Communicating affectionately with your pup is tricky. It's all about how you talk and conduct yourself. Tell your little girl that you love her in the wrong tone of voice or move in too suddenly to give her a nice ear scratching, and she might bolt for the nearest exit.
Put on a happy face. Your facial expression goes a long way in telling your dog whether you're happy or frustrated with her. Instead of talking to your dog with a stoned face, flash a big smile. Smiling sends a message that you're happy with your pup because of the way in which you reward your dog for good behavior. Most owners smile or look cheerful when they give their dog praise or treats for positive behavior, so your dog learns that smiling means you're happy with her.
Speak in a higher than normal pitch. Unless you're giving a command, dog's don't care nor need to understand what you're saying, only how you're saying it. If you speak with a low growl, your pup immediately thinks of that as a negative sound, and she may appear fearful or unsure. Speak in a jovial voice and your efforts of communicating affectionately won't go unnoticed.
Give your pup a nice scratching behind the ears or a nice petting wherever she likes being touched the most. Some dogs love being scratched on their back end, while others will roll over and patiently wait for a belly rub. When you indulge your little girl and give her what she enjoys, you're sending a message that you're happy with her.
Watch your body movement. Quick, jerky movements toward your pup can scare her, especially if she's sensitive. It's always better to move slowly and to never make yourself look puffed up and bigger. Avoid standing over her. When you pet her, just extend your hand outward; don't raise it up and then bring it down, especially if you know she suffered through past abuse.
Give your dog treats and toys when she responds positively to a command or counterconditioning. Communicating with your pup affectionately during training is one of the best ways to reinforce good behaviors, but communication doesn't only consist of verbal cues and physical movement. Feeding your pup a tasty piece of cheese or throwing her obnoxiously loud squeaking frog shows her love and serves as a reward. You're communicating that you're happy or proud of her for doing something.
Know what your pup doesn't like and what she responds positively to. While giving a dog a nice belly rub might seem like you're doing her a favor, some dogs hate being touched in certain places, often because of bad past experiences. Some canines freak out at the sound of a squeaking ball, while others can't handle a cheerful hand clap. If your pup ever reacts negatively to something, take that action out of your communication arsenal.
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- If your pup goes into hyperactive mode when you talk to her in a high-pitched voice, tone it down a little. Some dogs get a little too crazy when you talk cheerfully.
- Be careful to not reward your dog for negative behavior. For example, suppose your pup is scared because it's thundering. If you give her a treat to show that you love her and everything will be OK, you're just reinforcing her fearful behavior.
- training-the-dog image by Ivonne Wierink from Fotolia.com