Monday, November 11, 2013

A Dog Whisperer

What does the term "Dog Whisperer" mean to you?  For me it used to mean someone who could understand the body language of dogs, specifically, someone who had some unattainable attribute that gave them Dr. Doolittle powers.  That's what I used to think, till I started having clients call me one.
 Now I am not simply trying to toot my own horn here.  At first I politely denied it, still thinking that was a title that was meant for someone else, not me.  But after seeing what other trainers were doing who called themselves a dog whisperer, I decided that I should stop declining the title I was being given, lest some of these people started to believe in the other "whisperer's" less effective, and dangerous methods.

Now let me tell you something else.  If I can be a "dog whisperer," so can you.  Most people say that and believe the same thing I did.  It's an unattainable trait that is only granted to a few special people, which they happen to not be.  That's where you are wrong.  All it takes, if you are really interested, is a detailed observation, knowledge, and more observation.

For me it all started years ago, way back when I was 17 or so.  I had a horse, and I read a book that changed my outlook on my relationship with animals.  Around that time was when the book, by Monty Roberts "The Man Who Listens to Horses," came out.  I was given that for Christmas, and I devoured that book in days.  I then raced up to the stalls to try out some of what Monty Roberts had described in his book.  This was my horse, Stacy.  I rode bareback most of the time, and I spent as much time as I possibly could up there for those few short years before life, and it's many twists and turns happened.  What I learned up there though has stuck with me all these years.  I learned that I could have a real relationship with animals, I learned that we could even communicate.  Horses are wonderful that way.  They are so sensitive to their rider's mind.  If I saw a log on one of the trails we would ride on, and I just stared at it, I learned that Stacy would spook, or at least take the long way around that log.  She was picking up on what I was concentrating on.  I could do that with anything, a rock, or a clump of grass.  She was a wonderful teacher.  So forgiving too.  It was here though, that I learned the art of observation.  I watched how the horses interacted with each other, I watched how they interacted with different people.  I watched how they interacted around me.  I discovered that if I took the time to learn why they acted a particular way, it paid off in the long run.


Animals who lack a large vocal language rely on their every movement to relay information to those around them.  An ear flick, a raised leg, even a lip movement are sentences to those who know understand.  We are so lucky to live in a day and age where our own communication can be relayed around the world in a blink of an eye!  It might take a bit of digging, but you can find others out there with years more experience at reading animal body language than you have.  Then comes the fun part.  This is where you need to do your own observation step again.  Apply what you have learned and from others and their research and observation, then see if it holds true in your situations and circumstances.  Most people who have done degrees, or spent years learning animal body language will not always agree on the exact meaning of all the twitches and movements of a particular animal.  So what's a person to do?  Now is where you take all that you have learned from your studying and apply it to as many situations as you can.  All the while, keep abreast of the latest studies that are constantly coming out.  It would never do to think you have learned it all and that was it.  Until we have a universal animal language guide book, we should never simply take someone at their word, if we can help it.  We need to experiment with it ourselves.  However if you have hit that point, you have made it.  You too will probably get people calling you an animal whisperer, whether or not you feel qualified to be called one.

Whether it be a dog, bird, horse or cat, we all can discover the "Animal Whisperer" inside all of us, all it takes is a closer look at the world around us.

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