Explaining to Dogs

Photo of Schnauzer

The dogs stop at the crosswalk and wait until I tell them they may cross. I explain to them that we have to wait to cross the street until there are no cars. Then I ask them, “are there any cars?” Ok, it looks like we are good to go, I say as we all step into the crosswalk. In my own little imaginative dog world, I pretend that they understand it is not safe to cross the street until there are no cars, but the reality is that they have been trained to wait until I give permission to go. We are communicating. They don’t understand the English language, but they understand human.

Dogs are highly intuitive to what we want them to do provided they are given the correct clues from us on what we would like them to do. They are smelling and feeling our emotions, hearing the tone of our voice, trying to make sense out of what we want. Once they understand our explanation, it is crucial to lavish on the love in some way to indicate to them they have accomplished the behavior we desire. When done repeatedly, dogs begin to understand our explanations so they have the behaviors necessary to function appropriately in the human world.

Explaining to dogs 2When Skeeter first joined our home, we were told that he was a Schnauzer that could not be potty trained. Well, “we will see about that,” I told Skeeter. The pockets of my hoodie became loaded with small doggy treats. Every hour, Skeeter and I went out into the yard, with me jabbering about doing something called ”potty”. Once Skeeter lifted a leg or grunted out a tootsie roll, I sang a little happy ditty about going pee pee or poopin’. When he finished his little duty, he received a treat as I continued to sing and chant about what a great dog he was. As he skipped his way back into the house, he had quickly understood the task he was to perform outside, in the yard. 10 years later, Skeeter will sit by the door, or run up to me and then to the door to explain to me that he needs to go out. Occasionally, there is an accident. Either I am not listening to his cues, or he isn’t feeling well. Part of living with dogs is to be with the dog. The success of the dog/human relationship depends on it.

Dogs communicate to us much quicker than we learn to communicate to them. Suggestions for communication with your dog:

  • Take time to watch and understand their body language. Be open to dog language.
  • Don’t give up! They will work hard to make you understand.
  • Learn what motivates them. For some it is treats, some it is playtime, others love affection.
  • If it is treats, have them ready. Put them in a Pouch Pouch.


Posted by
Cheryl Wilson

Cheryl Wilson created Why We Wag in 2012 as her result of her lifelong love of dogs. After 22 years in the Educational sector, Cheryl utilizes her expertise as an award winning educator, to educate dog lovers, along with offering supplies that support a healthy, meaningful relationship with canines. Residing in Utah, Cheryl is celebrating her 5th generation with dogs and now her first generation of grand-dogs.