Training Tuesdays – Communicating with your Dog
Communicating with your Dog: Stop Talking
by Andy Sands, Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant
It’s All Blah, Blah, Blah to Dogs
How many of you have dogs that don’t listen? Have you gotten frustrated with the lack of response; the cold hard ignore of the command? Even worse, have you experienced the acknowledgment that you said something, but then the dog does the complete opposite? Could it be that you are speaking the wrong language? Maybe your dog doesn’t understand English. If you have a Dachshund, wouldn’t it be reasonable to expect that dog to speak German? Or maybe your Bichon Frise can speak French, but needs to take a class to learn English. Perhaps, you should learn to speak Chinese and then your Shih Tzu will understand what you are saying. Of course not, we all agree this is ridiculous, but yet we expect our dogs to understand what we are saying, in English, from the moment they are born. Truth is, it’s all blah, blah, blah to them; in any language.
We are speaking the wrong language, simply because we are speaking at all. In general, we humans do a dreadful job of communicating with our dogs, starting with the use of verbal language. Verbal language is how we communicate with each other and it’s what we understand. We are constantly talking to each other at home, on the phone, at dinner, to the people on the television. As far as your dog is concerned, the use of verbal language has been rendered meaningless. This is why, when you do speak directly to your dog, oftentimes you get that blank stare, because he really doesn’t have a clue what you are saying. Our language, or any language for that matter, using many words together to form sentences, is indiscernible to dogs. We can help dogs learn certain words or commands by making those words meaningful, but simply talking to dogs and expecting them to understand is asking way too much of them.
Dogs understand us much better when we use body language, facial expressions, and hand signals. Over the next few weeks we will discuss ways to help you better communicate with your dog. So be sure to come back next Training Tuesday as we learn to speak dog. Rule #1; Stop Talking.