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  • Deb Bauer

Speaking Out Loud to Deaf Dogs - Beyond Sign Language

Communicating with a deaf dog presents unique challenges, but it also offers a remarkable opportunity to explore the depth of our connection with our furry friends. While sign language or hand signals are essential tools for deaf dog communication, there's another aspect of interaction that often goes overlooked—speaking out loud.

As humans, we are naturally inclined to use spoken language to convey our thoughts, emotions, and intentions. Our words carry not only meaning but also emotions and energy. Dogs are highly attuned to these subtle cues, and incorporating spoken language into your communication with a deaf dog can significantly enhance your connection and their understanding of your messages.

Natural Ways of Communicating

Speaking out loud to your deaf dog is a natural extension of your own communication style. For many of us, talking comes effortlessly, almost reflexively, in everyday life. When we interact with our dogs using spoken words, it feels more genuine and comfortable for us.

This authenticity can translate into more effective communication because it reflects our true emotions and intentions. Using whatever verbal ways of communicating come naturally to us, whether that is through words, sounds, or breathing, helps our communication be more congruent.

Emotion and Energy in Words

Dogs are experts at reading our emotions and energy. They can sense when we're happy, sad, excited, or anxious, often before we consciously realize it ourselves. When we speak, our emotional state is conveyed not only through the words we use but also in the tone, pitch, and rhythm of our speech. These all translate into different vibrations and energy wavelengths. Deaf dogs are adept at picking up on these subtleties in the air.

For example, when you enthusiastically say, "Good boy!" with a smile and an upbeat tone, your dog can feel and see the positivity and know that they've done something right. Emotional cues are vital for helping your deaf dog navigate their world and understand your expectations. Our emotion is portrayed through our voice vibrations, but also, at the same time, through our facial expressions, body language and posture.

Genuine Facial Expressions and Body Language

Speaking out loud often goes hand in hand with more genuine facial expressions and body language. When we speak, our faces naturally express emotions, and our bodies move in ways that complement our words. This added layer of non-verbal communication can be particularly valuable when working with a deaf dog.

Imagine telling your deaf dog they're about to embark on an exciting adventure. As you speak, your face lights up with excitement, and your body language conveys enthusiasm. Your dog may not hear your words, but they see and feel your excitement, making the message crystal clear.

Clearer Messages for Your Dog

Deaf dogs rely heavily on visual cues, and incorporating spoken language into your communication repertoire can provide them with more comprehensive information. By combining spoken words with signs or gestures, you offer your dog a multi-modal communication experience. This can help reinforce your messages and make them easier for your dog to understand.

Trying to stay silent while giving hand signals can cause our body postures and facial expressions to seem stilted or stiff. This can give our dog confusing or conflicting information. When we allow ourselves to speak naturally along with the signs we're giving, all those parts are communicating the same message to our dog. Our speech matches our facial expression, which matches our posture and body language. This is called being congruent - when all of us is portraying the same message.

In the world of communicating with deaf dogs, every tool at our disposal matters. While sign language or hand signals are essential, speaking out loud offers a unique and powerful way to connect with your deaf dog as well. It's a natural form of expression for humans, and it allows us to convey emotions, energy, and clear messages to our dogs. So, don't hesitate to speak out loud to your deaf dog—it's a beautiful way to enhance your bond and make your communication richer and more meaningful.

I truly enjoy helping people open up communication with their deaf dogs. If you're stuck, I can help you get started. If you've already started and you're looking for fun new things to teach your dog, check out the membership and Facebook groups below.

Our members enjoy learning about how to teach their dogs new things, reverse common behavior concerns, and provide the best enrichment and quality of life for their deaf dogs. We have an active online community as well as live virtual calls twice monthly. Come join the fun! We'd love to have you!

The Facebook group offers expert advice and some important things to teach deaf dogs, such as an automatic check in challenge.

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