MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Is Reading Our Energy Key to Dogs Reading Thoughts?

To continue my discussion of how our dogs us, I want to share a story from the DogRead group from Meaghan, about Quibble, her search and rescue dog:

"... I have a brilliant little Kelpie who is training for USAR work (Urban Search & Rescue); finding live people in disaster or building collapse situations. From the beginning of this training, no matter what I threw at him, Quibble would clearly get it and we would move on to the next task. Everything practical made total sense to him but when it came to the 'heeling' work..., I just couldn't get through to him. In his defense, he's very much a 'fly at life' kind of guy and previous to this training I never bothered with formal off leash heeling. Our background is working stock and I trained all my dogs that 'heel' meant as long as you are behind this line and walking with me, I really don't care about an exact position. So I'm still struggling with 'heel' ...

I had a friend down for Christmas who's a good motivational trainer. I asked her to watch us and see if there was anything she could see that I was doing to make this so difficult for him ... I explained what I had been doing and her comment was 'he should understand it.' It was just an offhand comment, but of all we talked about it's what stuck with me the most.

I thought about it a lot, and slept on it, where I do my best thinking. Next time I took him out for a training session, with no real changes except my thoughts changing from 'what am I doing wrong' to 'this little bugger is playing me' ... We had a much better session. I didn't mechanically do anything different but he really does get it ... All I can see that really changed is how I'm picturing the sessions in my mind." (italics mine)

It's possible that being the great readers of nonverbal communication and energy that dogs are, that Quibble picked up Meaghan's change in energy, which Cesar Millan (the dog whisperer) talks about often. She was probably more congruent, which translated into her body language, in this case. Sometimes dogs read our bodies, sometimes our thoughts, and sometimes they read both. Is reading our energy the way our dogs read both our nonverbals and our thoughts?

Posted by:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

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