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Talking with animals

Can humans communicate with some animals?

Poll closed Jun 18, 2004.
  1. Animals understand nothing. We see only a response to a stimulus

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. They can learn what we want them to do

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. They can sometimes understand our intent or goal

    4 vote(s)
    23.5%
  4. They understand a great deal more than we can perceive

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  5. Pets often know exactly what we mean or want

    6 vote(s)
    35.3%
  6. They know our every thought

    1 vote(s)
    5.9%
  1. Mar 9, 2004 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    How well can you communicate with your pet? Does a legitimate exchange of information exist between animals and humans, or is any perceived communication really just a response to a stimulus?

    As a life long pet owner and animal lover, I am confident that Tsunami and I can read [interpret] certain actions and expressions found in both cats and dogs. For example, in most cats it seems that quickly and aggressively licking one’s left shoulder indicates something like annoyance or embarrassment [don’t mean literally but in a cat sort of way]. Several extended blinks made with eye to eye contact means that everything is okay – say when something startles the cat. The spontaneous licking of the backside of the front left leg indicates contentment – maybe a sign of approval of some sort…i.e. the cat is happy with me. Then we have the “I’m too sexy for my fur” hyper-extended strut along with a slow approach…just to make me wait and show me the pecking order. Obviously I can wait for the cat until he or she is ready to move along...even though the cat just ran 100 yards to reach me…up until the last 20 feet or so.

    Many dog actions are obvious: Quick panting means I’m happy. Jumping up and down means I’m happy. Running in circles means I’m happy. Peeing on the floor means I’m happy. Removing the stuffing from the couch means I’m happy…etc . Really though, dogs are very much aware of our actions, pheromones [?], tone of voice, expressions etc to a greater extent than one might expect. When I was a teenager I trained one dog to respond to silent signals. All voice commands were given along with some unique aspect of body language. Before long the voice commands weren’t needed. Looking down meant “sit”, a quick upward motions with the eyes meant “come”, a rapidly extended arm to any direction meant “go” [run that direction], slumped shoulders meant “down”. In total I think there were about ten silent commands that Gypsy finally learned.

    Oh yes, the eye to eye contact followed by several exaggerated blinks seems to equal “everything is okay” in dog language as well. Both dogs and cats will blink back and then relax.
     
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  3. Mar 10, 2004 #2

    Evo

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    Ivan, I know exactly what you mean! It's amazing what animals can learn from us and we from them. Animals are pretty smart. I've had several dogs that *learned to spell". We started spelling things that excited them like "take a walk" or "go outside" and they learned to recognize the spelling.

    You can also distinguish from the sounds they make what they are trying to say.

    My spaniel learned that if his water bowl was empty that the quickest way to get it refilled was to scratch at the back door (which was a signal he had to go to the bathroom), but when you went to the door he would run over and kick his empty water bowl. He knew if he sat next to the water bowl nothing would happen, but we would always notice if he needed to go outside. Smart huh?

    They can defintely sense our emotions.
     
  4. Mar 10, 2004 #3
    I think that people who communicate well with pets are those who pay attention to the way pets express themselves, as Ivan clearly does.

    I saw a thing about "horse whisperers" and this was their primary advantage, that they have a detailed and apparently accurate knowledge of what everything a horse does "means", how it reflects their emotional state.

    This "language" is not obvious and the horse whisperers have built up centuries of knowledge which enables them to deal with horses on the horses own terms. I found it remarkable.
     
  5. Mar 10, 2004 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    We had one cat that had two very distinctive calls for each of two other cats. I noticed one day that I could tell the difference. One could almost consider these cat names [for cats only]?

    We had a Border Collie that taught the other two dogs how to sneak off at night. After we went to bed they would wait about 20-30 minutes and then very quietly walk past out bedroom window and up the road. They had us completely convinced that they would never do that. I became wise to their treachery only by chance.
     
  6. Mar 10, 2004 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    In much the same way Jane Goodall first got close to large apes.

    I have an uncle who is friends with a horse wisperer. I have never seen him work but from what I have seen on TV I agree, these people are quite amazing.
     
  7. Mar 10, 2004 #6

    Evo

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    I have two cats that taught themselves how to use the toilet, the problem is they don't flush, so I leave the lid down now.

    Also, one of them figured out how to turn on the bathroom faucet to drink when he runs out of water. I was freaking out because every so often I'd find the water running. Then one day I saw him doing it.
     
  8. Mar 10, 2004 #7
    I have a hamster...she knows when it is time to eat, and she knows how to break out of her exercise ball.
     
  9. Mar 10, 2004 #8

    Tsu

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    My Border Collie was trained to ONLY run after the thrown ball with the command "Fetch." No matter what word you spoke to try to fool her (feather, fooey, retch, catch...) she would sit and look at you (with those big, brown, pleading eyes) until you said the 'right' word! Then she'd take off like a bat out of h*ll!
     
  10. Mar 10, 2004 #9
    Well, I guess that I should enumerate my communication with my dog:

    -When she's out of water, she stands by her water bowl and barks like a mofo. When she sees you coming, she stops and waits for the water.
    -When she has to (or just wants to) go out, she scratches at the front door.
    -When I'm near the back door and she wants to run around in the back yard, she just stands by the door, looking out and waiting for me to open the door.
    -Often, when she wants to go on the couch, she sits right up agains the couch, looking back and forth between the couch and me, begging me with her eyes. When I pat the couch or give an affirmative sound or motion, she jumps up.
    -If I'm ignoring her and she wants attention, she's bark or whine.
    -When she wants me to do something for her, sometimes she'll snuggle up to me to butter me up.

    For both dogs:

    -The dogs obviously know their names
    -They understand go commands, vocal and/or pointing. They understand me calling them forth.
     
  11. Mar 11, 2004 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Well, that's not really very amazing if she can see the clock.
     
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