Giving Commands Appropriately

For the past four weeks I have been suffering from inflamed vocal cords which means my ability to talk has diminished quite a bit. When I do speak, I must do it softer and with less volume. This has truly been an eye opener for me as I have found much frustration trying to communicate with those around me. I have found that I am, for one, terrible at charades, and two, too impatient to write things down. When I have something to say, I want to say it. I’ve also learned that in order to be a good listener, you must speak less.

The best part of the whole process is it gives me a new example to use with my clients when I teach them about giving commands. For years, trainers have taught dog owners that when they give a command, to use a firm and authoritative voice. So what about those people that can’t use that type of voice? What happens if you are out in public, say at a speaking event, and you need to give your dog a command in the middle of a hushed crowd?
My philosophy has always been to teach a dog the command word, regardless of how it comes out of my mouth. I want my dog to respond to me regardless of if I’m whispering the command or giving it from across the dog park. The rules you should always follow when giving commands are to be confident and always follow through, no matter how long it may take you.

I often see owners give sit commands to their dog while on leash but instead of just using the word they jerk up on the collar or touch the butt. This only teaches the dog that unless they receive both the command and the tug or touch, they don’t have to sit. So, what happens when you want to give the dog the command and you don’t have the leash attached? Will the dog sit?

Here are some rules to follow when giving your dog commands.
1. Be sure the dog fully understands the behavior you are asking for.
2. When giving the command use a neutral voice.
3. Give your dog five seconds to comply before repeating the command.
4. Do not change your volume or tone when needing to repeat.
5. Do not touch the dog when asking for the behavior.
6. Do not pull up on the leash or jerk up on the collar when asking for a behavior.
7. Do not physically push your dog into the behavior.
8. Do not change your body posture or your approach when needing to repeat your command.
9. Do not allow your dog to do anything else until the command has been followed.
10. When your dog responds to a command, even if it’s a one second sit, praise the dog for listening and responding.
11. Do not lure your dog into a behavior by showing a treat or saying “treat” prior to giving a command.