We are smart, sometimes too smart for our fur. Not to mention smart enough to make you think that yes, your dog does speak English. Seriously, we don’t have a clue.
During the first several months of my life I thought my name was No. That’s because Mom and Dad were constantly saying no to me, so I just thought that was my name. Kind of funny when you ready my early posts and realize just how many name changes I went through during that first year.
So, if you want to communicate with us on a serious note, you are going to have to learn sign language. We actually communicate through body language. Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean you are going to have to sniff, well you know what and yes – we can learn some verbal commands, but it is best to train us by showing us what you are saying.
It’s simple really. Want us to sit? Then simply put us in the sit position on the floor and give us the “sit” command and the hand sign you have decided to use for the word sit. A word of warning here…if you are not agile or flexible, by all means don’t attempt sitting down on the floor yourself for us to see how to do it. That has been done and believe me there are limits to our ability to help out in a situation like that (not that I would know that first paw or anything.) We can’t call a tow truck and we can’t dial 911 or the neighbor. We can’t even bark the command to Siri or Cortana. If we offered you a helping paw, you would flip us right over you head and out the window while trying to get up. What we can do, is snuggle up along side you and keep you company until someone comes home or to visit. Of course by then the puddle(s) on the floor would most likely be considerable and don’t even think about trying to blame it on “the dog”.
Plan ahead and figure out some hand signals the down, stand, stay and come commands. Position us and then show us what you want with the hand signals. Most of us are quick and easy learners. In fact we are usually excited to learn something new. We certainly want to learn if it makes you happy and you show it by your excitement or praise.
Just think about it for a minute. How exciting to you think it is to sniff grass and walk the same yard four or five times a day, day after day? Believe me, not exciting stuff. That is why we get in so much trouble around the house or out in the yard when we are really bored. Want to see a dog owner get really excited and look up from their phone or iPad? All you have to do is find something disgusting in the yard, put one shoulder downward and act like you are going to roll your ears in whatever it is. Let me tell you, there is nothing as sharp as the peripheral vision of a dog parent.
Some dog parents are treat based trainers. Thank goodness I was born into one of those families. Others are pat-on-the-head and praise trainers. Truthfully, dogs react evenly to both kinds of praise, so there is no right or wrong. However, the wider I see my backside getting and the more remarks Mom makes about my cute little jiggle walk the small the treats get. I could make a few comments about her walk, but I’m not totally brain dead at the moment. For now I will just go with the really baby Milk Bones, turkey bites or chewies and keep my bark to myself.