My wisdom teeth have been hurting me and keeping me from being able to eat certain things. I scheduled an appointment with an oral surgeon who recommended I have all four wisdom teeth extracted. They had a cancelation for the next day, which meant they were all coming out! Through getting my wisdom teeth extracted, Sahara and I have been testing our relationship and our nonverbal communication.
Wisdom teeth extraction
Since the procedure I’ve been in nothing but pain and not able to do much of anything. This includes taking care of Sahara. I was taking pain pills and antibiotics consecutively throughout the day. In between trying to eat little bites of food so I didn’t get sick from taking meds on an empty stomach, I was dozing in an out of sleep. This left too little time and energy to devote to Sahara.
The next day, I was home with Sahara by myself. I had to keep her company and try to keep her from getting upset, like she does if nobody plays with her or takes her outside when they are doing nothing. Thankfully my family was very helpful with picking up my slack. They took her out before they left in the morning and then when they got back home. However, that still left the middle of the day. She and I usually go outside to play ball a few times or walk around the yard. So naturally, I snuck out to take Sahara to go potty even though my mom told me not to I just felt really bad…
So I made it quick and it was only once
This outing made me realize that there are some things that I’ve trained Sahara to do without knowing how beneficial they are in different situations. It was a fairly easy potty trip. I put her gentle leader on and she welcomed it surprisingly though, she usually dislikes having it on.
After walking out the door she sat on the stairs giving me time to close the door. We’ve been working on this and it usually takes me asking, a few snaps of my fingers, kissy noises, or more time for her to do it. I was impressed she did it like it was her instinct. I would have smiled but it would hurt too dang much.
She generally goes down the stairs pulling me in tow but with the gentle leader on she took it a bit slower. She actually walked with me outside the entire time too instead of walking in front of me. Maybe she was able to sense that she needed to be gentle. We typically walk on leash outside and then take it off to run and play but without being able to talk I wouldn’t be able to have voice control over her off leash so she kept the leash on.
We got to the end of the boundary where she knows she is allowed to go and she stood there where I usually let her look around. After a minute or two, I was starting to get sleepy so I snapped once and she turned around. She could have taken the snap as in “okay, let’s go” and kept walking but after telling her so many times at that same point in the yard, she knew what I was asking by just a snap.
We walked around for another minute more. This got me thinking. I used to be a little more lenient when it came to walking around outside. I am going to incorporate more time in our walks to letting Sahara decide where to go. I’m going to let her choose and not be so bossy with my demands and suggestions on where to go.
Then it was time to go inside. Just like coming down the stairs, she loves to run up the stairs. Sometimes I’ll slip the leash off my wrist and let her take it up with her. If I catch her in time I’ll ask her to sit and then take the leash off her and carry it myself. In this case, she stuck pretty close to me so I was able to give her a hand signal to sit and stay so I could take the leash. Then I pointed up the stairs and up she went.
When I first adopted Sahara I thought she might be a bit deaf (since then I’ve determined it’s more likely selective hearing). So whenever I gave her a new command I also gave her a hand signal specific to it.
One thing I wish I would have taught her before the surgery was how to pick things up! That would have been so useful as I can’t bend over or else the blood would rush to my head and send me into massive pain. I wish I knew this would be a problem before, I might have tried to teach her how to do it! It’s now on my list of things to teach her just in case.
Nonverbal communication comes in many different forms, everywhere from making noises, to hand signals, to tapping on something. Nonverbal communication has been a huge form of how Sahara and I communicate over the years. It’s become essential to our relationship. I’m sure she appreciates when I stop talking all the time and start listening to what she wants. This will then translate back to them listening to you too.
My nonverbal communication tips for you
Once you stop being so demanding (and start listening) they will start to be more attentive. If you’re not talking then that forces them to look at you. When you are giving commands verbally they can choose not to listen but boy do they know when they have to look at you there’s no way out of it. When looking to you for what to do next, they’ll be more apt to listen because by this point you have their attention (them looking at you) and just have to give them their command.
Invest in yourself and your relationship with your dog. You will reap the benefits as long as you put into it what you want to get out of it. Make your dog feel like you value them! Not just by giving them lots of treats, but by listening to them when they talk to you.
One day every week let your pup choose the route you walk and what turns to take. Try not to pull on the leash when they stop to smell or look around. I tell Sahara all the time not to pull me and I won’t pull her. I try to hold up my end of the bargain regardless if she does and you should too!