Obedience commands allow you to connect with your dog and are the focus of dog training basics. Your tone of voice, gestures, and body language all determine whether your dog can understand you and respond accordingly. A good command can send your dog flying into action. A bad command will only lead to frustration. Ultimately, it’s all in how you say it.
Tone of voice
Dogs are exceptionally good at picking up subtleties in sound, which is why the tone of your voice is so important when you give a dog training command. The more lively your tone, the easier it is for your dog to understand your intent and respond accordingly.
Use low tones for corrections and commands with no movement
A low, deep voice makes corrections and discipline more effective. Your dog can get your meaning just from the intonation. Also, using a lower tone of voice for basic dog training commands such as sit, stay, and down will help convey to your dog the idea to stay motionless.
Use higher, more excited tones for praise and active commands
If you’re excited about your dog, he’ll be excited, too. You can use your voice as praise without ever relying on treats. Use an excited voice to give active obedience commands like come or heel as a hint that your dog needs to move to comply.
Try varying the tone of your voice with different dog training commands to see what works best for your dog.
Voice and gestures versus touch
If you touch your dog at the same time you give him a command, for instance pushing on his rear to teach him to sit, you introduce conflicting signals. The sense of touch will always be more important to your dog than the sound of your voice. He’ll associate the touch on his rear, rather than the word “sit”, to the act of sitting and you’ll have to train him twice: once to sit when you press on his rear and again to sit for the verbal command. Touching him to teach commands will also make your dog’s responses less reliable when he’s off-leash.
Make your obedience commands understandable by using only your voice and hand gestures whenever possible. Your dog will remember the commands faster and listen better since he has to focus on you for training signals. This is important during the first phase of basic dog training when your dog learns the meaning of a command.
Tips for effective dog training
Here are some points to keep in mind when giving commands during dog training basics:
Keep commands clear and concise
If your dog can’t hear or understand you, he can’t obey. Keep obedience commands short and clear. Train a particular response to a specific word and use only that word.
Don’t repeat commands or beg for a response
The command isn’t “Pleeeez sit for me!”. It’s “Sit!”. Repeating commands or begging for a response causes your dog to tune you out and undermines your authority, both of which can lead to behavior problems. If your dog doesn’t obey a command the first time, correct him.
Don’t command unless you can make your dog obey
Unless you’re willing to get up and make him obey, don’t ask your dog to do something. He’ll quickly learn that following instructions is optional. Enforce every obedience command you give.
Giving commands is essential to dog training basics, but you also have to learn to listen to your dog. It’s up to you to determine which methods and techniques bring out your dog’s true potential. That’s the art of obedience training.