Approaching your new puppy or frightened, anxiety-filled shelter dog, with your arms stretched out in front of you, as though greeting a long-lost friend, will have the opposite effect you are hoping for. If you want to make friends with your new friend, bend down and slowly reach out, palms up, below your dog’s muzzle and closer to his chest.
Never reach over his head. “Going over the top” which it is called, can be taken by some dogs as a threatening sign. Even puppies will more likely nip at your hands and arms if you hold them around or over the puppy’s head.
Body language plays a huge part in teaching your puppy as well as how your puppy reacts to you and others. The lower you are when you call your puppy, the better the chance of his coming to you.
The lower you are and the calmer you are, the less threatening you will appear. Bending down instead of hovering is a friendly gesture and you certainly want to start off by making friends with your new puppy. As your puppy grows and training progresses, you will stand when your puppy approaches you, and your puppy will sit.
So if the lower you are, the friendlier you are, does the opposite hold true? Yes, absolutely. If you’re sitting on the ground your puppy will jump on you and nip you. If you stand, you will have more control. This is how children are most often bitten by puppies–as the puppy perceives the child on the ground to be another puppy-like playmate. As an adult, you need to find a balance between friendly and authoritative.
When your puppy is higher than you; on the back of your couch, for example, his perception is one of greater control over you and the situation. Small dogs are notorious for barking excessively while standing on the back of a couch
The one thing you always have with you is your voice. So that should be the number one thing you focus on when training your dog.
Pet parents always ask me about giving their dog treats. In return, I ask them “What would you do if your dog ran out of the house, off-leash, and headed for the street?” Then I explain that a well-trained dog should respond to a voice command to stop and come back; referred to as recall or come-when-called.
Where do you begin? You begin as soon as your puppy or adopted dog comes home. Everything you say to this new family member should be said in a calm and gentle voice. Even though the word “command” sounds forceful just by the title alone, commands like sit, stay and heel are not said in a commanding tone of voice. When there is a different and distinct change in the tone of your voice, your puppy will pay more attention to you. If your voice is too high pitched, or excitable, your puppy will become excited and jumpy. A soft whiney tone is what puppies hear from their canine mom as well as their littermates. This tone is soothing, loving, and reassuring. If the canine mom is annoyed with a puppy and needs to administer a correction she will grunt at the puppy. If you watch a video about wolves you will find this to be true with them as well.
Only when your dog needs a verbal correction like “NO” do you use a stern voice. To simplify; TELL your dog “NO” when he displays inappropriate or unacceptable behavior and ASK him to do everything else!