Stop Talking

In my last post I wrote about the importance communicating clearly with dogs by communicating in their natural language.  Dogs communicate in many ways; they use energy, body language, touch and very rarely sound, and this is how we should be communicating with them.  The exciting thing about learning to communicate this way is that our dogs already know how to do it!  If our communication is not making sense to our dogs, then we are the problem, not the dog, and we need to keep working.  This subject can be broken down into several parts but I’m only going to write about one today.  If you haven’t read my last post, go back and check it out here…

In all facets of life I am constantly looking for the little things that make the big differences.  This concept absolutely fascinates me.  The difference between someone who is a “master” in their chosen field and someone who is just “above average” seems to come down to the small details.  The small things they see that others can’t, or that others see but don’t notice.  Or even the small tricks that they subconsciously use, due to years and years of training, that they themselves don’t even know they use.  With that in mind, I’d like to share a trick that I use that I wasn’t even aware of until numerous training clients pointed it out to me.

The single greatest trick I know to help anyone to focus on communicating with their energy and body language alone is to ask them to…stop talking!  It seems obvious (dogs don’t speak to each other, right?), but it’s often hard to do.  When we speak in sentences and words to dogs, we are asking them to communicate like a human.  Of course, dogs are very smart and often begin to learn what certain things mean, but, unless we learn to communicate with them in their own natural language, our own understanding of dog behavior will be limited.

Honestly, speaking is not really a problem for the dog (they learn to tune this out anyway), but when we speak to them, we often ignore our more powerful forms of communication and think “why don’t they understand?”  The exercise of “not speaking” is done for us, to help us learn, not for them (Remember: they already know how to communicate in “dog”, they don’t need to learn this).  Forcing ourselves to communicate without words helps us to focus all of our energy on learning to communicate with body language and energy alone, which are more effective forms of communication in the animal world.   

Of course, I’m not saying that we should never speak to our dogs, I do it all the time.  After a long day of work my dog is spoken to plenty!  As always, it’s important that we reserve our affection for the correct time and speaking can be a form of affection.  Affection always comes AFTER the work.  After a long day of work for your dog (read more about “work” here), feel free to give your dog all the “WHO’S A GOOD DOG?!  WHO’S THE BEST DOG IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD?!” you want.

Thanks for reading!