Yep, if you are in my line of vision, I’m watching you. As a long time dog trainer it is my job to watch. I watch interactions between k9 guardians and their dogs. Problems in training can sometimes be super easy to see; other times I have to watch for a while to see them. Even when people are not “officially” training but interacting with their dogs, I’m watching. Heck I love to watch just human behavior too; this has resulted from watching humans interact with dogs so carefully. I love body language. It is very telling.
When I have a new client, I will often just watch. I do not interact with the dog in the beginning because I want to see how the guardian interacts with their dog when I arrive. Seeing how they interact and handle a situation when a stranger arrives helps me to know where they need help the most.
Sometimes it’s just a tiny tweek that people need to be on their way to better training. And then again some folks are messing up their messages so bad that their poor dog is in a state of complete confusion. It is not only guardians who make these mistakes, I have seen many dog trainers making huge mistakes in their training methods. I try not to watch this, unless asked to do so that is.
Having someone watch what you are doing is very helpful. Just like when you take golf or tennis lessons and they video tape you. They will be able to show you your mistakes and you might even see some of your own mistakes. When I sit back and watch people training their dogs I can see minute body language errors that when corrected will help in the speed and precision of understanding for a k9.
The only way to “see” mistakes, issues or errors is to watch. But you must also know what you are looking for. My clients and I usually end up laughing about handling mistakes. I watch, explain what they are doing wrong and they are shocked, having no idea that they were doing whatever it is I have disclosed.
If you have the chance to have a professional watch your training, it can be very helpful. Even having a training partner can help if you watch each other train and video. Dogs are masters at body language, far better than we could ever hope to be. Why not have a professional tune up your body language so you can perform to the best of your ability?
As a part of my online consults I often receive video footage of clients training. It makes my job easy to watch them interact with their dogs and quickly fix any of the problems that they are having. Yep, I’m always watching. ;)
Listening is also important, next blog on listening.