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Talking To Your Dog

Talking to Your Dog | Style & Life by Susana
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People who talk to their dogs (regardless of whether their dogs understand what they’re saying), tend to be more bonded than those who don’t.

OK, hands up here who talks to their dogs (or any pet of theirs)? I can tell you I am completely guilty as charged!! Ever since I have had any sort of pet (I’ve had cats, guinea pigs, pigeons, quails, canaries and chickens) I have always talked to them and have had full on conversations with them. Hey, I’m like Dr Dolittle. Haha!

No I’m not going coo-coo crazy or losing my mind (or perhaps am I??? hmmm?…) but scientists have said that most dogs can understand what you are saying (more or less). Obviously it has to do with the tone of your voice and simple repetitive words, which over time your dog picks up on what the actual meaning and will behave accordingly.

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I have two dogs, Tiago – translated in english means ‘ James’ (!!) but the portuguese meaning is ‘God’s warrior’, and that he truly is with all that he went through medically in July of 2016.  Miguel, translated in english is Michael but the portuguese meaning is, ‘who is like God?’ and they are both chihuahuas.

I know most people think of chihuahuas as yappy little balls of energy, and that is true but my boys are actually quite well behaved… well, of course I would say that (cue in the proud fur baby mama look on her face). OK, except for when they see people walk past our place or kids on bikes (that really sets off their little high pitched barks!). Haha!

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I speak to my boys in both portuguese and in english and have done so ever since they were little pups. They understand me when I say things like:

  • anda ca (come here)
  • não (no)

  • beijinhos (kisses)

  • queres a papa? (do you want some food?)

  • vamos (let’s go)

  • vamos dar a volta? (let’s go for walkies?)

Like I said a short moment ago, dogs respond to the repetitive words being said to them and the tone of how the words are being said. Studies at the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University in the USA revealed how dogs of different temperaments will all respond to the different tones in our voices and our body language as we are talking.

The studies show that a dog’s behaviour is really affected by whether the owner speaks in a friendly tone or in an angry intimidating tone.

For example, when my dogs have been naughty (Miguel, this is mainly you …but mummy loves you!!) and the tone of voice deepens, he knows that mummy is upset at for whatever naughty thing he just got caught doing and cowers down. He knows he’s been naughty!

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A hilarious photo of Miguel & Tiago here. MIguel cuddling Tiago, but Tiago looks a little freaked out. Haha!

Either one of my boys, will hang their head down, ears flop down but yet look up every so often with their big sad eyes, basically saying, ‘sorry mum’. Bless their little furry paws. But if the tone of my voice has a slightly higher pitch, almost in a baby like tone, my boys will respond affectionately.

When I am having a shit day at my office work or just feeling really sad about something, I find that sometimes talking to either of one my boys will help me emotionally and mentally.

Scientists actually encourage us to do it more often as it obviously helps us on a therapeutic level as there are some people who find it hard to open up up to other people but yet can reveal all their hurt and pain to their pets. Another good reason is because animals won’t judge you at all not unlike some humans who might do so and really know how to cheer you up.


All a dog wants is to be fed, have a warm bed to sleep in and the most important one of all – just be loved. I can’t imagine my life without my dogs. The bond between you and your pet can be as strong (if not more) as it can be between people.

When I first got my first dog, I was in my mid 20’s and I chose a chihuahua (of course!) and I called him Mateus – translated into english means, Matthew but the hidden meaning behind Mateus is: gift of God. And to me, he was definitely a gift of God.

Mateus with his bow tie on. He walked me down the aisle when I got married.

Mateus was the love of my life

The most beautiful dog I have ever seen and unfortunately he is no longer with me as he passed away three years ago at the age of almost 14.

He too spoke both portuguese and english and was the most well behaved dog I ever seen (all thanks to my beloved father).

At the time when I got Mateus, I was in my first serious relationship, which was a physical abusive relationship.

I felt so incredibly alone, broken & torn apart, and felt I had lost what the meaning of love was really meant to be all about or what it actually felt like.

Mateus literally put me back together, so to speak. I learnt to love again because of him.

Dogs will do everything they can to try to understand us, in terms of how we speak, our body language and gestures – so if you can, try and make the effort in speaking to them in, ‘dog language’.

Dogs are not just animals, they are a part of the family and really should be treated as such, if not more. They are our fur babies and also deserve the same attention and love that we give to our parents, spouses, brothers/sisters and children etc.

And since my husband and I are finding it very hard to have  our own children, our boys are truly our sons. I am their mother and Troy is their father. I treat my boys with respect and undying love, and shower them with so many kisses and hugs but also ground them when they have been naughty. I do all that a human parent does for their own human children, for they are family too. They are my babies.

Do you talk to your dogs (or any other pet)? Tell me what you say and how they react in the comments below.

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