Since Bizz and I are going to school each week I've been very very focused on both my verbal and non verbal communication skills. Verbal is easier - Sit, Down, Relax, Stand, Let's Go (to start our walks) have been learned - especially now that he knows his name. Some are trickier - we are still struggling with Stay and Wait - mostly because Bizz and I have bonded very tightly so he is endlessly following me around. I cannot actually leave a room without him jumping up (even from a dead sleep) and trailing behind.
The non verbal communication skills are equally important - there is a hand gesture that goes with each of the commands and I have to remind myself to use the right one with the verbal command. Of course as we are training there are non verbal commands that are also learned. Putting my hand in the bag of Happy Hips (his favorite treat - lamb and rice flavor) causes him to immediately sit. Patting the couch means come snuggle. Pointing to my bed means it's bed time let's settle down. Which for Bizz means lying right where I like to sleep on his back all spread out so he can get his belly rubbed and there's no room for me.
I've also learned that dogs love to be talked to - while I still listen to music while walking I now often single along softly so Bizz gets spoken to. Since he's learned to check in with me visually as we walk I think it reassures him.
I have been ahead of schedule on one command. Since his first day with me Bizz has had a big maroon pillow in my office as his bed. Well, when we are in here I just say - go to pillow and he climbs on, curls up and conks out. At class they told us to train them to go to your bed which they are supposed to do and stay there so you can open the door. That's not working so well. Perhaps its the fact that he now has three beds in three different rooms. Or perhaps it's that he has boundless curiousity and hears people coming before I do. In any case I'm working on that one.
A former boss once said to me - and I'm not kidding - Just because I am looking at you and you are speaking to me doesn't mean I'm listening to you. I still ponder that and laugh since the whole point of communication is making sure that your message is heard (or at least seen). So with Bizz I am very focused on how I am communicating and leading him both with my words and with my non verbal commands as well. And I am extending that to my human friends and colleagues as well.
Here is Bizzy during his couch cuddle time. Note it is very hard to do non verbal communication when your dog is actually holding your hand as he naps. However since all the communicating he wants is his belly rubbed I think we understand each other just fine.