Dog Training

Common Canine Communication Problems

You say “come” and he comes running. You say “sit” and, well, he goes running. From commands to walks in the park everything . . . everything ends in running. If this sounds familiar, you may be thinking of giving up on teaching your dog good manners. “Maybe he’s just short a few brain cells” you tell yourself. (After all, he does growl at his own tail and sniff his own poop.) But, when it comes right down to it, often times what we think is a blatant refusal of obedience is just a simple communication that got lost in translation.

Want to find a few quick fixes to these all too common problems of miscommunication? Read on to find our fast solutions to the most common issues faced by pets and their owners.

You Say: “Stay.”
He Hears: “Come here! Run really, really fast and please . . . jump on the company.”

How to Fix It:

You know the drill. The doorbell rings and he gets all excited. You say “stay” and he doesn’t listen. Well, you know the problem isn’t in your words. All you said was “stay” . . . about fifteen times.

The problem with commands being misread often coincides with the tone and mood of your delivery. If you say “stay” in a nervous tone, your pet is going to pick up on your uneasiness. Be steadfast. Take charge and be calm. When you’re calm – your pet is calm . . . and he will be much more likely to hear “stay” and not “attack the mailman”.

You Say: “Fetch the ball.”
He Hears: “Fetch the ball and or the cat poop/squirrel/injured bird.”

How to Fix It:

He knows how this thing works. He brings you something and you get all excited, rub his belly and begin asking him “Who’s mommy’s little cutsie poo baby?”

So, this is what he figures. There is a yard full of goodies. “If I bring the ball, I get a Bacon Bite. So if I bring the neighbor’s cat I’m the man!” When there is a yard full of distractions it can be hard to expect the results you want. Just like a kid in a candy store with only one buck, you would want to find a way to remove the “tantrum factors” like five dollar gourmet gummy dinosaurs . . . which would mean you might go to the dollar store instead.

When playing fetch, don’t leave any other toys as a selection. Just you, Fido and the red rubber ball . . . That spells success.

You Say: “Don’t chase the cat.”
He Hears: “Bacon, bacon, me want cat bacon.”

How to Fix It:

Teaching our dogs to ignore other pets is one of the most difficult tasks we will face in obedience training. This is because it is in a dog’s nature to “hunt”. The best way to overcome this problem is to take to the streets with your leash and begin putting your pooch in situations where he is controlled yet vulnerable to temptation.

Keep a firm hand on the leash. Lead him, don’t let him lead you. Be the asserter and keep a firm authority as other pets pass by. Reward him when he ignores an animal he would normally bark madly at. Over time, a little authority and a lot of practice will go a long way to making backyard playtime a lot less dangerous for neighborhood cats everywhere.

You Stay: “Stop that.”
He Hears: “I love you.”

How to Fix It:

No need. Pets just like children need and crave discipline. In the wild, dogs run in packs with one leader braving the way. Being in submission actually makes them feel safe and nurtured.

So the next time you need to scold your pet just remember that it’s for his own good and he already knows that you teach him because you care. If you didn’t you wouldn’t try so hard to keep him from your cranky neighbor’s begonias where all too many pooches have turned up as dog catcher bait, nor would you have apologized to the neighbor lady you despise for something you didn’t even do just because Mr. Pickles thinks her poodle is a goddess.

Pets and pet lovers, when it comes to understanding each other sometimes things get lost in translation . . . but sometimes words are overrated and a simple snuggle speaks volumes. So when all words fail, use none.

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