How To Give Commands To Your Dog

The commands in themselves are a small part of training. There is not any special virtue in the commands at the beginning; only after the dog has gotten along in doing the trick, does the command mean much to him; then he begins to associate it with what he is doing. I remember a lady who, following my instructions, came back to me a week later and said-“I gave my dog all the commands you mentioned but he did not do any of them.”

A male reader wrote to me: “My dog is a German dog trained in Germany. Must I speak German to him?” To the dog one language is as another; he recognizes sounds only. If he learned his work thur commands in the German language, continue to use the German words. New training can be given in commands of English.

In a few instances dogs have been taught by the sign language, their masters being deaf and dumb persons. A clap of the hands brings the dog to attention and then the fingers talk to him and he obeys.

It may be possible to teach the dog to read lip movement. We are able at times to have one of our dogs look for the ball when we move our lips to say, “Fetch, ball.” We have not been able thus far to have him understand other commands. Perhaps this is due to the fact that in speaking the words “Fetch, ball,” one makes rather wide and violent lip movements easily observable to the dog.

So often folks write to me inquiring what magic formula, what secret words, what charm is to be employed in making the dog understand. Of course, a great deal of hokus pocus can be placed around the work of training the dog, but after all, the best trainer gets most out of his dog just by talking to the dog. A real trainer has the knack of understanding a dog altho the trainer may not know any of the technical terms of psychology and pedagogy.

Adopt a frank and friendly tone of voice, accustom your dog to certain phrases, do not speak unnecessarily to him, combine body movements with your speech, and in time, build up that understanding between you and your dog which is the result of comradeship, companionship and mutual confidence in each other. Just talk to your dog.

The tone of voice varies for different commands; for instance, in shaming a dog, a drawn-out hissing tone is employed; in commanding a dog to come, a light, rising tone of voice is employed; in commanding the dog to keep away from food, a stern, rough tone is employed. But the same tone of voice always should be used for the same command.

The words of command are immaterial, but after they have been employed for a command, they must always be used thereafter for this command.

Such commands as “leash ,” “ball,” “rats,” “out,” and “nix” should never be varied in any way to deceive or confuse the dog.

Most important of all is the command to stop, desist or keep away, that is, not to do a thing. The best word to use is the short and single “No.” Speak it plainly, firmly and not in a pleasing, half-hearted way. No other one word is so important nor used so often in training and managing a dog even to his dying day.

And above all things, when you say “no,” mean no and let your dog know beyond the shadow of a doubt that today, tomorrow and on all days, in this, that and all things your “no” means no and he must act accordingly, promptly, and unhesitatingly.

Short words for commands are most desirable when giving commands. Speak only the words of command. Do not add other words or continue to speak.

Commands should be given loud enough for the dog to hear; they should be given without hesitation; the dog is quick to detect the least wavering of intention. He can discern well whether you mean what you say.

Avoid confusing the dog by giving too many commands. Do not nag him with endless orders, shouts and reproofs.

If there is any doubt in your mind or the dog’s mind, repeat the command. Do not be hasty in deciding that the dog has disobeyed. It likely is not beyond the truth that in three of five times a dog is punished for disobedience, he does not deserve the punishment, inasmuch as he did not understand clearly what was demanded of him. Therefore, for the dog’s sake, and for kindness’ sake, speak your commands so that they can be understood by him.

Give the dog a few seconds of time to react, to understand your command, and above all, to save his pride. In my opinion, what often is termed stubbornness, dullness or slowness in the dog is really a manifesta tion of his pride. Dogs have pride; they can be humiliated; they must have a second’s time to adjust their pride to your superior authority.

Do not rush your dog into instant obedience; if you are wise, you will wait just a few seconds. To rush him into obedience is to spoil much of the value of your work.

The clever dog is an actor; he pretends that he has not heard the command: he turns his head or he busies himself with other matters. He will look at you slyly out of the corner of his eye. A stern repetition of the command will defeat his cleverness.

Never give a command in anger or when you are out of control of yourself.To the dog his master must be beyond change or weakness.

The name of the dog should not be shouted constantly. When your dog hears his name, it must mean “attention” or “come to master.” If you call the name gruffly, it means to stop or desist; if pleasantly, to come to you.

Three commands are most important in a dog’s training; in order they are “no,” his name called pleasantly or gruffly, and “come.”

Use the right hand or arm to indicate position or direction or to caress or encourage the dog. The left hand is needed for holding lead or otherwise controlling the dog.

The dog receives your command thru the ear (by sound) or thru the eye (by sight) or both. Therefore, many commands should be accompanied by gesture. In time, the gesture alone is sufficient. The double method also tends to cause the dog to watch you; both the voice and the body by arm gesture or otherwise combine to convey to the dog what you want him to do.

Let the dog watch for you and be on the alert for commands. Do not acquire the habit of watching the dog. The responsibility for communication must be upon the dog.

Commands should be given in anticipation, that is, just an instant before the dog is about to do a certain act or should do the act. For instance, i f the command is for a dog to halt at the curb before crossing the street, the command should be given when he is within a few feet of the curb, not after he is stepping off the curb.

The psychology of the dog’s mind again must be considered here; he must be led to believe that he not only dare not but also that he can not touch the street with his feet until the command to cross has been given. He must consider his master’s command as the cause and the crossing of the street as the inseparable effect.

At first commands mean little to the dog. Do not expect him to leap into obedience when he bears the command. It must grow upon him. There is no magic in any certain commands. The magic takes place later when the dog obeys the command with an intelligence almost human.

Altho one should not give commands unnecessarily, he can give them incidentally and well so. If you and your dog are going outdoors speak the command “Come” in a friendly way. Such commands in routine matters build up complete obedience on the part of the dog and a perfect cooperation between master and dog.