“Listening” To What Your Dog Is Telling You
If you follow our blog, you know we’re big fans of training. It’s hard to argue with something that can take as little as five minutes a day but still builds a stronger and more positive relationship with our four-legged friends. However, we realized there was one essential component that we’ve always overlooked.
When it comes to training, articles and blog posts often focus on three things:
- How to teach commands
- Establishing clear communication
- The importance of positive reinforcement and repetition
But there’s another piece of the puzzle that can completely transform the training experience: Paying attention to what your dog is trying to tell you.
Yes, you read that right.
Training is a two-way street, requiring strong communication between you and your dog. That means:
- Recognizing when they don’t want to do something, even if you think they should
- Looking for signs they don’t understand what you want them to do
- Forgiving them if they do something that upsets you
We also often forget that our dogs aren’t humans, and they don’t understand our language or ways, unless we patiently teach them. And, sometimes, we just have to let them be dogs.
That’s where “listening” comes in. The easiest way to accomplish all this involves watching them for signs that they understand what we’re asking of them, and we have to pay attention to how they respond. That’s because what works for one dog may not be appropriate for another.
For example, while it’s generally considered good manners to have a dog sit when meeting a stranger, demanding this behavior of a fearful dog can make them more anxious. In those cases, it might be more appropriate to train your dog to stand at your side or in between your legs. These positions often feel more natural for some dogs, leaving them protected or with the freedom to move away if needed.
Similarly, some dogs love certain activities, like using their nose or chasing things. Sound familiar? Why not incorporate it into your training sessions with more “skills” work or lure chasing to amp up their fun?
So, the next time you work with your dog, keep a watchful eye on how they’re responding. Are their ears up? Do they seem focused on you and excited? Do they drop their gaze, avert their eyes, hang their head, or grudgingly perform the task? “Listening” to their cues can help you fine-tune your training sessions, ensuring a situation you both enjoy – and that yields even better results because your dog is doing something they actually want to do.