Does Your Dog Understand What You Are Saying?

18 10 2008

Simply, yes.  But it is not the language you might think.  As far as the spoken word, dogs understand it all, from English to Spanish, Chinese to Pig Latin, it really does not matter what language you speak to them.  To them, body language is the most important language there is.

Dogs never learn a word of any spoken language, instead they learn the repetition of specific sounds.  When  that sound is heard, they know there is a certain action expected from them.  This is especially true when you train your dog with hand signals as well as the verbal cue.

If you use a hand signal for your dog to “SIT”, when you say the word in English while giving the hand signal, then he or she knows to put his butt on the ground.  Now, if you say “¡siéntate!” (the same command in Spanish) while giving the same hand signal, your dog knows to sit.  Wow! That dog speaks TWO languages!

With dogs, the key to success lies in repetition.  In addition, the tone that you use is also very important.  If you are giving a command to SIT, then it needs to sound like a command.  If your tone is one that is more of a questioning nature, then you may or may not get a SIT.  It is important to note here that yelling at or to a dog is not a good practice.  The act and tone of yelling indicates a possible threat to your four-legged friend.

With a threat possible, your dog must resort to interpreting the language he thinks he understands, body language. People function on a very high level when it comes to interpreting non-verbal cues, and they do not always get it right.  Your dog is looking for other signs of possible aggression from the person that has started yelling. In the dog’s mind, he thinks, “I need to watch this person to see if his arms raise, perhaps he might strike me.  Maybe his heart rate has increased or his breathing pattern has changed.”  All of these are body language signals watched closely by dogs as they are committed by humans.

What if you are just yelling to your dog about how much you love him?  For your dog to interpret you correctly, you better make sure that the rest of your body language says the same thing.