I’ve just been dipping into The Dog Vinci Code, by British dog trainer John Rogerson. It’s got fascinating ideas, not conventional. Here is the bit that hooked me:
A visitor to [an animal shelter] walks around to have a look at the dogs up for adoption. He is walking around with the manageress who has worked at the kennels for over ten years. As they walk around, the visitor remarks that the dog in the second kennel would not make a very good family pet because it would quickly over-bond with new owners and possibly become overprotective of them. At the third kennel, the visitor mentions that this dog suffers from separation problems and would be difficult to leave by itself. Two kennels later the visitor observies that this dog has not been raised in a family house but has lived by itself with little emotional contact with an owner. In the next kennel he identifies a dog that has quite definitely been raised with another dog, even though it is in a kennel by itself.
The manageress is astounded by how accurately the visitor has managed to describe the character and background of each of the dogs. The visitor for his part, cannot comprehend why the manageress, who has worked there for over ten years, cannot see what he sees! (page 4)
If Rogerson goes through each kennel and explains in detail later, I haven’t found it yet. But he emphasizes the importance of emotions in our bonds with our dogs, and particularly in our skill–or lack of it–as trainers. It’s the emotions that carry the weight of so much of our communication, he asserts.
He lists five emotions that dogs who live with humans can show and understand:
He mentions different breeds at times, and I noticed that he said Rottweilers express their emotions particularly well. That is certainly true of our Lola. And if I get annoyed at something, she will often ask to be let out into the backyard. This keeps me in check, I admit it. Not that I mind letting her out, but I mind that she minds!
Here’s a link to the book at Amazon: The Dog Vinci Code: Unlock the Secrets to Training Your Dog