Your fur-kids are saying so much to you all of the time! There’s a lot of communication from them that you most probably miss entirely. Animals are deep, subtle and rich in their communication with you – and the better you get at ‘talking dog’ (or cat, or horse etc.), the deeper your communion will become with your furry family members. We will dig into how you can better understand and communicate with your animals in a minute.
But first, let’s tune into you! You’re a human being. The only truly verbal creature on this wonderful planet we share with so many non-verbal animals. (Yes, animals vocalize sounds, but there is no language, no words, no complex exchange of ideas in these sounds.) Animals can and do express immense emotional content in the noises they make, but they don’t communicate complex and abstract ideas and concepts like we do.
Most humans think that the verbal content (words) in what they say is the largest and most important content in terms of communication. This is not true! The verbal content of human communication is often the least important information being communicated.
Non-verbal content such as tone of voice, body language, expressions, gestures and more subtle signs like heart rate, flushing, direction of the gaze, intensity of the gaze, eye movements and breath are far more important than words alone.
To illustrate this- there was a study where people listened to the voice of a doctor for only a very short while – less than a minute. The recording was blurred so the verbal content could not be understood, but the tone of voice was clear. People were able to assess with a very high degree of accuracy (90% or more) which doctors were likely to be sued by their patients.
Interesting, isn’t it? The key thing that is the strongest indicator of a doctor being sues is if they talk down to or interrupt their patients. I.e. when they don’t listen. So imagine how your pets might feel. Because you’re missing a LOT of what they are trying to tell you. Humans are usually pretty poor at listening effectively to non-verbal communication.
And this is why dogs and cats are nearly always far better at training their humans than the humans are at training the animals! You see, your animals are non-verbal. They are much, much more sensitive to microscopic shifts in non-verbal communication than humans are. Your pets know what you’re thinking and feeling better than you do, a lot of the time. Just think about taking them for a walk, and do nothing else. Most of the time they will know, because you’ve had subtle changes in your body language, and other non-verbal behaviours.
Learning how to talk Dog (and cat, and bunny, etc)
The first thing you need to do is to get curious. Really, really curious. Because a lot of what you want to understand and listen to in your pet’s non-verbal communication is subtle. Microscopic changes in your pet’s nonverbal communication can mean a LOT.
What do you need to look for?
Facial expression: In our pets, this also includes the ears and whiskers – all of which are mobile. Look for the smallest shifts, and be curious about what they might mean in terms of communication. Watch your pets when they interact with you, with other people, and with other animals. Our pet’s eyes are super expressive – the slightest narrowing or relaxation can speak volumes. And eyes even without movement, when connecting with you, express deep emotion.
The gaze: The direction, intensity, and movement of the gaze communicates more than possibly anything else with animals. When you meet a new animal, never look straight into their eyes. It’s very threatening, pushy communication. Little flicks and movements of the eyes between animals can be full of information.
The body posture + movement: The direction of movement relative to other animals, and the way the body is held also will give you a lot of information. The way mitzi’s body shape changes when I say the word ‘bath’ compared to ‘walk’ is night and day!
Breathing and heart rate: The speed of the breath, and where in the chest the movement is flowing also give you a lot of information- with any stress or anxiety, the breath will tend to be shallow and fast, only in the top of the chest. A relaxed, happy animal will have a slower breath, right down into the belly
Anyway- that gives you a starting point. The more curious you get, the more sensitively and deeply you watch your pets non-verbal communication, the better you’ll get at listening to them. This is so beautiful for your animals
In the Whole Energy Body Balance Bodywork for Pets online trainings, we teach you a lot about how to understand what your pets are saying to you. It’s all kinds of fun, and leads to a way deeper bond with your pets…