Training Your Dog Using Tone and Voice


The correlation between command and action are most easily grasped by younger dogs. If a partnership is asserted early on, it will likely be followed well into adulthood. This is why establishing the dynamic is preferable as soon as your puppy can grasp these ideas. 

By creating a learned knowledge of rewards for good behavior, and admonitions for bad, you give your pup a path to success. They want to be praised. So they will do things they are praised for. 

When you commend your puppy’s behavior, use a higher pitched voice that lets them know “this is a good thing”. A lower register mimics a growl, while a higher register mimics praising. 

This is called “voice control”. In many behavioral classes it is deemed the most important channel of communication for you and your puppy to master together. 

When training your puppy, they will respond most to the tone of your voice, as well as the pitch. Telling a dog “no” in the same tone as you’d normally speak will have little to no effect on the way they are behaving. But saying “NO” in a firm, sharp voice, will draw a reaction. Varying your voice in pitch alerts the dog to a change in your emotional state. If you keep your normal speaking voice, this tells them that everything is fine because there are no warning signs. So when you attempt to pull your 100% cashmere scarf from the clutches of their tiny puppy teeth, a game of tug-of-war ensues, rather than them dropping the scarf. But if given a harsh, sharp, bark-like command sound, your puppy will know that you don’t like what they are doing, and will likely stop. It doesn’t matter if you say “No!”, or “Ah-Ah!”, or straight gibberish. If it is in a tone similar to that of an alerting sound, your dog will understand.

Associating your dog’s name and then a command will also serve a good purpose. “Sadie, come!” works by first getting your dog’s attention by saying her name, and then giving a command. She is able to pick your voice out of all the other sounds and distractions she hears, knows she is being spoken to, and is given a command she must follow. When the command is performed, then she is given a reward. 

Give your command once. Allowing your dog to hear a command multiple times informs them that they do not have to listen. It reinforces that they can let you shout for them as long as you want, and that they will follow the command when they see fit. Giving a command only once establishes a sense of urgency. 

While this way of training may seem abrasive to some, it is often lifesaving. Training keeps dogs safe. You want to be able to tell your dog “No”, “leave it”, and “sit”, not only for their safety, but also the safety of others. By establishing an easy to follow format and being consistent with your training early on, your dog will be on the path to success.