The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy that takes an evolutionary approach to training based on the biology of dogs. One cannot think like a dog if they do not understand dog biology – how their bodies and minds operate. A basic understanding of the biology of dogs is fundamental to training success, and the foundation of the Dog’s Perspective training approach. In our upcoming book series, the basics of dog biology are introduced. One basic skill is teaching dogs “look” to get their attention. “Look” is a fundamental skill that is the basis of all other training skills. Ironically, many people ask why “look” is so important. When dogs look at their human, they are engaged and ready to listen. Dogs like following directions and look to humans for guidance. Dogs listen to what their humans say, both through their verbal language and body language.
Our upcoming book series, The Dog’s Perspective: How to Train a Dog by Thinking Like a Dog – A Philosophy Primer, discusses the importance of teaching “look”. To engage with a dog and maintain their attention, they must be willing to look at and listen to their human for guidance. Unlike the two popular training approaches, the Human’s Perspective and the Wolf’s Perspective, the Dog’s Perspective is based not only on behavioral psychology, but equally important on other sciences, especially the biology of dogs. Below is a brief excerpt from the book. We look forward to having the complete book available very soon. Until then, we will be sharing some sneak peeks. Hope you enjoy!
Look & Listen ~ Get Their Attention
Teaching dogs to look at their human companions is a basic skill upon which all other obedience skills are based. One of the biggest complaints about dog companions is that they do not look or listen to their human at all, or they demonstrate “selective hearing”. Teaching puppies and dogs to be attentive and “look” at their human, without hesitation, is a magical skill that will reap lifelong benefits. Your ability to communicate with your dog companion will improve by leaps and bounds. Mastery of “look” is fundamental for off-lead work, which can easily become a reality when training from the Dog’s Perspective.
Researchers at Duke University’s Dog Cognition Center, demonstrated that dogs were superior in taking visual cues and directions from humans like no other animal, including our close primate relative, the chimpanzee. However, these findings are not surprising at all to those in the dog training world. Anyone who has trained dogs for utility work, sheep herding, retrieving, therapy work, etc., are well aware of the communication and listening skills of dogs. But, it is excellent to have science back up what trainers have known for years – dogs follow directions when humans are able to successfully communicate with dog. The key to successful dog training is to engage with dogs to capture their attention. When dogs are treated with kindness and respect, they enthusiastically look to their humans for guidance. They will eagerly look at their human companions whenever requested, often times with anticipation of what’s happening next. Together, you and your dog companion will be ready to take on the next new adventure.
Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer (CPDT-KA) with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of training experience. The Dog’s Perspective is a training philosophy based on how dogs think.