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How To Be a Dog Whisperer

Aug 17, 2007
Plenty of people call themselves a dog whisperer, usually for commercial gain. Since the success of Monty Roberts, the Horse Whisperer, it seems to be a title almost anyone can brand themselves with - so long as they are not Horse Whisperers (that one is owned and trademarked by Monty Roberts).

I'm yet to see anyone "whisper" to a dog (or a horse) and have the animal magically do anything that it wasn't trained to do.

I remember one occassion where some people had bought a horse and were collecting it from the property where we kept our horse. This horse was terrified of being floated (trailered), made all the worse for the desperate new owner's heavy-handed techniques for attempting to force the horse into the trailer.

In a few minutes I taught the horse to touch my hand, then had it follow my hand into the trailer. Problem solved.

What do you think they called me? A "Horse Whisperer"! I thought it was funny - I was simply using Operant Conditioning, positive reinforcement for the behavior of horse touching my hand with nose in exchange for carrot.

There are also many times I have been faced with a nervous, fearful or aggressive dog. In true "dog whisperer style", I have been able to approach the cautious canine and befriend it where others have not been able to.

I do not attribute this to any magical powers of animal communication, I simply understand a little (just a little) dog body language and I am able to communicate some of that back to the dog.

Once you understand a little about dog behavior, and can read the outward signs of inward emotional states in canines, you can do much more than someone who does not understand dog behavior and cannot read a dog.

Dog Whispering really comes down to three things:

1. Experience

2. Education

3. Empathy

Experience is nothing without Education, coupled with some clear and critical thinking. The flip-side is that Education is nothing without Experience. A bit of both will greatly enhance your "dog whispering" abilities!

Empathy is necessary. A dog whisperer is not heavy-handed, abusive, or even authoritarian. A dog whisperer is understanding of why the dog is behaving as he is, and seeks to balance the dog's needs with the owner's needs in a complementary fashion.

Leadership is the name of the game here, but we've moved on a bit from the old "alpha-roll, show 'em who's boss" domination style and tended towards a more empathic and co-operative approach. This does not confuse the dog as to who is the leader, in fact, a more predictable and compassionate owner is usually one that is easier and more fun for the dog to follow!

So get out there and learn how to be a dog whisperer. Read books. Watch your own dogs. Go down to the dog park and watch other people's dogs. Attend seminars. Read articles. Join email lists. Try to understand your dogs. Combine education with experience and empathy and you will be well on your way to becoming a bona-fide dog whisperer!
About the Author
More resources about dog handling can be found in http://dogandpuppy.simpleusermanual.com
p.s. After quitting my 10 years serving in MNC, I dived into internet and invested much to find out about it. My success roadmap is in http://www.ThisIsJustA.com
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