Communication is the key to a healthy and balanced relationship with your dog. Just because animals can’t speak, doesn’t mean they can’t communicate…in fact, quite the opposite.
You don’t need to know how to speak “dog” to communicate with your pet! Barking at them or talking to them as you would a baby is pointless; “speaking adult dog” is just like speaking “human”. According to a recent study carried out by researchers at the University of Eötvös Loránd in Hungary, dogs are more than able to understand what we say. We already knew that they are capable of learning a number of words, generally those to do with orders (“sit”, “lie down”, “drop”) or key words such as “food”, or “walk”. This study has shown that they are also able to recognise the intonation in our voices. So for example, to show your dog that you are happy use a high pitch voice. More accurately, the left side of their brain recognises words, whereas the right side lights up according to intonation. Exactly like you and I!
In other words, saying to your dog “Well done, good boy” in an irritated tone would be confusing and unsettling for them. For your dog, it is important that the dog owner uses words which have been said in the right tone. Show your dog you are happy and believe us you'll see his tail wagging.
For example, if you congratulate your dog make sure you use a cheerful, high-pitched voice as that is what dogs understand to be happy. On the other hand, a serious voice is a sign of dissatisfaction or threat and might make your dog anxious.
Body language is also very important. You can tell a lot from your dog's body language. We underestimate its power as it comes naturally when we speak, it accompanies our words and the tone. Moreover, it is crucial for being able to communicate with deaf dogs.
But that isn’t all. All dogs, especially puppies, need to both hear and see their owners talking to them. When training your dog, you should accompany the order with a gesture or communication signals. For example, to teach a dog to sit down, they must be told "Max, sit", while pointing a finger over their head and then gesturing to their behind. To teach them how to lie down, you have to say "Max, lie down," while gesturing from their snout to the ground.
It’s not just about giving orders; our body language allows us to cement a real relationship with our pets. Do this by showing your dog you love him and with strokes and gentle gestures rather than violent or nervous.
Finally, your facial expressions are a tell-all for your dog: thanks to this, they immediately know how you’re feeling. It is impossible to lie to a dog.
To improve your bond, head over and have a look at all of our tips and tricks on how to make your dog happy!