Old school dog training uses the word commands when discussing basic skills like sit, stay, wait ect.
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word command means:
“Control, restrain over”
And the understanding of commands is related back to military uses of the word and how command is operationally defined.
When you read these definitions, how do you feel?
What comes up for your when you hear or read the word command?
For me, I feel constricted and see it as a top down approach.
It denotes an all or nothing mentality.
It evokes the need to micromanage.
Going one step further, when the “command” isn’t followed, what happens next?
Pain in order to get compliance, that’s what happens next.
Now, how does that feel to you?
Commands aren’t about freedom for you or your dog.
Your expectations get wrapped up in what your dog does and when that doesn’t happen because it will, you become frustrated and you’re tied up in the outcome.
You begin to constrict more and more of your dog’s freedom because of the failure of compliance and you also micromanage yourself too.
What if you considered shifting the word choice to something like cue, signal or ask to expand your perspective.
Just because it’s always been done this way, doesn’t mean you have to be boxed into doing it too.
According to Mark Cuban, “Wherever I see people doing something the way it’s always been done, the way it’s ‘supposed’ to be done, following the same old trends, well, that’s just a big red flag to me to go look somewhere else.”
Changing the word you used gives you choice because you recognize you don’t have to do things that have been part of the dog training culture.
The impact you have when you can make a different choice is clear.
Freedom comes from choosing differently based on what you value and what you want more of in your life with your dog.
The simplicity of choosing a different way to describe what you’re wanting your dog to do is no longer about control, but bringing the power back to you of what you want to achieve.
When you make a change in choosing a different word to describe what you are doing and teaching, you start creating more freedom in your life.
Granting choice and guiding your dog to make the choice that is the safest and the most pleasurable for both of you creates the space for you to:
Enjoy daily walks.
Entertain friends and family at your house.
Feeling secure your dog is safe when he is left home alone.
Taking the simplest of action towards what you want, you start changing your life and you and your dog receive much more than just learning what a word means.
You start experiencing the joy of building a relationship with your companion.
Are you willing to try something new?