Body language and short bouts of barking: the language of good canine communication
Learning to communicate with our pets can be a frustrating experience. To get your dog to understand you, your behavior is the key to less stress and better communication.
Take your cue from canines. The most important thing to keep in mind is that dogs cannot understand English. Instead, use behaviors that are more in keeping with the natural way they communicate. For example, dogs typically use short bouts of verbal communication. So we should try to communicate in similarly short bouts. Just like us, talking too much or in long sentences may confuse and overwhelm the dog. Experts say that’s even worse than ignoring the dog completely!
Do dogs have “body language”? Pay attention to the subtleties of how your dog communicates with you. When we communicate with each other, our “body language” includes tone of voice, facial expressions and eye contact, for example. For dogs, their verbal communication includes howling, whining, barking and growling. And these have more variation than many people may think. These variations in intensity, duration, tempo and inflection may change your dog’s message. Learn to pay close attention to these patterns, and you will find it easier to decipher what your pooch is trying to tell you. And don’t forget how your pet is standing, sitting, or how he holds his head. That information can give you clues, too.
By closely observing both body language patterns and verbal communication patterns, you’ll be well on the way to less stressful, more effective communication with your pet.
If you have any tips on how to communicate with dogs, please share them!