Dogs can be incredibly enjoyable pets to have, especially since they are often very devoted to their owners, and very willing to provide their owners with unconditional love. However, the very fact that dogs are so entirely dependent upon their owners means that dog owners have to be able to interact well with their dog, and build a strong, trusting, respectful and enjoyable relationship.
Most people consider that having an enjoyable relationship with their canine companion includes having all of their commands to their dog be understood and followed. Of course, this means that one must take the time to train their dog in the behaviors expected for certain commands, but this may not actually be enough. Their dog’s willingness to follow commands may be largely dependent upon how those commands are given to them.
How to Give Commands
Some dog owners have noticed that their dogs respond better to commands that are given by particular individuals, and this can be frustrating if they are not one of these particular individuals. However, it is not so much the individual giving the command that causes the dog to respond as it is the tone of voice used to give the command. And even this can vary widely from dog to dog.
A new study by researchers at the Duke University Canine Cognition Center has indicated dogs respond best to commands that are given in a way that is directly opposite to their general personality and demeanor. In other words, calm dogs respond better to commands given in an excited manner, and excited dogs respond better to commands given in a calm manner. The reasons for this can be many and varied, but the bottom line is that dogs who are typically calmer can become excited and interested in an individual who shows excitement, and dogs who are typically more excited can recognize the seriousness of a command when given calmly, whereas they may believe that a command given in an excited way is being said in play, or they may simply not know how to respond.
In the study, a researcher crouched behind a clear barrier and offered a treat to the dog. In order to get the treat, the dog had to walk around the barrier. Each dog was put through the experiment several times, sometimes hearing an excited voice telling them to come, and sometimes hearing a calm voice telling them to come. It was discovered that dogs who were already naturally excited could not actually “think” and make good decisions when confronted with even more excitement, and would often simply face the clear barrier for longer periods of time, trying to get through rather than problem solving in order to get around it. Conversely, extremely calm dogs need a bit more of an emotional push, or excitement, in order to rouse them and drive them into action, and with faced with calm commands would often simply remain in place, apparently not caring one way or another about receiving a treat.
While these results may not actually be surprising to those individuals who have a lot of experience working with dogs, it can help frustrated canine owners who are seeking to effectively train their dog into being able to follow basic commands. One should first assess their dog’s overall personality and behavior, as well as their current mood, and then pick the appropriate tone of voice, thereby maximizing the chance that their dog will respond immediately.