Why We Talk to Our Dogs
Date Article Posted:Jan 27, 2018
Why do we talk to our dogs when we know they don’t understand us? I don’t mean commands that we’ve trained them to understand. I’m talking about full sentences and in depth stories about our incompetent boss, or stubborn spouse! Well it turns out that the reasons we talk to our dogs are pretty understandable. If we live alone, our dogs offer us the opportunity to socialize, something most humans need and want. Studies show that it’s actually therapeutic to talk to an animal! Then there’s the person that talks to you indirectly by talking to their dog. A woman walking her dog without a leash the other day scolded her dog for attempting to cross the street to meet me and my dog, “what have I told you about running across the street? You are not to cross the street without me! That’s very naughty Charlie! You will not be getting a treat after dinner tonight!” She could have just apologized to me directly, but choose to do so indirectly by reprimanding her dog. Our anthropomorphic tendencies are so strong that we want to believe that our dogs truly understand us. The woman in the example above may insist that Charlie may not have understood her exact words, but he knew that she was upset with him for attempting to cross the street. She would be partially right. Dogs are very sensitive to our body language. The woman bent over, waving her finger with a scowl on her face and using a harsh tone of voice was enough for the dog to understand she was not happy. So his defensive posture and ears pinned back would have her believe he understood her. Poor guy, I’m certain he didn’t understand why going to greet my dog was bad today, but okay when she took him to a dog park two days earlier. It’s okay to talk to our dogs, but we should be fair in our expectation of how precisely they understand us. If Charlie’s owner were to verbally reprimand him in a similar manner every time he did something unacceptable, he would probably just grow to fear his owner. He could still love her and enjoy her company immensely, but he would learn that she has unexplainable mood swings and that she should be partially feared. Talking to your dog will likely also result in habituation. Essentially, since they don’t understand you they learn to ignore you. This is well documented by animal behaviorist and the reason why good trainers understand that you should teach a dog a behavior using body language before inserting a verbal cue. Does this mean you should completely stop talking to your dog unless giving a command? No, definitely not - it’s too much fun! A little trick I use is to not make direct eye contact with my dog when I’m just talking for fun, and inserting his name prior to a verbal cue when I want him to perform a certain behavior, like “sit”. So, if I’m telling my dog about my day I don’t look into his eyes and don’t expect him to console me for having to deal with my incompetent boss. When I want him to come to me I simply call, “Ike” to get his attention and then the single word cue to come to me – “come”. So have fun talking to your dog - just remember to keep your expectations in check and help him understand when to listen and when it’s okay to tune you out.
Learn to Speak Dog
Date Article Posted:Jan 16, 2018
How many of you wish you knew what your dog was thinking or saying? It's not only possible, but it's easier than you think. Dogs tell us many things with their body language, but they also have 6 known barks that mean something very specific. What's more fascinating is that we can communicate to them that we understand what they're saying and stop the barking. Comes in handy if your dog barks at people, doorbells, etc.! Turid Rugaas, renowned animal behaviorist, explains each of the 6 barks in a quick read, 106 page training manual with pictures! It's really a must read for all dog owners. Your dog will love you for acknowledging what he's saying and it will help promote a better canine/human bond! Best $10 a dog lover can spend.