How to Talk to Your Dog

We love Toby

If you visit Child’s Voice during the summer months—when school is on break, you may be greeted at the door by TOBY, my golden retriever. She loves sleeping in my office all day but she also likes taking occasional breaks to smell the grass outside. While reading the Sunday paper I came across this article and thought WOW how do you talk to dogs?? These are the tips given by the St. Louis-based veterinary behaviorist Debra Horwitz, DVM DACV. She is also the lead editor of the new book Decoding Your Dog.

* Please, Don’t Talk So Much
She says our dog’s vocabulary tops out at a remarkable 250-300 words, So keep your words simple but also keep your facial expressions, gestures and body language on message, too.

* It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It
That whole dominate-your dog thing? Bunk, says Horwitz. “If you yell at your dog to ‘come here’ the dog will say ‘that doesn’t really look like a great idea.’ Better: Sweet, gentle talk is best.

* A Carrot Beats a Stick-Especially if the Carrot is Bacon
Reinforce commands with treats—now that’s talking dog language.

* Your Dog Kind of Has ADD
Your dog takes in all kinds sensory input. Think of potential distractions from a dog’s point of view. Remember that if you’re yelling at him for something he did an hour ago or even 5 minutes ago, he probably just thinks you’re crazy. Dogs don’t know past tense.

* Your Dog Aims To Please
“Don’t look at your dog as your enemy,” says Horwitz. “He’s not out to get you, or to make you mad.” So it’s probably safe to give him back his internet access—haha

So the funny expressions Toby makes is making a bit more sense.