Effective Verbal cues
- When you give a verbal cue say your puppy’s name first. This ensures you that their attention is focused on you and ready to listen. For example, if you want your pup to sit you would say, “Name, Sit” to tell them to sit.
- Be sure that you give a verbal cue only once. Repeating verbal cues only teaches your pup to ignore what you are telling to them.
- Give one verbal cue at a time. Let your puppy think through and fully complete the task before you move on to the next verbal cue.
- Praise your puppy every time they do what you have told them to do.
- Release your puppy by saying the release word OK and not by praising them. Your pup should remain in the same position throughout and after being praised.
Tone of Voice
- Your tone of voice can influence how your puppy responds to the verbal cues you are giving them.
- All verbal cues need to be given in a way that is clear and confident.
- Do not shout at your puppy.
- Whispering or being unsure about the verbal cue does not set your puppy up for success.
- If you want your puppy to be livelier, speak in a happy, excited tone.
- Speak to an energetic puppy in a calm, lower-energy tone of voice.
- Give each verbal cue with authority and calmness.
Teaching your puppy to respond in a reasonable manner
Puppies are not robots, nor are they fast thinkers all the time. Give your puppy time to think through the verbal cue given, but don’t let them hesitate or test your authority.
- Encourage your pup to think through each verbal cue. We want every guide dog to be independent and able to think through various scenarios. If they were raised to react on reflex instead of thinking about the response it will be hard to encourage initiative and thinking during formal training.
- Learn your dog’s body language and mannerisms so you can anticipate their response.
- As you are maintaining the skill, speed up stubborn responses by correcting hesitation or refusal and then praise enthusiastically when they respond quickly.
Always praise generously and consistently
- Verbal cues are only effective if followed by praise for the successful follow through.
- Guide dogs need to confident and comfortable not being micromanaged, but they also have to trust and understand and respect leadership.
- Praise is the most effective way to produce an excellent guide dog!