Published at Monday, 20 May 2019. Dog Training. By Garland Geoffroy.
Sincere appreciation is key. 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. Keep in mind that the words are not important; it's your demeanor that counts. Praise doesn't need to have a certain tonal quality or pitch nearly as much as it needs to convey that you are sincerely pleased and happy at that moment. 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.
The Body Language of Effective Dog Training. Training your dog is the ultimate expression of leadership: you are taking the initiative to teach, guide, and direct your dog. Your body language, therefore, should reflect your role as teacher and leader, communicating a calm self-confidence and composure. Let's look at the components of non-verbal communication as they affect your dog: Invite learning with your facial expression and demeanor. Your body language begins at the top, with your face. Training should be a positive, pleasant experience for you and your dog. Before you begin, and periodically throughout, consciously relax your facial muscles. Smile gently. Soften your eyes. Take a deep, relaxing breath, and keep breathing! When you are relaxed and happy, you present a safe haven for your dog's attention. (And there is nothing to be tense about, right? This is dog training, not world peace!) A soft eye will invite your dog to seek out your face, whereas a hard stare may intimidate your dog into breaking off eye contact, reducing your ability to communicate clearly.
In my experience, most snags in the dog training process result from miscommunication, not willfulness, stubbornness, or dominance. While this article is geared toward training the family dog, the fact is that whether your dog is strictly a family pet, a competitor in canine sports, or a full-time working dog, getting the most out of your training time means learning to communicate effectively with your dog.
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