Hello all you beautiful people! Despite the fact that so many pet owners absolutely LOVE their dogs, they sometimes don’t really know how to talk to their dogs in a way that their dog understand. And that’s the most important part right? Having your dog actually understand what you’re asking them to do.
I compiled a list of 8 tips dog owners can use to better communicate with their dogs so their dogs will understand THEM better.
1. Dogs DO NOT SPEAK ENGLISH!
That’s right! It’s better if you think of your dog as an alien rather than a dog when you bring them home. Dogs understand the pitch of our voices but not the actual words. They understand when we’re happy or excited with them when our pitch goes up. When this happens, the tails start to wag, the ears perk up, and the eye contact and focus comes out. They also understand when we’re upset with them. We use the deeper voice. The ears may go down, the head may lower into the shoulders a little, or our dogs could try and make themselves as small as possible. It’s when you make associates between words and specific actions that our dogs fully understand what’s going on
2. It’s all about the consequences, both positive and negative
Dogs are very much like children when they’re young: They want to get the most reward for the least amount of work. The way that dogs understand what’s acceptable and what isn’t is through the consequences that follow their actions. If they do something that you like and you want to encourage them to continue doing said behavior, you’re going to make the consequence a good one. If they’re doing something or have have done something in the past that you dislike, you’re going to make the consequence one that you pup wants to change. Super simple.
3. Every dog learns differently
I can’t stress this enough. Dogs are just like people in that they all have different personalities and are capable of different things. Would you expect a cute little pug to be able to walk out onto a combat field and sniff out explosives? Or maybe have a Harvard graduated engineer walk out onto a WWE wrestling match and throw down? Could either of those things happen? Yep. Are they likely? Not really. You have to take into account what your dog is comfortable with and how they learn best. It needs to be interactive. It needs to be fun. Most importantly, your dog has to be successful
4. Do what you say, say what you mean
I first heard this from a very good friend of mine and when I heard it, the phrase just made perfect sense. You don’t want to confuse a child when they’re learning something new just like you don’t want to confuse your dog when you’re teaching them where to go potty. Say what you mean and don’t let your fur children get away with nonsense, and do what you say you’re going to do. If you ask for a sit, don’t take anything less than a sit. Again, they’re like children. With some, if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile:)
5. Know your dog’s personality and limitations
Knowing what your dog is going to be comfortable with is paramount to moving your dog training forward in the quickest way possible. If you know wether your dog is goofy, or pretty focused and driven, you can adjust your training to match what they’re ready to give you. We’re not going to expect speed and precision from our goofy puppies and we’re not going to be be looking for happy, wriggly butts and excited hopping from our super serious focused dog. Have a goal in mind and move toward it with your dogs capabilities in mind.
6. You have to pay your dog. There’s no way around it.
So here’s the deal: Your dog has to KNOW, without a doubt, what we want from them. It’s up to us to let them know exactly WHAT we want from them. Yes, a pet and some love are spectacular things and we know our dogs appreciate those things. Buuuuuut I think that they may like a yummy little treat or cookie a little bit more. Food is a high resource for dogs and when they taste good, our dogs will want to work for those even more. That is not to say you will alway have to treat your dog. Absolutely not, but you want them to understand things right? Go back to number 2: It’s all about the consequences. Plus, I like getting paid for working. It’s not hard work we’re asking for but it’s work all the same. Do you like being volun-told to do something? I don’t either.
7. Have a marker for things that you like as well as for things that you don’t.
This helps cut down on any confusion our dogs might have when we’re trying to either train a behavior or increase the criteria for a behavior that they already know (like having them in a sit stay and move further away). If they don’t know they’re doing something wrong, it will just seem like they keep going through the motions without any reward. Having said that, it’s important that your dog understands your positive and negative marker, that good consequences comes from one and not-so-good consequences come from another.
8. Be the person our dogs think we are
Last but not least, dogs want a relationship with their humans where they know they are protected and cared for. They don’t want a relationship where orders are barked at them and the dogs have to blindly obey. You have to make things enjoyable and fun for your dog and yourself. Build the relationship and the rest will fall into place.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this much longer than anticipated post. Give me a should out and let me know what you thought. Let me know how you implement any of the tips above. Let me know of any others that you do with your dog at home!