One of the coolest things about spending time with dogs is communicating with them. Think about it; they don't speak our spoken languages and they don't share our body language. But that doesn't matter, because we can still communicate with them. We're so good at telling dogs what we want them to do that we can even teach them really complicated tasks, like the work that service dogs, military and police dogs, livestock guardian dogs, and sheepdogs do.
But when your pup is misbehaving, it might seem like nothing you do gets through to them. In reality, a lot of the problem behaviors that dogs have come from a failure of communication. Here are some ways to make it easier to communicate with your dog and make the bond between you even stronger.
How To Understand Your Dog
When you look into your dog’s sweet face, what are they trying to tell you? It doesn’t have to be a mystery if you understand the way dogs communicate. Dogs use body language and vocal communication to talk to us. Both of them are important, and every dog expresses themselves a little bit differently. That means that we, as pet parents, need to work on understanding what our dog means.
Understand Their “Language”
Barking has many different meanings. When your dog barks, they might be saying, "Hello!" or "I'm excited!" or "I'm worried." Paying attention to the tone of their bark lets you understand their feelings.
For many dogs, body language is even more important than barking. Here’s an example: When your dog wags their tail, it means they're excited. But excited doesn't always mean happy! Sometimes excited means "alert" or even "nervous."
That's why you need to look at everything your dog is communicating. If your dog is wagging their tail with a relaxed expression and a wiggly body, they're probably happy to see you. But if your dog is wagging their tail slowly and stiffly, with pinned-back ears, they might be on the alert or worried about something.
How To Talk To Your Dog
Dogs are great at pattern recognition, which means that they can make the connection that a certain sound means you want them to do something. In other words, they can learn words! Dogs are best at understanding simple words like "sit," "stay," or "come." When you talk to your dog, use these easy words to help them understand what you want.
Choose The Right Reward
When your dog does something good, like listening to your command, give them a treat or praise. This is called positive reinforcement. It makes your dog feel happy and understand that they did the right thing. All dogs have different things that motivate them. Some dogs are food-motivated, and treats are the best way to tell them they did the right thing. Other dogs are toy-motivated or play-motivated, so a quick game of fetch might be their favorite reward. And some dogs are praise-motivated, where happy words and lots of pets and attention are the best reward.
Sometimes, your dog might not understand what you’re saying or asking them to do. Be patient and understanding. Keep practicing and be kind. They'll learn over time. You should be patient with your dog- but also be patient with yourself. Communicating with dogs takes practice!
Sometimes, you might make mistakes, but that’s okay. Keep trying and learning together. Dogs are very forgiving and will always love you no matter what.
Why It's Important To Have Good Communication With Your Dog
Communicating with your dog isn't just fun. It's also important for their safety. When you and your dog understand each other, it makes accidents less likely. If you train your dog and help them understand commands like "No" and "Stay" and "Drop it," you can protect them from dangerous situations. For example, let's say your dog finds a piece of trash they want to eat. If they know what "Drop it!" means, you can prevent them from eating it without having to put your hand in their mouth.
Use The Right Tools
There are tools that can help you communicate with your dog, too. A harness can help you understand your dog's body language on walks. It can also make your walking routine better. Putting on a harness tells your dog that it's time to take a walk. It tells them what to expect, and when you remove the harness, it tells them that the walk is over.
If you want the best, most comfortable harness for your dog, the Joyride Harness is the harness for you. Its vet-approved design helps keep your dog safe on walks and prevents pulling, as well as protects your dog’s neck and throat as you go.