Using your Body Language to communicate isn’t just for Dog Owners – Monty Roberts has been doing it for decades!
Understanding how to use your body language to communicate to another species isn’t a new concept. People like Monty Roberts , also known as the horse whisperer has been doing it all his life! Now in his eighties, Monty grew up around horses and made it his life’s work to understand the horse and how to treat it differently and more kindly than he had seen his father and many others do in the past. Monty, after many decades of studying his own horses, went out in the wilds of the great plains in America to wild mustang and watched some more. This man has changed the way people deal with and understand their equine charges.
He created the method called ‘Join Up’
Monty teaches his pupils the language of Equus- the language of the horse. He says ‘The language of Equus is predictable, discernible and effective’ and he teaches all his pupils how to use their body language to communicate with their horse so that they can ‘have a conversation of understanding’ together. I have to say Monty is a very impressive man to watch working with horses and he is a quiet and very charismatic man, you can see how the animals can pick this up and feel confident around him.
Here is a link which shows some of his method and his online university where you can learn and study.
We use our body language to communicate with all our domesticated animals, our dogs, our cats, birds etc, we just don’t think about it because we speak in our heads too. Humans have a very bad habit – we anthropomorphize other living things (meaning we give them human attributes, personalities or voices)This is unfair to the other species as they do not think or communicate like us. Now in the 21st century I am glad to say we are studying animals in a new and scientific way and beginning to understand them and communicate with them in a way they can understand. I think this is the greatest thing we can do for the animals we love.
If you would like to learn more about Canine Communication go to my website where you can learn this wonderful method
Thank you for reading and I would love to hear your comments on this subject
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
I woke up this morning with an idea in my head which I couldn’t wait to come downstairs and type about for all you lovely dog owners. I’ve recently been reading a great book called Think your way to Success by Mark Rhodes and it struck me that as a Dog Owners Coach I teach a lot of what I am reading about in this book to my clients.
Did you know that the word ‘Want’ in most people’s head has negative associations in your subconscious mind? Linked in childhood where we said ‘I want’ ,lets say a Barbie doll or a bike or a dog or a pony and were told ‘NO’ by our parents, then we were obviously upset or sometimes devastated because we soooo Wanted that thing. Our powerful subconscious would then make the decision (as it’s main job is keeping you safe and able to survive the world) that things you ‘want’ are obviously things that will hurt, upset or devastate you and can be passed over. Interesting stuff isn’t it?
Now bear with me because this all fits together in your life and working with your dog…
Apparently the way to get around this is to change your mental vocabulary and how you associate with the things you actually do want to have in your life. So if your wish in your head is to have a happy well mannered dog, instead of thinking to yourself ‘I really want a well mannered dog’, you should be thinking something along the lines of ‘wouldn’t it be great to have a well mannered, happy dog. We could have so much fun together’. Now just read those two statements for a minute, can you see the difference that might make to your emotional sub-conscious? We change a negative association into a positive association. It’s about changing your mindset.
Being aware of your thought process and body language and being mindful of how you associate this to something you would like your dog to do is exactly the things I teach with my coaching clients. It sounds a bit strange but it is something we dont consciously think about in our day to day lives. To change anything in your life, mentally or physically we have to change some of our habits or tweak our routines. If not then we will keep doing the same thing over and over again and nothing will change! This is where Consistency comes in. Consistency makes something you might do once, into a habit. If you do the same thing every day, say for instance, I tell my client to come down stairs, let the dog out as they normally would do every morning, but from now on just don’t look or speak to the dog until it has done what it needs to do and is back inside again. If they do this every morning it forms a good habit. They don’t get jumped on, the dog doesn’t wee on the floor and the dog will learn not to expect its morning cuddle until it comes back inside after he does his morning toilet routine outside. 2 weeks later we have a daily routine that the owner doesn’t even need to think about and seems like it is something they have always done.
If that all makes sense to you I thought it might be fun to share some of our annoying dog problems. For one it lets other people see that they might have similar issues and are not alone and two it can help someone who might not want to ask. Let me know what the issue is and what your normal reaction to this behaviour and we’ll see what might need a tweak.
So go ahead and let me know what issue with your dog is getting on your nerves today by adding a comment below (Unfortunately I can’t go into dog aggression as this is a very serious subject that needs full commitment from the owner to work on one to one)
Thank you for reading and I look forward to helping you and your dog
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
We all want a well-mannered and relaxed dog around the house. To keep us company when we are on our own or when we have guests over. There is nothing worse or embarrassing when your dog wont leave you or your guests alone! But could it be you that is causing this behaviour?
Mistake no.1 Do you constantly talk to your dog like they are another person?
We’ve all done this, we are human and sometimes I think we just like the sound of our own voice, some more than others! We tell our pets, ‘I’m home! Did you miss me?’, ‘What have you been up to all day, wait to you hear about my day…’, ‘I’m just going out to [friends] house I wont be long’, ‘What would you like for dinner we have…’ and it goes on and on. I hope you’re laughing right now if this is you because we have all wished our pets would talk back to us, just once! But, unfortunately they never do or will because they are a dog.
Why is this so bad I hear you ask? Well for one, this is an exercise in getting things off our chest or looking for some love and attention ourselves but you are also training your dog to become an attention seeker through no fault of his/ her own. He’ll learn that paying you attention while you chat away all day long gets him something he wants too, you. You are his/her reward for just paying you attention, but then when you are busy, running late and in a rush or you have guests over, who’s still looking for attention and getting in your way? You got it!
Secondly, if your voice fills the room, day and night and becomes background noise to your dog. How does he know when you are saying the important stuff? We all learn to switch off after a while, I think they call it ‘Selective Hearing’. If your dog is paying you attention at the wrong times and not, when he is supposed to, it’s not his fault. Think ‘Does my dog need to know this information?’ before you speak.
Mistake no.2 Do you look at your dog a lot or constantly watch him?
I don’t know about you but I hate the idea of being watched. You want to keep looking over your shoulder all the time. This may come as a surprise to you but because dogs don’t speak a language, they use body language as their main form of communication. Eye contact being at the top of the list. OK here’s a little experiment for you to try with some non canine members of your family. Next time you are in a room with another human, don’t say anything and just look at them, keep your face neutral if possible and just watch them and keep making eye contact. I will guarantee you within a couple of minutes you are going to be asked ‘What?’
Do you get it yet? When ever you come in the door and look down at your furry friend and he looks back at you, you have started a conversation and he’s saying ‘what?’ (Probably what’s this nutter looking for now because they never tell me they just walk off and then they do it again and again)
Again we are rewarding attention seeking behaviour because we hold our dog in a constant non- verbal conversation which then becomes a habit. It’s one of the hardest things to do but stop looking at the dog when he doesn’t need to be in the conversation. A lot of ‘busy’ dogs are like this because they have an attention seeking owner! They only lie down and sleep when it’s time for the soaps on TV or the computer goes on. Sound familiar?
Mistake no.3 Do you tell your dog what to do All The Time?
OK this is my biggest bugbear and it’s with the humans, not the dogs. I know parents who do this too, so don’t be feeling left out anyone! You know the ones you visit or see in the park? ‘Stop doing that’, ‘come here’, ‘sit there’, ‘lie down there’, ‘wait’, ‘leave’, ‘I said No’, I could go on but I’m boring myself.
What you then create is a neurotic dog which needs to be around you all the time so you can tell it what to do or what not to do. Why? Because if it’s the only way it’s going to get your attention, good or bad, then that’s what he has to do – trying to work out what the hell the human wants it to do now.
Dog’s like children are intelligent creatures and learn by making mistakes and learning from the consequences of their own actions. If you Tell a dog or a child what to Do all the time then what are they going to learn? Exactly what you tell them and nothing else, probably. Like a robot. How about letting them learn self-control? Don’t laugh, it’s the basis for most positive reward training. Which we know to be the kindest and quickest way for anyone, human or animal to learn. Why? Because we will continue to do a behaviour in which we gain something good from doing that behavior. For example, we teach toddlers that if they say ‘Please’ they will get [name that reward*chips,lolipops,sweeties, etc*] what happens if they don’t say please? Nothing, they don’t get their nice thing. They think about it and then say Please! We aint stupid you know and neither are our dogs. Let them learn for themselves, you reward what you want to see more of, everyone’s happy!
Lets give them a break from our human world and our human ways and let them just be Canine. Be mindful of your behaviour and you will see a different behaviour from your dog if you do.
Happy dog= Happy owner
If you think this was helpful I’d love for you to like it and leave me a comment
Bernie – The Dog Owners Coach
Have you always wanted a dog like Lassie, Rin tin tin or even Benji? Well I’ll tell you now, They Only Exist in the Movies or with years of training, honing skills of natural or un-natural behaviour and having a very strong and trusting bond with the dog.
It’s time to burst this big bubble that all or even certain dogs – (no matter what breed) are easy to keep, easy to train, are good with people, children, pets etc. No of course they aren’t. Every dog is a single personality, not like their mother or father, not like their litter siblings, not like anyone else. Just like humans, they all have their own personalities, foibles, likes and dis-likes, even from a very early age. Seeing the parents of a pup gives you a degree of certainty that yes they might be social, nice around people or will be healthy but that is never 100% certainty. One certainty you can guarantee 100% is the time you spend teaching your dog skills you want it to have in adult life, they will have in adult life.
If you want your dog to walk nicely by your side as you go for a relaxing walk, or run with you when you go for a jog or pull you if you want to go for a mush, you have to teach them what you want or expect of them. There’s no point in buying expensive harnesses, lines, a rig and put your dog in front, tie him to it and expect him to know that he now has to pull, where as before this you had expected him to walk nicely by your side. You train him and show him how fun this new experience is so he wants to do it again and again. We take driving lessons, guitar lessons, language lessons, tennis or football lessons or ‘practise’ so why should it be any different for your dog? If you want them to have a certain skill then you have to teach them and practise, practise, practise!
I’m not saying you can’t teach your dog to be like Lassie but don’t just expect them to be like her and By the Way… movie and tv Lassie was about 4 or 5 different dogs!
Here’s where some dogs get the short end of the stick when it comes to some people’s expectations. I have come up against people like this when I worked in rescues. The potential new owner wants a dog, ‘OK lets see what type of lifestyle you have so we can find a dog that suits’. They then proceed to tell you they work a 40+hr week, go to the pub at weekends and a couple of foreign holidays a year, don’t do much ‘outdoorsy-things’ and they want a labrador for the kids, are adamant they want one, a big, friendly one. Of course that’s no life for a big energetic dog and most people don’t want to hear that reality. You can change the breed in that story to what someone has in their heads that they want and no matter how much you tell them that they need a lot of grooming /exercise / training etc they don’t see it as a problem, they then find a dog somewhere else and a month down the line there’s a frustrated and angry owner who has no idea how to stop their beagle (any breed) from barking, chasing the neighbours cat or digging holes in the garden, eating the kids toys or going to the toilet inside the house when it lives outside. Later you find out the dog gets 1 walk a day and lives its whole life in the back yard. Sounds to me like the dog is making the best of a bad situation!
When owners call me out because of their dog’s problems they soon realise that respect, interaction, teaching and enjoying each others company is all part of being a good dog owner. I get the phrase ‘it’s a lot like having kids’ when we are in a coaching session and I totally agree. People think long and hard usually before having kids, they need a lot of love, food, clothes, schooling and that’s just the basic stuff. No-one expects their parental duties are over once the kids hit 16, there are driving lessons, college, part-time jobs, socializing, hobbies…. So why do people not think long and hard about adding a 4 legged family member to their household? There’s love, food, vaccinations, bedding, health, education and time all needed there too for the whole of their lives.
It’s time the human race started treating this loyal, patient, forgiving and highly intelligent creature with more care and respect than what it is deemed to be getting here and now in the 21st century. Dont just be a dog owner, be a GOOD dog owner. Dog’s are not an accessory, they are not a short-term phase you are going through to see if you ‘like’ this breed, they should be treated with love and value and as Clarissa Baldwin’s’ very popular adage says ‘a dog is for life not just for christmas’.
Please think wisely, don’t get a dog if you don’t have time for one, if you do have one then give it time and love and you will be wise.
Please leave a comment below if you liked this post.
Definition: Adding a positive stimulus contingent on a behavior in order to increase the probability of that behavior happening again.
Ok here’s a few examples: When you call your dog to you (ie recall) do you give him a treat, a tid bit or lots of praise? That’s positive reinforcement
If you’re house training your puppy, when it looks like she is about to go you take her outside and when she goes do you give her loads of cuddles or a small treat and tell her she’s the best dog in the world? That’s positive reinforcement.
Dogs are very much like us, they want to know What’s in it for me. Would we do our dull 9 to 5 job if we didn’t get paid a wage? Would we go to the gym if we thought it wouldn’t get us fit and shapely to get into that dress or bikini?
Positive reinforcement is a way of training your dog to do something again because they have received a positive or good thing that they will make them want to repeat again and again to get that reward. I know if someone waved a bar of chocolate or a tenner in my face and asked me to mow the lawn, I’d do it!
Think ‘What motivates my dog?’ Find the thing that makes your dog go do-lally and use it to motivate him into fun training! It can be squeeky toys, balls, bubbles, food, all dogs are different.
Recently I did a coaching consultation and the dog was a bit of an independant terrier, did his own thing at home and was starting to get too big for his boots and get himself in trouble with the family. I usually get owners to do more bonding and play with their dog, on the humans terms, not the dogs. It’s amazing how people are unaware that their dog has been the one to initiate a game. The dog trots over to the owner with his favourite toy in his mouth and either drops it at their feet or in their lap and then looks up, or they start playing with the toy right in front of owner inviting him to join in. Who is being trained now?
Anyway, this very smart terrier was one of these type of dogs, he’d squeek his ball and one of the family would come running to play with him! So we tried it my way. We all sat chatting as he tried every single one of us, me included, into a game of ball, we ignored him and eventually he went and lay in his bed. I then asked each member of the family to try and get him to come to them for a play or a cuddle using something they thought would motivate him. Guess what happened? Only 1 of them got him out of his bed, they had a treat, he sniffed it and then went back to his bed and lay back down. Does that surprise you? To many owners it doesn’t.
I then pulled out my home made treats (tuna&cheese flavour) I always have them with me coaching and have yet to meet a dog who doesn’t like these babies. I asked each person to walk past sleeping beauty and whaft the treat under his nose and walk to the far end of the kitchen and call him. All of a sudden there was a different dog in the house, he came when called, he was giving paws and doing tricks, he wanted to interact now, on their terms. Why? Because they had found what motivated him and he found something good in it for him to repeat the behaviour.
Smart cookie is an understatement! You can find my treats and what I do Here
Please leave a comment if you liked this post or find me on Facebook -Bernie Browne
This is Philippa Williams who did her gundog display at Crufts, I saw her do the same display last year and she was very impressive because she uses positive reinforcement like toys, treats etc and you can see how much the dogs love it! Your dog doesn’t just have to be a ‘walk around the block’ type of dog. Think outside the box and go do something different with them today!
Canines have been our friends and companions for thousands of years, but do we really know how to speak their language?
Growing up around dogs, I was told I had a natural instinct or affinity for them. I was definitely magnetically drawn to them as a species , bringing any stray I found back home for some food and a cuddle, and still do. As I grew up I started reading books and watching programmes on the canine in general and I found that my logical brain had started taking over some of that natural communication I once had. I didn’t realise this at the time but it was only when I started to re-learn their language that I realised what I had forgotten.
Dog Listening, to me was like learning the magic words to open Aladdin’s cave. It brought back to me what I knew as a child, that a dog was not human, that it did not speak our language (no matter what you see on You Tube!) and they were a species with great kindness and we could learn a lot from them. I wanted to be their friend and enjoy their friendship, hopefully as much, I thought, as they would want from me.
Even if you have never had a dog as a pet, just sit and watch them some time without interacting (if you can, I know it can be hard). You will see their intelligence, their body language, how they interact with other members of the household, other pets and other dogs. Do they start the interaction first or join in later. Do they make direct eye contact or look away?Do they respond better to someone calm or someone who is not? I think we have forgotten in this interactive 24/7 world how to just be still and watch, like I did as a child. It will open up a whole new insight into their world and what they are trying to tell us.
I cant wait to learn what they can teach me tomorrow!
Follow my blog for more insights into your dogs world and how they fit into ours.
A great book (with lots and lots of photos) that every dog owner should own is
On Talking Terms with Dogs: Calming Signals by Turid Rugaas
I would love to know what you think of this article, please leave a comment below, thank you
Once you get through the house training, setting your pups boundaries and probably some basic training and all is going well, be prepared. Because it isn’t all plane sailing from here, just when you think you have the perfect pup, things might start to go awry! Dogs hit their teenage stage usually between 8 month to 18months depending on breed. Obviously personality has a lot to do with this too as a strong boisterous personality might start testing you and your rules more than an easy going personality.
What to expect
Expect the unexpected and you wont be surprised! I know that sounds very general but if your dog who is usually quite compliant and comes when you call him all of a sudden starts doing their own thing or seems to be almost disobedient in some ways, this could be the start of some teenage behaviour. The age range I gave you above is a general guideline but some dogs can start ‘rebeling’ earlier than this or even a bit later, if you are really unlucky.
What do I do when my dog doesn’t listen to me?
That’s easy, you go back to basics and start building a strong and trusting relationship with them. They are looking for a leader at this stage of their lives, in the wild this is when they would now transition from ‘pups’ were they would get away with everything, to ‘adolescent’ and they would start learning from their adult pack members and babysitters. This is when adults would start reprimanding unacceptable behaviour and they would have to start learning to become a valuable member of their pack. In domestic terms, you are reminding them of the boundaries you set as a pup by being consistent with your own behaviour. Play can be very important here, dogs learn a lot through play through interactions with other members of the family, like whether they are allowed to jump up, knock you over, can they start the play and will you follow, obviously at this stage if your dog mouths you, this should be nipped in the bud asap, especially if you have children. Mouthing should be dealt with by quietly and gently taking the dog by the collar and putting to bed or in the back hall and play ends immediately. No eye contact or speaking to him while you do this emphasises to the dog he has done wrong because you no longer will interact with him. After a few times doing this you will find he will get this quickly and think first before he tries to mouth, your timing is the key here. All play should be started by you and finished by you, the dog then will see you as making decisions within the family. Dont fall for the big eyes, waggy tail and the ball or toy in the mouth while you are sitting watching TV or reading or usually doing something that doesn’t involve the dog, that is why he is trying to get you to interact! (Smart puppy!)
The main thing is stay firm in your rules and keep building that relationship. For more tips and help with your doggy dilemas go to my website 4dogenterprises.moonfruit.com or follow me on Twitter @Bernie_Browne
Are you house training a pup or adolescent, are you trying to put down some basic rules and you’re having problems? I can help
Having 4 dogs to look after, 2 from pups and numerous foster pups, I can tell you the secrets to house training and setting down rules or boundaries your pup will understand. They will make mistakes, they are still young and learning, but your consistency is Key to everything you do at this impressionable stage. Be clear in your mind what you want and do it.
signs to help with quick house training, a pup will want to go- as soon as it wakes up, after it eats or drinks, after playing, it will start to smell around and circle before it squats , so be quick!. Pretty much every half hour while it is awake for the first few weeks. Use a code or command like ‘Go busy’ or ‘go toilet’ while they are out on the lawn or patio and lots of praise in soft excited tones when they suceed, even if you are there 20 mins, you learn the signs, your timing is key to how long you will be out there!
stay tuned for more training & behaviour tips very soon – http://ow.ly/9nhHS