I was in Suwanne last week at a new Home Dog Training client working with the entire family and their Olde English Bulldog, Margaret.  I just love Olde English Bulldogs because of their personality and looks.  Well, Margaret was a handful and the family was having a hard time directing and controlling her.  The most important point that I focused on during our first training was communication and focus.  Margaret responded immediately and the entire family was amazed at how we could achieve such a radical change in such a short period of time.  They had all become very frustrated because tell her “No” got her more excited and “less willing” to do what they wanted.  I explained to them that they were simply being “too human”.

Remember when you began to get mad or excited and your parents always told you to “use your words”?  You were supposed to be very calm and explain, using words, what you wanted.  Our parents told us that the best way to solve a problem was to talk to the other person and let them talk back to us.  The outcome would be an agreement of what to do and everything would be fine.

Well, that is very good advice when you have one human communicating to another human.  It doesn’t work very well when we are trying to communicate with our dog.  The great news for us is that the explanation of why it is incorrect is very simple and easy to rectify.  There are two, very simple things that we need understand to be 100% successful.

  1. Dogs communicate using body language. Human beings communicate between each other using words.  Almost all of our communication is through texts, the phone, or emails.  We very rarely use additional methods to try and get our point across.

Dogs, on the other hand, use their body language as their main form of communication. Over 80% of their communication comes through the form of posturing and stance.  They use their tails, ears, mouth, and posture to communicate displeasure, acceptance, and direction.  Verbal communication falls to a distant second when it comes to their form of communication.  Just to let you know, they probably only use their verbal communication 10% to 15% of the time.

So, if we are trying to communicate to our dog, our posture is most important.

To expand, verbal communication still plays a part in our human-canine communication process and must be done correctly.  Unfortunately, we are doing it wrong.  The problem comes down to how our dogs interpret the sounds coming out of our mouth.  We now come to my second point:

  1. Humans understand words and dogs understand sounds. We grew up learning a language.  That language might have been English, Spanish, French, German, etc.; but it still was a language.  A language is made up of words.  These words are grouped into phrases and sentences.  Words or sentences can have multiple meanings, based on context and grouping.  If we look in the dictionary, a single word may have over ten definitions that are all different.

Dogs use sounds.  They bark, growl, chirp, whine, etc.  For them, each of these sounds have a single, unique meaning.  An example for us would be hearing an approaching ambulance siren while we are driving down the street. We pull over to the side of the road. Every time we hear that sound, we do the same thing.

When we use our sounds (or words) to correct our dog, we are using them as multi-purpose words instead of single action sounds.  For example, when Margaret did something wrong, my client would say “No”.  Margaret would naturally hear the sound and then needed to decide what to do.

In their household, she heard “No” many times a day.  Sometimes my client would say it to the kids and they would stop hitting each other.  Sometimes she would hear it while my client’s wife was talking on the phone.  She heard it when the kids were talking between each other.  She heard this sound and all sorts of things happened.  Margaret had no idea how to respond.

So, what do we do?

First, when we are correcting Margaret, we stand tall and calm.  This “sets the stage” to let Margaret know that we really mean what is about to come.

Next, we need to find a unique sound to tell Margaret to stop whatever she is doing now.  Any unique sound will work.  The way you know that the sound is working is if Margaret calmly stops what she is doing and focuses on you.

The important point is that the sound is unique.  You can use the SHSHSHSHTTT sound that Cesar Milan uses on his dog training show.  You can use the Eh-Eh that many people use with their dogs.  You can use a low-guttural sound like “Grrrrr”.  As long is the sound is unique and gets your dog’s focus, that is great.

Your interaction with your dog is not about “your words”.  You are using your body language and verbal tone to calmly let your dog know that something is wrong. He needs to focus on you for guidance.  This is how dogs communicate between each other all day long.  This is what Margaret was expecting and why she quickly responded to us.

Once you understand the difference between sounds and words, you will be able to properly communicate with your dog.

Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help.  We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Suwanne Georgia.  Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Suwanne Georgia.