Human Body Language
by Robin MacFarlane
Are you confusing your dog?There are times when we get stuck trying to train our dogs. We're trying to teach the dog to stop jumping on us, or to Stay in a certain place or position, but the dog keeps making mistakes and our frustration grows. Often times we end up thinking the dog is just being stubborn!
There certainly are times that dogs will refuse to do as asked, but more often than not there are other underlying reasons. Typically those reasons have nothing to do with actually refusing or being stubborn.
Often times the dog just really isn't clear on what is expected.
And sometimes that lack of clarity is our fault because we are giving mixed messages.
One of the common ways we cause confusion is through the mixed signals body language gives off. Dogs are very in tune with non-verbal signals. How we move and hold our posture while training and interacting can say more than we realize.
We may say we want the dog to Come to us, but if our body posture is aggressive looking it will not be inviting. While a well-trained dog will listen and continue to move forward regardless, it is more likely they are going to do it with hesitation and decreased enthusiasm.
A few steps backward or crouching down by bending at the knees is a much more enticing and friendly gesture for a dog that is just learning or showing any hesitation.
The same backward lean or movement can also be why many dogs continue to jump on us, despite our repeated verbal protests to such action. Dogs interpret movement away from them as a reason to pursue. Dogs herd, chase, and follow things that move away from them.
By the same token, dogs are typically more inhibited by movement that comes toward them. If we don't want our dogs to jump on us, it is more effective to take a step forward toward them when they are about to jump rather than flinching backward. Movement backward invites. Movement forward inhibits.
It is also not unusual for dogs to be hesitant around big, imposing looking men. That person may be the gentlest personality, but the body stature alone can intimidate a dog that is not accustomed to it. If that person crouches down and turns the body slightly away from the dog, without direct eye contact, it helps the dog build some confidence, and they are more likely to approach. As soon as the man stands up, the dog will often flee backward.
The flip side of that are people who are smaller or carry themselves with very soft body language. They are taken advantage of by dogs who will jump all over them, or drag them down the street on leash. Dogs don't follow weak body language, they often exploit it.
To gain the respect of a dog that is taking advantage, words alone won't do the trick. The body language has to have the same intent as the words.
While all of this body language disparity can be overcome through training, it will make the process easier and make the dog successful much more quickly if you learn how to use your body language to your advantage, depending on the outcome you are looking for.
If you aren't sure how you appear when you're working with your dog, try practicing in front of a full-length mirror or video yourself. It will make analyzing those posture nuances much easier.
Robin MacFarlane is a professional dog trainer and owner of Thatís My Dog in Dubuque, Iowa. Her best-selling dog training DVDs, JUST RIGHT and JUST RIGHT 2 have helped thousands of dog owners teach their dogs basic obedience and fix problem behaviors through a system of training that you can easily work into your daily routine.
FREE or only a penny with the following collars:
Delta XC, Delta SPORT XC
SD-425, SD-825, SD-1325
and several more...
Here's Why You Should Train Your DogDoes Your Dog Know her Place?Teaching a Recall? Start Slow and Make the Dog SuccessfulTeaching the Down CommandHouse Manners"Pay Me!"How to Strengthen Your Dog's Understanding of "Stay"How Long Does My Dog have to Wear the E-Collar?Consistency Without an E-collarSkills Every Puppy Should LearnDogs and Doorbells -- Oh My!Stop Your Dog from Bolting to the Door!Use Food Lures to Shape Your Puppies Introduction to Sit, Stand and DownPuppy Training 101: Play Biting ProblemTeaching Your Puppy to "Kennel Up"Dog Tricks: How to Teach Your Dog to Walk BackwardsWant a Standing Ovation? Teach Your Dog to "Take A Bow!"Want Your Dog to Come to You? Try Moving Away from Him."Catch me if you can!"Tired of Fido Stealing Your Snacks?E-Collar, Leash, Treats, Toy, and the Dog. How to Manage it All!Dog Tricks: Teaching Your Dog to DanceBefore You Expect a Dog to Stay on a Place, Teach Him to get on Willingly.Adding E-Collar Prompting to your Place CommandImpulse Control Games are a Time Well Spent Playing with your Dog!Juggling All Your Training Equipment?
FREE Dog Training VideosProper Fit of E-CollarIs Your Dog Collar Wise?"How long does my dog have to wear the collar?"Pressure NecrosisUsing Treats in TrainingCan I Use an E-Collar on My Little Dog?I Need a Shock Collar!Dog Training: Keeping it Real: Training Your Dog Should be EasyWhy Would I Want to Use an E-Collar on My Dog?A Tired Dog is a Good DogThree Things You Must Know to Have a Reliably Trained DogAre Remote Collars Punishment, Negative Reinforcement, or Motivators?The Best Way to Rescue a DogIt is More than Just Pushing a Button: Part OneWhat About the Leash?Tennis Ball, Tug or Cookie? What do Rewards Have to do with Good Training?The More Important Tool: Part 4 of "It Is More Than Just Pushing a Button."Do You Need Impeccable Timing in Order to Use a Remote Collar?What Does Your Dog's Future Look Like?6 Essential Things to Teach to Have a Good DogThe Top 3 Reasons Your Remote Collar Doesn't Seem to be WorkingHow Long Does It Take to Train My Dog?Put a Plan Into Motion for Dealing With Your Dog's Behavior Problems!Why are You Grateful for Your Dog?Are You Struggling to Get Your Dog to Stay? Try This.There are Only 3 Levels on a Remote Training Collar?The One Thing You Must Know if You Want to Train with an E-CollarHow to Help Your Dog Understand What You WantPhotos: One Great Reason to Teach a Place Command to Your DogNew Puppy TipsSit? or Sit! -- The Case for Intonation When Speaking to Your DogNumber of CommandsSo Your Dog Knows Sit. Now What?20 Reasons to Teach a Place CommandE-Collar Use: Training vs. EnforcingKnow How to Train a Dog, Know How to Use a Remote Collar?5 Ways to Enhance Feeding Time"But my dog doesn't like it."Outwit Your Dogs if You Want Better BehaviorWeaning Off E-Stim: Tap, Tell or HelpProofing: How to Help Your Dog Really "Get It."Should Your Dog Sleep on the Bed With You?Human Body LanguageGood Health: The Missing Link for a Happy and Well-Adjusted Dog?Are You the Center of Your Dog's World?E-Collar Training: Be Sure to Do This Before You Go Off LeashWhat Behavior are You Rewarding the Most?The Importance of Routine Nail Trims for Your DogWhen is the Right Time to Start Training My Dog?Is it Important that a Dog Learn to Heel?3 Things to do Right Now to Avoid Separation Issues with Your Dog