Published at Thursday, 23 May 2019. Dog Training. By Fanette Flament.
Communication Begins with Attention. Possibly the most fundamental form of communication is your attention. This is true whether you are teaching some new skill, practicing an old one, or refining an advanced behavior. When you give your attention to something your dog does – through touch, voice, eye contact, smiling, or laughter – you draw attention to the behavior. This tells your dog that you find the behavior worthy of interest. Dogs, 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 dog finds the behavior reinforcing in and of itself. So when training, keep in mind that you don't have to actively reward a behavior to reinforce it.
It's a fun, enjoyable experience. Don't look at dog training as a chore. View it as an opportunity for you and your budding best friend to begin forging a deep, mutually beneficial bond and relationship. Approach it as just one of many enjoyable activities you and your dog will share. Follow up your obedience training with trick training and you'll be sure to have a great deal of fun. While some of the tricks will present a challenge for both of you, just make it a pleasurable experience. Be patient, be kind, and be generous with your praise when your dog achieves those little successes.
Promote cooperation. When you give your dog a verbal cue, your voice, like your body language, should be relaxed and even. Speak in a normal tone. As you give your cue, picture your dog performing the exercise nicely — this confidence will come through in your voice. Avoid tones that are whiny, questioning, or pleading. Trying to train your dog in these ”lost puppy” tones will be an exercise in frustration. They will not gain you acknowledgment, much less respect! Remember, you are a teacher, a coach, a mentor – not a servant. At the other extreme, you don't need to assume a loud, tough-sounding ”command voice”. This is for two reasons. First, aggressive, intimidating tones tend to introduce resistance in more confident dogs, and unthinking subservience in less confident ones. Neither is conducive to learning, cooperation, or teamwork. Second, your dog is perfectly capable of listening and responding when you speak in a normal, pleasant, everyday tone of voice. 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. So, why in the world teach your dog that you have to play ”drill sergeant” in order to have him do as you ask? It introduces unnecessary stress into training, is not particularly productive, and certainly doesn't reflect a relationship of willing partnership. 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.
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