Oh Behave™ Dog Training Blog

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Wait for It…

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I love catchy phrases because people remember them.  Why do you think I named my company after one of the cheesiest lines from a movie?  My favorite phrase these days is from “How I Met Your Mother”s Neil Patrick Harris (still Doogie Howser to me).  Wait for it… has become my new mantra.

I’ve had a lot of time observing dogs and their interactions with their owners.  On a first class or first visit, before I get involved, the humans will typically get out 10 sit commands or come commands while I observe the dog lunging at me and barking at me.  I’ll finally intervene and explain that the dog does not even notice their frustrated owner’s pleas.

*Dogs are not linguists:  Sadly, humans are completely attached to verbal communication.  For dogs it would be best to have different scents indicate different cues.  Verbal communication does not come quickly to most dogs.  Use words sparingly and give your dog enough time to recognize the cue and respond to it.

*Silence is powerful:  Face it.  We babble at our dogs day in and day out.  The simple act of being silent and still is a cue to your dog that it’s his turn to do something.

*Cue recognition and context:  Although your dog may recognize the word “sit” in your kitchen, while waiting for access to the dinner bowl, while you are standing in front of him, and also giving a hand signal…he may not understand this cue out of context.  Small changes in the environment and “background noise” can impact your dog’s cue recognition.  It’s important to generalize the cue in different contexts.

Repeating commands over and over is frustrating to the human and confusing to dogs.  Many times it leads to something called learned irrelevance –  it is the learning to ignore things that have no meaning to the animal’s life.  So do your dog and yourself a favor… Wait for it….  Just give your dog the time to figure out what is expected of him.  You’ll be shocked when you see how powerful it really is.


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