Doggie Dictionary: How to Communicate With Your Dog

Strong Communication with your dog is a key element of pet ownership

Created: 12/08/2014 Updated: 13/08/2021 - Shelley Audis-Riddell

behaviour, Behaviour & Training, dogs, new pet, puppy, training

Want to talk to your dog? A word of advice from our resident Behaviourist, Shelley Aspden BSc (Hons) MSc

Doggie dictionary

The basis to a successful relationship is good communication! This is so in the human world as well as the dog world. As we know, dogs don't speak or understand human language. But in time we can build an association between a behaviour they perform and the enjoyment of receiving a reward at the same time for that action. Over time we then add a verbal and physical communication to that behaviour. With patience (and lots of failed attempts) you'll be talking to your dog in a language they understand.

A good example of this to start young. Puppies are quick to learn that when we say the word 'sit' and raise our hand to our shoulder, if they pop their bottom on the floor at the same time...'hey presto', they receive a treat reward. Food is a very good motivator to dogs. Be careful to choose treats that are small, sugar free and low in fat. It's not the size of the treat that matters but the act of giving that the dog enjoys.

So if you're ready to make a start, your very own Doggie Dictionary should consist of clear words, which are only associated with one command. (See our example above) Keep the words short, so as not to confuse your dog. However clever your dog may be - they don't speak 'human' so it's the association that makes our communication work.

Make sure everyone involved in your dog's care (family members, dog walker, groomer, doggy-day care) knows what your Doggie Dictionary is. Poor communication to your dog can be confusing for them and can be misunderstood by people that your misbehaving or being stubborn. The Doggie Dictionary helps to make sure everyone in the dog's world communicates the same.

Pop your Doggie Dictionary up, so that everyone at home can see it and remember what to say. Consistency is key... Give a copy to the groomer, dog walker or doggy care centre, so they communicate to your dog correctly.

Do you need further advice?

If you need any further advice, please contact the OSCAR Helpline Team on our freephone number 0800 195 8000 or email helpline@oscars.co.uk.