Dogs are masters at reading our subtle body cues, even when we think they’re responding to our verbal cues. You can put their understanding to the test – and improve it – by changing your body posture during training.
Here are some examples:
1. Sit in a chair during training.
2. Lie down.
3. Cover your face.
4. Turn your back. (You can watch your dog in a mirror or have a helper tell you how your dog responded.)
If your dog responds to the cue correctly, reward!
If your dog makes a mistake, help him out by giving a hand signal, or returning to “normal” body posture and repeating the cue. Then reward the correct response. Helping your dog understand will build his confidence in the meaning of the cue, and make him more likely to respond the first time on your next test.
You can play this game on your own, or trainers can use it in class. If you want, you can give points to the dogs who respond on the first cue, and the person with the most points wins. Repeat it a few weeks later to see who’s been practicing!