Stop Talking – An experiment to try with your dog
I’ve been conducting an experiment with my dogs over the past couple of days, and I have to admit it has been WAY more difficult than I thought it would be.
You see, when it comes to my dogs I’m a bit of a talker. I talk to them about what I’m going, what they’re doing, what they want to do (“Wanna go outside?”) and where they want to go (the dog park always gets a “yes”). I have conversations with them and they listen and turn their heads or perk their ears or come over for some attention. It’s an integral part of our daily routine.
But recently, I read a post (“Why Does My Dog Ignore Me?“) that was very similar to another post I read last year (“A Simple Trick for Calming a Hyper Dog“) about how much we talk to our dogs. The advice of both authors? Stop talking. You talk to much and your dog doesn’t care. They don’t communicate by talking, they communicate by body language.
Of course, I already knew that dogs communicated by body language. I also knew that we humans tend to overuse some words when it comes to our dogs (which brings to mind a dog at our dog park that we call “Marley Off” because that’s pretty much all she, and we, heard while she was there). It’s one of the reasons I started calling Jasper by another name (“Trouble”). I had used his real name so much when calling for him that he had learned to ignore me. Finding a new name, one he associated with fun, turned things around. But, I have never tried just shutting up, not saying anything to my dogs. Let me tell you it was hard.
But, I am also glad I did it. Why? Because I learned some things about myself and my dogs:
- I talk too much to my dogs.
- My dogs seem to already know this and ignore my over-communication .
- My dogs and I have a routine, so my not speaking to them made no difference to them because they already knew the routine.
- Cupcake follows me around the house, whether I speak to her or not. She wants to be where I am. Daisy and Jasper are used to the routine, so they know I’ll be back.
- All 3 of my dogs tend to follow the movements of my hands and body more than the words coming out of my mouth. Me opening the door and motioning for them to go through it had the same effect as me opening the door and asking them if they wanted to go outside.
- Jasper is tends to focus on what my eyes and my face are saying to him than the movements of my hands and body. He reads me specifically by watching to see if I am smiling or frowning, happy or sad.
- My dogs are much, much smarter than I ever gave them credit for (and trust me, I already knew they were smart).
All in all, I have to say it was quite the experiment. It definitely was hard. So many times I caught myself about to say something to them and then stop and just close my mouth. It’s definitely not easy being quiet.
But, I learned a lot about me and my dogs. I guess all that talking really is for me, not them. Will I stop talking to them? Probably not, but I will try talking less. Maybe it will bring us both a bit of zen. 🙂
So now I am wondering… Has anyone else tried experimenting with their dogs like this? If so, what did you learn? If not, will you try it? I would love to hear what you learn from it.
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