“Beauregard, I’m leaving for work, be a good boy and watch the house!” Have you ever uttered something like this?
Or do you leave the house without saying anything to your dog, thinking he can’t understand you?
More to the point: If you do talk to your animals, do you think you might be one step closer to receiving a custom-fitted straitjacket and some quality alone-time in a padded room?
Many people ask what I mean when I suggest they “talk” to their animals. Surely I don’t mean that we have a direct verbal conversation, like a human would have with another human? The animals can’t possibly understand the words that we’re saying, can they? They don’t communicate on the same level that humans do, right?
The truth is, animals do understand us when we communicate verbally with them. They sense our meaning and emotions on other levels as well, but they are perfectly capable of processing verbal information.
To get the biggest response, you should visualize what you are asking them to do for you.
You see, animals are very visual creatures. They form images in their minds based on the words that you’re saying. When you show them a task or a job that you’d like them to perform, they usually respond very quickly.
Here’s how visualization works: When you speak, you might not realize it, but a subconsciously projected visual image that’s associated with the words is formed. In turn, our animals are seeing or picking up on this image. They hear what we’re saying and, more importantly, they also see the picture that’s being projected to them. The clearer we are with our spoken words and the corresponding images that we project, the quicker the animal responds.
When we speak to an animal, we need to be very precise with the word or words that we use to convey our message. More importantly, we need to be cognizant of the visual imagery that we’re projecting as we’re speaking. Here are the steps to follow in order to effectively do that:
- Select a concise word or a concise series of words that you will be saying to your pet.
- Acknowledge the image in your mind that coincides with the word(s).
- Visualize what you want the final outcome to be.
When you use carefully chosen words, the visual images you project will be crystal clear. In turn, your animals will have a better idea of what you expect from them and will be better able to respond. For example, if the desired action is for your dog to go outside for a stick and fetch it, visualize him or her walking out the door, bounding over to a stick, picking it up, and returning it to you proudly. Once you have this series of images in your mind, open the door and ask him to go outside, while simultaneously picturing what you want the final outcome to be.
To further illustrate what I’m talking about, let’s put what we’ve learned into action. I call this my Orange Ball Test.
First, say the words “orange ball” out loud, then repeat them. Now, answer these three questions:
- Did you hear the words “orange ball?”
- Did you mentally visualize an orange ball or the letters associated with the words “orange ball?”
- Knowing that you heard the words and saw a corresponding mental image, did this realization make you feel good because you understood the goal of this test?
I assume you heard the words “orange ball” when you said them. After all, the words did come from your mouth. However, the visualization can be a little tricky. When you said “orange ball” you could have visualized anything — an orange basketball, a squeaky ball, a tennis ball, or even an actual orange. Or maybe you visualized the word spelled out.
When you say “orange ball” to an animal, he might see something different than what you intended. Perhaps he received the visualization of an orange squeaky ball or play toy that’s in the house. A miscommunication might occur if you’re preoccupied or in a bad mood, which could lead your pet to be distracted. Out of concern for you, he’d be more focused on your emotional state than on the orange ball. This is why it’s very important to clearly visualize whichever “orange ball” you want him to receive, and to do so from a positive emotional state.
This test might sound silly or be pretty basic to those of you who already talk to your animals. But if you don’t, I hope this provides a better idea of how animals interpret the words you’re saying.