Does your mouth say the same thing as your body?
To ascertain whether you're being consistent, sit down and made a list of all the commands and body signals you have taught your dog to respond to? It can be quite an eye opener! Sally Hopkins explains..
Here is a very useful exercise, because it helps us focus on all the different signals that we expect our dogs to recognise and understand. If the list seems muddled and unclear to us, just imagine how confusing these commands must be to our dogs!
Make three columns and do the following:-
When do you use your dog’s name?
commands which can confuse
By having different commands for each instance (e.g. 'Flat' for lying down; 'Off' for stop jumping up, put all four paws on the floor; and 'Get Down' for get off the furniture) the dog is far more likely to understand what is expected of it. What about the command 'Right?' Is it a directional command to your dog or do you use it to tell the dog it is correct?
Be careful not to use similar sounding words as commands, especially if they sound like the dog’s name. 'Go' and 'No' sound very similar, as does the name 'Jo' or any other name ending in 'O.'
aware of the tone of your voice
Men with deep voices often have difficulty giving verbal commands to their dog, especially submissive animals. These nervous dogs misinterpret the situation by associating the deep/loud command with that of being told off. To combat this situation, these men should either raise the tonal register of their voices, whisper or use body signals wherever possible instead.
Dogs can also be confused by the different tones of voice and body signals of other members of your family. Your list will make it easier for everyone in the household to become consistent with the commands and signals they use – resulting in a happier, trusting and less confused dog who is more likely to do as it’s told!
For more information and training tips about training dogs using kind positive methods visit Sally's Dog-Games website - http://www.dog-games.co.uk - and wander around the Training Terms section of the Main Menu.
Having attended the two year-long International Dog Training School run by Scallywags Canine Education Centre, Rugeley, Sally is now involved in giving seminars (both in the UK and in Europe) promoting the revolutionary stress-reducing techniques that they taught her. She is a Full Member of the Pet Dog Trainers of Europe, whose Chairman is the internationally famous Turid Rugaas from Norway.
Sally has set up her 200+page website www.dog-games.co.uk to help and educate the general public about their dog's instincts and behaviour, and to explain how positive training methods are far more effective than old-fashioned aversive methods.