I have been doing as regularly as possible a simple training session, where I hold a treat in my fist. I offer my fist to Chip who will sniff and get very licky. Then I moved my hand to the right – usually with Chip at this point salivating all over my hand. If and when he takes his nose away for even a second, I say the word ‘GOOD’ in a very happy and positive tone and then give him the treat.
He very quickly worked out that by not sniffing/licking/chewing on my fist he would get his treat quicker. The revelation is that now the word ‘GOOD’ used in the same tone when we are out and about is having a great effect. Every command that I give and he completes I praise him with the ‘GOOD’ and he is reacting to it. Not just by being obedient, but giving me a whole body wag at the praise he is receiving. It is lovely to watch and hugely positive in my limited dog training experience.
Dogs can learn up to 165 words, but we can’t expect them to learn them all at once. Consistent use of the same words will mean a better behaved dog. For example if I feed the dog and call him for his ‘tea’, but my husband calls him for his ‘dinner’, the dog will probably be a bit confused. If we use the same word, all the time, the dog will very quickly learn what this word is associated with.
It is a really simple thing to remember, but probably one we all forget. Dogs aren’t human, they don’t understand everything we say (although I think their faces suggest otherwise), but we can learn to communicate with them amazingly well if we follow the rules.