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Improving Communication With Your Dog

Aug 17, 2007
Lack of communication can not only cause problems between us humans, but also between us and our pets. If you cannot communicate effectively, how do you expect the one you are talking with to understand what you are trying to tell them? The basic rules of effective communication are to stay calm, to express yourself as clearly as possible (even if that means taking a few moments to compose your thoughts), and to only work on one problem at a time.

The same thing goes for your relationship with your dog. Many dog owners - and dogs - become flustered and angry when those lines of communication break down, or are nonexistent. But instead of assuming that your dog is deliberately trying to be disobedient, take a look at how you are attempting to communicate with him or her.

First of all, you have to remember that dogs are not people. You have to meet your pet at his level, and try to see things from his point of view. To do that, you need to keep your cool. If your dog doesn't respond right away, in the way you want him to, don't get upset. Simply try something else.

Second, express yourself clearly and concisely. For a dog to understand what you want, you need to teach him simple, one-word commands. Simply shouting, "Don't do that!" when Fido wets the floor is not going to communicate anything more than the fact that you are upset with him. He won't understand why. He won't be able to correct his behavior. He may begin to assume you simply don't like him, or even that you are slightly insane. And if your dog thinks you're insane, he won't be inclined to listen to you.

In addition, in communicating with your dog, timing is everything. Rubbing Fido's nose in a urine-soaked carpet is not only cruel and disgusting, it's counter-productive, just like yelling. What you need to do is catch him in the act. Because of the way doggie brains work, you need to give him a firm, "No!" WHILE he is urinating on the carpet, or eating from the garbage, or engaging in whatever offensive canine habits he may have developed. He will understand this.

Now, as soon as he stops the behavior - which may be immediately, due to being startled - change the tone of your voice and praise him highly for having the good sense to listen to you. Pretty soon, if not immediately, the light bulb will go on in his head.

Third, don't give Fido too much to think about at one time. His brain is already on fire with his squirrel-chasing agenda and plans to weasel more treats out of you. Give him a few days to get a handle on the fact that he isn't supposed to wet the carpet before you work on the garbage-eating project. This means you will have to prioritize.

Of course, it will take some attention on your part to actually catch him in the act, but it will be worth it in the end, both in terms of better behavior and more respect for you as his owner.
About the Author
Jeff Clare runs Dog Training News where you can read many more articles on training your dog . For more general advice on dog first aid go to Dogs And Dog News.
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