One of the absolute cutest dog behaviors ever is the head tilt. It absolutely never fails to make people smile. It’s like dogs are programmed to do it when we talk to them. It proves dogs are listening.
There was a study that reported this week that dogs not only understand when their people are talking to them – they can also distinguish between their native language and a foreign tongue. The weirdest thing about the study was that the dogs also knew when they were being bamboozled and hearing nonsense words.
If you ask us, one of the most impressive things about the study wasn’t that the dogs understood. It’s that the dogs stayed quiet in the MRI machine to participate in the study. Good dogs!
Paying attention all the time
Interpreting their human’s language, attitude, and emotion is a unique trait of dogs. Almost everyone with a dog can relate a story of how their dog never left their side when they were feeling low. Over the centuries of companionship, dogs have become adept at tuning into human society and making it their own.
Does it work both ways? Are you as skilled at reading your dog’s physical and mental well-being? There are the obvious signs that something’s not right, like not eating, restlessness, or even cries of pain.
Then there are the subtler cues. You can’t quite figure out what’s going on, but you know there’s something.
Have a routine
One of the ways to “check in” on your dog’s wellbeing is to have a regular grooming day routine. And while you’re brushing their teeth, fur, handling their ears, paws, etc. keep up a conversational patter and see how they respond. If they’re accustomed to you talking to them, it will relax them and let them know everything’s okay.
Just like us, dogs can have an off day, so if you notice an occasional something, it’s not a big deal as long as your dog bounces back quickly.
Your dog’s response to your voice is one of the most telling cues they can give you. If you use Yoda-voice to get the head-tilt from your dog, and they don’t do it, that’s a clue. Not that we’re saying we would do that kind of thing. Or at least not more than a couple times a week.
Talk to them! Dogs are listening
Dogs are great listeners. When nobody else cares what you have to say, they’re fascinated by every syllable. Be sure to use your power wisely – most dogs will think they’re in trouble if you raise your voice or start shouting. You may just be letting off steam, but they don’t know that.
If you do need to make some noise, be sure to hand your dog treats as you do it. That will let the dog know that whatever is making you unhappy, it’s not their fault.
Best audience, ever
Aside from giving you their complete attention when you talk, dogs provide a great excuse. Back in the days before cell phones, people talking to themselves were often labeled crazy. Unless they were with a dog. Now everybody talks to thin air. But dogs are much better listeners than most people.