You see, dogs are “talking to us” (communicating) all the time – non stop. We either notice or we don’t. We either understand or we don’t and despite that they are “saying” something all the time. Which means that they have “an opinion” or we can say feeling about something, and in their minds it is very clear.
If we miss it they will learn from the experience that they were not clear or loud enough and they will put more effort into the message that they need us to understand. It can be through more body language, in additional verbal communication or both.
If we still miss that it can makes them feel frustrated, or more fearful of something, more angry, sad etc…
Than we wonder what is wrong with them and they probably wonder why are we not taking their message into account.
So instead of allowing us and them to come to that point – lets ask them.
What is it that you want or do not want?
Or just notice and pay attention, and than you can’t miss it since they for sure are telling us something. Even if some people are still not familiar in what certain body or verbal language means, they could notice quite a lot of thing. For example if dog does not want to move further, wants to move away, barks, whines, has very tense body language, is restless (can’t settle down) etc…
That all means something, dog is telling us something. So, when my clients ask me how should their walk look like, what are activities that would be good for their dog, what treats should they use and why their dog doesn’t want to do something I tell them – ask your dog. He knows why he is not and he is telling you exactly what he wants or does not want. There is always a reason for their behaviour.
We have thought our clients that dogs should have various mental stimulation, should be socialised, be enrolled in some fun classes, should be taken everywhere with us etc. But we maybe do not emphasise enough to our clients that while they are attempting to make their pets life better they should not forget to ask their dog what he/she thinks (feels) about that.
That is crucial. And than they would know that their dog might not feel comfortable in some activity that they have enrolled him in, that playing with other dogs maybe does not suits him, that their dog likes to rest at home rather than walk 6 miles every day, or that certain toy is boring for them. And that it is all OK.
Every dog is different and has a right to be so.
Dogs knows best what is best for them (unless they are in puberty :D). Of course, if our dog has some problem (is fearful, insecure) or is stuck in learning that is our cue that we should help them, but again while taking that journey we should ask the dog: is this what I am proposing OK for YOU? And they WILL tell us. They always do.
Than we can readjust or find ways to get them to be on board (willingly) – even if it might not be something they want but we find important due to dogs safety for example. Than we should become creative and even more observant, and together with our dog we will get there…
Jelena Kallay – Vagabond Positive Animal Communication
Dip. Animal Behavior Technology, Dip. ABT – CASI
Karen Pryor Academy Dog Trainer Professional Program, KPA – CTP