Why Your Brain Needs Dog Self-Talk

Do you talk to yourself? Does it help you figure out problems? The truth is that most people talk to themselves. Shocked? Do you know that there’s a difference between talking to yourself and self-talk? This is when you go from simply having a conversation with yourself to actually working through complex issues. What if you could bounce those issues off someone or something? That’s when your self-talk can get a boost. Did I just pique your interest? Today let’s dig in and discover why your brain needs dog self-talk.

a woman practices dog self-talk
disclaimer note

*Update: June 27, 2023

Budget Tip:

One of the best aspects of dog self-talk is that it doesn't cost a cent, but the benefits can be exponentially positive. You get to work out complex issues, reduce stress, boost confidence, and improve the function of your brain. Plus, your dog gets to bond with you during the process. That's a huge win-win! And a must-do activity with your dog!

I have to admit, I’m constantly talking to my dog, Henry. I include him in my thought processes as I work through things. Even in writing this article, I consulted Henry. Sure, he didn’t respond in human language. He didn’t need to respond. He simply needed to be my sounding board. Or he needed to catch all my “self-talk” as he does daily.

What is self-talk?

Are you asking yourself “What is self-talk?” Good question. Self-talk is that internal dialogue we all have throughout the day. We can keep our self-talk as an internal dialogue. Or we can be more vocal with our self-talk.

Although there are two main types of self-talk – positive and negative, I’m concentrating on positive self-talk for this article. This blog and website are about how to improve your and your dog’s life positively. Negative self-talk does not fit that bill. Nor does it fit my lifestyle. However, if you find you’re a negative self-talker, I encourage you to take note and do your best to change it to a more positive tone.

For example instead of saying, “I can never do this. Why am I even trying?” Do your best to switch it to a positive tone. Maybe something like, “I’ve got this. I may not know how yet, but I’ve got this. I know I can do it.”

What are the benefits of self-talk?

Are you still with me? Wondering what if any benefits there are to self-talk? Well, Psyche.co refers to sel-talk as “..technology for thinking.” But maybe you are still thinking, “Well, that’s fine. I do that all the time. But people think I’m nuts!” Hold your pecans for just a moment. Medical Daily states the science of self-talk boosts brain power. More specifically the benefits of self-talk include:

1. Emotional health

When you hear more positive things your emotions tend to become more positive.

Do you know to hike with your dog without hurting your back? In this article, I give you easy, cheap, and actionable tips to reduce or eliminate the pain while increasing the fun.

2. Motivational inspiration

You become your own motivational speaker. You may even see sports athletes using self-talk during competitions. Think of tennis players before they serve or even basketball players when they are at the free-throw line.

3. Improves mental development

This is especially true for younger children as their brains are developing. Remember those entire conversations you’d have with your stuffed animals as a kid? Or maybe even with your dog. It was helping your mental brain develop and figure things out.

4. Encourages inventive and creative thoughts

It helps you work through various ways of doing things. What may seem impossible can become possible as you self-talk or self-brainstorm thoughts.

5. Helps with mental blocks 

While positive self-talk improves your emotions it also helps you think through different ways of doing things and naturally, it will aid in breaking down mental blocks.

6. Problem-solving

Certain problems may seem overwhelming, but with a bit of self-talk, you find you can tackle what seemed impossible.

7. Achieve goals

 While you’re problem-solving, breaking down mental blocks, and being your own cheerleader it would make sense that you achieve goals along the way.

Do you have your dog goals set? In this article, I walk you through how to do it and why it’s important.

8. Reduces stress

As self-talk is increasing your positive thoughts, breaking down mental blocks, and becoming more creative, it only makes sense that you’re decreasing your stress load.

Want to learn more ways to reduce stress with your dog? In this article, I guide you through how to destress with your dog.

9. Boost confidence and resilience

Since you are your own cheerleader, breaking mental blocks, and problem-solving, it stands to reason that your confidence level would go as well as your resilience.

10. Builds better relationships

As you become more positive, work through problems, and increase confidence, relationships naturally improve.

Do you want to go on a date with your dog and partner? In this article, I give you 25 affordable dog dates to go on with your partner.

Of course, the next question is does self-talk make me smarter?

Yes, there is evidence that self-talk, especially if it’s in an instructional manner, allows the brain to perform better and the self-talk more motivated and productive. As a result, positive instructional self-talk could improve a person’s intelligence. Not too bad for talking to yourself, right?

How does my dog fit into my self-talk?

I agree self-talk is amazing with scientific evidence to back its benefits. Here’s where it gets interesting. Science also shows that the presence of a dog, which doesn’t have to mean talking to the dog, improves a person’s learning ability by supporting concentration and reducing stress.

Does that mean I don’t have to talk out loud to my dog to gain the benefits of dog self-talk?

It simply means that having your dog near you can help with learning and reduce stress. However, when you mix in the benefits of self-talk with the presence of a dog, then the process gets even more interesting. Like a recipe, you take all the benefits discussed above, mix in your dog near you and your learning improves even more, while your stress levels decrease. Still with me?

Does petting my dog during self-talk have benefits?

Another great question. Continuing with our recipe analogy, if we add the benefits of self-talk with petting your dog then we are upping our rewards even more. How is that possible?

You can even ramp up your dog self-talk with a dog massage. Not sure how to give a dog massage? Learn how in this article.

Benefits of petting your dog

When you pet your dog you have the benefit of increasing your oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) while decreasing your cortisol (stress hormone). Plus, petting a dog helps decrease the dog’s aggression, increases his oxytocin, and aids in the bonding process. Combine these benefits with self-talk and you have amplified your self-talk session.

dog self talk benefits

This could also be a bonding moment with your dog.

Want to learn more great ways to bond with your dog? In this article, I share easy and budget-friendly ways to strengthen your relationship with your dog.

Is it okay if I talk to my dog as if he’s a human?

Many people have this affliction. I admit, I often (okay almost always) talk to Henry as if he’s a furry human. It’s called anthropomorphism, which means to assign human qualities to non-human entities. While in this article we are focusing on dogs, anthropomorphism could refer to assigning human attributes to any non-human thing or object. This could be a dog, a car, a computer, a plant, and the list goes on and on.

No, there does not appear to be any harm in anthropomorphism. It could even help improve your ability to empathize.

How does anthropomorphism benefit my dog self-talk?

In our case of self-talk with your dog, while petting him, you could see your dog as having human qualities. This makes him a great listener. Perhaps it gives him empathy. There is no harm in doing this at all. Additionally, if anthropomorphism improves your empathy and connections, it would reason to think that believing your dog has human qualities while you self-talk to him/her could improve your self-talk processes. Also, keep in mind that when you dog self-talk to your dog, your dog’s not judging you. In turn, you can be as free as you would like and explore various ways of being creative in your dog self-talk problem-solving.

However, if your self-talk as you are walking in the park by yourself, and people look at you oddly, do you silence or censor yourself? I’d venture that most people would say, “Yes”. Thus, having anthropomorphism, especially with your dog for self-talk could be of benefit to you.

One final note

If you are training with your dog, try to always use words he knows and do not confuse him. It’s not fair to him. Think if you’re learning to say “hello” in Japanese and suddenly the teacher walks in and says, “Good day students. How are you? What did you do yesterday?” in German. You’d look blankly at the teacher. Respect your dog. No language is easy to learn. He’ll pay you back with many hours of listening in self-talk sessions. 

Don’t think you can train your dog on your budget and schedule? It’s definitely possible. In this article, I guide you through the process of how to find a good dog trainer that meets your needs.

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Summary of dog self-talk

I know self-talk may seem a bit bizarre. But the benefits can be amazing! It gives you a chance to work through issues, while bonding with your dog and decreasing your stress level. Honestly, there’s nothing to lose with dog self-talk. Your dog loves the extra attention and it boosts your brain power. I know Henry always loves helping me work out problems.

a woman enjoys dog self-talk

Have you ever done dog self-talk?  Will you try it now? 

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

2 thoughts on “Why Your Brain Needs Dog Self-Talk”

    • It’s a great question. There are a few things I would recommend.

      First, make sure that your dog’s hearing is good. You’d be surprised how often a dog’s hearing can be compromised and the dog’s parents are unaware of it. A good and simple way to check is to put your dog on a leash with you in one room and have someone ring a bell, drop a book, bang on a cooking pan in a nearby room. If your dog reacts, then he can hear. However, at your next vet visit, you may want to verify his hearing if you have any questions at all.

      Second, you may need to upgrade your treats. When something is difficult for a dog, you have to make the reward very good (better than what else there may be around the dog). So, this might be tiny (pea-sized) chopped pieces of chicken breast (cooked without any seasoning). You’ll have to find the ultimate reward for your dog. For some dogs, it’s a super stinky chopped piece of jerky. Remember these treats are ONLY used for training tough behaviors or tricks. They are your ultimate rewards. For instance, my dog, Henry’s reward is freeze-dried chicken that I cut super small. It’s not meant to be a large reward. It’s a small “you did great” reward! Especially, since you’ll probably have to give many of the rewards to get the behavior or trick accomplished.

      Third, put your dog on a leash and practice “come” with your ultimate reward. Have your dog sit at one end of the leash. You walk to the other end and say “come” then give your dog a treat. If your dog refuses, show the treat and say “come”. If your dog still refuses, walk closer with the treat, let your dog smell it, and say “come”. The point is to associate “come” with your dog coming to you.

      Fourth, if your dog is easily distracted, start by removing all distractions from the room. This means toys, people, noises, and whatever else may be a distraction and begin your training.

      Fifth, don’t train too long. This is a new behavior for your dog to learn. Don’t go over and over the same training for more than 10-15 minutes. Your dog will begin to burn out and checkout. Short little training sessions are always best. You can do 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day, which is much better than a 30-minute session on one behavior.

      These tips should give you good results. Best of luck with your pup. Let me know how it goes. 😊💖🐶


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