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What is a Dog Whisperer?

Woman whispering in golden retriever's ear.

“Dog whisperers” are people who can “talk” to dogs. This does not mean that they commune with canines telepathically. Rather, they can ascertain what the dog is trying to communicate through its body language.

They relate this with their understanding of dog psychology to assess what is causing the pup to display unwanted behaviors. Once they know the exact cause of the problem, they can effectively work on rectifying it.

There are several dog trainers out there who call themselves dog whisperers. More often than not, this is nothing more than an attempt to sound different and special. True dog whisperers though are fundamentally different from ordinary dog trainers in terms of their philosophy and the techniques they employ.

Difference between Dog Whisperer and Dog Trainer

lower half of person's body with hand extended to Jack russell terrier as if commanding no.

Conventional dog training and behavior modification generally rely on the application of techniques developed in the field of behavior analysis. These methods include conditioning and observational learning. They focus on rewarding desired behavior and ignoring/punishing undesirable behavior.

Consequently, conventional dog trainers are unconcerned with what motivates a dog to behave in a certain way. On the other hand, dog whisperers believe that dogs are highly sensitive to their handler’s emotional state. They may disdain commonly used rewards and punishments, such as treats and leash pressure. This is because they believe that sensing positive emotion from the handler is sufficient reinforcement for desired behavior.

Furthermore, they may believe that behavioral problems in dogs result from the handler’s inability to earn the dog’s respect. Therefore, some dog whisperers advocate the use of controversial dominance training techniques that conventional dog trainers generally avoid. The scientific basis for such techniques is shaky. Nonetheless, they can be effective for training dogs that are unresponsive to conventional methods.

Dog whisperers claim that conventional dog trainers attempt to make dogs conform to human expectations without considering the root cause(s). On the contrary, dog whispering entails understanding the cause for an unwanted behavior, before making any attempt to modify it.

What is Dog Whispering?

Man giving treats to pack of sitting dogs outside under shade of trees

Dog whispering is an unconventional approach for training canines. It relies on communicating with dogs in a way that they can instinctually understand. This includes the use of posture and tone of voice and regulation of one’s emotions. The key idea is helping humans understand dog language rather than forcing dogs to make sense of human language.

Dog whispering emphasizes that dogs have specific needs, arising from their canine nature. These include the need for consistent and firm leadership. Consequently, you can help your pup to achieve mental stability by assuming the role of the alpha of the pack. Establish a hierarchy such that the pet trusts your leadership for its survival and other needs.

For a harmonious owner-pet relationship, leadership must be consistent and fair. Dog whisperers teach pet owners to respect dogs as dogs, and not mistake them for fluffy four-legged humans. For this purpose, it is important to get attuned to the natural instincts of their beloved canines.

What Does a Dog Whisperer Do?

Brown, black and white dog walking in front of owner in a field.

A dog whisperer’s job is to identify where communication between the dog and its owner is breaking down. They can then develop a plan that is tailored to deal with that specific situation. According to them, reacting negatively to what you perceive as misbehavior is NOT a long-term solution. Instead, they teach you how to lead your dog positively to achieve the desired behavior.

Dog whisperers attribute their success to their ability to leverage a mode of communication that is natural to dogs. Central to this is controlling one’s own mood because dogs are especially sensitive to their owners. Therefore, anxiety and frustration will definitely sabotage the training as the canine will mirror your emotional state.

How Do Dogs Communicate?

Brown and white dog with ears perked standing on a dirt road

According to dog whisperers, canines are continually attempting to communicate with us. They do this through body language, including ear and tail movements. Similarly, they use facial expressions, scent gland secretions, and vocalizations to talk to their owners. All this constitutes the canine language, the key aspect of which is the “energy” the dog projects.

Dog whisperers give extreme importance to the fact that a dog’s mode of communication is chiefly reliant on nonverbal signals. This is the reason why they carefully observe the body language of your pup before suggesting any solution. This enables them to “talk” with dogs, and they help dog owners to do the same.

They hold that this develops a deep connection between the handler and his/her dog. You can then anticipate the dog’s needs and wants, and respond according to its expectations. This results in a two-way communication process that is far more effective than the one-way issuance of orders.

How to Talk with Dogs Effectively?

Black dog sitting on command in grassy field with person with hand extended signing for them to stay

Effective communication is key to not only easier, but also more effective training. Once your dog can understand you, it is better able to comply with your demands.

Dog communication is primarily nonverbal, and they certainly don’t have the capacity for understanding human speech. However, they can sense intonation and know when you are enthused or upset. Likewise, they can infer what you want from the way you act.

For instance, if you want to initiate playtime, you should call your dog in a cheerful voice. You can also show him/her a ball or a Frisbee to indicate that it’s time to have some fun. If you are consistent with your intonation, the dog will associate it with playtime and act accordingly.

Similarly, if you catch him/her doing something wrong, make your displeasure plain in your voice. Raising your voice will only stress the dog out. Always remember that intonation is the key.

Resources for Becoming a Dog Whisperer

There are two online video based training courses that I recommend.

  1. Doggy Dan – The Online Dog Trainer
  2. Brain Training for Dogs

These two courses serve two very different purposes. The Doggy Dan course is the best behavioral training course that I’ve ever used. It tackles problem behaviors like barking in ways that are innovative and kind and most of all WORK.

The Brain Training for Dogs course is a course that will help give curious and bored dogs something to do so that they don’t get destructive. Bored dogs often behave badly. The games in this course are fun to play with your dog and they go from easy to very advanced. If you think your dog is barking out of boredom this video course is a good choice.

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