What is it that your dog’s behaviour is trying to tell you? What is appropriate communication by your dog, and by you?
In dogs, just like in humans, there are two types of responses: emotional and thoughtful. So what’s the difference and how do you deal with them?
I’ve put together a video from a live chat in our Free Dog Training Workshops Facebook Group, to break down your dog’s communication and explain why training is NOT always the answer when it comes to when it comes to responding to your dog’s unwanted behaviour.
In this video you’ll discover:
- What’s the difference between emotional and thoughtful responses,
- Key signs to look out for in your dog’s communication,
- When training is NOT the solution to an unwanted response,
- How dog training can suppress your dog’s emotions,
- And what you can do to help your dog.
Today I’m grateful to everyone who has viewed this video and to each of you for wanting to learn more about the way our dogs communicate.
- Check out my Vlog on “Understanding Your Dog’s Triggers” for more on your dog’s emotional and thoughtful responses.
- I now have a podcast episode with video all about Understanding and Preventing Reactivity and Aggression in Your Dog.
- Learn more about T.E.M.P. here on my blog and my podcast.
Really enjoyed this episode. It is helpful to see the difference in emotional and thoughtful response. I do have a question but not sure it is appropriate here. I have a dog who is not a very forgiving dog and if something goes wrong once, she decides to avoid that situation. I’m not sure if this is an emotional response or not. Knowing her reactions to situations is why I was looking for a positive method of training and the reason I decided to follow Susan’s training
Really really interesting Susan… got me thinking big time!
I do relate to what you have just said and am definitely going to try to distinguish between an emotional and a thoughtful response. When you say you cannot change an emotional response through training I was a bit stumped… but then I suppose you need to define the word ‘training’. What you described in that last example was so illuminating to me… so my understanding is that your dog air snapping at you when you touched his rump and he was busy searching was an emotional response not a thoughtful (trained) one. Your solution for this struggle was to grow/change the response by playing games and getting him used to you touching his rump when he is busy searching (or whatever)… so you can train ‘for’ the situation and change his emotional response. Is this correct?
Super interesting and thought provoking as always x
So you cannot train emotion….how to deal with overexitement….? An emotion that makes training really difficult….
We had a wonderful flat coat retriever who, when he had had enough of having his ears brushed, would very carefully take a small bite of the skin on your arm and twist it. He never broke the skin, but that twisting really got his message across.
Always learning to better communicate with all…
You are the best! I do my best to explain these concepts to my client and this will definitely help!
I had a doberman and tried training her aggressive side with my husband and ended up to both of us got bit. I no longer have her but I do have dogs. Thanks for the great info!!!!
we have 5 rescue babies and 1 of my dog are having problem with nipping when we have company it has 3 times incident my dog trainer said he has fear reaction so can you give me a tip for his behaivior?
The biggest reason I joined Recallers was because of the “charge and bark” response my puppy Otter has whenever he sees a person or another dog. I’ve been hoping that eventually I will be able to call him off. It’s possible his behavior isn’t even trainable based on this Vlog. It certainly goes strait to my big problem that I need a solution for though.
How do I figure out if I need to find a Behavior Professional?
And I want to say that I’ve loved everything about Recallers and knowing what I know know since joining, I would have joined whether Otter has a problem I can’t fix or not. It’s just a great new way to learn and train. Thank You.
Thanks for this video! My 3 Y/O Irish Setter (we’ve only had her three months, so I don’t totally know her past history) is very loving, but recently has taken to barking aggressively at guests to our house or to people we encounter on walks. This is mostly directed toward men. I suspect something is making her anxious, but obviously I don’t know what this is. Any suggestions on how to help her accept visitors and feel comfortable with them? I keep a close watch on her, and have corrected her, but will try to avoid doing that going forward. Should I try to comfort her or encourage her to sniff them, etc. i don’t want this behavior to escalate, that’s for sure.
Great video – I have a fearful/reactive Doberman – very scare of new things and scare of other dogs – she been attack when she was a pup – There no good behaviorist were I live. I did break my leg last year so expsoure training was limited. This year I am able to expsoure her to more dogs and humans. I find she is doing a lot better and not been reactive as much but I still have to be careful. Some times there a slip. I tell her to be nice and try keep space between the other dog. If she feels her personal space is being intruded she will get reactive. Or if another dog gets agressive with her she gets reactive and stands her ground. She goes to daycare every 2nd day with other dogs to be socialize. She can meet other dogs but she is very careful until she knows the other dog is OK. I constantly ask people if their is agressive before meeting or if the dog nip plays (she doesn’t like it). The only thing I having a hard time with is her reactiveness is in the car when she see another dog. I can’t seem to get this better. Once I let her out of the car with a huge distance before meeting the other dog she is OK. But it very hard to handle this behavior while driving. Any suggestions
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Even experienced dog people get this mixed up.
What an fabulous video! I’ve had quite a few rescues, and it seems in every group there’s one fearful dog. Right now Bonz & Bug are going through Recallers – Both are soft dogs, but Bug is fearful, more so with men, and it’s showing up as what some would call stubborness in learning the pieces of the puzzle of the crate games. Bonz is outgoing, Bug has made some wrong choices when something new is introduced, and so really doesn’t want to make any more, so they are at different places. But that’s OK. They’re making progress with the games and in life, although I keep trying to tell Bonz that he can’t hog all the pets from men-he has to share. We’re all having a great time, and I’m so impressed with the way you explained about emotional and thoughtful responses. AND that you should not suppress your dog’s attempts to communicate with you. That is so, so important. And that if you’re at all uncomfortable with a trainer, LEAVE!
Hello Susan, wonderful post and still too little people are aware of the difference between the two types of responses. Here in France I still see too many people trying to train “dog reactivity” out of the dog without thinking of changing the emotional state of the dog. Glad you cleared that one up.
So relieved to hear you say you’re not a behaviourist you’re a dog trainer. I feel totally inadequate to deal with my dogs fear aggression to other dogs, always keeping my eye out to protect him and other dogs from situations even when in the ring competing obedience, I can’t just focus on the round. On verge of giving up with him as he has to keep checking his environment for monsters can’t give himself to me or the work
Hello Susan. I have a rescue border collie. She is 4 years old and was badly treated before I had her and spent a lot of time shut in a barn. The farmer gave her up as she failed to be a sheep dog. She was a skinny terrified dog when I got her but has gained in confidence and is fairly good with the basic training although her recall could be better as she has a well developed prey drive and will chase birds, hares, rabbits, etc. My main problems are continually getting me up in the night to go outside which often turns out to be just an investigation of the garden and nothing to do with performing her duties, although sometimes she does oblige so I let her out rather than her being dirty in the house. The other thing she does is greet visitors nicely and then nips and also nips when they leave although this rarely happens if they don’t enter the house. I have thoroughly enjoyed your videos and look forward to more. Will be very interested in your reply. Pat
Thank you. My dog is sensitive to sounds, and barks when new sounds are present. This isn’t easy at a new facility for training. I now see this as an emotional response, and can help him out with goodness, not training.
Thank you Susan. I have a Cocker Spaniel who is a “fear bully”. She is worried about anything or anyone new. Once she is familiar with the situation/person she then becomes confident. Understanding the emotional situation she is in is going to help her become more confident in all situations.
Thank you so much for this. Not only does it further my compassion for my own somewhat worried dog and others I meet, but it’s also caused a shift in how I feel toward my own and other people’s emotional responses. Now I want to give everyone a break first and when things are calm, figure out how to desensitize the situation. Susan, I appreciate you!
My dog has a great temperament. But after a seizure he needs a little time to become himself again. If i want to hug him with my face close to his, he’ll give me a warning growl. I totally respect that and even like it, as it’s his way of letting me know he has still not fully recovered from his seizure. The telltale sign that tells me ‘he’s back’ is when he wags his tail again. We need to take the time to learn our animals body language. Thanks for sharing your knowledge 🙂
We have a six month old puppy who “play bites” almost constantly while interacting with us. When we attempt to stop this behavior either verbally or physically by swatting her behind, she bares her teeth and snaps at us in an aggressive manner. How do we discourage the “play biting,” which is excessive without putting
her on the defensive. We have tried replacing our hands/arms/ankles with toys or chews, but she is not interested in the distractions.
We pretend cried and quit playing with our puppy. The puppy’s mom and litter mates usually teach a puppy bite inhibition. Ignoring the puppy when it does something wrong is quite effective. Be sure to praise when puppy does anything right.
would also like to here the answer to this
So what do you wish your dog to do? What can YOU do or YOUR dog?’Your dog’ , I guess not biting , lol thus reward her when she quits biting or when the dog shows the results you like.( not straight after she stops for this may actually reward the dog ).YOU; Be ‘not interested or engaged ‘ do not get her in a excited statement..
Thank you so much for this, Susan. I had an incident with my dog a week ago, when he’d just got out of the car and someone approached him with his hand stretched toward him, needless to say he got bitten. I’ve been learning about dog training (and clicker training), so I knew the difference between emotional (classical) and thoughtful. As my dog is an adolescent and at the top of his teenage years, I know I’ve got to manage this better and guide him more than ever, rather than punish him. There are some who just don’t get it, or who have misinformed ideas, so this has helped enormously to confirm my own thoughts, plus some. Many thanks and so appreciated.
I’m also interested in the answers to the questions about prey arousal
Do you consider arousal to be emotional? Particularly prey arousal; recognizing that we will often use prey drive in training. Should one expect a dog to be thoughtful when they have persistent arousal with squirrels, blowing leaves, kids running and screaming? Is it fair to correct a dog for prey arousal for things a trainer may not want?
I’m so glad you’ve posted this. I have a nervous little dog whom I had a couple of aggression issues with and I did just as suggested – found a behaviourist. She was brilliant and taught everything you just said – that totally opened my eyes on how to deal with my dog. I now know how to deal with her in certain situations, something a lot of people don’t understand, and we have an excellent relationship. We also did recallers and still to this day practice what we learned.
Thank you so much for helping me have the dog I have, my best friend 🐶
Can I get the name of your dog behaviourist ..I’ve been looking for a good one for 3 years and have since given up on finding a good one. I’m in the Toronto area. I had one come out and it wasn’t very helpful.
How did you go about finding a behaviorist? Was it a PhD as Susan suggested?
Thank you so much for that. It makes total sense.
I have a young Picard, who is sweet as pie,
she needs help with being confident in new situations. Things she’s seen or done she is ok with her. My main breed in parson russell terriers, so she is completely different in the style she learns and reacts.
We are in a beginner obedience clicker class , and I can see some positive results!
I will be tuning in for more training tips.
That was so informing. There is so much to know about dogs. Thanks
Excellent information thankyou Susan
So good to hear this. You’ve put my thoughts into words. Thankyou
Did I understand this correctly? The ONLY PERSON who can help with aggression is somebody with a PHD? And not every PHD is qualified to help with aggression? I totally must have misuderstood. I am so sorry. Just want clarification. If a person can not find the exact right PHD who is a qualified “behaviorist” then the dog is stuck with aggression? The hair on the back of my neck is standing up. Please clarity? If one has avoided working with “aggressive” dogs for decades, how does one know that only a qualified PHD can help an aggressive dog? I really, really need to understand this.
Thank for this lesson!
I have 2 yorkie girls (sisters). I do realise I have littermate syndrome between them. One attacks (Dolly) the other without much of a warning other than a certain look and stance. The smaller one (May) has epilepsy and Dolly attacks her for that. There hasnt been ant biting on humans but Dolly does growl if she doesn’t want to do certain things.
How can I move forward to a happier home?
Following. Hoping for a really good answer. Please?
Thank you. I’ld like to share this with our clients. I wish finding a good behaviourist was easy though. So many people using poor models of dog behaviour.
Great David! The more folks who can learn about their dog’s communication the better for all. Just share the URL link with your clients. Getting the word out on appropriate resources and how to find them is the start.
Brilliant Thank you for posting … That was just the sort of information I’ve been looking for..
I know you’re really busy so this will only take a minute. I teach in an online Masters of counseling program, and I was wondering if it would be a bad idea to expose my students to your work? Think the way you work as SO much to teach us, and related to people not just dogs.
Thanks for reading this far.
Hi Jordan, Susan’s work touches the two-legged part of the team in an equally big way. Feel free to expose your students to Susan’s work. She changes dogs lives by changing the way her students/trainers view the world of dog training. The ripple effect is it changes the way they approach everyday interactions with others. Here is a great example of that her with her video the Journey: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfXGD4hP1Ro
Really appreciated the good information. Thx