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Eliminate these 3 words from your Dog Training for Clearer Communication


The Power of Effective Communication


Keeping the lines of communication open, clear, and simple should be a priority for dog owners who want great listening skills, self-regulation and impulse control from their dogs. I encourage my clients to work towards not needing to micromanage their dogs forever because we are teaching their dogs how to manage their own thoughts, feelings and desires.


Over time, we want them to simply behave nicely because they know it’s the right thing to do, without owners needing to put in any more effort.


Do the work now and reap the ongoing rewards.


So, heading in that direction, let’s examine three common dog training terms that I teach my clients to eliminate completely from their vocabulary. This is not difficult, and you can do it too.


Let’s break our reliance on saying:


Stay

Come

Stop


And over time have our dogs simply offer us the correct behaviours, reliable obedience and watch a beautiful relationship evolve.



Rethinking 'Stay'


six dogs hold a drop stay
A long drop for Molly, Jaffa, Zander, Miki, Bean & Alaska

The concept of your dog holding a sit, drop, or mat command for as long as you want them to is, indeed, appealing. A dog who can do one or more of these commands for as long as needed, under assorted distractions and without needing the owner to be hovering over them continuously feeding treats is, for me, the very bread and butter of our training.


Impulse control and self-regulation are built by building these exercises.


But if you’re needing to be continuously saying stay or wait, then is the dog truly self-regulating or are you micromanaging their position?


I want to be able to put my dog in a position and simply go do what I need to do, when I need to do it, and I have practiced this so that reliability is undeniable. And it’s all built on not needing to say stay or wait at all, let alone continuously, because they know that their command or position is indefinite until I release them.


The key here is the release command.


I use ‘free’ to indicate when they are done, anything else that happens, anything else they see or hear, is immaterial to them. And if you build a release command into all of your obedience commands you can start to see the same reliability.


two dogs wait at the door
Bean & Molly work on not rushing out the front door

Then you can truly add duration, distraction and distance to any command or exercise.


For example, when I open my front door to collect a parcel or take out the rubbish my dogs know that the open door, or the wonders beyond it, have nothing to do with them unless I invite them to exit with me. I don’t need to say stay or wait to them - they are waiting for the release command and if they don’t hear it, they don’t exit.


Naturally, like a sit, drop, or mat command, this takes practice, but your dog can also learn this if you practice (but do it on a lead until they are reliable).


Embracing a Realistic Recall


Imagine the unimaginable moment. Your dog suddenly rushes off and is running towards a busy road. The heart-wrenching potential of their impending danger leads most people to a panicked moment of screaming, and the reality for most people is that, at that moment, they’re not screaming come.


They’re screaming their dog’s name. It’s instinctive and completely understandable, so I suggest that instead of teaching your dog to recall to ‘come’ or ‘name+come’ you simply call their name as their recall.

a schnauzer
Zander comes when I call him

It’s natural, it’s personal, and it’s instinctive.


For a lot of people with multiple dogs ‘come’ doesn’t work because -which dog are they talking to? And yet ‘name+come’ is just that extra layer of complexity that we just don’t need. Call your dog’s name and teach them to recall every time they hear it.


(Need some recall hints? Grab my free

Recall Guide here!)


Now, ok, some dogs have a common name, and multiple dogs might have that name, but your dog's name, called in your voice, is completely personal to your dog, even if they have a sibling.


Oh, and if you were thinking, “If my dog was running towards danger I’d yell no”, you might want to reconsider that. Yelling something that might make them think they are in trouble (even if they really should be in trouble) might make them run away from you faster or further.


Moving Beyond 'Stop'


a white dog
Kikii jumping up - time to delete 'down' and say 'no'

When you have one or more behaviours that you would love to completely remove from your dogs’ repertoire, I suggest that you think about removing 'stop', or words that indicate they should stop, like down, off, out, leave it, give or quiet.


For example:

  • If I want my dog to never jump up, I will eliminate the word 'down'.

  • Or I might want my dog to never pick up the remote control, so I’ll eliminate 'leave-it'.

  • Or perhaps I want to eradicate barking from my nuisance barker, so 'quiet' is not a word that I want to use.

These behaviours, if caught in the act, will simply be 'no'.



If I’m catching my dog in the act and then asking them to stop, one potential outcome is that they ignore me and keep doing it. But what if they do stop when I ask them to, isn’t that a good thing?


No.


Whilst they might stop when asked, they’ll start again soon enough, so all they are learning is to get down off the guest when you say down, as opposed to not getting up there in the first place. Or let go of the stolen object when requested as opposed to not stealing it at all. Or to shut up when requested to but they go ahead and do it again later.


Additionally, some dogs will learn to be sneaky and do it behind your back or wait till you are absent.


So, do I use ‘stop’ type words?

a white dog sleeping
Jaffa loves to relax on my bed, when invited

Yes, I do.

  • When I ask one of them to jump up somewhere, ‘down’ lets them know to please now get down again.

  • If one of them has an object they normally are allowed to have, like the ball, I’ll ask them to let go of it so I can throw it or put it away potentially.

  • Or if I have a dog who is not a compulsive barker, but that dog does bark in a situation that is reasonable, asking them to be quiet is now very reasonable.


So, perhaps you may want to reconsider what commands you are using or what situations you’re applying them in. This will help you work towards simplifying your dog training and making the training process smoother.






About A New Leash on Life Dog Training


a lady with three dogs
Zander, Keryn, Jaffa & Miki

Because I use a balanced approach to dog training if you choose to train with me, we will be using positive reinforcement and rewards, but we will not be using food. I prefer not to rely on food because I don’t want to take food with me every place I ever go, I don’t want my dogs to learn to ignore me if I have no food or run out, and I don’t want to end up in a situation where I might still be of less importance to my dog, even with food, than the dog he's playing with or bird he’s chasing etc. Additionally, I do use the word no, and I do teach a consequence process for ignoring me or for an unacceptable behavioural choice, but without resorting to fear, intimidation, or pain.


So, for me, I train my dogs the way that I feel aligns with my belief system – rewards for listening and good behaviour but without food reliance – consequences without violence for inappropriate choices.


What do you believe in?


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