Talk'n to dogs
I am enjoying the cool breeze this morning immensely; as are the dogs I'm sure. For the past several days they have been laying around the house like a bunch of sandbags, they don't enjoy the sweltering heat anymore than I do. The weather has broken; so we are happy once again.
I was having a discussion with Luke yesterday.................okay Sherri has lost it, she is talking to her dogs. I know what you are thinking and yes I talk to my dogs on a regular basis. They are very good listeners, or at least the poodles are. Jessie tends to listen for a moment and when there is no mention of food; she's over it. Luke is my best listener; I just know he is trying his hardest to figure out what the heck I'm talking about.
Just how much do they understand? Alot has to do with how much you talk to your dogs and how much you have educated them? My guys have a huge vocabulary that they understand. I am forever trying to teach them new words for things that might pop up in their life. I try to teach them the terms for their body parts or at least the ones that I'll have to deal with, ears, stomach, feet etc. Luke being a huge worry wart I like to let him know everything I intend on doing to him; this helps to relax him. He knows that "Mommy see," means that I need to look at something on him. His body posture changes when I say this, he clearly understands versus me grabbing him and tryiing to check something out unannounced which freaks him out.
"Let me help" means I will be assisting him off of something and he is cool with that. Just don't try to pick him up without telling him you are doing so. When you talk to your dog and they are listening; they are waiting for words that they recognize and have a clear association to. It can seem that they know exactly what you are talking about by recognizing a number of words in a sentence. For instance when I say "who wants to go for a walk?" The first word they understand is "who," most dogs who are talked to know this one.
But when a phrase is used repetitively they do understand the phrase. It is the phrase in general they understand, you can say "who wants to eat a toad?" and they still think it is something good. I often use the "who wants" phrase in my photography. Almost every dog will cock it's head for that phrase. But when you are having a discussion with your dog, lots of words are thrown aside. They stand listening for the words they understand, dog, hungry, outside, car etc. Put enough of them together and they can have a clear picture of what is going on.
You can clearly see when a dog understands a word "oh oh I know that one." Especially when you try using words that they don't understand. Some dogs will completely ignore you if you talk nonsense or things they don't understand and then there are the ones who really want to figure it out but can't. Those are the cute guys who turn their head constantly, mine all do.
Some recognition is based on tonal delivery, used alone or accompanied by a familiar word tone can make or break an understanding. If a dog truly understands a word, then tone does not matter, give it a try. Use a familiar phrase like "going in the car" and say it in many different tones, it is very interesting.
My association training comes in the form of "I see a need." Typically when there is confusion I see a need to explain and educate. A very good example is getting one dog out the door and leaving the rest in. As a trainer I see this mass confusion often, people trying to hold back one dog while the other is let out. There are legs and arms used and it is all very confusing for everyone involved. To simplfy this I have added "just" before the name or names of the dogs to come with me. When I say "just" everyone listens carefully and if that is "just Jessie" then just Jessie comes to me, confusion gone.
Talk to your dogs.