Callie's Question Corner

Getting the Puppy to Listen

Teaching a dog to "listen" starts by YOU learning to speak DOG-ESE!!! (in other words -- learn to speak THEIR language!)

Now I need to teach you about "THE VOICE". This is the biggest key to ANY kind of training, Sarah, and you might as well start off "right". Your voice is your biggest training aid Sarah. Your voice can totally manipulate an animal.

When you speak sweetly and lovingly and proudly to your dog -- they're gonna KNOW that! They LIKE your sweet tones. They LOVE it when you "love them with your voice". "You're such a GOOD pup! Mom LOVES you SOOOOO much!". Try an experiment. Say "Good morning" in the following ways --

  • Like it's the BEST morning of your life!
  • Like some idiot can't see it's the WORST morning of your life.
  • Like you're too sleepy to care!
  • Like you're totally MAD at someone!
See how different those ALL sound??? When you take speech in school (or public speaking) you'll learn that stuff like that is called "word color" -- some words are themselves colorful, but mostly it's HOW you say them. Now -- let's say this dog's name is gonna be "Mike". Practice the SAME thing -- say that name like he's just the BEST boy!! Now say it like he's just been SOOO bad! Your VOICE just turned his name into both a praise and a correction! Now -- to be even MORE effective -- remember this. Dogs are "turned on" (i.e. excited and made rowdy) by high squealy noises. But how does a Mommy dog CORRECT her babies?? What does ANY dog do when you do something he doesn't like! He GROWLS!!! So apply THAT principle to praise and correction! When you say "GOOD BOY!!" you can say it in your normal "girl" voice. But -- be careful -- you can EASILY (especially as a female) let your voice excite them TOO much and suddenly they go from having done something good, to something BAD because they got too excited by your voice!! Other side -- the growl! Say "Mike" again -- but this time, say it like a GROWL! See how your voice can get REALLY low and deep??? Practice that. Particularly practice "NO" in a growl!!!

Let me add here -- be careful when you're teaching a command -- do NOT always say their name! Using their name in a growl as a correction occasionally is fine .. MOSTLY to get his attention. Like you walk up and he's chewing on a cushion -- "MIKE" gets his attention and at the same time says "YOU are in trouble!" BUT, when you're giving a command -- like stay or sit or come -- don't always couple that with his name. Keep it VERY simple. Let him learn JUST the word.

Mostly when he hears his name, you want his attention NOW! You want him to LISTEN now! Correction should NOT be a yell! Yelling doesn't do any more good with dogs than it does with children!!! They just plain quit listening! But that "NO" that sounds like a growl. It doesn't have to be loud!!! Nope! It's that "tone" of your voice Sarah. One good firm no-nonsense growled "NO" will get your point across just fine!

The other one I use that is VERY VERY effective because you can put SOOO much feeling and emotion into it -- and it makes a long, low growly noise that GETS their attention is: *YOU* should be ashamed!!!! (but draw that word aaaa-ssshhhammmmmmed! out a long way!). The look on your face needs to match your voice. (and you just thought that one elementary teacher that you had that NOBODY dared be bad in HER class -- you thot she was BORN with that voice? nope!!! Practice!). The other thing that will be the greatest praise to your puppy is your TOUCH!!! when he's been very good, while TELLING him "what a GOOD dog you are!!!" reach down and stroke his neck or whatever he really likes. Just a brief touch!!! It is THE absolute 100% BEST kind of praise. It's what he will crave Sarah. YOUR love and approval.


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