Most of us have moments when our dogs seemingly react to our thoughts. A friend of mine says his dog always heads to the leash before he said it was time for a walk. I have no doubt that the dog is looking for cues like the time of day, the friend putting on his shoes, etc. My late poodle, Jazz, got super excited any time I put on my shoes because he just knew something fun would happen; I sure wished he’d been right! But there are other times when something happens that mystifies us. Do our dogs read our thoughts?
We could totally have a metaphysical discussion about this, and I would enjoy it, but instead, I want to provide an example that happened with River. She was five months old when we brought her to live with us, and as a standard poodle, she is tall when she stands on her hind legs. I’m barely 5 feet tall, and if she weren’t already taller than me, she soon would be. My husband was adamant that we shouldn’t allow her to jump on us, as she could easily push me over, and it’s bad manners. But for weeks, whenever I came home, River had a barking, squealing dog party, and she couldn’t resist her urge to jump up on me.
I turned to the internet for assistance. I found a YouTube video for dogs that jumped on people and watched in fascination. The video described training your dog so that rather than jumping on you placing their weight on you, they stand independently on their hind legs and stand face-to-face with you with their paws gently on your shoulders, a bit like you were going to slow-dance together. I watched this video alone with headphones on, and I didn’t take any of its suggestions. I disregarded the video as my husband said it was a stupid idea, and we shouldn’t let River do that; it was just as bad as jumping on me.
The next day, I came home from work, and River got excited. Before I knew it, she approached me, stood on her hind legs, put her front paws lightly on my shoulders, looked into my eyes, and licked my face. Where did she learn that? How did she know that was an option? She’d never tried that before, and although I watched the video, she didn’t watch it with me or listen to it. How did she know this might be an acceptable alternative? More than all her other tricks, this one made me wonder if she tuned into my thoughts. Have your dogs demonstrated the same ability? I’d love to hear your stories!