Dog training is a journey that involves effective communication between you and your canine companion.
While it’s quite normal to use verbal cues (formally known as commands), there's an often-overlooked aspect that plays a crucial role in the training process – silence.
Timing Matters: No Cue Until They've Learned
One common mistake in dog training is introducing cue words too early in the process. It's crucial to allow your dog to fully understand and perform the desired behaviour before adding a verbal cue. Rushing this step can lead to confusion and potentially devalue the significance of the cues you're using. Patience is key – wait until your dog consistently performs the behaviour before introducing the verbal cue. If you keep on repeating "come" when your dog hasn't learned a recall yet they are unlikely to make a connection with the word "come" and returning to you.
Building Neural Pathways: Give Your Dog Time to Respond
Just like humans, dogs need time to process and learn. When teaching a new behaviour, give your dog 6-8 seconds to respond before repeating the cue. When we’re teaching a new behaviour we’re creating new neural pathways. Someone once described neural pathways to me as being like those little bunny paths you see of the main paths in the woods. Those paths were not always there, and it wouldhave taken effort to push through the undergrowth to get from A-B initially. However, as the same routewas repeated over and over again, a smooth path began to appear and now getting from A-B was much faster. When you teach a new behaviour, your dog might be slow to respond but with practice not only will the behaviour become more fluid but they should also respond more as solid neural pathways are created.
The Gift of Peaceful Reflection: Let Your Dog Think
Often, the best way to teach a dog is by giving them the gift of silence. Allow your canine companion the opportunity to think about the task at hand without constant guidance. When you step back and give your dog the peace to reflect on what they need to do, they are more likely to try new things. This helps to build your dog's confidence and optimism. By providing this thinking time, you're giving your dog the opportunity to understand and execute the behaviour on their own, promoting a more solid foundation for learning.
ReducingDistractions: It's Hard to Think in a Noisy Environment
Think about how difficult it is for us toconcentrate when surrounded by constant noise. Dogs face a similar challenge. We humans talk A LOT and very little of what we say is relevant to our dogs. When we are more economical with our words we help make things clearer and therefore easier for them. Silence also creates a focused environment that allows your dog to better understand and respond to your commands in the initial stages. It's a simple yet effective way to enhance the learning process and build a stronger bond between you and your canine companion.
In the world of dog training, silence can be a powerful tool. By understanding the importance of timing, giving your dog the space to think, and reducing unnecessary noise, you pave the way for a more effective and enjoyable training experience.
Say less and watch as your dog learn, grow, and thrive in their new found abilities.