Friday, June 21, 2013

Learning to Read Your Dog as Well as She Reads You

Learning to Read Your Dog as Well She Reads You

We all communicate in some way or another, even if it's not verbally.

The majority of the animal kingdom communicates in other ways besides audible noises, and humans are no different. But for thousands of years we've developed an amazing language base that differs in so many ways that we barely know what we HUMANS are saying...let alone those that are not human! And in focusing on one type of communication (talking), we seem to have forgotten to listen in other ways!

So, as with all relationships, communication is Key. Gaining a way to communicate with your dog is your first step into developing a working relationship that will benefit both of you. Without it, neither of you will know what the heck the other expects from them!

The first step in doing this is learning how to get your dogs' attention. She needs the right motivation first. After all, would you pay attention to a guy mumbling at you on the side of the road, stumbling back and forth? Or the pretty girl with a nice demeanor handing you a $100 bill? It's all about what motivates us as to what gets results.

So, learn what your dog LOVES...not "likes". Like only gets you so far. Love will take your dog to the limit. Get her favorite toys and treats out...then get another brand. Play with her and see what she goes for most. Then try little chunks of hotdogs, cheese, bacon, boiled or grilled chicken. Find that one thing that your dog goes bananas for! (Please refer to your vet's advice on any allergy your dog may have or be at risk for when attempting new foods and treats).

Once you have found that magic food (or toy), you can begin!

Your first step in gaining communication with your dog, or reinforcing it with the dog you already have worked with is to play the name game or "Watch Me" or whatever you want to call it..

Play with her for a minute or two, just moving around and handing her a treat, move around hand her a she becomes more comfortable with this fun and easy game, begin to say her name and when she looks directly at you, even for a split second, tell her "Good girl" or "yes" or whatever word you want to use. (Remember this word and keep using it in the same tone and inflection each time, as it will be your "Marker" word down the line for all your commands!)

Each time she looks at you after you say her name, reward with a Marker word and treat... do this a lot...A LOT! If she wanders or breaks contact with you, move around...when she comes back, offer the treat and say her name again... reward! Make it fun and a big deal! The more fun it is, the more she'll wanna do it again.

When you can say her name and she'll stop what she is doing to stare into your face each time... you've taught the command :)

Congratulations, you have built a bridge to your dog...this behavior can be taught in a calm, home environment, then in busier and busier areas until the dog will look at you while a pack of dogs runs by after the Oscar Meyer weiner mobile!

Communication begins with the small things, and while this seems very small, you'd be surprised how many times it'll come into play in basic and advanced obedience.

Good training!

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