How To Talk To The Animals


I am going to let you in on a little secret. Learning how to talk to the animals is more about them learning our language, than us learning theirs. Some might not agree, but let me explain:

The Secret

Think about it, have you ever seen a person trying to talk to someone that doesn't speak the same language, so they just say the same thing louder? You roll your eyes watching the interaction because you know without them adding context or changing anything, that it's never going to work. When you talk at your dog, multiple times with no other modification, it can look pretty similar. “Fluffy come! Come. I said come here. Fluffy. Fluffy…come…here.! Please come here now.” Well, here’s the catch, as soon as you put a leash on a dog, it allows you the ability to have open communication and bridge your words to your intention. For example, when you say "come" and are able to guide them into you on a leash, it is a clear demonstration of what that word means. Your words start holding value.

The Leash

Leashes aren't just for walks anymore! Utilizing a leash in the house works great at keeping that line of communication open. When you say "Off!" and are able to calmly walk up to your dog and pull them down off the counter, visitor, or chair it shows them what you want. By adding consistency, they learn that every time you say "Off!" they have to come down. You are holding them accountable for their actions. Bribing (or pleading) with a treat however will always put your dog in a position of power. It gives them the opportunity to accept or decline your offer. For example a biscuit for going into their crate probably doesn't outweigh the fact they know you are leaving soon, and the longer they stall, the more you are going to interact with them in that moment. When you put a leash on a dog instead, and tell them to go in the crate (instead of asking) you make the choice much more simple. Then once they are in the crate, you can reward their action with a special treat.

The Trick

Sometimes saying nothing is the best option. This is the hardest part of learning to speak leash! If your dog is not on the leash in the moment you need to use connect it with a word you have been teaching him, it is always better to not say anything until you are connected! For example, a dog has put his feet up on the counter (off leash). Go find your leash, and discretely slip it on them without pulling on it, only then tell him "Off!" THEN guide him down. This connects the word "off" with the action of coming down. If you pull him down before you say anything, the word looses its power. If you just have the word and no action to back it up, the word looses its power. This is the HARDEST part of communicating.

So What You're Telling Me Is...

Imagine a world where you only have to tell your dog something once and they do it without hesitation, every time. This is possible when you use the leash to communicate.

When you put yourself in a position of pleading a dog to do something, it compromises your position as one in charge and can lead to other anxiety related issues. When you nag at a dog (asking/yelling/tugging incessantly on a leash with no change in outcome of behavior) they learn quickly to tune you out because you're not really going to follow through with any consequence. Only when you can truly control the conversation by harnessing (see what I did there?) the power of the leash can you talk to the animals AND have them listen in return.

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Andrea Robinson