Mutual awareness is an important part of you and your dogs relationship – it is the essence of inter-species communication. With the right training plan, you can improve how you communicate with your dog by teaching your dog to “check-in” with you.
What is a Check-in?
At a very young age, puppies learn how to check in with their mother by making eye contact. You will notice that your dog will often offer you the behavior of eye contact, that natural behavior is called “checking-in”.
In your home, puppies and newly-adopted dogs are frequently under foot and getting in the way. Often what is actually happening is that your dog is trying to check-in with you.
Your dog is looking to you for approval and guidance. If you do not reinforce the check-in your dog may no longer look to you for guidance.
Reward the Behavior
The check-in acknowledges you as the decision maker in the relationship. However it also opens up communication. Imagine your dog learning to look to you and say, “I’m feeling uncomfortable about something” or “Did you hear that too?” Knowing when your dog is nervous gives you the opportunity to assess the situation, practice some training exercises and set your dog up for success.
When your dog offers a check-in you should reward them. By responding, you are strengthening the bonds of trust between the two of you. Your dog will learn to trust you for guidance in a stressful situation.
Later you can give your dog more freedom without worrying they may get distracted by the environment and consequently make bad decisions.
See: How to Teach your dog to Check-in for more on this subtle but powerful training method. For more Zen Dog Training visit our website!