Dog Training Communication 101

Pets are incredible animals. They adapt to many scenarios. They are sensational at associations: consisting of learning the significance or ramification of numerous sounds, such as human language. A pet’s “vocabulary” can reach upward of 150 unique words! Regardless of how clever, how experienced, and how versatile they are, dogs will never ever be verbal animals. Their first language, so to speak, is not words, however body language. Because of this, it’s just natural that your pet will interpret your words though a “filter” – of body movement, facial expression, intonation, even your attention. And if one or more of these “disagree” with the words you are using, most dogs will “obey” your body language!

In my experience, the majority of snags in the pet training process result from miscommunication, not willfulness, stubbornness, or dominance. While this article is tailored toward training the family pet dog, the fact is that whether your canine is strictly a household animal, a competitor in canine sports, or a full-time working canine, getting the most out of your training time suggests finding out to interact successfully with your pet.

Communication Begins with Attention

Potentially the most essential form of communication is your attention. This holds true whether you are teaching some new ability, practicing an old one, or improving an innovative behavior. When you give your attention to something your canine does – through touch, voice, eye contact, smiling, or laughter – you draw attention to the behavior. This tells your canine that you discover the habits worthwhile of interest. Canines, being sociable creatures, find most interaction and attention reinforcing. They value it, and will work to get it – and this is not even considering whether or not the canine finds the behavior strengthening in and of itself. When training, keep in mind that you do not have to actively reward a behavior to reinforce it.

Bring yourself into a training session devoted to focusing on your canine to the very same extent that you are asking him to focus on you. To be mindful to your pet dog, you do not require to gaze at him, but you need to be aware of him. And if your canine offers an action you weren’t hoping for?

As you practice this technique to dealing with your canine, you will quickly find that your pet will be working to gain your attention by doing those things you like. As your canine’s behavior progressively enhances, voluntary cooperation boosts, your relationship with your pet dog gets more powerful, and you both have more enjoyable training. Type of tough to find a down-side to that, don’t you believe?

The Body Language of Effective Dog Training

Training your canine is the ultimate expression of leadership: you are taking the initiative to teach, guide, and direct your canine. Your body language, for that reason, need to reflect your function as instructor and leader, interacting a calm confidence and composure. Let’s look at the components of non-verbal communication as they affect your dog:

Invite finding out with your facial expression and behavior. Your body movement begins at the top, with your face. Training must be a favorable, enjoyable experience for you and your canine. Prior to you start, and periodically throughout, consciously unwind your facial muscles. Smile gently. Soften your eyes. Take a deep, relaxing breath, and keep breathing! When you are relaxed and delighted, you provide a safe haven for your pet dog’s attention. (And there is nothing to be tense about? This is pet dog training, not world peace!) A soft eye will invite your canine to look for your face, whereas a tough gaze may intimidate your canine into breaking off eye contact, minimizing your capability to communicate clearly.

If you find yourself ending up being flustered, frustrated, tense, or nervous, your may discover that your pet dog reflects your feelings:

He may look for peace somewhere else, by avoiding looking at you, or perhaps attempting to move far from you. Some pet dogs end up being exaggeratedly slow and sedate, or even reveal submissive behaviors, as they attempt to calm you.
He may “act out” in an attempt to distract you or diffuse the circumstance. This type of dog may become usually agitated, or even resort to ridiculous shenanigans to sidetrack you from yourself!
If you become anxious, many pets will reflect that anxiety, either sidetracking themselves from an uncomfortable circumstance, or looking around to find the source of your tension.
If any of these happen while training your dog, before you direct your frustration at him, look to yourself. Take a deep, steady breath, relax your face and your body, smile, and attempt once again!

When training your dog, especially a dog new to you or new to training, your movements and body language should give off an air of calm, relaxed confidence. While this is more important with a dog beginning its training, and with naturally effusive or assertive personalities, any dog can become confused by too much bowing, bending, ducking, and bobbing. They should be free from excessive, meaningless motion, and should never be used to threaten or pester the dog.

Whether you are working on a stationary exercise (such as a sit-stay), or a moving exercise (such as heeling, or a recall), focus on keeping your body language “quiet”. Allow your dog to focus on your words and any intended hand or body signals; don’t put him in a position to have to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. Once your dog is more advanced in his training, you may wish to teach him to respond to verbal cues despite unrelated body language.

More than Just Words

Communicating clearly and effectively to your pet includes becoming aware of how your intonation, and shipment of cues, impact how your dog learns and reacts. When training your canine, keep in mind that your voice conveys more than simply the command itself.

To a dog, each of these sounds is very different, not like the same cue at all! Again, dogs are not verbal animals. Do yourself and your dog a favor: keep the sound of your cues consistent.

Assuming you plan to utilize what you’ve taught your dog in your everyday life, you will be instructing your dogs here and there all day long. The fact is, your dog is much more likely to respond calmly, willingly, and thoughtfully if your voice and demeanor are relaxed and conversational. The bottom line: to promote cooperation, teach your dog his cues in a voice that is reasonable, comfortable, and normal for you.

All too often, we get so caught up and focused on teaching our dogs that, just when we need to relax and enjoy the moment of success, we end up giving praise that is hollow, rehearsed, and frankly, not very praise-like at all. In other words, your dog should feel truly appreciated for a job well done – regardless of whether the success was a long sought-after quantum leap, or one of the many baby steps to success along the way.

Feel free to “test run” different happy sounds on your dog, to see what kind of reaction you get. Again, the most important thing is that your dog knows, from your voice and your demeanor, that you are pleased.

If you do need to use your voice to indicate that you do not want a specific habits – whether you say no, or ah-ahh, wrong, etc – the sound must be dismissive, not mad or frightening. The point is to educate, not daunt. Keep in mind, as you work with one another, both you and your pet will make errors. The point is not to make him feel badly for his mistake, but to learn how to best help him be. A pet dog trained this way will comprehend your message, while continuing to want to work with you.

Putting it All Together

So, when dealing with your canine, comprise your mind to unwind, smile, be calm, and have a good time. Can you do it another method? Sure. However this post has to do with helping you make the most of your communication with your pet dog, and making the most of the effectiveness – and enjoyment – of your training time together. Keep in mind, both you and your canine will make mistakes as you go along. It’s not only alright, it’s natural and a to-be anticipated part of the learning process. Now go out there and delight in yourselves!

Copyright 2010 Julie Cantrell/ Canine Behavior Services ~ All rights scheduled.

Julie Cantrell BSc (Zoology), CPDT, CDBC is an expert pet fitness instructor, obedience instructor, and pet behavior professional. In the past 20 years she has assisted countless pets and their owners find out to agree one another. She draws on both her official training and her extensive practical knowledge to sort dog training fact from fiction, and provide noise, solid, “easy to use” advice to get dog owners on track to a better, more rewarding relationship with their buddies.

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