Face it: Does your dog come when called?

I’ve been thinking lately about how the subtleties of our body language communicate so much to our dogs. Most of us aren’t even aware of it. We are such verbal creatures, that we spend a lot of time worrying about whether we have the right tone of voice to utter a “command,” whether or not we should repeat the word, or whether we have chosen the correct word and how many syllables it should be. When, in fact, generally speaking, our dogs are reading our body language as the strongest, loudest message.

This relates to what happens when some people try to teach their dogs to come to them. The dog is hesitant to come. Or the dog comes immediately, but slows down on his way to the person. Or, and this is pretty common, the dog comes right over, but stops about 2 feet short of the person. In many of these instances, a simple body language adjustment can work wonders.

If you face your dog, your whole body frontal to the dog, you are probably communicating to the dog: keep your distance. Which is the opposite of what you want when you’re calling the dog. So try standing at a slight angle, or face sideways with just your face looking at the dog. Squatting down can work, too. Your best bet of all is to call and then take off, running away from your dog. Reward (standing at an angle) when he catches up to you.

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