How To Talk Dog: The First Steps
I have mentioned before that I think that dogs are really smart and they are. No question about it.
However, it doesn’t matter how intelligent they are, they simply will never be able to speak.
For sure, they understand some words we say to them and command words where they have the ability to associate actions with the sound of the word they are hearing, but no….they will never be able to speak.
Unlike Brian in Family Guy, our dog’s ways of communicating are very different.
It is up to us as humans to try to learn their language instead. This is a skill that we can learn but we have to keep an open mind and be patient too.
At all times it is important to also respect our dogs too. In order for us to really learn how to communicate with our pets, we also have to regard them with equal status. If we look down on our dog’s needs and wants, then the ability to build that communications bond is simply not going to work.
Wonderful World Of Dogs
As Humans, we have many many languages throughout the world. This can make it very difficult for us to communicate with each other sometimes but thankfully, in the wonderful world of dogs, they have only one language.
It is based on simple elements that are always consistent and easy to follow.
It is a very powerful and silent language and we as humans have to develop our “inner dog” to understand it.
Humans have the tendency to overthink things and make them more complex than needed so thankfully the dogs have helped us out here.
However, in order to understand it, we have to gain an insight into how our dogs think they are living and in order to do that, we have to look at the community model that all modern domesticated dogs follow, and that is the Wolf pack
You Can Take The Dog Out Of The Wolf Pack, But You Can’t Take The Wolf Pack Out Of The Dog!
Modern dogs have evolved over many hundreds of years from their Wolf ancestors. Their appearance and lifestyle afforded to them are the most obvious factors here.
However, the pack mentality and core basic instincts are still there. Imprinted for all time. It’s what makes a dog a dog. This DNA is extremely powerful and consists of two elements: To survive and to reproduce.
Keeping It Simple
Dogs have inherited this system from their distant cousins, The Wolf and it has served them well.
It allows for no ambiguity and is deadly effective because it as strict in nature as any system in place by any animal in the world.
It allows for any Wolf pack to be made up of the following, at its head, there is an Alpha pair.
They keep the rest of the pack in order and they are the ultimate rulers.
The rest of the pack are sub-ordinates.
The Alpha pair are the strongest, healthiest and most intelligent pair in the pack. They also have the most experience of hunting generally and they are in the prime role of ensuring the survival and well being of the rest of the pack.
The Alpha Wolves dictate everything. They are in complete control and they dominate the rest of the pack. They constantly display authority over the other wolves in order to keep them in check and this in effect makes the rest of the pack know their place and they respond in a way that makes their lives feel content and happy knowing that the Alpha’s are making all the difficult decisions and they are part of something that makes them feel safe and protected.
In a pack, the alpha won’t always recognize the other wolves. That is to say, it will ignore them when it suits and this act keeps the others in check. It makes them know their place.
We as humans must do this too.
It’s important right from the start that we need for our dog to see us as Alpha. Everything else that follows is pretty much mute unless we get this right.
We must display behavior toward our dog that lets it know and understand that WE are the leader, the Alpha.
Learning to ignore your dog is hard and goes against everything that we ultimately want, but we must do this to instill into them that we are in charge.
We can do this in a number of ways.
This is when we as owners may have left the dog alone for a period of time. it may of been just going out of the room or the home in general and it’s what happens when we come back into contact with the dog.
If the dog starts to bark, jump, bringing toys to the owner, wanting to play……..we as Alpha must completely ignore them!
How cruel is that? Well, Not really as it happens. This message is simple for the dog: You are not interested in their behavior and it is NOT going to get them what THEY want.
No eye contact, no words..nothing save maybe gently pushing the dog away, but other than that, you are displaying to the dog that YOU are in charge.
It feels at first that you are being unkind to the dog. You are not. You are starting to communicate in the language of DOG!
This may seem at first to confuse your dog, but you must keep doing this until the dog accepts it. They will accept it, it’s just a matter of time and as with humans, all dogs learn at different speeds. So be consistent and don’t give in.
Eventually, your dog will accept that they are not getting the attention they want and they will give in. It is then important for us not to do anything with the dog until a period of time has passed. Five to ten minutes is fine and then WE can instigate what WE want with the dog..and that is being an Alpha!
2. The Come
After a suitable time has passed, we can start on the next stage of being a good leader, a good role model for our dog.
Getting them to come to us when WE want them to.
This has to always be rewarded with a small treat as they are doing something that YOU want them to do and you are showing them that you are pleased with them. You can choose whatever treat you want but the best thing is something that is good for them, a small piece of kibble or a small bit of dog chew..something that is small and easily eaten is the key.
I use meat flavored dog chews and break them up into even smaller pieces..that is a good way of making them last!
Be mindful of overfeeding your dog just keep the morsels tiny in any reward-based scenario.
You must tell your dog “Good Boy” or “Good Girl” well they do something well and physically touching them whilst saying this helps to solidify the action.
Remember, your dog wants to please you so this is a huge thing for the dog to get this kind of praise and reward.
You are sending a powerful message that will eventually become totally understood by your dog.
In Conclusion of this part….
If we want to become the right kind of leader for our dog then it is important to remember the golden rules:
Reward Good Behaviour and Ignore unwanted behavior.
Dogs consistently look for reactions from us….so always make sure you react positively and if appropriately, playfully when they do something good and totally ignore any things they get wrong. This takes time but it does work and eventually, dogs work this out to their benefit..and yours.
Get these two factors right and work on them from the start and keep working on them before you try anything else.
These are the essential first steps in learning how to talk dog and getting them to see you as Alpha.