How Low Can You Go - By Glenda Herrin, ABC Mentor Trainer & Owner Of Heeling Hounds

Saturday, January 30, 2010 : 12:36:04 PM
Updated Friday, August 12, 2011 : 10:57:19 AM
I want to challenge you to communicate with your dog in the most calm and quiet way possible. Think about interacting with your dog using a sliding scale of intensity ranging from one to ten — try to keep the scale fluid and have varying degrees of interaction rather than always communicating at one particular level of intensity and volume. For example, if your dog is in the kitchen and you would like him to exit, try communicating at a Level One—silently. Use your body language, perhaps pointing an arm in the direction you would like your dog to go, before attempting to get the behavior you want using a verbal command. If the physical cue doesn’t work, ramp up your communication to Level Two or Three—calmly and firmly say “Out” as you give the physical/pointing-arm cue. If that doesn’t work, try a Level Four: walk towards your dog and shuffle him out of the kitchen as you say “Out” a little more firmly. Keep ramping up the cues, physically and verbally, ONE level at a time, until you get the desired response. While using this technique is not practical in emergency or time-sensitive situations, try experimenting with your body language and verbal tone in situations that aren’t critical and in which you aren’t in a hurry—you’ll be surprised at how your dog starts to watch you and want to interact with you to deduce your requests! This also challenges a dog psychologically to use his brain to work out what is being asked, and makes him feel good when he can figure it out rather than being yelled at daily for basic requests. We should all have a “range” in our tool-box of communication rather than just reacting at Level Eight every time we want our dogs to do something—good leaders don’t react, they respond. The more we say, the less they listen, and conversely, the less we say, the more they listen!

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