Tiramisu is laying on the other end of the couch watching hockey highlights with me. It’s time for another cup of coffee. But before I get up to go to the kitchen, I look over at her and say “I’ll be back.” You might I’m just being friendly. Or you might even think that I’m anthropomorphizing a bit, treating her like a human. But I’m actually giving her a cue. I’m giving her information.
Many years ago I attended a ClickerExpo where keynote speaker Karen Pryor said that she noticed that some of the attendees who were there with their dogs were just getting up at the end of the session and walking out. That wouldn’t be a problem normally but, with a dog on a leash, it frequently ended up with the dog only realizing that they were leaving when the owner reached the end of the leash and tugged them to come with them.
Pryor suggested that a simple “Informational Cue” could be an answer to help our dogs know what’s coming next. In the case of the dogs at ClickerExpo, a simple verbal cue would have allowed the dog a chance to get up and be ready to move on. The alternative seems to be to remain always alert or to just become accustomed to getting tugged when your owner moves on.
Over the years, I’ve created a number of “Informational Cues” for my dogs to help them know what’s coming. We use “Let’s Go!” on walks when I’m walking on or when they are on leash and I’m ready to go. To keep my dogs from being too pushy when I’m eating, I use “Not for you!” to let them know they won’t be getting any tidbits this time. And, as I did with Tiramisu, “I’ll be back” let’s her know that there is no reason for her to follow me to the next room because I’ll be right back.
Normally we train our dogs to respond to our cues. When I say “Sit!”, I expect my dog to do something. Inforational Cues don’t require my dogs to do anything. But it does let them know what’s going on. And that can be a big help in making my dogs happy and comfortable..
Think about how you could be using Informational Cues more effectively to help your dog!