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Talking to Your Pets

Talking to Your Pets

From For The Love of The Dog

Many devoted pet owners talk to their pets on a regular basis. Dogs and cats love the sound of their owners’ voices, and hearing them, especially in warm conversational tones, is very soothing and comforting. By deliberately talking to our pets as we do whatever we’re doing is a way of teaching them a bit of our language. Most dogs and cats can pick up on the words that are really important to them, like “dinnertime.”

We generally talk to our pets in a gentle, friendly way when we’re just chatting about the day. We’re not concerned about communicating anything more than “I enjoy your company.” We’re not asking anything of them, nor expecting a response. Dogs and cats are generally relaxed during this kind of chat because they don’t have to understand our words; they just know they’re being included.

When we’re actually trying to get something across to our pets is when it gets more difficult. What we may not be so aware of is that since our pets have limited capacity to understand our speech, they are mostly attuned to our tone of voice. This is easy for us to understand when we put it in context of a foreign language. If someone speaks to you in Japanese, you can generally gather, by tone of voice, whether she is asking for help, angry with you, warning you of danger or trying to sell you something.

Dogs and cats come from much simpler worlds, where their mothers used very basic sounds for training. A subtle growl was a warning to behave or of pending danger. A short, high-pitched bark from mom dog or a trilling sound from mom cat meant, “Hey, I brought you some food!” Most mammals are naturally inclined to slow or stop when hearing a low sound and motivated to get active when hearing a high sound.

Notice when you talk to your pets in a higher voice, they perk up, become attentive, and may get excited. Talk to them in a low voice, slowly, and they may stop and wait cautiously to see what’s going to happen next. If you are trying to train your dog to sit and stay and are having no luck at it, it could be because you are saying a perky “sit!” or “stay!” But the tone of your voice is communicating, “let’s play!” Instead, say a low and drawn-out “si-i-i-t” and “staaaaay.”

Conversely, you may be saying “come” in a low, commanding voice, thinking that will compel her to obey. To your dog, your tone may be a cue to stay right where she is or even back away thinking she’s in trouble. But say “come!” in a higher pitched voice and it sounds like an engraved invitation with a liver snap inside.

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March 18, 2008 - Posted by | Feline Behavior

2 Comments »

  1. […] pixiebobjournal added an interesting post today (Talking to Your Pets).Here’s a little bit of it:A short, high-pitched bark from mom dog or a trilling sound from mom cat meant, “Hey, I brought you some food!” Most mammals are naturally inclined to slow or stop when hearing a low sound and motivated to get active when hearing a high … […]

    Pingback by Talking to Your Pets at Dog and Puppy Stories | March 18, 2008 | Reply

  2. […] Read the whole thing here. Mar 18, 2008 | | Uncategorized […]

    Pingback by The Quick Pet Stop » Talking to Your Pets | March 18, 2008 | Reply


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