Have you ever taken the time to see the world through the eyes of your dog? You should, because when you do it becomes easier to know your dog. I love taking Luke and Elsa out and experiencing life through them. They look at everything differently than I do. Simple things that we overlook may become an object of mystery and intrigue for our dogs. Just yesterday I watched Elsa as she mistook a little pile of dirt in the yard as a lizard. I'd been watering the flowers when my hose shot some dirt out of a pot; beside the double lounge that we regularly sit on. Elsa and Luke were inside when the dirt flew.
She is in the habit of checking out the closed patio door throughout the day. You just never know when a lizard might be out and about. She spotted the tiny pile of dirt immediately and her tail kicked into gear. I got up to see what the excitement was about and spotted the reason. She shot downstairs and out the dog door so fast that I didn't have time to open the patio door for her. Needless to say she was extremely disappointed when she got to the pile; although it did give her a great charge for a few moments.
Experiencing: knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone.
Learning your dog through their eyes is the best way to truly get to know your dog. You become much more aware of how they feel about their surroundings. You learn how they deal with everything and can be much more prepared to deal with their reactions. Each dog is an individual and what one thinks nothing of; another may be hugely moved, freaked or bothered by. Take other dogs for example; many people say "I just never know when they are going to go off," when discussing leash aggression. Watch through your dogs eyes and you will soon discover what the trigger is. For Luke it is direct eye contact or a tail held high. He is not a fan of Husky type dogs or Golden retrievers for that fact alone. When a dog walks by with their tail held high I can be pretty sure that Luke is going to object. He is very social but the leash interferes with that in a very common display of leash aggression.
As Luke ages his hearing is diminishing; not completely but it is far less than what it use to be. But his nose is just fine and I love watching him sit out in the back when a good gust of wind blows by. He always shoots his head straight up to take in the neighborhood. Just the other night he did this and then followed up with some very scary growling. He even got off of his lounge and patrolled the perimeter; there was something in the air that he didn't like. Watching him protect his domain made me happy; not only to see that he still has it but that it made him feel good to do it. What a guy.
Many people go through life, sort of oblivious. "Wow, I didn't notice" is a common thing that I hear when I ask if an owner saw a behavior displayed by their dog. Being aware is a good idea anytime; but you don't have to direct your attention 100% onto your dog. Learning to see it all takes some practice and of course you can't always see everything. Being in the moment, keeping a close eye on your dog at all times and paying attention are all key factors in seeing through your dog's eyes. Being in tuned with the here and now is essential to seeing and learning from your dog.
Have you ever asked someone to watch your dog; and discovered that people have many different degrees of watching? I have seen people hand a leash to a friend and ask them "to watch their dog." It is a great time to learn how people feel about the term "watch." Many people consider just being in close proximity to be watching, uhhh, no, not even close. You must watch and pay attention; it is amazing how many people can actually watch but not see. To draw any information from watching you must experience.
Don't just watch, experience; learn through your dog's eyes.