What is the one thing you can say about your voice? Well, voice is analog. It has different tone variations. Think about how you talk with your friends? Do you always use the same voice and tone? Well, that same logic can be used to help with dog training.
While clicks and treats are limited, the human voice is not. The human voice is much more expressive. To put it simply, voice is the UNDERRATED ASPECT OF DOG TRAINING.
Using voice for dog training
The first thing you need to do is teach your dog that volume has meaning. Or in this case, that volume has a reverse meaning. That is only one suggestion, but we think it is the right one. If you like, you can teach him volume has another meaning.
But think about this for a moment. Dogs usually think that volume and gruff tone means you are angry. And which dog wants to come back to an angry owner? Angry = punishment.
Now, by using a simple trick, we can teach our dog the opposite is true. We teach him that increased volume in our voice does not equal punishment.
By using our volume, we can teach the dog that it shouting means urgency and better treats. And you can start practicing it at home. Say sit, good dog, and give him a treat. Now, increase your volume, and give him better treats. Say, for example, cheese or a bit of salami.
Eventually, you can increase your volume even more and shout or scream. But as you increase your volume, you also increase the reward.
Now, take it outside. By this point, your dog should learn at home that when you scream, he gets better treats. So, when your dog takes off and wanders, scream SIT SIT SIT or COME, COME. And if your dog instantly changes direction and comes back to you, reward him with better treats.
But here is the catch. There is one MISTAKE you should be careful not to make. Screaming and rewarding doesn’t work unless you include a recovery command. What does that mean? If you just scream, you will scare the dog. Screaming spooks him. So, after screaming, recover quickly and recover always. Come here, sit, come her sit, treat, treat.
And you keep practicing this command until your dog comes back lighting fast. He now knows that screaming means urgency, not some angry behavior and punishment.
In the same way, we can use our voice to raise the volume and teach our dog that means urgency, we can also lower the voice.
Why is voice important?
Voice tone and volume is a great alternative to aversive punishment. When we use our voice, we can do non-aversive punishment.
Verbal negative reinforcement is the only humane punishment you can think of. You simply raise your voice until your dog starts doing what you want him to do. Then give him another command in a calm manner and voice, praise him, and reward him. You stimulate his behavior with positive reinforcement all while you making him stop what he is doing and making him do what you want.
Verbal feedback is a form of punishment. And it is non-aversive. Think of it this way. Verbal feedback is the same as trying to explain to your partner “this makes me feel sad when you do it or when this happens”.
Our voice can do so much more than just give out commands. You can actually grade your dog’s response to a command. Our voice is constructive. And if you like to grade his response, you can go:
1. Good Boy
2. Gooood Boy
3. Goooooooood Boy
4. Goooooooooooooooood Boy
And so on. You get the picture, right?