We once worked with a guy who insisted his dog could speak. He swore when the dog wanted to go outside he would let a noise escape from his throat that sounded like an elongated, "oooouuuut." Obviously dogs can't talk. But researchers say they do try to communicate simple ideas to you all the time through gestures and body language.

A study has been done at University of Salford in Manchester that attempted to unlock the mystery of canine communication. The results were recently reported in Animal Cognition, a science journal. Researchers say they've identified 47 potential gestures dogs use in trying to communicate, and they have translated 19 of these.

Here's what they say a dog wants when it does the following things.

Scratch me

Gently biting your arm

Short shuffles along the ground while rolling over

Lifting a back leg while laying on its side

Licking you or an object

Rubbing its head against you while leaning against you

Rolling over in front of you

Pressing its nose against you or another object

Lifting a paw and placing it on you


Feed me

Holding one paw in the air while sitting

Using its mouth to throw toys forward

Standing on its hind legs

Looking back and forth from a human to another object

Using its snout and head to move your hand onto its body


Open the door for me

Lifting both paws off the ground and placing them on its owner or a nearby object

Jumping up and down, either onto an object or not, while in the same location


Play With Me

Diving headfirst under a person or object

Reaching a paw towards an object of interest

Wiggling its body underneath a person or object

Briefly touching a person with a single paw

All sounds loony to me. Apparently my dog would starve to death, because I would think holding one paw in the air while sitting meant he wanted to shake hands, using its mouth to throw a toy forwards meant he wanted to play fetch, and using the snout and head to move my hand onto its body meant he wanted me to pet him.

Sorry Fido.

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