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Communicate with Your Dog Through Body Language and Praise


Drew Webster CPDT-KA


Communicating with our pets.

Dogs have the unique ability to read body language.

Today you wake up and you can’t speak. You can’t write. You can’t type which means you can’t text either. How do you communicate with the world now? This is what every day is like being a dog. They lack the ability to talk but dogs have an amazing ability, the ability to read body language and interpret human intention.

Whether you want to teach a dog a new skill or strengthen an old favorite, lose the language. Show your dog how to do a skill before you name the behavior with gestures and non-verbal communication.

First, lure the dog into what you want (sit, down, touch your hand, etc.) using body language and bribing him with something motivating like a treat or toy. Then come up with something easy to let him know he got it right like “YES!” and reward. Do this until you don’t have to show him any gesture, the dog just offers the behavior because they know it is rewarding to do so. Then add the cue or the word you want to be identified with the behavior by praising and naming it (“Good Sit”).

The true beauty of dogs is their uncompromising simplicity. Simplify your canine communication to body language and gestures. Dogs repeat rewarded behavior so if you motivate them, show them what you want, and reward it frequently, you will build good habits. Dog training is simply establishing effective communication. The process of teaching your dog to recognize verbal commands takes time, consistency and patience. Remember that your dog does not have spoken language so for two different species to find a bridge you will need to create canine communication that you both speak fluently. Keep it simple.

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