Watch and Listen
Dogs don't speak English and we don't speak Dog! Further, we will never speak Dog, and they will never speak English. But dogs share our homes, our hearts and our lives and we must communicate. We need to create a language to exchange necessary information. As senior partners in the firm of 'Human and Canine' we have to communicate rules and boundaries to our canine associates. We need to teach them to use the outside area, not the inside area, to relieve themselves. We need to let them know they can't jump on the counters to surf for food. And they need to learn how to treat canine and human guests appropriately.
Likewise, dogs need to develop ways to communicate with us. They need to let us know when they must go outside to relieve themselves. They want to let us know when they are distressed and require support and nurturing. And they should let use know when they understand our requests and our expectations.
Think of a puppy learning bathroom routines. Puppy has been fed ten minutes ago. It feels fantastic and is bouncing and chasing a toy around the living room. Suddenly it pauses and begins to circle with it nose down. It circles once or twice, clearly looking for something. We notice its behaviour and realize puppy is expressing, "I must go to the bathroom--quickly". We take puppy calmly to the yard. On route we take a treat from the jar near the door. We place the puppy on the grass. While puppy is sniffing we repeat a verbal cue, "bathroom". We want to keep the verbal command simple and distinct. Avoid chatting with the puppy; just repeat the key word, "bathroom". It is easier for the puppy to learn a distinctive word like "bathroom" when it is not embedded in conversation. When finished say, "Good bathroom", and give puppy a treat.
As the puppy matures we will notice the physical cues evolve. When puppy feels an urge to relieve itself, it will sit or stand by the door. Puppy wants to go to that special spot in the yard where it has been rewarded with a treat for relieving itself. All we need to do is open the door. When puppy returns we can say, "Good Bathroom", and reward with a treat. Puppy has learned the word "bathroom".
To develop effective communication we must teach dogs to "hear" and to understand auditory messages, and we must train ourselves to "notice" and to respond to physical signals sent by our dogs. Dogs can become better listeners, and humans can become better watchers!Noel Pepin -- Noel Pepin Canine Behaviour Specialists