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My Dog & I: Talk to Me.

Training or teaching your dog anything is most easily accomplished without words

If you could see me training my dogs up here on the mountain… You would probably be surprised by how limited the “soundtrack” is.

Training” or “Teaching” your dog anything is most easily accomplished without words.

The dog is a being with its own complex and intricate communication methods. He can “hear” many things that are inaudible to the human ear and see/smell thousands of things that we cannot. He cannot, I repeat, cannot be informed by a stream of words in any human language.

I know, you are going to tell me stories about brilliant border collies that can discern one hundred different colored tennis balls but I remain resolute!!

In order to show your dog what you would like him to do, you need to “show” him.

There are many ways to do this but sitting down with him and repeating your request with varying degrees of emphasis is just not effective. MANY different “training methods” are employed in the dog training industry, not to go into too much detail but “lure”, “compulsion” and “positive reward” are just a few examples. Any good trainer may use one or a combination of any of these methods but a good trainer will not be “explaining” to the dog what he requires, he will be “showing” him.

I have many calls from folks worried that their dogs are not “listening” to them… Yes, your dog can hear you but he may not understand what you are trying to say. In order for a “verbal command “ to be used as a cue to tell your dog what you require, you will need to “overlay” or “twin” the word to an action that you have taught him. He will need to have been shown how to place his butt on the floor before you start saying “sit”.

It is so hard to “deliberately” refrain from using our “normal” communication tools – Eyes, hands, voices but sometimes they really do get in the way.

Blocking your dog at the door with your leg will allow you to be the first one out and is easily understood.

A movement towards your dog will have him move backwards and out of your personal space much faster than telling him to “back” Blocking your dog at the door with your leg will allow you to be the first one out and is easily understood. Taking a finger and firmly touching your dog’s butt when he is focused on the cat will redirect his attention away from the object he is focused on….without words.

I have a favorite saying in class when people ask me how to show the dog what they want and it is “How would his Momma show him??” Now, I do not advise you to nip your puppy’s nose but you can certainly move quickly away from a little biting demon and take your body parts with you!

In that silence, you may find a whole new language to use together…

I have had great success with deaf dogs and I will say that they learn even faster than hearing dogs because they only have to pay attention to what you are doing not what you are saying.

So, next time you go to work with your dog (and trust me, they are learning from you all the time), try zipping up for 10 minutes and notice the different kind of attention you get. In that silence, you may find a whole new language to use together…

– Janine Lazarus. Hashtag Lewisburg City Paper, November 2020. Follow Janine at Goodladd.net and on facebook @goodladddogtraining.

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