Thursday, March 28, 2013

Really Getting to Know Your (reactive) Dog

One of the best things I am learning about dealing with reactivity, and honestly, just being a better dog owner, is listening to and watching my dog.

Every time I think I am getting really good at watching Rocket, or understanding her, I am surprised by how much more insight I gain.

This happened to me today when we were out for some training and just "being" outside*. It really hit me just how much of a worrier she is. My trainer said it, and I completely believed her because I agreed, I have seen it in her before, but today for some reason it was as if I cleaned my doggy glasses and saw things more clearly. I looked right at her and saw just how worried everything made her. She was not necessarily super stressed or even on the "mild" threshold scale...but nonetheless, she operates at such a high level of awareness. She is on a full time job of checking the world out. "Hypervigilant" is what my trainer called it - and I completely agree. But today, I saw more of Rocket's world, and it kind of shocked me all over again.

This inspired a whole new level of patience and readiness to help her. It inspired me to do some new exercises with her, to play a bit, and to just spend some time walking around in lazy circles thoughtfully.

Keep watching your dog's signals and patterns. Focus on everything, their eyes, mouth, tail, muscles, ears...everything. Everything speaks on a dog. Patterns speak loudly...what patterns are you seeing? Keep learning about dog behavior and signals, and just keep your eyes, ears, and heart open as much as you can. Its amazing what your dog might be telling you!

*Just being outside is a huge training situation for Rocket - just that alone. For her, working on being calm and "managing" all the things going on around her is actually a lot of work! So we do not take for granted how much energy it takes or what a big undertaking is for Rocket.

Good References:
Zoom Room Guide to Dog Body Language

Kikopup How to Communicate with a Dog In His Own Language

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