Mastering the art of canine communication
+ He is happy when you find him wagging his tail.
+ You know he is sad when he is lying quietly, tucked under the table.
+ You know he wants to go out when he grabs you by your shirt and drags you out.
+ You know he wants you to pet him when he adoringly rests his head on your lap.
You might feel that you understand your dog’s thoughts and emotions very well, but there would have been times when your pooch behaved in an unexpected manner leaving you completely baffled. Being closely attached to our dogs we might feel that they are one of us, often remaining blind to the fact that dogs after all a different species. The way dogs communicate with us and other dogs is a lot different from the way we communicate with fellow human beings.
Having said that, if reading a dog’s mind appears to be an impossible task for you, think again. There have been several dog trainers and dog behaviour specialists who have successfully mastered the art of communicating with canines and made this seemingly impossible task of reading the minds of dogs possible. They have been relentlessly studying dogs, their way of communication with humans and other dogs, all through their lives. By applying their knowledge gained over years of exhaustive study and practice, they have designed their own dog training techniques to help pet parents understand their dogs better, communicate with them more effectively and establish a better relationship with them.
Let us meet some of these exceptional dog trainers who have gained recognitions in this world for their extraordinary connection with canines.
The dog whisperer – Barbara Woodhouse
Barbara Woodhouse was a well-known British dog trainer who shared a unique connection with animals right from a very young age. Not just dogs, Barbara had a way with horses too. She would train dogs appearing in movies and in the year 1980, she became popular with her TV show ‘Training Dogs the Woodhouse Way’ on BBC. This show was a televised dog obedience class with dogs and their pet parents as students. Barbara’s commanding words in the show like ‘walkies’ and ‘sit’, quickly became buzzwords among dog lovers.
Barbara was a firm believer in the ability of dogs to respond to our moods and energies and the ability of pet parents in changing their dog’s behaviour by changing their own demeanor. She would say, “There are no bad dogs, only inexperienced pet parents.” Barbara has helped solve behavioural issues in dogs belonging to Hollywood stars. She has also written several books based on animals, namely, her autobiography Talking to Animals, her bestselling book No Bad Dogs the Woodhouse Way and several others on dogs. From the time she was a young teenager until her death in the year 1988, Barbara had trained over 17,000 dogs.
The Dogman – Cesar Millan
Cesar Millan, a world renowned dog trainer is known for his incredible ability to walk large pack of dogs with ease. Born and brought up in Mexico, Cesar discovered his passion for canines when he was a young teenager. He would always be surrounded by gang of canines for which he was being nicknamed as ‘El Perrero’ by the local people, meaning ‘The Dogman’ in Spanish. Cesar went to America to pursue his dream of becoming the world’s greatest dog trainer. He read books on dog psychology and with his vast experience in handling dogs, Cesar developed his own training techniques to solve behavioural problems in dogs.
Cesar grabbed the national spotlight in the year 2004 with his show ‘Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan’ on National Geographic Channel. In this show, Cesar visits the homes of pet parents having having problematic pooches and without any prior preparation the dog whisperer documents the incredible transformations that occur in the dogs under his calm and assertive guidance.
Cesar Millan and his dog training approaches have been covered by The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, CBS-TV, The Oprah Winfrey Show and various other media sources. His clientele includes a veritable who’s who of Hollywood stars like Will Smith, Nicolas Cage, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Duff and several others. This dog whisperer provides valuable training tips to all pet parents across this world through his website and books like How to Raise a Perfect Dog and Be the Pack Leader. Cesar also supports the rescue and rehabilitation of abused and abandoned dogs with the help of Millan Foundation that provides financial support to assist non-profit animal welfare organisations and carries out spaying and neutering programmes to help reduce dog population.
According to Cesar, a dog’s survival depends on the presence of a strong and organised pack where each member follows the rules laid out by the pack leader. This pack instinct helps dogs maintain a calm and balanced demeanor. Cesar advices pet parents to become this calm and assertive pack leader to prevent their dogs from developing anti-social behaviour and various behavioural problems. In his training sessions with the pet parents, he counsels them to train their dogs and look at the world through their dog’s eyes.
The dog listener – Jan Fennell
Jan Fennell’s lifelong love affair with dogs began during her childhood in London and blossomed when she became a successful breeder, winning prizes at major shows including Cruft’s. Over the last 20 years, her remarkable work with pet parents and their dogs and her frequent contributions to television and radio have won her a worldwide, admiring audience.
Becoming disillusioned with traditional training methods which involved attempting to teach dogs how to learn our language, or to cooperate through force, Jan was inspired by the methods of Monty Roberts, the ‘Horse Whisperer’. He had decided to study how horses communicated with each other and used that information to teach horses in a way they would understand. Jan knew these principles could be applied to other animals and if someone could take the time to study dogs (wolves) in their natural environment, the information gathered could be used to communicate with dogs in a way they would easily understand. Her method, ‘Amichien Bonding’, involves teaching pet parents how to interact with their dogs and impart information to them in a way they will understand, resulting in dogs cooperating with their pet parents through choice rather than coercion.
According to her, the key to creating the relationship that both the dog and the pet parents really deserve is to see the world through the eyes of the dog, working with their instincts and nature. By teaching, helping and protecting, we are able to communicate with our dogs to guarantee a wonderful future.
Today, Jan travels all over the world, along with her son Tony Knight, educating pet parents everywhere in the correct way to live with their pets in peace and harmony. Jan’s method, explained in the international bestseller The Dog Listener is not the exclusive realm of professional dog trainers but can be used successfully by absolutely anyone.
Irrespective of their adopted methods of training, all these dog trainers have played a major role in resolving complicated dog behaviour issues and have made a contribution towards establishing a loving and peaceful relationship between countless dogs and their pet parents. Kudos to all these dog behaviour specialists for their commitment towards the welfare of canine community!
The Florida dog trainer – Martin Deelay
Martin Deelay is a Florida-based dog trainer and writer specialising in the training of hunting dogs especially Spaniels and Retrievers. Martin has been organising workshops for pet parents and trainers through his organisations, International Gundog Workshops and International School for Dog Trainers. He is the cofounder and director of The International Association of Canine Professionals, an organisation committed to maintaining high standard of professional practices among canine professionals. He has written several books on training of gundogs like Advanced Gundog Training, Working Gundogs and Getting it Right with Gundogs.
He is a close associate and friend of Cesar Millan. He wrote the ‘foreword’ to Millan’s popular book Cesar’s Way. Notably, Martin was granted a personal interview with the queen of England. He considers the interview as a great honour of his life as it reflects the confidence and trust that her majesty had in his integrity to publicly reveal her love for gundogs.
The Sirius dog trainer – Ian Dunbar
Dr Ian Dunbar is a highly accomplished dog trainer, veterinarian, and founder of the Sirius Dog Training School. He received his veterinary degree and a special honour degree in physiology and biochemistry from Royal Veterinary College, London University with a doctorate in animal behaviour from the Psychology Department at UC Berkeley where he researched the development of social hierarchies and aggressions in domestic dogs.
He advocates the practice of reward-based, dog-friendly training techniques and stresses on the importance of teaching bite inhibition, socialisation and basic household manners to dogs under the age of six months. The reward-based training involves positive reinforcement using rewards like food treats and toys to bolster positive behaviour in dogs. By rewarding the dog when he shows a positive behaviour, it is possible to encourage dogs to repeat that behaviour more often.
Dr Dunbar is a member of American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior, The Association of Pet Dog Trainers and The International Association of Canine Professionals. He has also written several books on dogs like How to Teach a New Dog Old Tricks, The Good Little Dog Book and several others on common behaviour problems in dogs. Over the last 35 years, Dr Dunbar has given over 1,000 one-day seminars and workshops around the world of dog trainers and veterinarians in an effort to popularise off-lease puppy socialisation classes, temperament modification and pet parent as well as pet-friendly trainings. Dr Dunbar is currently the president of APDT Foundation, TopDog of the Centre for Applied Animal Behaviour and vice president of www.dogstardaily.com – a free online, a multimedia puppy raising and dog training website.
Expert speaks – Timing the greeting!
Ignoring your dog, when you meet up with them, after any separation, is so very difficult, as we love our dogs and to see those expectant, happy and loving eyes proves almost impossible to resist. So, I would ask you to think of ‘timing the greeting to benefit the dog’ and I promise you that your dog will never think that you are being rude, dismissive, ignorant or horrid if you walk past them when you come in through the door.
By appreciating a dog’s absolute need for a confident and calm leader and knowing that without such a leader the dog will be confused, stressed and usually rather sad, we can allow our love for them to come to their aid and do what they truly need.
Once you determine to help your dog by doing this and establish that you can come into the room without the dog rushing up to you, jumping, barking, bringing you ‘presents’ or barging into you then the greeting can happen after just a few seconds, which gives you time to physically get into the room, take off your coat and perhaps put down your bag or briefcase, making it possible for you to be ready to invite your dog to you for a huge cuddle.
The brilliant thing here is that like so much of life, when it is ‘right’ then it becomes easy and above all a joy. I know that seeing the happiness that doing this has bought to my own dogs, over the years, is worth putting my own feelings and needs to one side for them.