Knowing your dog doesn't mean knowing only his likes and dislikes. It's much deeper than that yet is understood by few dog owners. Knowing your dog means understanding who he is, what he does and
why he does the things he does. Basically: What makes him tick?
Who is he? What is your dog's temperament? What is his general attitude toward people and other dogs? Is he calm, excitable, playful, independent, confident, shy, submissive, dominant? Also, what is he like physically: How strong is he? How hard does he like to play? How fast can he move? Is he sensitive anywhere on his body?
What's he doing? Dogs are always communicating their feelings
and intentions. They communicate in three ways: body language,
energy and actions. First, you need to be able to read your dog's
body language in order to predict his behavior. (Body language is
the communication of the parts of the body interpreted as a
whole.) Learning to recognize and interpret a dog’s body language
is pretty straightforward. Each individual body part signals
something specific—ears, eyes, mouth, tail, muzzle, head and
overall body stance—but putting together all of those elements is
what gives you the complete picture. For example, a dog’s ears
pinned back can mean aggression, fear or contentment, but
knowing which of those is being communicated depends upon what
the other parts of the body are doing at that same instant. Second,
what energy is he giving off? Calm, excitement, fear, aggression? You not only need to know how to read your own dog's energy but also know how to the energy of other dogs as well as your own energy. (This is often the toughest part for most people since we're just not as in-tune with energy as dogs are.) Third, how does your dog then act after he's shown us his body language and demonstrated his energy? Does he jump up on people? Does he grab food from the kitchen countertop? Does he guard resources such as food, toys or people? Does he lunge at other dogs? And does he do these things only some of the time?
Why does he behave that way? Whether it is good behavior (greeting a new dog or person calmly and quietly) or bad behavior (lunging at another dog or jumping up on people), it’s important to learn why your dogs acts that way. And when you understand why, you'll know what you need to work on with him. For example, a dog who takes food from your kitchen counter is showing disrespect, so you need to work on teaching him to respect you. A dog who shies away or nips at people when they approach is likely distrustful of people, therefore you need to focus on teaching your dog how to trust.
Gaining a complete understanding of your dog is something you can accomplish. By knowing your dog, you’ll be able to fulfill his needs and achieve the ultimate, natural Leader-Follower relationship with your dog.
To learn more about how to Know Your Dog, call us at (703) 489-1319.