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How should you talk to your dog?

Dog owner with her dog talking advice
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“How are you? How was your day?”  What is the point of talking to you dog if they don’t understand what you’re saying?  It’s even more questionable when others are around listening and making fun of what you’re saying.

By Emilie Heyl

However, animals are very intuitive. At the end of the day, this is a great advantage: their strong intuition allows them to understand any type of language. The proof is obvious!.  

Facilitating communication

Dogs have a language that only belong to them, it is a language that makes use of various body language such as facial expressions and body movements, whereas man favours speech as a way to communicate and to exchange information. Man pay little attention to other non-verbal clues, unlike dogs who try to make sense of all.

Talking to your dog is great for social bonding and it’s important to use the right tone of voice to show your dog how you are feeling. Using a high pitched voice is a way to express your happiness to your dog. Praise them, tell them “Good boy”, spend time with them and your bond will be precious. 

Animals are therefore extremely sensitive to the energy we release. They pick up on it instantly and take it on for themselves. Words are an extension of this energy, and in some way, "validate" the emotional state of the person who says them. This is why words resonate with our pets.

So, if an owner is angry with their dog, they will come across very tense, almost frozen, the expression on their face will be closed: it is all these signals that will reach the dog first. If this posture is accompanied by a deep, booming voice, it will reinforce how the dog understands the situation.

By speaking to our dog, we get them used to our personality and to our own way of communicating, which allows us to understand each other.

Our intonation, the tone of our voice, the speed of our speech, our dog spends most of their time observing us, they know us by heart. 

Try it yourself:  suddenly stop you’re doing at home and look at your dog: there is a one in two chance that he will turn and watch what you are doing (except if sleeping or eating).

The more you talk to your dog, the more they will get to know you. The more they know you, the more they understand you. But be careful, this does not mean that you shouldn’t bother getting to know your dog for yourself…

Stimulating and making your dog more receptive.

Dogs love to learn and be stimulated. By speaking to your dog, you get their attention and therefore encourage their level of focus. This is why it is recommended to talk to your dog during training sessions.

To get your dog to do something for example to "sit", first address them in a playful, lively tone, to get them to listen: "Are you coming Medor? Let’s work. Come on! ". The intonation must be pitched right, because if too cheerful it could be perceived as an invitation to play, which is not the objective here. The goal is to focus your dog's attention on you and not excite them.

The more you talk to your dog, the more receptive they will be. Dogs are able to understand some words as long as they are repeated as much as possible and are always associated with the same actions: take the lead and say the word "walk", take the bowl and every time offer "food", etc ...

Strengthening your bond

This is how the best relationships are born, everyone has to socialise, learn to get know each other and to get on. If you talk to your dog regularly, you will have a much stronger bond than if you remain silent. You will learn to understand their character, and them yours. Even if they don’t understand your words, they will see when you are addressing them, and dogs love people paying attention to them: speaking is seen as a great mark of recognition.

For you, your dog’s responses will surprise you, touch you and amuse you: how their ears move, how their head leans right then left, how their leg scratches, etc. You will know your dog like the back of your hand, which will allow you to better anticipate how they are going to react, badly or otherwise, and to respond in the right way.

If you are not used to talking with your dog, you might feel a bit silly at first. This is normal. Trust yourself and listen to your pet. The most important thing is to speak with your heart.

Audrey Dulieux
Dog behaviourist, English Cocker Spaniel breeder
 

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