Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blah, Blah, Blah, Cookie, Blah, Blah

I’ve always been amused by the way we all talk to our dogs. There’s something about them that brings out the playfulness in us. Here at Guide Dogs for the Blind, we not only have a kennel full of dogs and puppies, but our personal dogs are scattered throughout our offices.

Professional guide dog instructors who spend their days teaching dogs to respond to one-word commands like “Sit!” “Stay” and “Halt” can often be heard babbling to their own personal pets.

It’s those paragraph commands that amuse me the most. One of my co-workers is socializing a Guide Dog puppy and she brings her to work several times a week. It always brings a smile when I hear her through my office door: “Nirvana – How is this helping me?” “That’s a nice tummy you have there!” “You need to calm your bunnies!” At least I think she’s talking to the dog…

We thought it would be fun if you sent in some photos and describe how you talk to your dog. And we’ll also accept that candid shot of your co-worker and his/her dog as well… Have some fun!


  1. I sometimes put my commands into sentences. "Santana. You need to sit. You need to wait. Can you lay down, please?" She does these things; and people think she's awesome. I also sing songs to her about her fur/ears/tail/paws, etc. She doesn't like them very much.

  2. Sometimes I talk about where we're going, and she'll do stuff along the way that tells me that, holy cow, she understood what I said!

  3. I do the blah, blah, blah all the time.

    Paxil listens and wags her tail like she's enjoying the conversation. When she's out of site under the table or behind a counter, people think I'm talking to myself and I never tell them otherwise unless they see Paxil and say, "Oh, there's a dog!"

    I had Paxil at work with me last week and she got up from a down-stay so I put her back down and then said "you're such a good little monster" just as a customer set her purchases on the counter. The customer looked at me like I had two heads. Luckily, Paxil chose that moment to wag her good-sized rudder of a tail and the customer noticed that I was speaking to a dog.

    One thing to keep in mind, though - my roommate has a big Great Dane mix named Sasha. She talks to Sasha incessantly, which is fine, but she uses the dog's name about ten times in each sentence. So, when Sasha's name is called, she doesn't listen. I use nicknames for Paxil when I'm chatting to her (Puppy Face, Cutie Pie, Beastie Girl, etc) and even when I'm chatting to other people in front of her. That way, I know without a doubt that when I say Paxil's name, her head will snap with the same rapt attention as when I say "do you want a cookie?" The first thing I will think to say if I ever need her attention in an emergency will be her name. I want an immediate response. My roommate, on the other hand, has no way to get her dog's attention, even if she's about to run into the street in front of a speeding bus. The dog hears "Sasha" the same way she hears the music on the radio - it's just a sound that means nothing, like the wind.

    We usually have three dogs here because I watch my aunt's dog every day. I can adjust behaviors in the other two by saying their names and then a command. Only the dog whose name is called out before the command bothers to respond. But with Sasha, I have to get up and grab her because saying her name doesn't attract her attention and just yelling "No!" without a name punishes the other two dogs, too! So, chat all you want but don't let the dog's name become just another word.

    And I sing songs to Paxil, too! I thought I was the only nut who does that! About her ears - "Do Your ears Hang Low? Do They Waggle To And Fro?" About her face - "Puppy face. You're Just the Cutest Little Puppy Face" You get the idea. Funny, she doesn't seem to like the songs either...it couldn't be my voice; it must be the lyrics...

  4. I sing the songs as well--glad to know I'm not the only one. However, my dog loves them and wags heartily. I too, am a great believer in not overusing the name so that it can be used when necessary. Even the slightest change of inflection means a different thing with my dog's name and she knows them all. She also has a habit of understanding both French and Italian commands as well. It'll be German next.

  5. I am amazed how much they understand in between our blah, blah, blahs!! Cricket loves to run in the park in our back. My husband came home from running and I was talking to him and after a few minutes we realized Cricket was at our feet dancing so excitedly -- she had heard the word running amongst everything and was so excited to think it was time to go 'running.'