Communicating With Dogs—
A Two Way Street

The following 29 quotes are all about communicating with dogs, and around them. Whether your dog knows how to spell, or simply knows how to read your mind, you'll find a quotation here that sums up what we humans think about dog communications.

It's no coincidence that man's best friend cannot talk.


My Flush clearly understands articulate language.... "Dinner," "cakes," "milk," "go downstairs," "go out," everybody's name in the house, "go and kiss Miss Barrett," "kiss" (abstractedly)—"kiss the hand," "kiss the face"—my Flush understands and applies all that... yes, all that—and a great deal more.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who also tried to teach her cocker spaniel reading and arithmetic, so she could play dominoes with Flush while confined to bed due to illness

Sometimes you panic and find yourself emitting remarks so profoundly inane that you would be embarrassed to say them to your dog. Your dog would look at you and think to itself, "I may lick myself in public, but I'd never say anything as stupid as that."

Dave Barry

The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? But rather, Can they suffer?

Jeremy Bentham

If you would understand this secret, you must first understand the distinction between training an animal and educating one. Trained animals are relatively easy to turn out. All that is required is a book of instructions, a certain amount of bluff and bluster, something to use for threatening and punishing purposes, and of course the animal. Educating an animal, on the other hand, demands keen intelligence, integrity, imagination, and the gentle touch, mentally, vocally, and physically.

J. Allen Boone,
Kinship with All Life

If dogs could talk, perhaps we'd find it just as hard to get along with them as we do people.

Karel Capek

A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.


Many of us have to spell words such as "out," "cookie," and "bath" when conversing with other people, lest we unnecessarily excite our pets. And even then they often understand. I've actually had clients who resorted to using a second language around their dogs, but after a while their perceptive pooches caught on. Who says dogs don't understand us?

Warren Eckstein

The friendship of a dog is precious. It becomes even more so when one is so far removed from home.... I have a Scottie. In him I find consolation and diversion... he is the "one person" to whom I can talk without the conversation coming back to war.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

When most of us talk to our dogs, we tend to forget they're not people.

Julia Glass

Humans were denied the speech of animals. The only common ground of communication upon which dogs and men can get together is in fiction.

O. Henry,
Memoirs of Yellow Dog

Lots of people talk to animals.... Not very many listen, though.... That's the problem.

Benjamin Hoff,
The Tao of Pooh

Talking to dogs is one of the few acts of faith still made nowadays.

Paul Jennings

They never talk about themselves but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep up an appearance of being interested in the conversation.

Jerome K. Jerome

He is so shaggy. People are amazed when he gets up and they suddenly realize they have been talking to the wrong end.

Elizabeth Jones

I used to look at Smokey and think, "If you were a little smarter you could tell me what you were thinking," and he'd look at me like he was saying, "If you were a little smarter, I wouldn't have to."

Fred Jungclaus

Usually they are quick to discover that I cannot see or hear.... It is not training but love which impels them to break their silence about me with the thud of a tail rippling against my chair on gambols round the study, or news conveyed by expressive ear, nose, and paw. Often I yearn to give them speech, their motions are so eloquent with things they cannot say.

Helen Keller

No animal should ever jump up on the dining room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.

Fran Lebowitz

While he has not, in my hearing, spoken the English language, he makes it perfectly plain that he understands it. And he uses his ears, tail, eyebrows, various rumbles and grunts, the slant of his great cold nose or a succession of heartrending sighs to get his meaning across.

Jean Little

No one appreciates the very special genius of your conversation as a dog does.

Christopher Morley

It's funny how dogs and cats know the inside of folks better than other folks do.

Eleanor H. Porter,

Many dogs can understand almost every word humans say, while humans seldom learn to recognize more than half a dozen barks, if that. And barks are only a small part of the dog language. A wagging tail can mean so many things. Humans know that it means a dog is pleased, but not what a dog is saying about his pleasedness. (Really, it is very clever of humans to understand a wagging tail at all, as they have no tails of their own.)

Dodie Smitih,
101 Dalmatians

He was born in Bercy on the outskirts of Paris and trained in France, and while he knows a little Poodle-English, he responds quickly only to commands in French. Otherwise he has to translate, and that slows him down.

John Steinbeck, about Charley, his poodle

Customer: "Has this dog a good pedigree?"

Shop Owner: "Has he? Say, if that dog could talk, he wouldn't speak to either of us."

Unknown Author

I went to the cinema the other day and in the front row was an old man and with him was his dog. It was a sad funny kind of film, you know the type. In the sad part, the dog cried his eyes out and in the funny part, the dog laughed its head off. This happened all the way through the film. After the film ended, I decided to go and speak to the man. "That's the most amazing thing I've seen," I said. "That dog really seemed to enjoy the film."

The man turned to me and said, "Yeah, it is. He hated the book."

Unknown Author

One reason a dog can be such a comfort when you're feeling blue is that he doesn't try to find out why.

Unknown Author

The dog has an absolutely uncanny knack of knowing what we are thinking, even of what we are feeling.

Brian Vesey-Fitzgerald

The best thing about animals is that they don't talk much.

Thornton Wilder

Dogs understand your moods and your thoughts, and if you are thinking unpleasant things about your dog, he will pick it up and be downhearted.

Barbara Woodhouse, dog trainer

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