Talk to your dog!

So there’s a gent I often see walking a young pup. The pup is exuberant: all legs and lolling tongue, pulling on leash, doing twitchy half sits at the kerb and exploding off the kerb without notice. If people approach, the full body wiggle starts and the pulling escalates.

The gent, bless him, is patient but tight lipped. Obviously tight lipped to me, even in the short glimpses I get driving past. I want to just yell out “talk to him!”, because in those brief moments it seems that the pup needs more engagement with the handler…

Now don’t get me wrong here, especially when training, dogs need clarity – too much chatter becomes white noise. As with everything it is about finding the right balance that works for your dog. You need engagement. You need to communicate when something is going great, and something is less desirable, and not just out on walks. They do ask questions on how to behave, and we need to answer them.

To demonstrate, I talk differently to the Pawsonality dogs, and depending on the scenario. Winston is super focussed on the walk and not so much on the handler, so when on walks we use short, sharp cues like ‘easy’, ‘stop’, ‘go’, and ‘yes’ when he’s doing good. At home it can be more conversational, but he still responds better to shorter dialogue. Roxy is more conversational and I find talking more (still using the same cues) keeps her engaged – I use ‘ease up’, ‘cross the road’, ‘wait there’, and ‘atta girl’ when she’s doing good. She also picks up her own cues from our conversations, like ‘go round back’ and ‘go see grandma’.

It might not seem like much, but it makes a huge difference in our interactions. Answering their questions is important! It helps the dogs understand what will work and what won’t, so they feel they have an element of control too.

Sure, people driving past seeing me chat away to a dog might think I’m crazy. I don’t care, because I’m not just a weight holding a leash, we’re both conscious beings enjoying our walk. Are you enjoying yours?

Call me, I can help.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *