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Successful Communication With Your Gundog
Dogs have several forms of expression. They may communicate using their body position, ear movements, tail movements, facial expressions and of course, numerous different vocal sounds. One easy way to get ahead of the game is to study up on your particular breed of dog. Most breeds have traits and characteristics that will help you define their body language right from the beginning. It usually helps to know as much information about a breed before you even bring the dog home.
Verbal Versus Nonverbal
Naturally, your dog will have the desire to communicate with you. Because we are humans and not dogs we will typically attempt to communicate more with words than with nonverbal methods. Therefore, we can confuse our dogs because often what we say doesn’t match our nonverbal movements. Particularly when training a gundog it is important that you use exaggerated movements, such as teaching to fetch with a very long throw, then your dog will actually pay more attention to your movements than to your words even though you will want to tone it down once he’s trained. Which, of course, is ideal when he’s retrieving for you out in the field. Even the movement of your eyes can be detected by some dogs, explaining to him where you want him to go or what you want him to do by looking in that direction.
Consistency Wins Everytime
If you notice, it is usually effortless to understand what your dog is trying to communicate to you. Their body language is simple and usually loud and clear. We can also become so in tune with our dog's body language that we can often predict what will happen next, what they need, or what they want you to do. Because your dog is easy to read then one of your training goals should be for you to be easy to read as well. Unlike humans, dogs don’t suffer with the inconsistencies and lack of routine that we do. When your dog is trained early to recognize your body language in a consistent unwavering manner then he doesn’t usually forget unless trained on purpose, or by mistake, to do otherwise.
There a few common communicating signals that your dog will typically use whether communicating with you or another dog. Like the indication that she wants to play, a bow with her bottom up in the air and tail wagging. Consider that when you are training your gundog there will be subtle discrepancies with her and other dogs but, for the most part dogs will speak the same language. If you learn to read your dog by paying attention to her body you will spend less time training in the long run.
Be Aware of Apprehension
For gundogs in particular, apprehension can often be misread but, if detected, should never be ignored. When your dog is feeling apprehensive it is because something about the situation she is in is uncomfortable to her. Her natural response is to either flee, fight, or freeze. You would never want to try to eliminate your dog’s natural response to danger however, it is absolutely necessary to determine what is causing her apprehension and to either comfort her or avert her attention elsewhere. When dealing with the majority of hunting breeds most apprehension is learned and can be unlearned simply by subjecting her consistently to the issue or situation. When you learn what causes her to have these feelings you are building trust and continue the bond that will make her your greatest hunting companion.
Pay Attention To His Bark
While attempting to understand your dog's vocal communication it is important to understand that your dog is not trying to copy you in their speech. When your dog communicates verbally whether it is a bark, yelp, howl, growl, or whine, she is usually attempting to tell you or another dog something important to her. As almost all dog owners are aware some barking is simply to attract attention and this type of communication should be nipped in the bud immediately with the use of a bark collar or other proven method to deter nuisance barking. The goal of using a training or bark collar is to streamline communication. A training collar is not to instill fear in your dog but, instead respect.
Once you’ve mastered communicating with your gundog you will have a lifelong friend and hunting companion that will serve you better than anyone else.