A german shepherd, cattle dog and Schipperke in a down waiting to be released

Establishing a Strong Foundation in Dog Communication

Effective communication between you and your furry companion forms the cornerstone of a solid relationship. Without it, frustration can arise, hindering training progress. Understanding the basics of canine communication is essential for building a strong foundation.

Humans primarily communicate through words and expressions, but dogs rely heavily on body language cues. Being mindful of your tone, posture, and body language during training sessions is crucial.

Pay attention!

Pay close attention to your dog’s body signals—they communicate various emotions and needs. Recognizing these cues helps gauge their comfort level and determines when to intervene. Overly long training sessions can lead to stress and disengagement, hindering progress.

If they don’t know what you’re asking, you’re not communicating

Avoid common mistakes like repeating commands, which can confuse your dog. Instead, focus on training the behavior and using consistent cues. Timing is crucial—promptly mark success with a clicker or verbal cue. Experiment with different marking techniques to find what works best for you and your dog.

Slow is fast!

It’s also easy to push too far, too fast. Someone may feel that their dog has learned their new command, but by increasing difficulty too quickly the dog may become confused and fail to repeat the desired behavior. A good example is a dog that sits like a pro at home, but when they are taken out of their familiar environment they may seem to suddenly be stubborn and won’t perform the task. It may not be a case of being stubborn afterall, but they are surrounded by unfamiliar scents and smells and may need to go back to basics to relearn the command in a new environment.

Keep it simple

Another common mistake that’s seen frequently is when people give a string of words to a dog. It’s common for people to talk to dogs, but it’s generally known that while the dog seems to pay attention, they don’t actually know what their person is actually saying. If you want a successful response to a command, keep it simple. For a known task, say the command once, and give your dog time to figure out that you mean it. If the dog doesn’t respond quickly you may need to backtrack and retrain again. That’s ok! Small, steady steps forward will get you much further than leaps in bounds in the wrong direction.

By establishing clear communication and understanding your dog’s cues, you lay a solid foundation for effective training and a harmonious relationship.

Having a solid relationship with your dog is important to build on the foundation with with to work with. Read more about relationship building here or return to see more of our approach.