Dog Training

The Most Useful Tool to Train Your Dog: Your Voice


Very few things are needed to train a dog. A leash, prizes, and, of course, a lot of patience. But there is an unseen tool that can make a difference: our voice. In this article, you will learn about the importance of tone of voice when training your dog and how to use it correctly in your training sessions.

How does the tone of voice influence our dog?

Unless we teach them beforehand, dogs cannot understand the meaning of our words; to them, they are simply meaningless sounds. However, dogs are capable of understanding the tone of our voice. Studies have shown that dogs distinguish between different tones of voice and can understand their meaning, which elicits various responses depending on the tone used.

The five voice tones that dogs are able to easily recognize

  • Cheerful and melodic tone: this tone is very easy for our dog to recognize, transmitting positivity and a sign that things are going well.
  • The neutral tone of voice is the tone of voice you would use in a normal conversation. It is the tone of voice that you use daily with your dog and to which he is accustomed, so it does not generate any response.
  • Firm tone: dry and serious tone. Your dog is aware that things are not going well; some may even react with fear for fear of what may happen next.
  • Alert tone: similar to the previous one but with a significantly higher volume. Your dog’s first reaction will be surprise and curiosity to know what is going on.
  • Relaxing Tone: A high-pitched tone, very melodic, and with a low volume. We usually use it with a relaxed attitude or when we pamper them. It provides them with tranquility and well-being.

Although the tone of our voice (low or high) gives a lot of information about the meaning of the words, you also have to take into account that the volume used and the speed of speaking also provide a lot of information. And of course, our body language also greatly influences us.

How to use tone of voice in our training sessions

Once you’ve explained the different tones of voice that your dog recognizes, ask yourself the following question: If someone asks you to do something new, and after many efforts, you do it well, what response would you like to receive? A simple “good” with a neutral tone or congratulations with a cheerful and melodic tone of voice. It is clear that the second sends you a message that you have done things well and motivates you to continue working. Just as it would happen to you, your dog needs motivation to learn new things, and here the tone of voice plays a fundamental role.

What is the most effective tone of voice for my dog to hear when I call him?

One of the most difficult things is getting your dog to listen to you when you call him, especially after a long time in the park. A common mistake I see in this case is calling him multiple times as he leaves and using a firm tone when he finally returns.

As we have seen before, your dog interprets a dry tone of voice as a reprimand. If your dog finally comes and we use that tone of voice, we are unconsciously punishing him for something that he (albeit late) has done well. As in any command, it is essential to reward our dog for something he has done well. The opposite can lead to confusion (“What happened? I did what he asked, and yet I am being reprimanded for it?”)

Work the call well, use a neutral tone with a high volume only if necessary, and when he finally comes, you should congratulate him with a cheerful tone. In this way, your dog will understand that by coming to you, he has done the right thing.

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