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Your tone can speak volumes to your dog

tone vs volume

Our smarty-pants dogs can understand about 200 words—and some furry geniuses even make it up to 1,000 words! But research has shown that our dogs aren’t just listening to what we’re saying, they’re working hard to interpret how we’re saying it, too.

Changing our volume is one simple way we can convey a message to our dogs. For example, if you speak at a regular volume and then suddenly shout, your dog will know that something’s up and they should pay attention. But this effect can wear out when overused. If you shout out every command, your dog will learn that a loud volume is nothing special.

Our tone also plays a very important role in communicating with our canines—perhaps as big a role as the words we say. That’s why your dog is likely to get more excited when you praise them in a happy, cheery voice (“good boy!”) than if you were to say the exact same words in a flat, serious voice.

There are five common distinguishing tones used in dog training. Here’s what your dog understands when you change your tone:

  • Cheerful—Cheerful tones often sound silly and playful. Speaking to your dog in a cheerful voice will tell them that you are proud of their behavior and want to play. 
  • Disappointed—This tone of voice commands attention, especially when accompanied by a frown, and tells your dog that you disapprove of a particular behavior.
  • Soft and reassuring—A soothing tone of voice expresses affection and caring, and is often used when bonding with your dog. Think of how you talk when trying to comfort a baby and you’ll have this tone down pat.
  • Firm—Commands or corrections given with a firm tone tells your dog you’re taking charge now. Even though you are still your dog’s best friend, they respect this tone of voice and realize that they’d better listen up.
  • Caution—A sudden or alarmed command will get your dog’s immediate attention and warn them of a dangerous situation. Use this tone only in emergencies to stop your dog in their tracks. If overused, this tone can lose its effect.

Since our dogs also catch our drift with non-verbal communication, don’t forget to back your words (and tone!) with actions like standing up straight when giving a firm command or petting and giving treats when showing your pooch that you’re pleased.

To help tell your dog they’re the best, stock up on yummy, healthy treats. >>