6 Steps to Better Communication With Your Dog
- Written by Sara Baker, 2/27/18
Why our dogs don’t listen
“Buddy, come!” “Come...” “Come! Come here!” “Buddy!!! COME!!!”
We have all found ourselves in this situation or one similar to it. It is so frustrating and sometimes terrifying! And oftentimes gets our dogs into a lot of trouble or danger if they don’t listen.
But why does this happen so often?
The problem lies in the fact that our dogs are dogs...not humans. Let me say that again. Dogs aren’t human!!! Dogs are a different species and as such they speak a different language. When communicating with someone who speaks a different language, it’s helpful to learn their language to help them understand you!
What can we do to help our dogs understand us?
As with all relationships, communication is the key! Learning HOW an individual communicates is even more crucial.
Dogs rarely communicate verbally, or vocally. For instance, they only make noise when they’re demanding attention, hyper, anxious, afraid, or aggressive. Other than that, they’re quiet. Or they should be. A happy, healthy dog, is a quiet dog. They speak more with their bodies than their voices. So, if you want your dog to understand “human” you need to first speak “dog”.
STEP 1: Be calm
Take a deep breath. Relax. Are you ready? If you’re frustrated, angry, upset, or scared, pause a second to gather your wits. In the event of an emergency, just don’t say anything. Loud, scared, emotional voices often create or add to the problem. It’s better to remain silent.
STEP 2: Get your dog’s attention
Say their name in a friendly, yet assertive voice. Think of your Grandma and the respect she deserves. Be Grandma.
STEP 3: Speak clearly
Use one word for a specific command and only use that word for that command or context. For example, sometimes we slip up and say “down” when we really want our dog to get “down” off the couch. Differentiate the two commands by choosing a word that means “to lay down” (we like the word “DOWN”) and a correction that means “to get off” (we use the word "OFF").
STEP 4: Give one command and wait
Allow your dog time to hear, understand, and comply with the command. Silence and patience are golden. Repeating the command or saying anything at all can actually cause confusion and your dog will probably just walk away or join in the “barking!” Avoid repeating the command unless it will add clarity.
STEP 5: Follow through until your dog complies
If they turn away to avoid doing what you’ve asked, or something else grabs their attention, say “nope” and bring them back to start over at Step 1.
STEP 6: Throw a party!!!!
When your dog understand and listens, throw a party! Give them a treat! Sing their praises! Show them what a good dog they’ve been.
We recommend commands with 1 word, 1 syllable, and a strong vowel sound.
- SIT (instead of sit down),
- DOWN (instead of lay or lay down),
- COME (instead of here or come here),
- PLACE (instead of bed or get on your place),
- OFF (instead of down when commanding to get off of or down from something),
- OUT (instead of drop it or release),
- CRATE (instead of kennel or bed)
- GET IN (load up in the car)
We love using marker words while actively training or interacting with our dogs.
- "Good" means keep doing what you're doing.
- "Yes" means good you completed that task, take a brief break before starting a new one.
- "Break" means we're all done, go have some fun.
- "Nope" means that's not what I wanted. Try again.
- "No" means NO! Don't ever do that again.