Helping your Dog to Understand Commands

Your dog wants to do what you want from him. Generally there is a strong bond between pets and owners. The dog wants to do the right thing. If the dog doesn’t truly know what you’re trying to get from him or her, then they aren’t going to be able to offer it.

Nearly everyone I know has at one time or another said their dog was dumb or was must being stubborn. The reality is that sometimes they just don’t know what you want from them. The problem is that the command may be new, or that if it’s an old command, it may be that you’re not being consistent when you use it.

If for example you give the command “down” and one time the down command means to lie down, while the next time you shout it when your pet bounces over to jump up on a guest, then you’ve confused your dog by using that command. Over the course of time, it may well be that your dog associates the Down command with something aside from lying down and will look at you curiously when you give it.

Teaching your dog what you want from them while offering the command over and over is the only way to get the dog to understand your language, just as it would help you if someone shouted the word “window” in French, and then pointed to the window. Otherwise would you really know what they were saying? Your dog does not speak English. He speaks dog.

The philosophy of teaching a dog a command is the same as teaching you or your child a new language. Anger and impatience doesn’t help them to learn, any more than it would help you to learn.

Say the commands repeatedly at the same time as helping them to accomplish the task. The word Sit should be followed by gentle pressure on the hind quarters until the dog sits. Reward him so that the sitting is associated with something pleasant at first. Gradually stop adding rewards at some point but at first they are important.

Stay consistent. The dog wants to learn and he wants to please you. Using the same command for the same action is very important over the long run. Use one word commands when possible to make it as simple as possible for your dog to understand and to learn this new language you’re trying to teach them.

Patience pays off in the long run. You will be rewarded with a very well behaved and a very happy animal.



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