Expressing to Lead: How to Communicate With Your Dog, Part 1


How do dogs communicate with its human pack?


Humans are equipped with the ability to utilize three channels of communication: vocal language, verbal language and nonverbal language. We can communicate with our tone of voice, speech rate, word choice and especially through our body language.


Dogs may be incapable of verbal expressions but that doesn’t mean that they are incapable of communicating with their human owners.


Dogs have access to two channels of communication: nonverbal language and vocal language. They can definitely communicate their thoughts and emotions; they just can’t do it with words!


What is your number one priority when training a dog?


Communicating and understanding your dog is your biggest priority during obedience training. You must make a conscious effort to comprehend what your dog might be communicating to you through its behavior, vocalizations and overall body language.


First time dog owners may have some difficulty understanding their pets but as they continue to strive to bridge the communication gap, they will soon realize that “dog language” is actually easier to learn than any human language.


Why? Because dogs are very simple when it comes to expressing themselves. If something is wrong or if they have a need that has to be fulfilled, they act upon that impulse immediately.


They express themselves quickly, as the need arises. So by simply observing your dog during playtime and training, you will learn a lot of things about its personality and behavior.


How can you become a better animal communicator?


Mastering the art of animal communication will require years of experience and a passion for interacting and training animals. You can start your own journey to dog training success by following these simple strategies:


  1. Use a Consistent Command List


Using verbal commands makes obedience training more manageable because it becomes easier to capture and assign trigger words to specific behaviors that you want your dog to perform on cue.


The problem that I see with some beginning trainers is that they sometimes shift to different verbal commands for specific skills or they change the sequence or routine.


Can a dog to respond to multiple commands for the same skill or action?


You can train a dog to perform the same action or skill using different commands.


However, each verbal command has to be taught separately and there should also be a separate reinforcement period for the different commands. Dogs cannot understand the meaning of our verbal expressions; they can only associate our words with specific stimuli and experiences.


If your list of verbal commands is not consistent, there is no guarantee that your dog will permanently learn any new skill because the animal is always getting mixed or confusing signals. In the beginning it can be quite challenging to limit oneself to a small vocabulary while teaching a dog.


Dog owners often feel the impulse to speak to their dogs in phrases or sentences. It would be a good idea to suppress this impulse while teaching your dog because the extra verbal input will confuse your dog.


  1. Control Your Emotions


Are dogs affected by human emotions?


The answer to this question is a resounding yes – dogs are capable of understanding our emotions! When a well-trained dog feels that you’re sad or depressed, it becomes anxious and sad, too.


No dog wants to see its pack leader in such a negative emotional state. To them, seeing you in a negative emotional state is like seeing the President having an emotional breakdown on national television. It’s alarming and you can’t help but worry about what’s coming next.


So before interacting with your dog, I highly recommend that you examine your emotions and see if you’re emotionally well enough to play with a high intelligent and emotionally sensitive animal. We must also avoid venting our stress, anger or frustrations on our pets as the poor creatures will become stressed for no good reason.


III. Avoid Yelling and Reprimanding Your Dog


Does yelling solve bad behavior in dogs?  


To many dog owners, yelling or reprimanding a dog is the fastest way to “correct” or “fix” a bad behavior. Yelling will definitely scare off most small animals. However, this doesn’t mean that you are teaching the animal any positive behavior.


When a person yells, he shows a combination of negative body language and vocal expressions. All the animal understands is that you’re angry and it should probably run or hide from you. But as for the undesirable behavior, it will remain intact because you didn’t actually teach the dog anything apart from being afraid of you when you yell at it.


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