I’m fairly certain I’m not the only person who has one-sided conversations with their pet. Dogs are, after all, very good listeners even though they haven’t the foggiest idea what we’re saying most of the time. However, dogs do have the ability to understand our tone of voice and listen to intonation cues in our words to get a general idea of what we’re trying to get across to them. When talking to your dog during training sessions, your tone and intonation make a difference in getting his attention and helping him understand what you want.
Tone of voice reflects the attitude or emotional mood of the person speaking. Intonation is the fluctuation in our words. It can be a little confusing to tell the difference, but they are two different parts of language. When we speak, our tone tells someone how we are feeling – sad, happy, angry, tired, etc. Intonation is how we express our words with the upward or downward movement of sound. An upward intonation is how the voice rises at the end of a sentence. “Way to go!” “Are you hungry?” A downward intonation is how the voice goes down at the end of a sentence. “What is the matter?” I would love to go, but I have to work.”
When making a positive statement, the intonation cue is usually higher to signal that the intent of the sentence means you are happy, excited or pleased. The intonation cues in a negative statement take a lower pitch and reflect sadness, disappointment or bad news. Understanding the difference between the two is important when giving commands to your dog, because he can tell the difference and it can impact his understanding of what you expect from him.
Have you ever looked at your cat’s cute face and wondered if those whiskers served a purpose, and what that might be? I have, so I decided to find out and share it with all of you. Perhaps “fascinating” is a bit of a stretch, but it turns out that cat whiskers are pretty remarkable things.
Whiskers – also called vibrissae or tactile hairs – are thicker and more deeply rooted than your cat’s normal hair, and serve several functions. Because whiskers are rich in nerve endings, they are important sensory tools for a cat. Here are five more fun facts I discovered about cat whiskers.
Cats Whiskers Measure an Opening
There are four rows of whiskers on each side of a cat’s muzzle; the top two rows can move independently from the bottom two rows. Because the whiskers on a cat’s muzzle are approximately equal to her body width, they help to determine how wide an opening is. When a cat puts its head through the opening, she’s checking out the surroundings while simultaneously doing a “whisker check” to see if she can fit through the hole. If the whiskers brush the sides of the hole, the cat knows her body won’t fit.
If most dogs had their way, they wouldn’t put one paw inside the vet’s office. It can be a scary place with unfamiliar smells, slippery floors, cold exam tables and strangers poking them. A routine checkup can cause even a laid back dog to feel stressed out. You can help your dog feel more at ease by teaching him some simple commands.
Go to Your Mat
A mat with a nonslip bottom gives your dog a familiar and safe place to rest while waiting to see the vet. It provides a gripping ability for his feet while on an exam table, the floor, or while being weighed. When training your dog to go to his mat, only use it for positive and pleasant interactions. You want him to learn it’s a secure and happy space. Some dogs might prefer using their favorite blanket instead of a mat.
Asking your dog to shake hands is a good way for him to willingly give his paw to someone. The more he shakes hands, the more comfortable he will be with having his feet handled. Encourage your dog to shake hands with your vet and other staff members to help him develop a relationship with them. This will be helpful when your vet needs to trim your dog’s nails or examine a leg or paw.
Have you ever seen those whistles that people blow and no sound comes out? I’ve always been intrigued by the thought that our canine friends can hear something that makes no perceptible sound to the human ear. When I think of a dog whistle, that’s what I think of, those whistles that make no sound. But we were at a pet expo recently, and there was a demonstration that involved police service dogs performing a variety of exercises. Throughout the program, the dog handlers used whistles we could hear. What’s more, the whistles were different for different dogs. In other words, each dog had a whistle that was specific to him.
When I was young, my dad taught me to curl my tongue, shove two fingers in my mouth and blow. I can make a whistling sound that you can hear in the next time zone. I don’t overuse this super skill, but sometimes when the dogs are hiking with us off-leash and they get out of our range of sight, I let the whistle rip. When they hear it, they come back immediately. Could my fingers be considered a dog whistle? What is a real dog whistle?
A curious genius and relative of Charles Darwin developed the first dog whistle, kind of by accident. Sir Francis Galton was interested in human hearing and how it all worked. In 1876, he developed a small brass whistle with a slide so he could alter the whistle’s frequency, thereby testing the range and limitations of man’s hearing. Thus the Galton whistle was born.
Dogs often inspire humans in ways that we don’t think about consciously. We sometimes take what they give us for granted. Sitting back and looking at our interactions with these wonderful animals can make us realize how truly inspirational dogs can be. They can teach us the most basic life lessons in a very pure, unassuming way.
Dogs know how to keep us company. Granted, they can’t talk to us in words the way we do with each other, but they are steady and always there when we need them to be. They ask very little in return and happily stay by our side with no question or judgment. They don’t burden us with emotional baggage or betrayal, and they know how to give of themselves unconditionally. Dogs like being around their humans; it makes them content to simply have you nearby.
Although it may not seem like dogs are patient when they bark for attention, jump around anxiously to go out, or grumble for food, think about how many times they patiently wait for us to play with them, feed them or give them a little attention on our busy days. Dogs are usually much more patient than our human children.
Dr. Patrica McConnell and Dr. Stanley Coren are distinguished dog experts and award winning writers who share their lifelong love of and knowledge about canines in their many published works. I first ran across Dr. McConnell in the late 1990s while channel surfing; a program on Animal Planet called “PetLine” grabbed my attention. McConnell was co-hosting the show, which dealt with animal behavior. Some of you may be familiar with her from a radio show she co-hosted for fourteen years called “Calling All Pets.” Dr. Coren is someone I came across online several years ago while researching aggressive dog behavior.
Dr. Patricia McConnell is an expert on human/animal relationships. She earned a PhD in zoology in 1988 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and has been teaching a popular course since 1991 called “The Biology and Philosophy of Human/Animal Relationships” at her alma mater as an adjunct professor. McConnell is a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB). She gives lectures and conducts seminars throughout the world, has been a dog trainer since 1988 working with canines that have serious behavioral issues, is an expert on canine and feline behavior, and author of fourteen books about animal behavior (ethology).
Her first published book in 2002, “The Other End of the Leash,” is read worldwide and published in 14 different languages. She also finds time to appear regularly on several radio shows and an occasional TV appearance. She writes articles for major magazines and participates in fundraisers to benefit animal shelters – most recently in the Midwest and Texas.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.