One more thing before we jump into the how-to’s of training: I have to teach you the dog’s language. To be the best teacher, you need to be fluent in Doglish. Give your family or friends a lesson too and encourage consistency.
Doglish Consists of Two Elements:
- Eye contact
- Body language
Words, feelings, and lengthy explanations don’t count anymore. Complex reasoning is impossible for your dog to follow. Dogs are so innocent in their simplicity, it’s beautiful.
If you’re constantly looking to your dog in stressful situations (someone’s at the door or the dog’s stealing the dishrag) and are having trouble encouraging your dog to pay attention to you, guess what? Your dog thinks you are depending on him to be the leader.
He thinks you want him to make all the judgment calls. I know you’re wondering how to handle these situations. In just a few moments, I’ll tell you. But for now, understand that to train your dog, you must encourage him to look to you for direction. To leave you with an off-shoot of my attention statement:
You reinforce whatever you look at.
Look at a well-behaved dog and guess what you’ll have?
Body language is a funny thing. Imagine this… your dog becomes excited and hyper when the company arrives at the front door. Desperate to save face, you start shouting and pushing your dog as the company is fending the two of you off with their coats. You try every possible command—“Sit Boomer! Down! Off! Bad dog!”—but to no avail. The whole arrival scene is one big fiasco.
If your dog becomes excited and then you become excited, who’s leading whom?
What’s happening, dear readers? Who has copied whom? Whose body language has mimicked the others? Are you feeling silly yet? Body language is an integral part of Doglish. Play, tension, relaxation, they all have different postures. Going on the knowledge that your dog thinks you’re a dog and doesn’t quite grasp the “I’m pushing you frantically because I’m unhappy with your greeting manners” concept, what do you think you’re communicating to your dog? You’re the one who copied his body language. As you blaze the training trail, remember these three things:
- Stand upright and relax when directing your dog. I call this the peacock position.
- Don’t face off or chase your dog when you’re mad. To your dog, you’ll look like you’re playing.
- When trying to quiet or direct your dog, stand in front of him and stay calm.
Always remember, you set the example.
Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, and make eye contact. Peacocks rule!
I Hear Two Questions Ringing throughout the Article Already:
- How on earth can this be done?
- Can’t I ever get down and play or cuddle with my dog?
We are getting there, and certainly, you can get down and cuddle or play; that’s one of the biggest perks in having a dog. But don’t do it when your dog’s in a mischievous mood or you’ll be asking for trouble.
Imagine a peacock— beautiful and proud, chest out, confident, and in control. When giving your dog direction or command, throw your shoulders back and stand tall just like a peacock. Tell your family and friends about this peacock position and start strutting your stuff!