It is no secret that dogs communicate through body language, both with each other and us. Whether it is a slight turn of the head when greeting another dog, lip licking, or us bending down to encourage your dog to come into you, dogs learn a lot through visual pictures. Keeping that in mind, we must be aware of the body language cues that we are sending to our dog.
We frequently see dog owners having to turn around, face their dog, hold their hand up, hover over their dog, let them see the treat in their hand, and then tell them to sit in order to get the dog to actually follow the command. And then when told to simply sit without all of the body positioning, the dog does not respond. A lot of dog owners find themselves in this situation because that is how the dog has been taught; heavily relying on body language. This is great if you are always going to have the luxury of “setting the scene” in order to get a response to a very simple command, but what if your dog is running away from you, not right near you, or simply on your side instead of directly facing you?
Instead of viewing basic obedience commands as “tricks”, we use simple obedience commands in order to functionally manage our pets in any situation. Because of the many situations that our dogs face, we need to not only use body language to help our dogs, but we need to eventually hold back or change on the body cues so that our dogs respond to our verbal command, regardless of what our body is doing and where we are in relation to our dogs.
When your dog is first learning to sit, use as much body language as needed and do everything possible to help them succeed. At the same time, remember to practice when you are standing to the left of them, behind them, in front of them, and to the right of them. Practice sitting your dog while you are sitting on the couch, while you are sitting on the floor with them, while you have your back to them, and any other situation that you can think of. Using body language is a great tool that we can use to help our dogs, but don’t let it turn into a crutch or put limitations on your training.
If you live in the Austin area and are looking to advance your dog’s training, or are looking for some help getting started training your dog, contact Unleashed Unlimited; we train way beyond the leash!
If you enjoyed this entry, don’t forget to subscribe to our dog training blog. You will be automatically notified as soon a new entry is made. Also be sure to check out our Facebook Fan Page and follow us on Twitter.