Team Ineka

Dissertation Abstract: Chasing the Dream

Dissertation Abstract: Chasing the Dream

By Robert Forto, PhD

 In this week’s article I am providing the Abstract for my doctorate dissertation, Chasing the Dream: The Study of Human-Canine Communication in the Sport of Dog Sledding. If you would like to read more please contact me via email at and I can send you a .PDF version for $9.10. If you would like to receive a hard-copy please contact me to make arrangements.


Human—Canine Communication

Domestication has significantly affected the ability of humans and dogs to communicate. Recent research has shown that there is still a lot to be learned about communicating with dogs. Understanding how dogs communicate with other dogs and with people is of vital importance to dog trainers, handlers and animal behaviorists.

Communication is an integral part of all forms of social interaction. It allows dogs and people to become familiar with one another, to bond with each other, and live peacefully with one another. People who are able to communicate with dogs have two distinct advantages: one, they are able to interact closely with dogs and two; they can regulate their own behavior to meet their dog’s needs. Dogs can also interact with humans and can regulate their behavior to meet the human’s needs as well. 

Communication is therefore of the utmost importance to people who work with dogs. Every aspect of dog training depends on the sending and receiving of information between the handler and the dog. Much of this exchange takes place on a non-verbal level. Instead of speaking, the sender makes gestures, movements, sounds and facial expressions. To effectively control and manage dogs, a dog handler needs to be sensitive and responsive to a dog’s effort to communicate.


Dr. Robert Forto is a professional musher training for his first Iditarod under the Team Ineka banner and is the training director for Dog Works Training Centers. Dr. Forto is the host of a weekly radio program, The Dog Doctor Radio Show, which can be heard every Saturday at 9:30 am in the Rocky Mountain West or you can download it at anytime. Dr. Forto can be reached through his website at

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