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Old 01-14-2013, 04:29 PM
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"Reading the Dog"

Much ado has been made about reading your dog! Advice is often followed by the disclaimer, “… but you have to read your dog.” Well, what does that mean in real life, in practical terms, in application. Why is it important? When is it important? What if I don’t do it? How do I know if I am reading my dog properly? What’s the downside if I don’t read my dog properly? What's the upside if I do read my dog properly? If I'm not doing it (or not doing it right), how can I learn how to do it right?
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:21 PM
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IMO, When I'm "Reading the dog" I'm looking at the body language and what the dog is telling me. Like, Tail wagging = Happy. All dogs are different and will have different body languages meaning different things. You have to know your dog in order to read the language.
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Old 01-14-2013, 05:21 PM
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whew, a book could probably be written on the subject!
But the first thing that came to my mind is that I need to "read my dog" to know why he has made an error, when he has.
Is it an "effort error", where he made a great effort but didn't understand the task or some part of it?
Or is it a "lack of effort error", where he just didn't bother putting up an effort.
My reaction will be very different depending on which it is.
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Old 01-14-2013, 06:39 PM
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We are doing a lot of under the arc, backsliding, and between two guns blind work right now. An example of reading my dog is watching her momentum through the AOF. If I see a major loss of momentum or side to side scanning or if that nose goes down. WHISTLE!

Last edited by hollyk; 01-14-2013 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 01-14-2013, 10:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hollyk View Post
We are doing a lot of under the arc, backsliding, and between two guns blind work right now. An example of reading my dog is watching her momentum through the AOF. If I see a major loss of momentum or side to side scanning or if that nose goes down. WHISTLE!
After you say dead bird but before you send her, is she giving you clues as to whether she is thinking about heading toward the mark?
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:20 AM
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Oh yes, the nose might be pointed at the blind but the eyes are looking or darting to the mark. In general if she drops her head, locks in looking straight out with no eye darting and you can see she ready to spring forward, we're golden. She will usually have a great line and can carry it quite a ways.
We are both learning how to play this game so it's probably taking us longer than most.
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Old 01-15-2013, 08:30 AM
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Nope, we are taking just as long or longer

Quote:
Originally Posted by hollyk View Post
We are both learning how to play this game so it's probably taking us longer than most.
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CH Rosewood Little Giant, UDX VER RA SH MXP MJP XFP T2BP VCX WCX CCA CGC FFX-OG (born 3-10-2007), also UCH HR UUD UJJ URO1 UHIT a.k.a. "Tito" (the Tito Monster)

waiting at the bridge:
My first dog, and my most special girl
Gibson's Golden Girl, CD, CGC, TDI ( 3-20-1997 - 11-22-2013) a.k.a. "Tiny", "Queen B"
and my heart dog
Gibson's Golden Guy, CD, CGC, TDI ( 01-31-1998 - 01-02-2012) a.k.a. "Toby", "HRH"
run free my sweet, sweet loves, I will love you and miss you forever.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:49 PM
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I also take this to mean being conscious of the dog's stress level, and attitude towards the drill or lesson. Is the dog overwhelmed by what I am asking them to do, in terms of concept, difficulty of the mark/blind, environmental factors included, and therefore do I have to back up and do some remediation, remove factors, etc. If the dog has a lot of bottom you may be able to push them through a bit more than a dog who worries and then stops learning.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FTGoldens View Post
Much ado has been made about reading your dog! Advice is often followed by the disclaimer, “… but you have to read your dog.” Well, what does that mean in real life, in practical terms, in application. Why is it important? When is it important? What if I don’t do it? How do I know if I am reading my dog properly? What’s the downside if I don’t read my dog properly? What's the upside if I do read my dog properly? If I'm not doing it (or not doing it right), how can I learn how to do it right?
Why is it important? It's everything. It's reading the dog in the moment and getting the right correction or lack of correction in at the right time, and it's reading the dog over time and getting the right course of action over time.

When is it important? Always.

What if I don't do it? I could be reinforcing the wrong thing or taking the incorrect approach thereby contributing to bad habits, hindering progress, and being unfair to the dog

How do I know if I'm reading my dog properly? I guess if I see progress after whatever I'm doing and whatever course of action I'm taking.

How to learn? I don't know, I guess seek qualified tutelage and practice - the same way I'd learn anything else.
Last time I was handling Gladys she was going off course, she's so fast I stopped her when our trainer pointed out she was about to correct herself so I stopped her for doing right. D'oh!

Sometimes when she seems stuck I think she's confused and he disagrees and says she's doing what she wants. I don't always agree with him. I feel torn because he knows more but she's not a lazy dog and I think she's just confused. I want to step back and teach more whereas he might want to ramp up the correction/pay attention more. I suppose that's why I'm in Junior land and he's in Master land.

ETA: Last time we had this debate I did step back and teach more and she did progress, so maybe there are ways to get to the same spot, I imagine my way is slower, that's ok
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Last edited by boomers_dawn; 01-16-2013 at 09:21 AM. Reason: addendum
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Old 01-17-2013, 03:12 PM
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I totally agree with Boomer’s Dawn!
I, too, believe that reading the dog is important from the time the dog comes out of its crate until he goes back in it. As Jen mentioned, you can tell what kind of mood the dog is in when he gets out and hits the ground … is it a happy day, is it a “I’d rather not do this today” day, or is it a “too happy” day? This morning, with my young dog I could tell that it was a borderline “too happy” day, but that was expected because he’d not had any marks in five days … and, not unexpectedly, he had an uncharacteristically large hunt on a memory mark. (He was hunting too deep, so I followed up with a couple of singles thrown angled-in to remind him that he doesn’t always get to drive deep for the mark, even if he is “too happy.”)
In furtherance of BD’s remarks, I believe that in training it is extremely important to read the dog in relation to each retrieve. For example, what if he misses a piece of cover. Why did he miss that piece of cover? If it was up close on a single, there’s probably no legitimate reason, but if it was a small piece at 100 yards, how do you know if it was a missed mark, just a bad line, or an intentional avoidance? That’s where the trainer who is keyed in on the dog may have the advantage over the less in-tune trainer … was there a drastic change of direction, was there a subtle but clearly intentional change of direction, or did the dog start out at an angle that took it around the cover? The answer will dictate the type of correction (or help), IF ANY, that the dog gets.
And BD, as for your approach of teaching more instead of issuing a correction, I’m in your camp! I want to make sure that my dogs know what they should do before correcting them for not doing it … it never hurts to take those steps … you can get that correction in after the teaching session.
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