Hi-Tech Dog Communications

This morning I read an article about a team of researchers who are figuring out how to get dogs talking to humans. No kidding, these are serious smart people and their aim is to develop and deploy technology that will enable dogs to clearly communicate with all owners.


Dog with wearable communication technology. A border collie, of course. Brainiac.
Photo credit Adil Dellawalla.

The researchers are exploring wearable technology; in other words, the dog wears a vest with sensors that send signals to the owner.

The article points out important potential applications for high level dog-people communications including helping people with disabilities, military and anti-terrorism uses, child care, search and rescue and a host of other great ideas.

Fascinating stuff and the more you read about this, the better it sounds.

So much has been written about dog-human communications and we dog lovers all have stories about at least one amazing moment when we realized our dogs’ thoughts and our own were in perfect synch. Maybe it was that tilted head, the lowered countenance, a spark in the eye or the sound that wasn’t really a growl or really a bark but something else. Every once in awhile it seems the dog is telling us, “I really know exactly what you are up to but I prefer to play dumb.”

Maltese are known as incredibly stubborn little animals. They have a breed history going back thousands of years and during that time they have never held a job. Unlike terriers or hounds or virtually all other breeds, the Maltese’s sole duty has been as a companion animal. Along with a generally pleasing disposition, this lack of meaningful employment has led to a sense of entitlement and unwillingness to compromise.

Max is an excellent communicator. He perfected the art of increasing his weight by a hundred fold when he wants to resist on a leash. At will he can super glue his paws to the floor when instructed to move. The stricken look when told he must stay home while we go out could win Oscars.

Sometimes, though, his communications are more subtle. One such is his antipathy to one component of his kibble. Max is fed a brand that includes dried blueberries along with a mix of other delicacies (I know, I know.) But he hates dried blueberries.


Maltese protest. Always one rejected berry. One. Every day.

So Max protests in typical stubborn, passive-aggressive Maltese way. He leaves behind exactly one – never two, never more – blueberries in his food dish every morning. A clear protest, no further explanation needed.

So on reflection, maybe advanced dog-human communications are a two edged sword. I’m not sure I really want to hear more from the bratty fluffball.

1 reply

  1. I wonder who my dogs would elect as their spokesdog in their negotiations with us….not the Alsatian who is a kindly chap who spends his time taking us to the door to let in whichever of his colleagues did a runner off the balcony to chase something and realised that they were cut off from the food bowls inside the house…..it would probably be the Costa Rican King Charles Corgi who knows what he wants and intends to get it.


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