Blog

Pet relationships; Do your pets understand you?

How much does my dog understand?
How much does Quinn understand?

Pet relationships; Animals don’t speak English (or any other human language)

Dogs, cats and horses generally can’t speak words.  Sure, there are some YouTube videos that show an occasional word or two, but I stand by my statement.  Our pets do not speak to us in words and sentences as a general rule. 

I’m pretty sure my pets would speak to me if they could.  However, since they can’t make their mouths form words because of their anatomy, they figure out other ways to let me know what they need.  

I have to admit, I never used to think about it.  Years and years ago, I treated them as beings that didn’t have any real thoughts. I sort of knew they had emotions and, of course, I knew they needed to eat, sleep, drink, go to the bathroom, etc. But I didn’t think any further than that. 

Pets communicate in other ways

I’ve come to realize that my pets are much smarter than I thought.  Since they can’t talk, they’ve come up with other ways to tell me what they want. If they think it’s dinner time, they stare at me.  If they need to go outside, they go to the door. If they want attention, they paw at my leg.

My Aussie, Quinn, takes it to a whole new level as she tries to lure me outside to play ball.  Or when my dogs hear me talk about someone coming over, they go watch for them.  I have to watch what I say because they are listening.  

Can they understand us?

As I became aware of their basic communication, I started wondering; “Do pets understand me even if they can’t speak to me?”  So I started testing it out.

I told my horses, for example, “If you want your blanket, stand still.  If not, walk away”. To my surprise, they’d do it!  I’d say to my dogs “let me finish _______ and then I’ll go out and play ball with you”. I started noticing that they would wait.  And if I went on and did something else instead of keeping my word, they’d start nagging at me. But if I kept my word, they’d be patient.

I found that if I told them that they needed this shot or that pill, they would do much better than if I just did it.  If I explained why we were doing something less than pleasant to them, they’d allow me to do it even though they knew it wasn’t going to be fun. 

I have come to the conclusion that I have greatly underestimated the abilities of my pets to understand me.  And more importantly, I’ve come to understand that they are willing to work with me if I work with them. 

I talk to my animals

My relationship with my pets has changed. I talk to my animals all the time now.  I don’t think they understand everything I say.  I figure they understand what a 4 or 5 year old child understands.  If I talk to them as if they are small children, they generally seem to understand.  Not baby talk, but nothing too complicated And I figure that, even if they don’t understand everything, they get a majority of it. Besides, it can’t hurt anything.

If you’re curious, I encourage you to try it out.  Simple yes/no questions work best.  Something clear, like nod or shake your head.  My animals do that much of the time.  When we get a new animal, they don’t always do it, but once they’ve been here for a while, they start responding.  I think they just need an encouraging environment to really open up.  

Since they’ve often been around people who don’t try to talk to them, they shut down and operate on that level.  But if you work to build your relationship by communicating on a level that your pets can participate in, you might find that your pets are pretty darn smart too!

You can find out more about pets and giving them a better life.

Click Your Pet; Mind and Body to join and read about useful tips, new ideas or different ways to help make your pet happy.

P.S. I make custom dog clothes to help dogs reach their best lives. If a custom dog coat sounds good, go to  www.madebyde.com.  I make every coat just for your dog.