"Reading A Dog"


  Being a teacher, it always bugged me hearing my colleagues “help” perplexed students
      by repeating this command - Think about it!" Just what does that mean? To extend
          this thought, in dog training the inexperienced trainer is continually reminded
                         to "Read your dog!" Aaahhhh........just what does that mean?

        Here are some important perspectives to think about when "reading" a pup/dog.

          1) Pups/dogs have no clue of how to irritate people (let alone plan it).
          2) Each does what they have been taught or allowed to do (good and/or bad).
          3) All dogs are created equal (NOT)!
Pups and dogs thrive on predictable and fair structure.
          5) If a dog cannot be trained regularly, a trainer will become a remedial "reader".
          6) A trainer's personality greatly impacts their ability to "read". Modify.

       Here are a few ways to work on improving “reading” skills.
          1) Much of what is “read” in a dog is a direct result of understanding yourself.

          2) The key to "reading" is knowing what to look for. Awareness is not automatic.
          3) Make a list of things to "look for” which relate to "reading". It must be yours.
          4) Plans require a rationale. Learning to "read" requires a conscious effort
in the beginning may seem mechanical. Accept this premise.
          5) Ask someone with experience to critique your "reading" abilities (regularly).
          6) Video tape training sessions, honestly critique yourself and change.

       Initial list: (
a few examples…and trying to do too many at first may prove frustrating)

          1) Get an idea of what a dog’s body language means….research it and see it.
                     note: it is difficult to "see it".....if you don't know what it looks like 
          2) Learn to recognize the differences between trying, lack of effort and/or confusion.
              (each is dealt with very differently…….and you must be right)
          3) Look for the signs (in each moment) that the dog is happy with his work (or not).
          4) Make a conscious effort to “step outside” and look at your own attitude
              and timing (not easy).
          5) How do I know what my dog knows? (regular journal entries help)
          6) How does my dog deal with something new? (again - recorded observations)
          7) How does my dog "tell me" we are moving at the right pace (or not)? (records?)
          8) Is your dog an
“OK, that was fun. What's next?” or a “Why me?” performer?

Points to Ponder”

                         A dog's life depends on how well the "reading" goes.
                     A rested, refreshed and uncluttered mind is more receptive.           
           The most effective time for learning is the first few minutes of a session.

                       The acceptance of a lesson is more readily attained when
                         routines are consistent, persistent, predictable and fair.

                         Effective teaching has three phases – 1) briefly review
                         what was recently completed, 2) introduce/teach a new
                          concept and 3) finish with a mastered skill that is fun.

                                                                  by KwickLabs - 2002-3

                updated 11/08/14