B.O.W.O.W. Training “Shhhh…”

September 26, 2012 | By More

(Body Only Without Words)

One of the challenges we face when training our dogs is communicating what we want from them without repeating commands.  Until they understand the meaning of the command or “cue” it makes no sense saying it over and over.  This will just serve to frustrate the dog, teach him to ignore you or at best, teach him to wait until he hears the command multiple times before he does it.  We want the behavior the first time we cue it.

To teach a new command, I use hand signals, and engage my whole body to some degree.  This is the easiest way for our dogs to learn since they are so tuned in to our bodies anyway, and it helps to keep their attention on us.   If we are standing in front of Toto shouting a command over and over, Toto may look away from us as she becomes nervous that we are not happy. This becomes a learned behavior for Toto that we do not want to feed into.   She may eventually shut down and refuse to work with us at all.

So in addition to treats and toys, everyone in my B.O.W.O.W. class will learn how to train using their hands, their facial expressions, their body movements, and their leashes.  Of course the voice plays a very important role in training but for the first few weeks of class, we try to use our voices minimally while training our dogs.   Before you even reach for a toy or a treat, I think it’s important for you to be aware of the power you hold within your own body.

Even when we think dogs are listening to us, they may be reading a body signal that we are not even aware we are giving.   A raised eyebrow, happy face : )

…Try this:  Pick a simple cue that your dog knows.  Could be “sit,” “down,” “come,” doesn’t matter.  Without moving a muscle, hands behind your back, blank expression on your face, in a monotoned voice give your dog the cue.  Even if you get the behavior, it won’t be  performed as efficiently as you are used to.   You can also try stepping away from your dog, and asking for a sit from across the room.  Or try turning your body to the side 90 degrees and ask for a down.  No hands, no facial expressions, nothing but your monotone voice.   Let me know how that works for you!


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Category: All Posts, Behavior, Dog Training Tips, Obedience

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  1. Nobuhle says:

    Hi,My dog is 7 years old.He loves to go out for walks/runs but when i go out to play he never seems to get into it.I try everything to get his atinotten on the tennis balls,Frisbees,Tug ropes or just running around and he kind of sits there.BUT once i get the leash or mention the word Walk He is up and running.Also once we are out he starts to get tired around 1-2 Kilometres so i can only go about 1 kilometre because he will get tired coming home.Can you help me get him interested in playing ?