It turns out, for a human, I am pretty well trained. Dakota has made sure of it. One time, a friend was at my house. She was astonished when I was sitting on the floor, petting Dakota and knew that he was asking to go out. Or, later in the evening, when I knew that he was wondering if he was going to get a chewy that evening. What she didn't understand is that when he has to go out, he keeps looking to the door. When he wants a treat, he licks his lips every time I stand up. I can tell by the way he is watching me that he wants to be closer to me, and I can tell when he is content to just be. He is sensitive to pressure, and I am pretty good about knowing how hard to push him to get him to move in a certain direction.
However, sometimes, I don't pick up on these cues as well. I just recently realized that Dakota doesn't care to have his collar grabbed, even though the only time I grab his collar is when I put his leash on him for walks or car rides. He LOVES both of those experiences. Thinking about it, he also leans back, backs up, breaks his sit, when I grab his collar. So, I started a counter-conditioning plan to get him more comfortable with me grabbing his collar. I feel pretty terrible that I didn't realize that this was even a cause of discomfort until recently.
I'm lucky I have a patient human trainer in Dakota. He never loses his temper with me, and he gives me lots of second chances. I can read that he likes ear scratches, but doesn't like being patted on the head. I understand that he comes to expect walks or training sessions in the evening. I know when he wants food, play, outside time, water and sleep. I would say that I usually know how he is feeling, and try to keep him safe when he is feeling worried or anxious. I know his ear twitches, tail position and facial expressions. I can see the moment that he understands what I am asking of him and when I am moving him too fast. As much as I have taught him, he has taught me just as much.
Now, my next step of being a well-trained human is learning to read other dogs. I know Dakota well, just because of the connection we have. But I am pretty good at reading my client dogs too. I have one that is fearful of skateboards, even though he barks and growls at them. I have one that wants to be near to me all the time, but doesn't want me to look at or touch her. I have one that wants me to go to bed at 9:00, because he is ready to cuddle for the night. Of course, I usually can read when any of them want to go outside or are begging for supper and treats. I appreciate all of the dogs in my life that are willing to train me to be a well trained human.
Hi, I'm Rachel. I'm crazy about dogs and want to see all of them living the best life possible. Most of my free time is taken up by dogs, but when I am not working with my own or others, I also enjoy cooking, volunteer work, reading and Netflix in my pajamas.