Although I have never formally trained my dogs, I have no trouble in communicating with them. In fact I talk to them a lot and we seem to understand each other quite well.
With this in mind I was interested to learn, on a recent one week visit to China, that many Asian languages are ‘tonal’. That is, meaning is attached to the pitch or intonation of the words spoken. Chinese has five tones, whereas English has only two tones. Not sure what the two tones in English are…maybe quizzical and statement?
Anyway, point here being this information struck a chord with how I communicate with my dogs. Namely, I adopt a multi-tonal use of the English language when talking to them.
Many of you will have experienced this is my videos where, for example, my puppy-calling voice could cut sheet metal (!). It starts at a low shrill pitch on the ‘pupp‘ bit and then seamlessly shifts to high pitched shrill for ‘ies‘ bit. And they always come running. They understand me.
Anytime I speak to the dogs I use this dog-speak, sometimes throwing in a whistle or hand gestures and other body language. When I walk down the pebble steps coming down from the doggery to the house, I am often heard admonishing the youngsters dancing at my feet, “You’ll break my neck! Move!” And so it is, in not much time at all, the teenagers understand me and I find I can enjoy safe clear passage down the steps and at the same time enjoy the effervescent canine adoration going on to my left and right.
I definitely speak more loudly too. My tone is commanding I guess. When I call a dog’s name, I call it out as a sergeant would bark a command at parade but mingled with affection. It’s a clear, stand alone word ringing in the air. When I see a dog not coming to someone calling them, I have to hold myself back from stepping in with a hearty holler certain to attract their attention.
If you have trouble getting your dog’s attention, maybe try some different tones and see how you go.