We have discussed the importance of body language with the sit command in a previous post, but that mainly focuses on what your body is doing as a handler. Just as we can communicate with our dog with our own body language, the dog is communicating with you by the things that their bodies are doing. Let’s discuss one of the most obvious signs – the dogs head.
If you are an Unleashed Unlimited client, you have probably heard us say over and over again, “Watch the position of your dog’s head!” This is so important because the dog’s head will tell us so much about what your dog is doing, what the dog is about do, what the dog is focused on, where the dog is going, and what is relevant to your dog. Recognizing all of these things are crucial when training and interacting with your dog because these signals tell us so much information. Let me use some examples:
Heeling – If you are walking your dog and their head is facing the same direction that you are traveling, you’ve got it made; the dog is focused on traveling forward with you. If all of a sudden your dogs head makes a sharp turn to the left, you better believe that if given enough time, your dog may run to the left and break the heel position. As soon as you see your dog’s head break hard to the left, NOW is your training moment – not when the dog is pulling your arm out of the socket.
Recall – If you call your dog back to you from 100 feet away and the his or her head is looking directly at you as they are returning to you, you’ve got it made; the dog is focused on traveling directly into you on a straight path. If all of a sudden the dog’s head focuses on something to the right of you, technically your dog is still moving toward you, but now they are no longer on a path to intersect with you, they will veer off in that direction if given enough time; NOW is your training moment.
Place – When using a placeboard as a targeting tool, you have to know when the dog is on track to hit the target, and when the dog is off track; the dog’s head can tell us both! It may be a bit more subtle then when heeling, but if you don’t see a slight look down at the target but you do see another head position, once again – NOW is your training moment.
The next time you are out with your dog, really pay attention to your dog’s head, it will tell you a lot!
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