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Tail wags, barks just part of dogs’ language

– Wags and barks speak volumes when it comes to understanding what a dog is saying, but there are also clues in a dog’s eyes, ears, nose or the tilt of its head.

Gary Weitzman, president of the San Diego Humane Society, worked with tens of thousands of stray dogs over the last quarter-century and says there is no question that pets and people communicate, but some are getting more out of it than others.

“Dogs want to be with us and they want to do the right thing. Nothing is ever done by a dog for spite or revenge. That’s a human quality. Dogs just want to please us,” Weitzman said.

Jerry Ericksen of Los Angeles has two dogs and they have different needs that require different languages. Forest, a pit bull that was abused and starved before Ericksen got him, is still super timid and spends his time at the dog park hiding under Ericksen’s chair.

“I talk to him in a smooth, gentle voice. He’s very cooperative. He’s very content,” Ericksen said.

Weitzman’s book, “How to Speak Dog,” was just released by the National Geographic Society and the veterinarian hopes it will help people better grasp what their dogs are saying so they can respond better.

When man first meets mutt, it is up to the person to eliminate hostility. In the exam room, Weitzman will often get on the floor with a dog to reduce any threats.

“Dogs read lips and body language. They can see your facial expression. Some animals respond to how we look, not what we say. Their inherent ability to read facial expressions is a whole lot better than ours,” Weitzman said.

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