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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I don't want to highjack the Desire to Please thread so I thought I'd start a new one. In the spirit of the "tailgate at an event" nature of this message board, I'd like to continue the along the lines of the conversation about body language and throw in something else into the mix.

Is it really body language? Is is something else? The Dog Whisperer refers to "energy". Is he right? Is "it" something else? Why do some people seem to have an innate ability to communicate with animals were others struggle?

You see, I've been struggling to explain things. I've had some success. But the "it" is a mystery.

Ok, as some of you may remember...I have a 15 year old daughter and a we have a Golden pup born mid-December. Sassy is my daughter's dog. Things are going great! Sassy is the bestest! But where I struggle is trying to convey the "it" to my daughter when it comes to reading what the critter is explaining to my daughter how she can project her "energy" to the dog. My daughter now thinks that I'm weird but is convinced that I can read a dog's mind.

I've been doing a fair job at staying in the background in order to let my daughter do all the training. And it has been working for the most part. But, explaining what I do or what I'm thinking when handling a dog is rough. I can do it but I can't easily explain what I do. Does that make sense?

You see, I've been around critters since I was a wee lad. I've trained my share of dogs and have this doggy mojo thing going on at times. Friends and family call me (in jest) the dog whisperer when something freaky happens that I can't explain.

And, isn't what a lot of the questions on this forum are all about - handler/dog communication? We see post after post of people looking for help. A 10 w pup is doing this...a 15 week pup does that...a dog sits/stays in a video and someone asks what program accomplished it...many, many questions are asked that deal with the handler/dog connection. (The complexity of the FT magic training questions are a different subject.)

How do you explain it?

I can tell you from personal experience that explaining it to one's daughter one-on-one is tough. Trying to convey "it" in a video or in text would be extremely tough. Like I said, I don't know what "it" is. At times I feel like I'm trying to explain "the force" to someone who hasn't seen a Star Wars movie. I can understand why training DVDs are popular. But, do they really get to the heart of the matter? Is it the handler "mojo" that needs to be explained? A dog isn't a computer. You can't just give it a command and expect a response. It isn't the words. Is it the body language? Yes. Sometimes. But isn't it even more than that? IMHO, the handler/dog connection is almost a freaky ESP connection thingy.


Before you write me off as a whack job, here are some personal examples that could help explain what I mean:

Rollover Example
Friends of ours have a lab. They have issues controlling the dog when visitors come to their house. There is a ritual. We come to the door, they try to hold back the dog as it bounces and lunges it the excitement of guests in the foyer. They correct, say "no" repeatedly and try their best not to let the dog jump on their guests. As they hold the dog's collar, the dog's panting is loud and labored. The dog is dragged into a room with a baby gate until it calms down and then rejoins everyone.

Well, one time, the dog broke free of the owner's grip on his collar who had been holding him in the kitchen as we entered the front door. When I saw the dog heading full-steam into one of my kids who was at my side, foresaw the collision and wasn't happy. Before I could moving into the dog's path, the dog, for some reason stopped, hit the floor and rolled onto its back. I hadn't moved. I didn't say a word. No one did. But, there was the dog halfway between its owner and me in the "I give up position". The dog's owner looked up and ask me how I did that. All that I can say is that I wasn't happy about what the dog was about to do and I was thinking (only thinking) about how I was going to stop the dog.

Quiet Example
A friend had 3 GSPs in the big dog box in his truck. We had just arrived at our hunting spot. He had to take care of some business and walked a short distance away. Because he usually releases his dogs when we stop, all three dogs were off-the-charts hyper. They barked and clawed at the kennel doors. The noise was soo loud that I couldn't hear myself think. I wanted it to stop. I needed it to stop. Without thinking, I squared up to the back of the truck where all three dogs could see me and made a deep, low grunt/growl sound. (I have no idea what that was all about, it just happened.) All three dogs immediately stopped barking. When my friend came back, he noticed the silence and asked what happened. He said that he doesn't mind the dog's barking and never corrected them for the noise.

Walk'n the Critter Example
My daughter was at a friend's house. My wife and I took new pup for a walk around the neighborhood. My wife had the leash. Sassy was everywhere. In front, to the side, looping around and playing with her leash. My wife had to constantly turn and spin to keep the pups leash from getting wrapped around herself. Frustrated, she handed the leash to me. For 10 minutes while I held the leash, Sassy walked in a straight line, head up, confidently strolling through the neighborhood. I said nothing. I didn't pull on the leash. I just held it the same way that my wife did. When we stopped at a corner, Sassy sat, dropped her ears back and looked up at me to see what I wanted her to do. I applied no pressure on the leash when we stopped. (Sassy isn't trained to heel yet.) When I gave the leash back to my wife, Sassy returned to her earlier behaviors. Huh?

Rift in the Force example
Years ago, after the alarm clock rang, my wife headed downstairs as we started our day. I stayed upstairs to check my email. Something really, really, not-so-good happened at work during the night. My emails told me it was going to be an extremely difficult day at work. My mood wasn't good. My wife came back upstairs and asked me what was wrong. Confused, I asked her how she knew. She told me that our dog wouldn't leave his bed in the corner of the kitchen and he gets that way when I am upset about work in the morning. I hadn't gone downstairs. I hadn't been near the dog. I hadn't said a word or made a noise. The dog knew? Huh?

Dog needs food example
One day recently, I came home from work and instead of coming through the garage, I notice the front door was open so I came in that way. Sassy and my daughter were in the family room. My daughter was doing homework on her computer. Sassy was playing with a toy. I looked at my daughter and said, "Sassy is starving. When was the last time you fed her?" After an argument from my daughter who explained that Sassy wasn't hungry and she ignored her food not ten minutes early, I received a lecture on homework and the fact that my daughter didn't have time to waste putting a bowl of food on the floor of the kitchen and watching the dog not eat. But, at my insistence, food was given to Sassy.

Sassy wolfed down her normal serving and then ate half of a second serving.

My daughter asked me how I knew. She didn't believe me when I told her that as soon as I walked into the door, I got a mental image of Sassy's food bowl in my noggin' and that Sassy told me she was hungry. It was true.

Now, I'm just a weird dad.

So, is it body language? Is it something more? I think it is something more. Some people just have a dog sense. IMHO, there is more to handler/dog communication than can be described in a book or video. Dog training isn't simply the commands you give or the program you follow. It is understanding the lil' wheels turning in the critter's brain and establishing a connection through body language, audible communication or "energy".

I wish that I could explain it better. Help me out! Does anyone besides me feel a mental connection with dogs when they are handling them? Isn't it more than what can be explained on a video? I feel that I almost "will" a dog to a blind retrieve at times. Is it just me?

Should I sell my tin foil hat? ;-)
 

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dunno if this is in the same category, but it's often said in competitive obedience and agility that you need to visualize the dog doing the right thing as you send him to do it. I believe it makes a difference.
 

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Ok, I think the mental telpathy stuff is a little tinfoil hat-ish, but I firmly believe two things; 1) Some of us are born with a natural empathy for animals and animals pick up on it. I'll bet that many RTFers are like me in that I was always comfortable with animals, particularly dogs, even as a small child. This is a calmness, sense of communication, and ability to read a dog that has been innate in me as long as I can remember.

2) That innate ability is amplified greatly through our years of working with and training dogs, to the point that regular non-dog people think we do have magical powers.

John
 

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quote:

Well, one time, the dog broke free of the owner's grip on his collar who had been holding him in the kitchen as we entered the front door. When I saw the dog heading full-steam into one of my kids who was at my side, foresaw the collision and wasn't happy. Before I could moving into the dog's path, the dog, for some reason stopped, hit the floor and rolled onto its back. I hadn't moved. I didn't say a word. No one did. But, there was the dog halfway between its owner and me in the "I give up position". The dog's owner looked up and ask me how I did that. All that I can say is that I wasn't happy about what the dog was about to do and I was thinking (only thinking) about how I was going to stop the dog.


This IS interesting,,,,,

But worthless unless we have a picture of you!!!

It has been said of my EX,, that she could make a train take a dirt road!!
We could only guess if YOU may have the same attributes!

Also,, Are you "stuck in the 60's" with your wardrobe????
How do you dress when you is invited to a formal dinner engagement??
If you are Flamboyant with your dress??

I know sometimes at Halloween,, my older dog Lays down and cowers at some of the costumes that show up at our door.... Usually the ones that look like Rosie O'donnell...

Dont really have much more to add,, but ,, your comments abouve will give Gooser something to ponder the rest of the day!!

I saw in Crocadile Dundee,,, He could "point" at an alligator,, and get him to roll over...... Might want to take a vaction somewheres that has them big Lizzards, and see if YOU have the same Talent...
I wouldnt be holdin a trainin bird in the other hand though..


Thanks for the post!!!

Gooser

 

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There is only one explanation to all of this, when you carry and think of yourself as the pack leader the critters pick up on this very thing.
In my opinion it's nothing to do with a tin foil hat.
I myself have the same things happen at my house, the dogs view the GF as part of the pack and not a leader.
For example she feeds in the morning and they are crazy, when I feed at night they all take their place in the kennels or designated area, they wait till all food is given to each dog then are released to eat. Is it the "it" factor? not likely it's the pack leader syndrome.
Had some friends that had a female rot that didn't really like any male, she showed her teeth to me and I growled back at her while walking at her, she immediatly sat and showed submission, the owners were amazed at what transpired.
 

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Training gives you results. Working around dogs a lot gives you and them predictability.
 

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I posted before about my Nala being more difficult to line up if she is on my left side than on my right side.

I speculated that maybe her eye sight in her right eye was worse than left, or that she had less nervation on her right side and couldn't as easily perceive my nearness as she can from her left side.

She uses all her senses (just we do) to perceive and calcuate objects (distance away, size thereof, etc) in space, including us being near them.

I don't think it's a mystery at all.

Sight: light waves (energy) bouncing off objects and being sensed by rods, cones, etc.

Sound: basically the thing except it's waves of energy through air

Touch: sensing energy (heat, cold) fron direct contact or slightly indirect contact

Smell: sensing various molecules moving through air

Taste: sensing various molecules on the tongue

Given differential nervation across the population of dogs, some are gonna be more perceptive with one or more sense than compared to other dogs.

As far as a dog reading a handler, part of it is conditioning and part of it is a dog thinking for themselves having that conditioning as a basis for making a decision.
 

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Just because it is a mystery we can't solve doesn't mean there is a supernatural explanation.

My take:

If you've got "it," you've got "it"--if you don't, you have to break down everything that comprises "it" and learn how to do it without "it," and perhaps later you will have "it" once you learn the little things that make "it."

Right now, I'm still breaking things down... but watching people with "it" sure helps--if they've always had "it" they can't tell you how to have "it," but you can still learn the pieces and parts by watching!
 

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Tri-Tronics new voodoo doll. Go to Build a Bear and create you're own teddy dog. Then stick a pin in it when you normally would press the button on the transmitter. Same result, without the collar. No more collar wise dogs....


get your's today...

/Paul
 

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Brian,

A very interesting post you've got going, so first off thanks for putting it up.

Dogs, I think, perceive the world very largely though two abilities they are brilliant at; scent and body language. Unfortunately for us (and more often for them) humans are deeply rubbish at both.

Intellectually we accept that their noses are greatly superior to ours because they demonstrate it all the time, but it's a bigger bite to swallow the body language superiority; our abilities are so limited we can't even recognise how good they are. So (again IMO) some of the stuff they produce that looks inexplicable to us, is just them living in a different world.

Anyone who has been blessed with a talented dog that's gained big time experience in the field will recognise that the partnership that develops sometimes appears uncanny; nonetheless it can be explained by dogs having very much greater powers of observation than we do. Ferinstance ...

When I was shooting woodpigeon semi-professionally I didn't have to give a proper command to my Springer to let him know what I wanted; a raised eyebrow was good enough for "fetch it"; a slight frown for "stay put Chrissie, it's dead and going nowhere"; a head inclined to the left "meant get that one." I'm sure many in the forum have had this sort of thing happen, but I just point up that I never trained for this stuff, it developed over time and Chrissie was the leader in the process. He read me.

About the "power thing." A training mentor of mine has "it". I don't. He's trained a zillion dogs, knows more than most, and has made up over a hundred FTCH's; his confidence just oozes out of him. In front of a human audience even his wife describes him as a charisma free zone.

So I don't follow you down the ESP road, but I do think that someone with great experience, utter self confidence, and deep knowledge can through their own "body language" communicate his natural authority to a doggy audience.

Having said all that I would not be Mr Milan's biggest fan.

Again, great post.

Eug
 

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I've just started reading the book, "Inside of a Dog", and it focuses (so far) on what the Colonel was saying. Dogs perceive things differently, and at a different level, than we do and since we can't experience that, how can we comprehend it?

I am a firm believer that some have "it" and some don't, and it can be in different areas. I see it in dog training. I see it in business management. All you can do is show them, explain what you're doing, and hope that eventually they get it. Some will, most won't.

For your example of being upstairs, spun up about work, and your dog downstairs sensing it, I wouldn't be surprised that dogs can smell a difference in someone's mood. I'm guessing that if your muscles are tense and your breathing changes, it's going to change how you'd smell to a dog, and since your dog is highly attuned to YOU, they're going to figure that out. what's that line from Jerry McGuire? "Dogs and bees can smell fear" (of course, so can some Hunt Test judges)

Tip of the tinfoil hat regards.

(on that subject, how long has it been since it WAS tin foil, instead of aluminum?)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow. I re-read my post and then read all the responses. I really bared my soul on that one huh?

Thanks to your feedback, I feel better. Maybe it isn't ESP or anything super natural after all. It does make you scratch your head to think about all the non-extraordinary perceptions that we fail to see.

Pete, I'd like to meet one of those dogs. Years ago when I was younger and stronger, I called the K9 unit of the Delaware State Police. I asked to speak to someone about dog training and explained that I wanted to volunteer to be the bite-suit-wearing-bad-guy. I never got a call back. I tried again. Same result. Pity. If they had called back, I may own a protection dog. I'm kinda partial to the looks of a Giant Schnauzer.

Gooser...LMAO!! Awesome!!!

And everyone else...thanks! Great, great responses!
 

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Brian to expand on what Ron is saying is that you needed a shower cause he could smell ya. LOL
Dogs just know, our pit loves everyone except one lady. He sniffs everyone that comes over but when she comes over he barks at her and growls. She has dobbies and despises pits I do believe he knows she doesn't like him and he feels the same about her.
They just know.
 

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Never thank Gooser fer bein an Idiot!!

Its my natural way!!

Gooser
 

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Wow,how cool is that.
I have no idea how,or why you have this "talent". I think we all believe in the "dog whisperer",ESP,"it" theory to some degree. It's important,for you and the rest of us,that you expand,promote and try to explain your "talent". I wish I had something similiar.
Please keep me/us posted as far as developements.
If there comes a time where this body language/ESP or tinfoil hat stuff works on or has the same effects on a 15 yr. old girl or boy let me know,I'll be your 1st trainee.
Vinny
 

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I've just started reading the book, "Inside of a Dog", and it focuses (so far) on what the Colonel was saying. Dogs perceive things differently, and at a different level, than we do and since we can't experience that, how can we comprehend it?

I am a firm believer that some have "it" and some don't, and it can be in different areas. I see it in dog training. I see it in business management. All you can do is show them, explain what you're doing, and hope that eventually they get it. Some will, most won't.

For your example of being upstairs, spun up about work, and your dog downstairs sensing it, I wouldn't be surprised that dogs can smell a difference in someone's mood. I'm guessing that if your muscles are tense and your breathing changes, it's going to change how you'd smell to a dog, and since your dog is highly attuned to YOU, they're going to figure that out. what's that line from Jerry McGuire? "Dogs and bees can smell fear" (of course, so can some Hunt Test judges)

Tip of the tinfoil hat regards.

(on that subject, how long has it been since it WAS tin foil, instead of aluminum?)
Yes... I read that book as well and got a LOT out of it. Author was a real student (as in PhD) in animal behavior. Fascinating. Highly recommend it.
 

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Brian, the theme of your guandry reminded me of a situation many years ago. My high school chess team was at the Nationals and a famous GrandMaster was giving a lecture. He mentioned that his five year old was learning how to play chess. When the opportunity for "question and answer" came up, I asked him how he overcame the huge cap between International Grand Master and his five year old in terms of learning to play chess.

His reply was there is no way I can convey how to play chess from my perspective. The gap is too huge. However, all I ever asked of him was "Why did you do that?" I didn't care what his answer was or tried to critique it. The important thing was to cultivate a reason (any reason).

At first his responses were mostly "I don't know." or "I just felt like it." However, he eventually began to give simple justifications which gradual improved. The important thing was for him to find reasons for doing things without any anticipation of criticism or suggestions. Motivating a very young novice to think requires subtle nurturing without demands.......zero inhibition.

"Why?" with no judgemental impact can be a powerful motivator.
 
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