Do Dogs Know When You're Talking to Them?

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When you discuss your schedule for the day with your kids or spouse, does your dog know what you're talking about? In other words, do dogs understand what we're saying? We know dogs are intelligent creatures and capable of learning many commands and phrases. Though you may ponder questions like "How many words do dogs know?" it might be better to figure out how best to communicate with your pup. By learning about dog behavior and dogs' physical reactions, you'll have an easier time caring for your pet and making him happy. And really, isn't that what dog ownership is all about?

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Do dogs know what we're saying?

You're not far off when you wonder if your dog knows what you're talking about, especially since canines tend to cock their heads to one side when you speak to them. This adorable head tilt seems to indicate that your pet knows you're talking to him, though this action is more about trying to hear better than actually responding to specific words. The reason for this head tilt has to do with a dog's physique, as canines have ear flaps that cover the ear canal. Because these flaps prevent sounds from getting to a pup's ears clearly, your dog will turn his head in a cute fashion so he can hear better.

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Why do dogs stare?

Another reason you might think your dog understands what you're saying to him is the fact that he stares at you intently. This focused look is also about communication, as sometimes your pet will stare for attention, to be let out to pee, or to get you to walk to the treat bag and pass him a tasty morsel. Your dog is also aware of your emotions and will stare in order to pick up on what you want, such as following your eyes or finger-pointing gestures. And dogs like to stare so they can anticipate the next event in their lives. For example, your pet knows that after you finish your coffee and banana in the morning, it's time for his walk (you also grab the leash at that point, which is another obvious clue).

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Best ways to bond with your dog

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To improve the way you relate to your pet, it's smart to deepen the bond you share. Learn how to get closer to your dog with these easy ways to bond:

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  • Prioritize play.​ You know your dog loves to play tug-of-war with that yellow rope toy, so offer to tussle with him as often as you can. Provide other fun playthings too, including objects with food inside and puzzles for him to figure out. Brain stimulation like this promotes bonding and it's fun!
  • Exercise regularly.​ Walking, running, hiking, and other forms of getting outside for some physical movement are important for a dog's health and mood.
  • Be present.​ You can probably guess what this means: put down your phone. Giving your pet your fullest attention is another way to promote good bonding (and it's more polite too).
  • Make time for grooming.​ Does your dog enjoy a good brush on his fur? Or a soapy bath in the backyard? Grooming your canine is another way to bond as well as improve communication.
  • Train consistently.​ Your pup wants to please you, so keep up the training work using positive reinforcement methods. With a strong bond formed during training, pets can actually be freer and off-leash more since you're able to control them well.
  • Have patience.​ Learning how to care for and communicate with an animal takes time and can be frustrating. Strive to remain calm, without raising your voice, so your pet can be relaxed and you can bond better.

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