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  • Drew Webster

The Gift Of Language Is One You Must Give

What is the world without language? The world loses meaning when there is no language. As humans, we tend to only think of language as spoken communication. However, there is a depth to communication which is so far beyond our simple humancentric understanding of language. We could all learn a lot from the deaf and hearing-impaired community, the complexity and richness of sign language is amazing. It's not spelling out words but more visual like creating a picture and describing it with symbols.


Language can open up the world to a learner, be it a dog or a small child building the ability to communicate with those around them is a significant milestone in one's life. The first realization that a being can influence outcomes by "speaking" up for their needs is incredibly poignant and powerful. For example watch, this clip of my son William, age 13 months realizing these once arbitrary hand signals can influence the behavior and outcomes of the world around him. He signs multiple times before I started the video that he was hungry, then that he wanted more of the avocado to eat, and finally that he was thirsty for his milk. WATCH THE CLIP HERE. How powerful he must be feeling now that he is a part of the conversation, he doesn't have to cry or get sad when he has a need, he can simply join the conversation. This makes him happy and independent, this makes us as parents more calm and collected and creates a culture of respect and compassion in our home.


When you are working with animals you have a duty to learn how to read and interpret the wealth of communication that is being used by the animal. When you are proficient (at least conversationally) at understanding body language and behavioral cues you can start to have a conversation. So do you speak dog, maybe it's time to brush up on what you think you know about dogs? Many of the signs of anxiety, fear and pain in dogs are overlooked by even the most astute dog guardians on a daily basis. Why is this? Is the explanation a lack of ability for the dog to advocate for their needs, the context of the situation being familiar or worse cute so we don't see the possibility for discomfort, or a sheer inability to recognize when the animal in front of us is not comfortable?


Research shows us that dogs learn fastest through visual cues yet so much of the training people do with dogs rely on spoken language to prompt the dog to perform behaviors. You can teach your dog visual signals and pair them with verbal cus/commands and build an association.


Disorder and suffering can be brought on easily by making learners powerless. If you want to make any learner feel powerless simply take away their ability to communicate, be heard, and make decisions.


Let's turn that confusion and disorder upside-down. Learning a common language through training can bring you and your dog to a place of order, mutual respect, and appreciation. Let language be the powerful aide that gives you perspective and them the autonomy to join the conversation. Hold the chaos and disorder and acknowledge the struggle which is two species caught in a crossroads of good intentions but a lack of ability to communicate. Restabilize this conflicted relationship by honoring your commitment to one another.


Want to help your dog to learn quickly, need help upping your canine competencies? Get Drew on your team, in-person or virtual training options available, click here!

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