Are we confusing our dogs?
Dogs are non verbal creatures. While they can understand verbal commands, it is not their primary form of communication. So in all our interactions with our dogs, in training or just enjoying each others company, there is a slew of body language communication they are picking up on. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
To see this in action find a behaviour your dog knows well, such as sit. Ask your dog to do the behaviour but be aware of what your entire body is doing. Are you leaning forward slightly, do you have your hand in a certain place, are you looking at your dog’s rear end, is there a certain tone in your voice? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Once you take note of these things, try and ask for the behaviour again but change all the body cues you are exhibiting. Try leaning back, look away from your dog, hold your hand behind your back, etc. You might find your pooch is a little more confused in doing the desired behaviour. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When working with reactive or anxious dogs, it is paramount that we understand what communication we are sending them. Is our body tensing, but our voice is feigning calm? When we are asking a dog to not snarl under the fence at the passersby, have we raised our energy, gone to them flustered, but are asking them to back down? These contradictory communications within us will confuse our dogs, and often cause them to be in more distress or discomfort, especially if they are sensing danger (even if misplaced). ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Being acutely aware of our body language will help us communicate with our dogs clearly and effectively.