Getting Vocal

Humans like to talk.

Most of the time we do it subconsciously – babbling “empty words” and talking on and on to fill a silence. If you’ve had a conversation with someone like this (and most of us have on more than one occasion), you know how easy it is to zone out and stop really listening to what the person’s saying.

It’s the same for animals.

I try to use as few words as possible with any animal (species). When I correct a dog, instead of saying “no”, I make some kind of noise: “Hey!” “Ssssssst!” “Shht!” When people use words, they tend to keep using them. That is, they’ll keep saying “no” unnecessarily. If we just make a sound followed by a correction, we keep it short and to the point.

Our animals will completely ignore us if we always yell “no” pointlessly. They learn fast that you just say “no” over and over and nothing else will happen. My communication with horses is also completely nonverbal. The only exception is when I’m working with more than one, especially at liberty. In those situations, it’s easier at times to teach the horses their names. That way, they won’t all back up or do something at once. You will be able to say “I only want this horse to do something.”

Other than that, human words aren’t all that necessary!  Try making up a sound, whatever comes to you, to correct your dog instead of repeatedly saying “no”. And… mean what you say!

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