Communication with your dog isn’t as simple as you talking and hoping your dog listens.
Communication where you connect with your dog and your dog connects with you, and there is an understanding where you are working together, is what I refer to as open communication. Sometimes it is words, but most of the time it is about the handlers intentions, energy, attitude, and body language.
It is a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears really. You are trying to find that sweet-spot that is just right where communication is open and flowing freely.
TOO HARD – If you are verbally or physically applying a lot of negative pressure, or anything that causes fear, pain, or discomfort, there is no open communication. It will be a battle mentally, socially, or physically, and there might be some engagement, but it won’t be willing, and your dog will shut down.
TOO MUCH – If you are giving all the time, verbally, emotionally, socially, or physically, and a bit of a fixer of everything, well this is too much unwarranted attention and there will be no open communication. Some people call this human behavior cheer-leading, others call it helicopter parenting, and still others call it cloying. Whichever word suites, just know, it is a behavior that means too much unwarranted attention and nothing good or productive will happen because you aren’t listening, you are fixing.
KIND AND PURPOSEFUL – When you are kind in thought, tone, and body language, and you have purpose with whatever it is you are doing with your dog, all good things can happen, this is open communication where you allow your dog to come into your space, emotionally or physically, and equally engage with you. Your intention counts when you step out and want to engage.
TIPS – Finding this sweet-spot takes time and practice, you have to practice. It is a meeting of two species, trying to figure it out, and if you want to train minimally or to the highest level, practice, just practice.
If you had a bad day or are feeling off, do something for yourself before you step out and train, a hot bath, a cold shower, a drink, some tea, whatever, but get into a healthier and kinder place before you engage.
Know what you want to do in your training session more or less. This doesn’t has to be set in stone, but if you step out and are floundering about, there will be no open communication. So set your purpose before you engage.
Be kind, accept that you will make mistakes and so will your dog, but being wrong is part of learning, let this be okay.
Practice having your thoughts match your body language and matching your tone, honestly and for real. This is not easy if you are not use to doing this, and most people aren’t. We are a species that knows how to lie, and we are good at it. So part of is truly being kind in mind, body, and spirit. Practice.
Often times we overlook the human end of the leash, but we need as much work as the animals we are living and working with.
I can tell you this plays out with my dogs, goats, ducks, and especially quail, and for sure my human children.