This article is from the folks at Badlands Ranch, check out their amazing, informative website badlandsranch.com
Do you ever wish you could have a conversation with your dog?
I know I do!
Maybe you want to say “I love you” so your dog knows what you mean…
Or “I’ll be back in 5 minutes — REALLY.”
Maybe you want to let them know you’ll be free to play with them in just half an hour.
Well, unfortunately there’s no “human to canine” dictionary just yet.
But every year, scientists get a little closer to bridging the gap between people-talk… and dog language.
Let’s talk about a few techniques you (and your dog) could actually try, right at home.
If you want to know…. What does your dog want?
Consider teaching them to push “communication buttons.”
These are buttons that say things like “potty” or “water” or “play” when your dog taps them with a paw or nose.
They’re available online, and at pet stores — and here’s what’s really cool:
Some dogs can learn DOZENS of words — and even string them together into simple sentences like “dad play now” or “outside potty.”
Now, there are a lot of tutorials about how to use buttons on the web, so I won’t go into a long tutorial here.
Quick Tip: If you’re on the fence about buttons, start by teaching your dog to “ask” to go out by ringing a bell. It’s a great way to understand when they need to do their business, versus when they’re just barking at the squirrel next door.
Now… bells and buttons are a great way for your dog to talk to YOU.
But maybe you’re wondering:
What’s the best way to speak to your dog?
Well, according to one study, the answer is simple:
Yep, while dogs may not fully understand us humans, they do respond favorably to tone of voice.
Turns out, dogs prefer being spoken to in a higher pitched, upbeat, enthusiastic tone…
Kinda like when you’re talking to a baby or little kid.
They don’t respond much at all to a flat monotone (like when you’re leaving an official-sounding voicemail).
And they react negatively to an angry, aggressive tone.
Want proof? Try this trick:
Pick a phrase your dog knows, like “let’s go for a walk” or “are you a good boy?”
Say it to your dog first in a flat monotone (but not stern) — as if you were a robot. Note your dog’s reaction.
Then, say it again, in a higher pitched, enthusiastic baby-talk.
Chances are, you’ll notice the difference pretty fast — and if the phrase you picked involves going for a walk, make sure you have that leash ready.
Of course, speaking in a higher tone doesn’t mean your dog will understand everything you say perfectly…
But it’s a great tool to praise a dog who is doing a good job…
And it’s perfectly fine to use that stern tone to keep your dog out of danger — like if they’re chasing a raccoon or going near a hot stove.
Of course… when it comes to dog communication, what most people REALLY want to know is:
Can I have a conversation with my dog?
Not yet — but there is one language you both speak:
Dogs are HUGE on body language… the wagging tail when they’re happy, the butt in the air when they want to play, the alert ears when they’re feeling cautious.
And they can also pick up on your body language.
It may feel a little silly, but if you’re in the mood to play with your dog, try getting on all fours, smiling, and mimicking their “play with me” pose…
If you need them to be on alert (like when you’re walking together at night), get their attention, stand up straight, and look around.
And if you need them to calm down and take a nap, try lounging near them for a minute.
It’s not as good as speaking the same language… but it sure is a start!
And in my opinion, the more we can do to understand our pups…
And get on the same page…
The stronger that human-dog bond can become — and the happier your pet will be.
To your dog’s health,
P.S. There’s one other universal language we ALL speak:
I mean, nothing brings people together like sharing a meal…
And if you’re looking to REALLY bond with a pup, whether it’s a newer rescue you just brought home, or a dog who is struggling with a behavior issue — try sharing a meal.
Maybe you roast a sweet potato and give them a few chunks to chew on while you eat.
Or maybe just sit on the floor with them, and eat a meal while they eat theirs.
It’s a great “we’re in this together” experience for you and your pup.