We have a question from Justin:
My followup question is how much of the communication between you and Ms. Pup is explicit direction, and how much is her reading you, and you reading her?
There’s a lot of both, and the more used to each other a team is, the more implicit the communication can be. I’ve actually been instructed to be more explicit in commanding her, so she knows that she’s not the one in charge and coming up with all the ideas. On a familiar route, we can go the whole way without me saying a word except for some praise, but to her, it’s almost like she’s choosing where to go. So even if she knows the route now, I’m supposed to go back to basics and outline most of the commands.
But yes, after six months or a year together, we became able to read a lot of each other’s movements and signals. We can communicate a great deal through the harness handle. Slight pressure or a pull in one direction can steer me around an obstacle or encourage her to speed up or slow down. It’s pretty amazing.
Dogs don’t talk much; they do everything via body language, so she makes a point of reading mine. She knows when I’m getting up from my seat, when I’m done with a phone conversation, and a lot of other things about me. Likewise, I can tell a lot by her facial expression and the position of her ears and tail.
Shortly after getting Ms. Pup, I started reading some dog behavior books, including one recommended by my trainer at school. I figure that Ms. Pup has been kind enough to learn to understand some human, so the least I can do is learn a little dog.