dog-dog communication in action

It has been gratifying to see Aster, my catahoula leopard dog, come into her own as a dog communicator. After we adopted her we traveled to New Orleans where she ran with a little pack for 6 weeks or so.She was the youngest of 5 balanced dogs sharing space and they taught her a lot about communication, dog packs, and when to stop driving the old-lady-dog nuts! Helpful for a dog who’d been abandoned, then adopted twice and returned to the shelter before we found her at about 4 months.

She has gained further communication experience in our household showing foster dogs the ropes. I am a strong believer in socializing dogs and also in giving dogs a job if possible, and those 2 pieces, combined with my setting boundaries and giving her a lot of exercise, have helped Aster deal with life as a very intelligent working dog stuck  living in a house.

Aster also thrives on the opportunity to hang with the elements and just be a dog-running, jumping, swimming, mucking about, enjoying wild water and laying near the fire. climbing trees. sniffing poop. ah, yes, that’s the life.

So I present this series of photos of Aster communicating with foster dog Acorn, an intelligent 5-month old mixed-breed puppy who is living with us right now. He is a very fast learner and watch as he gets what he wants by communicating properly with Aster. I would not try this with 2 highly reactive dogs, but keep in mind that I have built a lot of trust with my primary dog and was on standby to intervene IF NECESARRY. Presented in order:



Acorn has already finished his breakfast. He sees that Aster has not.


Aster asks him what the heck he thinks he’s looking at.


Aster stands between Acorn and her bowl of food, giving him “the look”.


Aster goes back to eating, keeping one eye on Acorn. Acorn continues to look longingly at her.


Acorn advances, submitting toAster. Aster accepts his puppy behavior.


Further dance of communication behaviors.

“But, Aster! Look at me! I’m wasting away! And hey-I am asking nicely, eh? eh?”

(He knows that she is open to this behavior.)

She checks him out again. Is he really asking politely? Is he really wasting away? (don’t worry, he is not.)

He is obviously doing something here that she likes and accepts.


Because here he is, eating from her bowl of food!

Aster is fine with it, she has made her decision.

Hey, kid, you can thank me someday when you are big and healthy and have a wonderful home of your own!

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