Dog Whisperer (no, not that one!)

Horse and Dog

What is a dog whisperer (no not cesar milan)?

Remember Robert Redford in the movie The Horse Whisperer? He plays Tom Booker, a horse whisperer hired to help a girl and her horse heal after a traumatic accident. The effortless communication, that comes from communion between a horse and a human, is called horse whispering.  We don’t force our ways, especially if through dominance and abuse, onto animals to get them to fit into our lifestyle and environment. It’s true communication and it’s beautiful.

Natural horsemanship, colloquially known as horse whispering is a collective term for a variety of horse training techniques which have seen rapid growth in popularity since the 1980s. The techniques vary in their precise tenets but generally share principles of developing a rapport with horses using communication techniques derived from observation of free-roaming horses and rejecting abusive training methods. – Wikipedia

So a dog whisperer is someone who does the same, but with dogs.

Animals don’t understand our words, like we don’t understand words from languages we don’t speak.  We understand the tone and intuitively have a grasp of the speaker’s intent or meaning. We understand much more but we block it. Animals don’t. They see our visuals.

So I did a little experiment last night.  Goldie’s pulling has gotten really bad lately. She used to be fine walking on her own but even that is out the window. In a conversation with my friend last night, she said try “speaking” with pictures. Now I’ve known about communicating with kids, especially those labeled autistic, through pictures, and a complete visual of what will happen – like let’s tie your shoes, grab your bag and we go home. I don’t know why I never thought to “speak” with my dogs this way. I’ve always had conversations with them, asking them to not pull etc.

Last night, when I started to ask Goldie not to pull, I decided to send her a visual of her walking by my side, with a loose leash. Immediately she did. I then sent her a visual of her coming back onto the walkway from the grass.  She did. I sent her visuals of her waiting while Blackspot peed, of her leaving the black cat alone, of her walking to the right of the pole, of her turning around and coming back to us while Blackspot pooped, of her not barking at our neighbor’s dogs as we approached home… She did! I couldn’t believe how easy the walk was. I wasn’t pulled in two directions like Raggedy Ann and wasn’t at the end of the leash and mercy of a determined but anxious dog. There was a new calmness as we walked home. I’m sure the dogs are happy that I’m not sending confusing and difficult to interpret visuals for once. I’m sure they are thinking, “finally, woman!”


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