I guess my favorite part of working with dogs is getting to know them, on a personal level. It is funny talking to some people who "don't get dogs," which I don't get at all; how they think dogs are dogs. They are so individual to themselves; just like people they are very different from one another. Even within the same breed they are very, very different.
There are definitely canine innate behaviors but aside from those there are very subtle difference in each dog that many just do not see. While in the midst of a shoot I have often said to a guardian "he is getting anxious, or she is a bit nervous," only to have the human in charge of this dog disagree with me. Not everything comes across in a dogs eyes but there is alot if you take the time to see it.
I love when I get "the face," as a Mom I'm use to rolling eyes and dagger stares. Dogs do the same; often dogs are "over" being photographed. These are the times that I can get the best expression from a dog. Dogs don't lie; so what you see is what you get, IF you are paying attention. It is when you either aren't paying attention or you really do not understand dog behavior or body language that a human can get it wrong.
As a trainer and photographer I try to interact as little as possible with a dog. Keeping them calm in both situations is a good idea. I do like to meet my clients; let them sniff me over and check out my camera but the more I intereact the more excited they become which can definitely interfere with seeing the real dog inside.
I watch, I watch alot and take in as much information about each dog that I can. From that point; the amount I interact is gadged. Sometimes my watching has to be done with peripheral vision only; for those dogs who are watching me as much as I am watching them.
I also do litter temperament testing; which is where I go in a basically personality test 7 week old puppies. This is about as RAW as it gets, the puppies have yet to experience a whole lot. If the breeder has done a good job; the puppies have experienced many different stimulus in their young lives in the form of sound, sight and feel. It is really eye opening to see how different a litter of puppies can be. It makes the whole picking a puppy because of a certain look seem very, very superficial; but I don't mean that in a bad way.
Choosing a dog because they have that cute little spot over their eye; or because they alone stand out in the litter because of their amazing white coat really does that puppy an unjustice. You deserve and they deserve to be placed into the most perfect fit family. When I do TT; as I hand a puppy back to a breeder I may say "this one needs an experienced dog family, or this one would do great in most situations." This is not the final word, nor is it the only good outcome. It is simply a judgement on the best fit.
Each puppy and adult is an individual; how they adapt to life is important. But more important is how we as humans adapt to our dogs adaptions to life. My life revolves around dogs and that is how I am the happiest. I do know many people who would be giving me rolling eyeballs if they had to live in my shoes for a day or two. ;) Our dogs are just as different.