Communicating with a Dog – Part 1

Source: Wikihow.com

Understanding your dogs behavior.

dog_comm1Observe your dog. Learning your dog’s habits, mannerisms, and movements through observation will allow the process of understanding its communication behavior to feel more natural. There will be plenty of things it does that will make sense to you without explanation. Just as every person is unique, so is your dog.

  • Be aware that much of a dog’s language or communication techniques are subtle.
  • By learning canine communication, you will be able to respond to any problems your dog expresses before a situation escalates. Not noticing small signs of stress or unhappiness can soon lean to more aggressive or distressed behaviors.
  • Remember that this is a two-way learning process. Dogs have to learn our behavioral cues as well, and you should be careful about your own gestures and posture. Dogs also do not understand English. It is important that you teach your dog what you mean by “no” or “sit”. Just saying “sit” over and over again won’t make him learn it, and will make him think it’s just part of the random nonsense you say during the day. Luring your dog into a sit position and then rewarding them heavily for doing that task will make him eager to sit, and then saying the word as he sits will make him connect the dots that the word “sit” means “put your butt on the floor”.

dog_comm2Know your dog’s response to eye contact. Consider how you feel when someone stares at you directly rather than using normal eye contact. Just as you find it confronting, dogs also feel confused and threatened by direct head-on staring because it is a threat stance for them. A dog that looks away in this situation is actually being polite and is seeking to avoid confrontation. Alternately, training your dog to make eye contact to communicate is extremely helpful for keeping his focus on you.

  • The most effective forms of dog training are positive reinforcement and clicker training. These are the most consistently proven type of training shown by scientists, veterinarians and animal behaviorists. Punishment is frowned upon because it is proven that dogs have very short memories, and likely do not connect situations like them pooping on the floor to your dissatisfaction. In fact, dogs do not feel guilt. Their owners simply stop being as mad when they “look guilty” and it becomes rewarding for both the owner and dog for the dog to offer signs of “guilt”. The dog learns you dislike it when poop is on the floor and when you come home, they “act guilty” in order to appease you. They do not in fact relate their action of pooping to you being mad.
  • Clicker training is the idea is to lure your dog into a position and indicate instantly they have done the right thing, and reward them for that behavior.
  • Dog behavior is driven by the most rewarding or least punishing option they have in every situation. If the most rewarding option is to chew on your shoes, they will do so. If you reward them for not chewing on your shoes, they will choose to do that even when you are not around. In contrast, punishment or dominance suggests showing the dog who is boss, which simply results in the behavior being done when you are not around.
  • Dogs are highly reward based and the dominance theory has been disproven. Dogs act in ways that are most rewarding, not based on trying to “dominate” you or another dog. Be the most rewarding thing in your dogs life and he will be eager to do whatever you say.

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