Communicate with your dog

Signals are communication, and dogs are incredibly good at both sending and receiving signals. So how do we make sure we send the right signals to create communication between the dog and the owner?

Signals are signs that cause others to change behavior.

It can be compared to human attitudes, we have all experienced being aware of our own or other people’s attitudes, and actually we can experience being affected for good or for bad. Dogs are capable of reading signals from each other and from humans up to 200 meters away.

In our article on aggressive behavior, we describe that dogs are highly visual, and this is especially true when it comes to signals. That is why it is extremely important right from the start of your training to use the right signals and be sure of your communication with your dog. The whole purpose of dog training is to get a calm and polite family dog, and to put the training in perspective, you actually get exactly what you train, and therefore it is extremely important that we are sure of what we are doing when we train.

Often we say one command while making a movement with our hand or body. It doesn’t matter what movement or sound you make, but the combination of this will make your dog react, and when it learns that this combination means, for example, “sit”. Over time, your dog will sit when you make this combination. Therefore, it is also necessary for all kinds of training to do things over and over again, no matter what you are trying to get your dog to do. Practice makes perfect – and this is no different with dog training.

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Dogs look at signals

They look very closely at signals and what they mean. With humans, they suddenly have to be able to speak two languages. That is, dogs have to be able to speak two languages, they must 1. be able to speak dog language, that is something they are born with, but they also need to learn other things from other adult dogs and other puppies. All these signals and language, but they also need to learn human language, meaning they need to learn how we act with our hands and feet, attitudes and facial expressions and our entire behavior. So they actually need to learn two languages, and it can be difficult, and people don’t always think about it. But it’s signals, and signals mean that when we train dogs, we need to be very aware of what we do with our hands and feet when we give them a specific signal.

Because that’s what we want them to react to. For example, when I say “let’s go” to my dogs, I just do it like this. I can also say the word “let’s go,” but when they walk nicely by my side because we are walking on a road and have reached a place where they can run free, I do it like this. Because our dogs look to us, they look to my hands, even though they are in the “heel” position, it doesn’t mean they are constantly looking up at me. But one of the dogs will probably notice that I did it this way. That’s what it means in our world, here at home with us. This means, “go ahead and be a dog, go out and sniff around.” So that’s signals.

Read our article: The dog’s signals

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Sensitive Dogs

There are also these sensitive dogs. You have to be careful with them. And what is a sensitive dog? A sensitive dog is a dog that tends to translate human body language into dog body language. That is, it mixes these two languages together, the dog language and the human language in the movements of the body, instead of keeping this to itself and saying this is what dogs do and this is what humans do. There are some dogs that can’t figure it out, they are sensitive.

This means that it starts to mix it together. That is, it starts to blend dog language into human language, and it’s not very cool because they tend to develop anxiety and become completely nervous when they encounter new things and all these things. And they do this because they get confused, and they simply get confused in the dog’s language and in the human body language. It’s a sensitive dog. And if you have a sensitive dog, you have to work really hard. Not physically hard. But work really hard mentally, to make sure you’re sending clear signals to the dog, otherwise you can develop this anxiety that it can get when it encounters these new things. So it’s really important, and that’s sensitivity, and some dogs do that.

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Wise or Not?

And one can say; is it wise or not wise? Somewhere it’s clever that dogs can think for themselves. That is, they can start building something on. In this case, it’s just a negative thing that they are building on. But they don’t know it, but they start blending the two languages together, it’s not very good. So we have to be crystal clear in our signals and how we send them to our dogs. So that’s an important thing when you train a dog, and it’s an important thing when I try to show you clearly what I’m doing with my hand and my feet.

So actually, the word SIT could be okay, but if you move your hand in one way or another…. some use a finger, and I use my whole hand. What happens with 1 finger… the dog doesn’t care. But what happens inside of you, regarding using your whole hand instead of a finger, you don’t get a feeling of anything. But if I say SIT like this, and someone else does it like this to you, you can remember this signal – we’ve all experienced it from a mother/father. And what is it now exactly, well it means “good – now you stop”.


It’s a correction. But it’s you, and what will happen in your body, is “now you sit when I say it”. And that feeling you just get inside your body, when you start showing these signals. It’s clear that everyone has a signal (fuckfinger), so you all know which signal I’m sending the other way. But the dog doesn’t. So that’s it. Signals are really important, for sending positive messages. And the dogs that become good at signals, the dogs that become good at having calmness in their body, and all these things, they are also good at showing the other dogs and people the indifference, and showing “well it’s not anything, it’s calm and quiet”. So that’s how we work with signals.

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