“She really likes when you talk to her,” said the behaviorist as she waltzed Gracie around the empty training room. Gracie pranced with one ear cocked, listening to the happy tone in J’s voice. And, I could see it — the connection wasn’t the clicker or the treat; the connection was the relationship between the two of them that found its expression in J’s tone of voice.
“You need to tell her to sit with more authority,” said the man who’d come to class with his wife. “Sit.” His voice hardened and he looked down to where Gracie was already sitting by my son’s left side. Gracie pressed herself closer to my son’s leg. As the man moved on to the next dog, he said, “I thought she’d be more aggressive than that.”
Tone of voice never goes out of style or loses its effectiveness … and, it always works. People who have never learned to leave their ego at the door bring a punitive, aggressive tone of voice into their conversations. They make dogs cringe and alienate people. “Gracie really tweaked when that guy spoke to her,” my son confided as we made our way out to the parking lot. As we pulled out of the parking lot, headed for home, we talked about how one of the most important things you do as a dog owner is to always protect your dog; that listening to the emotion in someone’s voice is more important than their words. Because tone of voice never lies.
Just because someone asks if they can pet your dog, doesn’t mean they can.