SIT! SIT! Ok, c’mon now SIT, SIT, SIT, ok? Alright you rotten little fluff ball, get your butt on the floor now, dang it! SIT, SIT, SIT!
The preceding sentence was actually quoted verbatim from a dog owner I heard recently. His voice never got angry, but allowed maybe just a hint of frustration to seep into his tone. I don’t think the dog noticed. He was watching a Stellar Jay in a nearby tree and was far more interested in the antics of the bird than he was in the stream of nonsense flowing from his owner’s mouth.
Do you think that maybe we talk a bit too much to our dogs at times? I do. I think we babble almost incessantly to our dogs and it serves to convince them that most of what comes out of our mouths is just noise.
I’m not talking about the kind, loving words we give to them while we are cuddled together by the campfire after a long day. I’m talking about the endless stream of blah blah that we use in place of concise commands or cues.
Audio geeks talk about a concept called signal to noise ratio. The signal to noise ratio is a comparison of the level of background noise to the actual signal in an audio circuit. Another way to think of the signal to noise ratio is to imagine the sound of static on the radio compared to the volume of the music being played. When the signal to noise ratio gets too low on your radio, you probably become annoyed with the static and you either turn off the radio or you change the channel. Dogs do the same thing with us.
Most estimates put the number of words in the English language at about 1 million. The average person uses maybe 5000 words while actually understanding about 50,000. The average dog, on the other hand is said to be able to recognize about 165 words. The more you use words not included in your dog’s vocabulary, the lower your signal to noise ratio will be.
I’m going to list the words that I’m sure my dogs know. I think this could be a good exercise for raising my awareness of how my signal to noise ratio is doing. It would be very interesting to see your list!
Gita (happy bumper)
The names of at least 5 family members