Dog whispering has become a very popular dog training technique. In fact, in some ways, dog whispering and clicker training are taking the dog world by storm. But, although the popularity of this particular method is fairly new, the techniques themselves have existed for hundreds of years.
Instead of being a specific training method that uses specific techniques, dog whispering is based on an understanding of dog psychology, canine body language and behavior patterns. It takes your dog’s natural behavior into account and basically disregards traditional learning theories. As a result, this is actually more of an overall “philosophy” regarding dog training than anything else. Once you understand his natural instincts, how your dog “thinks,” and what his body language means, you’ll be able to “talk” to your dog through your own body language and actions – a language he’ll understand instinctively. This technique also emphasizes the power of positive reinforcement. This combination – effective communication blended with creating positive associations with the behaviors you want – makes dog whispering techniques highly effective.
The importance of establishing yourself as the leader – someone who is dependable, confident and capable – is the fundamental basis of this method. All dogs are pack animals by nature, so establishing your position as your dog’s pack leader (the dominant “alpha dog”) is essential when you’re using this specific technique. Becoming the alpha dog is typically a matter of making your dog feel safe and secure in various situations so he understands you are his pack leader and will protect him from potential danger. Naturally, you’ll also need to establish your dominance, meaning your instructions cannot be ignored.
A good pack leader (or alpha dog) exercises firm but calm guidance, so dog whispering incorporates a combination of affection, positive reinforcement and firm, non-violent corrections. If done correctly, this can give you a dog that’s obedient and happy to be that way.
As with any other training technique, dog whispering requires you to be patient, have a calm demeanor and maintain your self-control. You also need to remember that your dog will require a lot of repetitions and plenty of positive reinforcement before he learns the behavior you’re trying to teach. Shouting, physical punishment or losing your temper has no place in dog whispering (or any other type of dog training, for that matter). In fact, instead of raising your voice or even speaking aloud to your dog, a lot of the communicating you’ll be doing while you’re using dog whispering techniques will be through non-verbal body language and some occasional hand signals.
The primary way dogs try to communicate with people (and other dogs) involves specific movements and body language. That’s why this technique require you to have at least a basic understanding of dog psychology and dog behavior. Without this understanding, it could be easy to misinterpret or even completely miss out on what our dogs are trying to tell us. When that happens, dogs tend to try more extreme methods to communicate, like barking excessively when they’re feeling anxious or threatened.
Unless you’re meeting a new dog, eye contact is one of the best ways you have to communicate with dogs. Eye contact helps each of you interpret the other’s facial expressions. Give your pet some physical or verbal cues while you’re maintaining eye contact, however. Without those other cues, a dog might interpret being stared at directly as threatening or confrontational behavior on your part. This is especially likely when the dog doesn’t know you.
Despite the importance of understanding dog behavior and psychology, you need to remain “human” when you’re using dog whispering techniques. In other words, dog whispering doesn’t require you to crawl on all fours, play bow, or wag your “tail” to convey your message to your pet. Dogs are intelligent, responsive animals and they realize you’re not a dog. They’re also smart enough to learn human body language. So, there’s no need to try to “be a dog” when you’re using dog whispering techniques.
Instead, treat your dog with respect and dignity. Don’t try to be a control freak, but don’t treat your pet like a child, either. Give your dog as much affection as you want, but you also need to give him guidance in a firm, calm, controlled, respectful way. Any physical interventions – such as changing your dog’s position by lifting one of his paws to teach him to “shake hands,” for example – should always be performed in a manner that’s gentle, non-violent and non-threatening.
Dog whispering techniques can be used to successfully teach your dog all the common obedience commands, including “sit,” “stay,” “come” and “down.”
This training method can also be used to deter unwanted behaviors such as excessive barking. Many people use devices like anti-bark collars to stop their pet’s inappropriate barking. Others shout or even strike their dogs. Neither method is particularly effective. Anti-bark collars don’t address the reason for the barking, and shouting only makes the barking worse because the pet thinks his owner is barking at him. With those methods, if the dog stops barking it’s usually out of fear rather than a sense of respect and obedience.
Dog whispering techniques to stop barking include looking for the reason your pet is barking in the first place. If you don’t detect any threat in the direction your dog’s barking at, turn away and take on a relaxed, calm posture. Your body language will tell your dog you don’t see any danger – and therefore no reason for him to bark.
Dog whispering probably won’t work for every dog owner. It requires you to be quietly confident and physically and psychologically dominant over your dog. Owners who lack confidence or are not assertive are not likely to succeed with dog whispering techniques.
In addition, this training philosophy is likely to take longer than traditional dog training techniques. After all, you’ll need to spend time with your dog before you’re able to understand each other.