What do we do when we have trouble making ourselves understood by other people? We usually repeat the same thing in a different tone of voice, or try again with different words and a few exaggerated hand movements.
None of this will be any help to your dog. It might confuse or entertain them, but it definitely won’t make any sense. So how can you help your dog to work out what on earth you mean?
Show your dog what you mean
If you want your dog to sit, remind them what you’re talking about by putting them in a sitting position while you say the word. Then praise and reward them. If you want then to fetch a toy, take your dog to it while repeating the word.
Use the same word for the same command
Your dog can’t tell that “sit” and “sit down” are connected. And once you’ve taught them “down”, they might even think you’re telling them to do two things at once. Make sure you only praise your dog for doing the right action in response to the right word.
Speak in a cheerful, confident tone
To your dog, your tone of voice makes a big difference to how you sound. A familiar word in a different tone of voice could mean absolutely nothing to them. Try to stick with a cheerful, confident tone – even if you feel silly the first time you try it in public.
Try not to get frustrated
Sometimes, your dog will be unbelievably frustrating and annoying. But when they forget something you thought they’d learnt, it could be because they’re tired, over-excited, or hungry … or they’ve just plain forgotten.
You might need a break before you can smile at your dog again, but keep your temper and brace yourself to start again – with plenty of repetition, reward and reinforcement.
Keep it simple – and keep it fun.
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