Monday, September 1, 2014

In Which Elka understands "If you do X, then Y" consequences

I shared this on the Facebook, but figured I'd make a post about it as well to get the most eyes, because obviously I thought it was cool and thought it was further proof of Elka's smartness, dogs' understanding of things, etc.

We had visitors over the weekend, friends who used to come regularly when they lived closer, but who moved at the end of last year. We've seen them only once or twice since the move. Elka is SUPER EXCITED every time people show up, because she loves all our friends, and she knows their names (even when there are doubles, i.e. more than one Eric, more than one Bryan, etc.)

There's a point at which her joy is truly overbearing, though, and Elka's love is not a gentle one, with the licking and the body checks and the stomping. So at the point at which nobody wanted to be vigorously licked anymore, I said "Elka, you can lay down on the couch if you stop licking. If you can't stop licking, you can't be on the couch. No more."

She stood on the couch and looked at me for awhile, ears swiveling back and forth. She looked at the friend she'd been licking, and looked back at me. Then she laid down, looked longingly at our friend again, then put her head on her paws and moaned and complained for awhile. Then she stopped complaining and dozed off.

People would argue, "A dog will not understand an If X then Y consequence presented conversationally". But my sample of 1 here does appear to directly understand, and even protested its unfairness. I won't say she didn't lick anybody else ever for the rest of the weekend, but she didn't lick frenzy again during that particular time on the couch.


  1. This is why it is important to talk to dogs in complete sentences.

  2. Of course we dogs can understand what you are saying. We are so clever :-)

  3. Fascinating. I wonder if you have more examples of this?

    I sometimes think my tone is what communicates the most. When she starts barking before dinner, I tell her to wait because I'll feed her in fifteen minutes. I don't think she understands telling time. But she's learned that my tone is assuring her I know dinner is coming and I will feed her.

  4. I get the same kind of talk here too! I totally understand, but sometimes pretend it's too many words all at once! :)

    I hope you're having a fun day,

    Your pal Snoopy :)