Between All That Chatter, Did You Say Sit? What Dogs Understand

What dogs hear when people speak

Wow you peeps talk a lot, ever wondered what your dog thinks about your constant chatter? Well we do accept it in good humor, know that is just how you’re wired and you just can’t help yourself.  Perhaps if you had a tail, you wouldn’t need to chatter as much, but alas you we’re not lucky enough to have a wagging tail.

Now I know what your thinking…you dogs bark, sometimes all the time. Well that can be true, but we also use our whole body to communicate and get our point across. When I meet another dog I  can stand in a certain way, put my ears and tail in a way that will express exactly how I feel and what I want without a single sound being barked. And you know what? That dog know what to expect.

So learning a new language from another species can be quiet the challenge.  If you have ever lived in another country where the language is different from your native language, you’ll know just what I mean. A foreign language can sound like mumble jumble and if you want to learn that new language, it takes time to figure out what the words are and what they mean.  Can you imagine standing in a field and someone in Chinese or Russian or a language you just don’t know and they start asking you to do something? I bet you’d tip your head sideways too!

what dogs hear when you speak

So you can see how we dogs need a good sound way to learn your language and we also have to learn that you like to chatter to us. You have no tail, so I can’t tell your mood, your ears or nose do not move much so I can’t tell how you’re feeling, so I need to learn the sounds that come from your mouth. This is where it can get confusing for both of us. So I thought a few practical tips on how to have a good chat with your dog was in order.

What dogs understand

what dogs understand

1. Don’t repeat yourself: When you’re asking us to do something, just say it once. I know it’s hard for you to stop talking and to respond to something, it’s your nature. For example if you want us to sit, train us to respond with just that word.  I bet there are some dogs that agree that when you learned how to sit your peep might have started by saying sit, sit, sit, SIT! I know how hard it is for your peeps, it goes against their natural instincts. This is really hard for us dogs and we can end up  learning that I need to hear you repeat a word until you become blue in your face before I react.  But once you appreciate how hard that is, it will become so much easier to respect your dog’s natural instinct and how we have to understand your chatter.


A trainer will tell you when you’re communicating with us, it’s better to say the command once. So which do you want us to learn? Sit or Sit, sit, sit, Sit?.
2. Keep the vocabulary simple: I know you have a big vocabulary, and I think that’s great, however as a dog learning a new language please when you’re asking us to do something, use the same word. We dogs do not use words; they are just too much of abstract concept to appeal to us dogs. When you talk to us we have to use quite a sophisticated sequence of thoughts to connect your specific word to the action you want us to do.

Now if you tell me to sit, I’ve learned that means to sit. However if you say “sit, down, now sit, no I said down, sit…? Maggie, sit” To me this is even worse than repeating the same word over and over again! Jeez…it’s impossible for us dogs to find the command word in all that chatter. What are you banging on about? I’m just going to ignore you, until you can talk to me properly. If you’re going to talk to me, please be clear and use the same word.

3.Do what I do not what I say: Speaking of mixed messages, I can really get confused when you’re saying one thing and your body language is saying another. I see this at the dog park all the time. You’ll call me “here” and then you start walking towards me….What? To me this is a straight contradiction. From my point of view a better way is to show me what you’re saying, take a step away from me and while you’re saying “here” this is so much more logical and I understand it so much better.

Peeps are just hard-wired when it comes to their behaviors and how they communicate; just as us dogs have our own particular set of canine instincts. So sometimes we can get our tails crossed and behavior misunderstandings can arise. Just remember we dogs are very observant of your body language and we respond to the messages that we think we are seeing, whether you are aware of it or not.  So take your time and remember we are not only learning another language but a complete new way to communicate with you.