I remember bellowing across the empty room DOOOOOWWWWWWN; as I raised my arm high in the air to signal a down for my dog. Obedience class was not a relaxing place and for our dogs it must have been the night they hated each week. Heeling round and round, direction turn and continue round and round as you yanked your dog into place when they inched away in attempt to get to safety. Not anymore; not for this trainer anyway, nope there is no more yelling, yanking or pushing. That was alongtime ago and oddly enough it seems like a lifetime ago.
My training and behavior work now focuses on the connection; the human/canine connection. Building a better bond with your dog takes dedication and above all else trust. Trust is something that you cannot take; you must earn it and it is one of the most important things for humans and canines. Take for instance my boy Luke; nervous ninny type, worries about anything new and stresses about things he doesn't understand.
The other day I was scraping teeth; Tilley doesn't like it but doesn't fuss too much, Jessie lets me do it but would rather not. When it comes time to Luke he is amazingly good; this always shocks me because it is a pretty strange thing to be doing. The only reason he allows me to do this is because he trusts me; there is no way anyone else could do this. Same goes for teaching your dog new behaviors or living your everyday life with them. You must build trust.
Then there is communication; there is no need to bellow out orders to our dogs so that they hear and understand what we want. In the lowest whisper ask your dog if they would like to go in the car? Or maybe ask them if they'd like a cookie? Bet those ears go up right away. Dogs hear far better than we do; why do we feel the need to yell at them? I also use please and thank you with my dogs. This was something that got my guardian clients big praise as well. When you say thank you to your dog; it is more than words. It comes from a different train of thought; one that is far from the "do it because I said" idea of training. I love when I hear people say thank you to their dogs.
Dogs are so much better than us at body language as well. Do an experiment tonight or whenever your dog seems to be wanting what you are eating. As they sit and watch your every bite; stop eating and freeze. For some dogs this will be enough to get a head turn in response. For others you may need the lazer beam stare so slowly turn your head looking them; you should get at least a head turn in response. Even better they will move away. You just spoke dog.
If you yell and get excited when dealing with your dog then your dog will do the same. They see you getting stressed out and upset and inturn will evolve into the same mode. Instead try to use calm, relaxing and quiet words. Speak softly to your dog and they will listen close. Use your body to enhance your communications with your dog; not only will it create a more claming atmostphere but it will give you and your dog a stress free environment in which to live.