Who’s Leading Your Pack?
Over the past decade, more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of having a well-behaved dog, and we are learning how much stress a naughty dog can cause.
Even though dog training is expensive and time-consuming, more and more people are turning to companies like A Dog’s Tale Dog Training and Consulting (ADT) for help with their dog. What is having one less stress worth to you? You can finally have peace of mind and start to enjoy having a dog in more areas of your life.
Let me ask you something…what if:
…You enjoy walking your dog?
…You didn’t have to worry about your dog using your house as a toilet?
…You didn’t have to worry about your dog reacting towards other dogs?
…You didn’t have the added stress of having a dog?
…You don’t ever have to pay for dog training again?
Great News! You can. I know cause I was where you are at before I became a dog trainer. Now, we help hundreds of families just like yours.
Here’s a very important dog training tip to help jump start your training.
When I walk into a house, the most common theme I hear is:
My dog has selective hearing. He/She only listens when he/she wants to. Or, my dog doesn’t listen to me, I just want my dog to listen to me!!
And another complaint I hear is:
When someone is at the door my dog goes crazy; it drives me crazy!!
Or how about…
When I am walking my dog my dog barks and lunges for every dog, he/she sees!! Or, my arm is starting to hurt from all the pulling my dog does when we are walking!!
Here’s the problem….
You’re not respected as the pack leader.
You have to understand that dogs, just like humans, rely on language. Except, dogs don’t understand our spoken language. They rely on our body language, and energy, for cues. Sure they can learn certain sounds and be conditioned to respond with a certain behavior for a treat. But, that doesn’t mean your dog understands English, Spanish, German, or any other language you think you’re teaching your dog.
Psychology today states, “body language has a clear biological base and is a product of evolutionary development. Animals can communicate without a need for even the most primitive linguistic system. They touch, smell, gesture, and point to each other, and so do we. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that, for instance, standing positions we adopt give out social rank order and mirror those of primates” (Fennell, 2004).
This is the reason ADT emphasizes that we need to be consistent through our body language. For example, I am not going to tell my dog to “come” while I am walking towards my dog. Instead, I ask my dog to “come,” and when my dog looks at me I start walking backward. I am giving my dog a nonverbal cue that is less threatening, and much more dynamic.
The next time your neighbor’s dog escapes watch them run towards their dog, while calling their dog’s name. What is their dog doing? Right, their dog is running further away. Or, their dog is turning it into a game of catch goes the weasel.
Note: Don’t stand still while calling your dog. You want to create a dynamic picture for your dog to look much more appealing than what your dog is interested in.
For more information on body language, please contact us @ ADTDogTraining.com
Now that we know how much body language effects your communication to your dog, let’s talk about leadership in your pack.
Both humans and dogs look for, and are always competing, for leadership. When I think of great leaders I think of Gandhi or Nelson Mandela- Both are hugely charismatic but quiet men.
Jan Fennell explains, “A leader that is upset or agitated is a leader that does not instill confidence, a leader that is less likely to be believed in.” Our dogs, or pack, is always looking for certainty (Furnham, 2015).
Are you creating certainty in your home?
Are you always an emotional wreck when you’re dealing with your dog?
When dealing with your dog, it’s important to instill that certainty by checking your emotions at the door and staying calm.
Dogs learn through pictures and patterns. If the pattern is that every time you go for a walk, and you get nervous when you see another dog, which the natural reaction is to tighten the leash, you are telling your dog that he/she has something to be nervous about. And, that your dog needs to protect you.
Or, if your dog goes crazy at the door every time someone is at the front door, and your first reaction is to scream, yell, and over react, your dog will most likely keep reacting when someone comes to the door because it’s his job as the pack leader to protect his pack and add certainty.
This is why it’s important to understand the importance of body language. We as humans imitate what we see when we are communicating non-verbally. Your dog will also imitate your non-verbal communication. He/she will also imitate your energy. Your understanding of non-verbal communication, and energy, is your first step in having a well-behaved dog.
Here is a great example of how we apply non-verbal communication, and energy, in our training when we are dealing with a high energy dog. We lower our energy so that the dog we are working with will lower his/her energy. Or, if we are dealing with a low energy dog we raise our energy to increase the dog’s energy.
Or, while we are training we are delivering commands with a nice, calm, low voice, while keeping the same tone of voice. When our dog does something, we like we add a bit more energy and excitement in our voice to brings excitement out of our dogs, an important aspect in keeping our dogs engaged with us (invested in what we are doing).
Here’s a quick overview of what we talked about…..
Body Language- We need to be aware of what we are telling our dogs through our body language. Are we sending the appropriate cues?
Non-Verbal Communication and Energy- Are we creating certainty with our non-verbal communication and energy? Once you understand how your non-verbal communication and energy is affecting your dog’s behavior the more you’re able to make the necessary changes you need to make to change those unwanted behaviors.
Fennell, Jan. The Dog Listener: Learn How to Communicate with Your Dog for Willing Cooperation. HarperResource, 2004.
Furnham, Adrian. “What Is Body Language?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 10 Jan. 2015, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sideways-view/201501/what-is-body-language.