Ok, right now you might be saying, “Huh, what does talking like a drag queen have to do with dog training?” Well.
Tone and attitude are super important in dog communication.
What you say doesn't matter as much as how you say it.
Rosco's family gave him up after 5 years of living together. He bounced from shelters to foster homes until he was finally adopted by my current clients.
His new family felt bad about his previous situation. They handled him with kid gloves, coddling him and speaking in baby talk.
As humans, we want to comfort the ones we love when they seem afraid. But rather than comfort, the baby talk from the client was inadvertently praising the fear and causing uncertainty.
Rosco was super confused. He met any request, like sit, with one of two responses. The first was a flop on his back and show of belly (submissive gesture.) The other was a growl and show of teeth.
The new family was madly in love with Rosco and dedicated to doing whatever it took to make him a good fit. The harder they tried to make him feel welcome, the more they coddled and baby-talked. And Rosco, feeling that timid and pitying energy, stayed in his shell.
In our first lesson together he was fearful and did not want to walk with me. I said “hey girl, hey” to him in my best drag queen voice.
The tone of a “drag queen voice” is clear, friendly, confident, and fun. It projects positive energy. It communicates a productive message. “Let's do the thing! This is safe for you!”
Tone matters. What you say doesn't matter as much as how you say it.
The entire family belly laughed and relaxed. Rosco felt the change of energy, relaxed, and immediately started walking by my side. It was a real aha moment for the dog and the family.
When things start getting too sad or serious, it doesn't work for anyone.
To me, drag queens are the epitome of not taking yourself too seriously. If you aren't familiar, here is a little banter from Trixie and Katya.
If your dog is hurt or frightened, “hey girl, hey” makes the situation less tense. It signals to your dog that you are in control, you are calm, and are going to take care of them.
If your dog is being plain old defiant, “hey girl, hey” lightens the mood for both of you. But, in true drag queen fashion let them know that they are absolutely going to do what you ask. Remember, you are more patient than the dog is stubborn.
Maybe drag queens aren't your thing, and if so thanks so much for reading this far. The same concept applies, though.
Draw your influence from the things that make you feel lighthearted and happy.
Your energy affects not only your dog but the world around you. Have some fun!There are no “bad” dogs, just mofos with problems. Problems generally have solutions, and I’ve encountered them all. ( Check out my easy, 30-minute Potty Training workshop.)