Have you ever observed, the moment you whisper, ‘shshsh… or who is there’ how alert you dog becomes. If he has prick ears they move back and forth and nose seems to work overtime trying to locate the enemy/prey. If he has drooping ears then you can see his ears ‘twitching’ to catch a sound, if any and with his muscles taught he is ready to pounce upon the imaginary intruder you have created for him.
When you return from work and after his excitement has died down, he sits with his chin on your lap and as you whisper sweet nothings while stroking his head, just watch the expression of his eyes. There is a gleam of happiness there. Instead of that if you return from work and find a pool on the floor near the door and you shout at him. Then see the difference in his expression. His ears drawn far back and tail tucked between the legs and he avoids an eye contact. Giving you an expression as if he has understood why you were angry.
Alas what you imagined was wrong, because his expression when scared always has that guilty feeling kind of expression. As you must have read in my earlier blogs, in the animal society peeing is not merely a biological necessity but also a way of marking territory. While you grow a fence around your garden or construct a boundary wall to demarcate your property a dog does it by peeing near the entrances.
Therefore let lose your anger only as harsh words when you actually catch him in the act. Those harsh words can be far more effective if uttered in angry whispers, instead of loud shouts. Imagine in your classroom if your teacher always used a microphone and a loudspeaker and shouted at you when you reached the class without completing your home work! Or similarly at work the boss started giving you sermons via a microphone and a loud speaker. The impact would be that you will dread going to school or work and hate the person from the core of your heart.
A dog with a hearing power 80 times more than you gets the similar effect when you shout at him or show your happiness aloud, boisterously. On the other hand if you express happiness or anger in whispers you will notice the change in your dog.
Many people tell me that they taught their dog to come, he used to come while he was a puppy, but now despite shouting he pretends as if he has not heard me. Actually dog ignores such commands like you would have ignored the shouts of your teacher or the boss! Poor creature cannot push his fingers inside his ears or push cotton buds in his ears when commands are shouted at him-if he had his way he would have done it surely. He actually hates all the cacophony we humans create in our homes and environs-specially in India. We love loud noise or at least appear to love. Our festivities are marked by loud speakers and crackers and sorrow by loud shrieking veils. Poor family dog is always at a loss, what is all this about.
On the other hand if you smiling whisper ‘Buddy Come’, he will come wagging not only his tail but his hind portion as well, with an expression of joy clearly written on his face. And if you are angry for his misdeed, if you just frown and whisper ‘Buddy Bad Boy’. He seems to understand faster and corrects himself immediately.
Household accidents are common for dogs. In that situation, never panic. Just hold the dog close to you, stroke his forehead and comfort him with whispers. He will forget the pain he had while his toe was crushed under your boot or he was hit by something.
Dogs are sensitive to touch. If you shout, lunge and grab your dog who is not responding to your calls you might be able to catch him. But be sure next time he won’t give you a chance. He begins to consider you not as your leader but a powerful, cunning animal who roars suddenly and grabs him. He will certainly try to maintain a distance. Instead, if he is not coming to you, just whisper his name sweetly and with a smile on your face just say ‘Buddy come’. He will come towards you, but due to his past experiences with you, he will halt a few feet away. A distance which he knows that in case you make a lunge will give him enough handicaps to escape. At that time, without looking in to his eyes, just keep calling him to you in whispers with a charming smile on the face and a treat ready in your hand. He will surely come and have the treat but then try to bolt.
Do not grab him at that time. That is not proper, because he came just to test you. Animals try to learn by experience. If repeatedly such experiences prove to be good for your Buddy, he will start coming to you to be rewarded and caressed. Thereafter, you can do whatever you wanted to do with him. But please be sure that you don’t shout at him or hit him for his disobedience. Because poor chap does not know what are your norms of obedience! He has his own norms genetically built in his system and he goes by them. Give him time to understand what you want him to do and see how fast he learns.