The Future Home of Iditarod Dreams: Whats Your Dog Thinking?

The Future Home of Iditarod Dreams: Wouldn’t You Like to Know What Your Dog is Really Thinking?

I have been a dog trainer for almost twenty years and I am pretty good at it and I have an understanding canine behavior and how they learn. But one thing that I have always thought about is, what is my dog really thinking right now?

Dogs do not have the ability to be cognitive. Meaning they can not reason like we can. They do not understand sometimes or maybe. They have no idea that it’s Sunday or the Fourth of July.

Dogs understand routine and black and white. So my question to you my rabid readers, friends and fans is do dogs understand time?

Let me put it to you this way. I am watching my friend, Dave’s dog for a week while he is vacationing in Hawaii (must be nice!). His dog’s name is Star, she is a juvenile yellow Lab and full of spunk and energy. Yesterday Dave dropped off Star without much fanfare and headed to the airport. There were no long good byes and hugs and kisses. He just got into the car and left.

A few minutes later I introduced Star to my five month old pup, Raegan, a Siberian Husky. They quickly made friends but those first couple minutes you could see the little wheels turning in their minds, Like, who in the heck is this….

So after the “felt each other out” they began to play, and play and play some more! Lets just say that watching Dave’s dog hasn’t turned into a nightmare. Why, because I haven’t slept yet!

After Raegan and Star became “friends” I began to think, do these dogs just take this at face value and believe that it will be this way forever? Do these dogs just accept that Star will never go back to her “home” and this is her new home?

Does Raegan have the ability to understand that this “heathen” big, yellow dog that barks (Raegan doesn’t bark too much) will not be here past six days?

You always hear the stories of exuberant homecomings and re-unties with dog and owner. Yes, the dog is happy to see the owner but I highly doubt they were thinking, where’s Dave, fifteen minutes before he showed up.

It is an interesting concept really. Isn’t it?

The reason I think that dogs just accept new surroundings is that is what makes dogs, dogs and the perfect companion. They are adaptable. They mold quickly to our routines, a new routine, any routine for that matter.

That is what makes re-homing and rescues so successfully (at least in many cases–aggression notwithstanding). It is because dogs don’t understand the past and have no concept of the future.

Or do they?

I welcome your comments and suggestions. Please comment below.

Robert Forto | Team Ineka | Alaska Dog Works | Mushing Radio | Dog Doctor Radio | Denver Dog Works


Dr. Robert Forto is a musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and the host of the popular radio shows, Mush! You Huskies and The Dog Doctor Radio Show

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About robertforto

Robert Forto is the owner of Dog Works Training Company in Alaska, a canine behaviorist, mushin' down a dream, sports nut and radio show host. Robert writes a lot about his observations in Alaska, pop culture, music, and of course dogs!

View all posts by robertforto

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One Comment on “The Future Home of Iditarod Dreams: Whats Your Dog Thinking?”

  1. nicole forto Says:

    I don’t necessarily agree, our dog Ineka acted differently when you weren’t home and as soon as you’d return go right back to acting like I didn’t exist!

    Maybe he didnt conceptualize time itself but he sure knew the difference between you and me.


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