than its bark, which is its way of communicating. I suppose you could call that dog talk.

Dog communication is how the animal conveys information to other dogs, other animals and people. Other ways of communicating include eye gaze, facial expression, vocalization, body posture — including movements of limbs — and gustatory communication like scents, pheromones and taste.

Humans communicate with dogs by using vocalization, hand signals and body posture. With their acute sense of hearing, dogs rely on the auditory aspect of communication for understanding and responding to various cues. Different barking patterns may convey different messages.

Domestic dogs inherited complex behaviors, such as bite inhibition, from their wolf ancestors. The gray wolf is the dog's closest living relative. Experts estimate that hunter-gatherers domesticated dogs thousands of years ago. Dogs have been selectively bred over time for various behaviors, sensory capabilities and physical attributes. They perform many roles for humans, such as hunting, herding, pulling loads, protection, assisting police and the military, companionship, therapy, and aiding disabled people, including the blind.

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The earliest remains generally accepted to be those of a domesticated dog were discovered in Bonn-Oberkassel, Germany. This dog was dated to 14,223 years ago. It was found buried along with a man and a woman. All three had been sprayed with red hematite powder and buried under large, thick, basalt blocks. The dog had died of canine distemper. Earlier remains dating back to 30,000 years ago have been described as Paleolithic dogs, but their status as dogs or wolves remains debated because considerable morphological diversity existed among wolves during the Late Pleistocene.

Dogs can have some of the same health conditions as humans, including diabetes, dental and heart disease, epilepsy, cancer, hypothyroidism and arthritis.

I personally think the dogs I have owned throughout the years have certainly been best friends.

SUE VOGELSANGER of Cape Girardeau, a longtime contributor to The Banner Press, has strong familial ties to Bollinger County. Her columns are scheduled to run on the first Wednesday of the month.

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