How to be a Mind Reader!
When someone says, “I’m NOT a mind reader,” they are cryptically saying that the information they had to operate on was limited or incomplete. It’s a phrase that often indicates that expectations were too high or that perhaps someone failed to communicate their desires or needs effectively.
We ask a lot of our dogs. They must be good with all people, with all other dogs, and all other species. They can show no indications of distress such as growls, snarls, or a snaps. Sometimes people even have the gall to say, “I would have been bitten but I moved just in time,” as if to imply that their dog has such impaired coordination that the beast has ultimately failed in it’s most basic of interactive behaviors.
Sometimes the dog actually DOES bite at which point the owner will claim, ‘He’s never done anything like this before,’ or, ‘he never gave any warning!’ Because the social limitations of others, especially dogs, are often ignored or disregarded, inevitably situations arise where the subjects are ill prepared to handle. Even if you think your dog is perfect, read Whole Dog Journal‘s article on what to do “If your dog bites someone.”
Recently an article titled ‘The Data Says “Don’t Hug the Dog!” has circulated on the Book of Faces asserting the blasphemous claim that dogs don’t actually like to be hugged. Owners everywhere have had their deep seated beliefs that their dog’s love them shaken to the core. Disagreement has ensued largely spurred by those who believe that they know their dog so well, Stanley Coren, who has spent much of his life studying the natural behavior of dogs, must not have a clue what he is talking about.
When faced with situations where someone has misconstrued our intent or jumped to conclusions we frequently search for ways to place the blame back on the other party. But what if it is WAS our inability to communicate effectively that resulted in the issue?
In reality, if we start paying attention, our dogs are a wealth of information. While we may not be reading their mind, we can certainly pay attention to what they are telling us with their bodies. Watch the video of Stella the Goldendoodle and L Bert the German Shepherd. Stella is a highly social dog and very proficient at communicating effectively with others. (Not all dogs are).
Can you identify the various signals each dog uses to communicate with the other? This reference by Turid Rugaas can help. Once you see it, you can’t unsee it. Suddenly you’ll be privy to information that you never knew existed. All over the place. From multiple species!
Real life moves fast! Take some short video clips of your dog interacting in social situations. When you replay it you’ll likely see a wealth of information you were glossing over before.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the the various communication signals that dog’s make, let’s see how your mind reading skills are. Check out the following video and see if you can tell what state of mind this dog was in…