In order to become your dog’s pack leader, you must learn to communicate with your dog so he understands what you want from him.
Dogs have drives and instincts which are specific to their species. Forget about communicating with your dog as if he were a baby or small child. When you begin to replicate the way other dogs communicate with your dog, you will immediately begin making progress.
The Top 4 Ways Dogs Communicate
1.) Body language: Dogs can read subtleties in body language (in both animals and humans) with incredible accuracy. In fact, we humans can learn to read the body language of dogs pretty well, but still are no test for the dog’s ability to pick up subtle changes in positioning and carriage. When one dog wants to dominate another, he makes his body big, tall, and “macho”. The reason for this is that dominating means being on top, and the best way to be on top is to make yourself big. Dogs use dominant body language to say, “Hey! I’m higher up in the pecking order than you, so respect me and do what I say.” Dominance through body language can be exhibited during both play or confrontation. In both cases, the more dominant dog will put his body on top of the subordinate dog. Submissive body language is just the opposite. The submissive dog will make his body as low to the ground as possible. His ears will fold back, tail drop low between his legs, and his body posture may assume a “crouching” like position. The ultimate form of submission is when the dog rolls on his back and instinctively folds his legs up beneath himself.
2.) Vocal tonation and voice inflection: Dogs use a wide range of vocal tonations to add depth and meaning to their communications. When dogs bark or vocalize in high pitches, they are generally sending signals which communicate pleasure, playfulness, or lack of seriousness. A possible exception being the obvious high pitched yelp of pain. Dogs use low pitch vocalizations such as growling or aggressive barking to communicate seriousness and a “I’m not joking around” type of attitude. A possible exception for low pitch vocalization seems to be a certain stage some pups will go through when they are testing and learning what affect different voice inflections will have on the world around them.
3.) Touch: The sense of touch is used in two ways by dogs when they communicate; positive touch (such as pawing, playful wrestling, kissing or snuggling) and negative touch (usually a sharp, quick bite on the neck, ear, leg or flank– intended not to cause injury or damage, but rather to create a negative, unpleasant association with a specific behavior. Both of these can be very easily replicated once you understand the proper use of equipment and technique.
4.) Scent: Dogs use scent as both a form of identification and to communicate territory and possessions. Scent can be left via saliva, urine, feces, through scent pads in the feet, and by rubbing against the anal glands.