I love working with dogs of all ages and all stages of development, but there is something so magical about seeing puppies and young dogs learn skills and really "get it" for the first time. This little "Ah hah!" moment is when the light bulb comes on and they figure out how to get what they want.
Have you ever heard of Manding? It is a combination of two words Demanding and Manners that we use to refer to dogs and specifically puppies who have learned to use a skill or behaviour to ask for what they want. The best example would be a dog that has learned to sit to ask for things. You are holding their dinner and they have learned to sit, in order for you to put some food down. They want to play and know that to get you to engage they need to sit to ask politely before you will play. Or even sitting when you put your hand on the door because they know you won't open it until they do so.
Another great example of manding would be the dog looking at what they want and then looking at you to ask for permission. They may do it once or repeat it a few times depending on what they have learned.
Manding is something that you can teach your dog, it provides a great way for your dog to communicate their desires and an appropriate way to do so. It also provides good behaviour we can reward! But remember, just because they ask for something, doesn't mean they have to get it or get it right that moment!
How do you begin to teach your dog Manding? Ask for the behaviour you would like before letting them out the door, before feeding them their meal, getting to play with another dog, greeting a person, giving them a toy or playing with them. If they are asked and rewarded for the skill often they will start to offer it more and more!
Being able to communicate with your dog is amazing and even more so when they can signal to us what they would like!