In Psychology/Learning Theory there is a term, Learned Indifference, and it has created a little bit of confusion in the dog training world! The definition of the word is:
“Using a word over and over in conversation/communication thus the word losing it effectiveness due to the subject learning to ignore it…..”
A real life example would be my 10 year old son standing next to me saying “Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad, Dad” and me ignoring him because I hear the word Dad 4,362 times a day and have just learned to tune it out J
Now in dog training the concern would be that if you are the owner that repeats the word stay every 6 seconds that eventually the dog will learn to be indifferent to the request thus causing issues in training. While I have no doubt that this is possible and does in fact happen I would like to offer a different way to think about and use of the spoken word with your dog…. And that would be TONE!
I personally believe and teach my clients that even though dogs do not speak English and they have absolutely no idea what we are saying… They most certainly understand our tone and if it is used right can be a huge help to dog training! Tone can be used in a couple of different ways, for example:
·         Do you remember when your Mom was mad at you? She would never raise her voice or even sound mad, but inevitably she would drop the bomb “I am so disappointed in you”… While she did not raise her voice in anger nor did she scream or yell but trust me her tone left little mystery at all that you were in the proverbial dog house…
·         On the other hand there was dad would most certainly dip into the volume and venom when mad… There we learned to keep our head down and not interrupt and before you know it he was done, you were grounded and life went on…
Here you can hopefully see that there is a good way to use tone and a not so good way when trying to let you pooch (or anyone else for that matter) know that something wrong has occurred… All you need is tone! Trust me Fido knows when he has made you upset but he also knows when he has done something right… Or does he? Back to the examples:

Grade cards come out and you do really well… Mom sees the report card and smiles, takes a deep breath and says “I am so proud of you, well done” She then takes you out to get some ice cream…Life is good!

·         On the other hand, you give Dad your report card while he is on his laptop, he looks at it briefly, looks up and says “Not bad, definitely better than last one” and then goes back to his laptop and continues to work…
As we can see there is again a definitely a right way and wrong way to use tone, in regards to doing something right. There needs to be a smile, a happy voice, kind words and above all some form of positive reward (ice cream/ dog treat J) If done right your pooch or your kids will have no problem letting you know they understand!
Now before anyone gets bent out of shape I know not all Dads are like that and I only picked that scenario to illustrate the example (and even make fun of myself) of how tone can be used to your benefit in dog training or life in general, but keep in mind even I would hassle you for saying the same word over and over when training your dog… if you are smart, instead you will begin having long conversations with your dog as you are training. Concentrating way more about how not what you are saying to Fido. In fact those of you that know me understand this because half the time the words I speak to my dogs are complete gibberish but my tone is always perfect which keep my pooches paying attention to me and completely on the same page with me on whether they are giving me behaviors I want or behaviors I want to stop… So remember to check your tone at the door and as always have fun and remember to Keep it Simple Stupid!!!!

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