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  • Dog Training and Punctuation: The Power of The Period

    Monday, May 25th, 2015, 11:21 pm

    Humans aren’t the only animals who take cues from the inflection in someone’s voice to get a better understanding of what they are trying to say. Dog owners should know that it’s not only what they say, but how they say it that impacts how their dog reacts to their commands, and therefore the overall success of their training.

    Using a period at the end of your command, as in “sit.” is much more effective than “sit? sit? SIT!” This is something that the trainers here at The Connected Canine in San Fernando Valley, CA like to refer to as "The Power of The Period."

    Don’t worry, we’re not giving you a grammar lesson, we’re just outlining how to use punctuation in order to get your pup to listen up. Changing the way you speak to your dog can lead to drastic differences in their response.

    Punctuation. It doesn't seem like it's something that would matter to a dog, right? It does though. We remind our clients all the time: Are you asking your dog if they'd like to do you a favor? Are you saying "Sit?" Do you end that word with an upward inflection? Because if you're asking, your dog might be saying "nah...I'm not really feelin' the "sit" thing right now. I'd totally like to go chase that squirrel though!"

    Exclamation points are a training “don’t” as well: Maybe you're saying "SIT!" as in "I really mean it! You'd better sit right now, Lil Mister!" Or maybe it's a combination of both… "Sit? Sit? Sit? SIT!" and then you make them sit by pushing their butt down. You beam with pride for that one second they stay in that "sit" command before they pop up and resume whatever it is they would rather be doing.

    What happens here is that your dog learns that they should wait until the fourth "SIT!" sound (the one that is extra loud), before they have to sit for a second. The next time you're working with your dog, try this: "Sit." If they blow it, no problem. Say "No, sit." and then follow through and make sure they comply.

    Ending with a period isn’t limited to the “sit” command though. Try it with other things you say to your dog on a regular basis- "Down." "Fluffy, come." "Place." "Heel." All with the same intonation. All with the same lack of frustration. All with the same calm authority. Nice and easy, like you want Fluffy to be. Balance is a good thing. So is punctuation.

    The Connected Canine of San Fernando Valley, California offers numerous training programs that result in happier and better behaved dogs and humans. If you still find yourself saying “Sit?” “SIT!” “Sit!!” or can’t seem to nail down what is stopping your dog from being the best pup they could be, contact us about our in-house programs.

    In our 7-day Puppy Training Course, we cover the 7 main commands, including “sit” and “down,” in addition to intensive training in behavior and manners, like potty training, crate training, waiting politely and calmly for food and other valuable training.

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