The mind of a dog
The mind of a dog is a great thing to waste; how great is a matter of opinion but my opinion happens to be that they are pretty spectacular. The grey matter of a canine is a complex and complicated thing and learning each nuance can take a lifetime. It amazes me how people can have dogs for years and never really know a thing about dogs; to them a dog is a dog. They are dogs yes but if you just tap into the tiniest of behaviors it can open up to an avalanche of information. And this is what I never grow tired of.
The first and most wonderful thing about a dog is that they don't play games, they don't lie. It is all out there for you to see; that is if you are looking. Often a dog can hide their emotions but to the trained eye, they can see the hidden secret. Dogs are raw emotion, their life revolves around the action/reaction system. Each and every dog has a personality; just like us. How they react to life will be specific to them. But given the opportunity to learn, they will evolve.
As I have said many many times I love all dogs; every breed, every mix, every "designer dog." The exterior is the part for me where a dog is a dog (of course I have my exterior visual favorites). It is what is inside that fascinates me and the ability that they have to connect with us, humans. How each dog faces life has a great deal to do with the human that they live with. Has that human helped them to thrive, to face the challenge of living in a human world? Dogs are simple animals; they can be very happy with very little. A soft bed, good food and a loving companion and they're good.
But if you take the time to tap into that head; you will find so much more. Dogs communicate continually; you might not think so by watching your dog but they do. Their emotions are external; some are hidden when it is essential that others not know what you are feeling. Pain is one thing that dogs can hide remarkably and if you do not know your dog really well you may miss it. Showing pain in the dog world is a sign of weakness and could get you into big trouble so it can be difficult to see.
As a dog trainer and photographer it is my job to know dog behavior. When training I don't want a dog stressing or becoming frustrated so I always watch for the first signs. When photographing a dog you want a great expression, you can see stress, anxiety, fear and insecure behaviors in a dogs eyes. So knowing how to destress a dog so to speak is essential for a great shot. Ears play a big part in communication as well and for a relaxed happy shot the ears have to be a piece of the puzzle.
Often I will say to an owner that their dog is getting stressed; they sometimes do not agree and want to push on. "They're fine," but it is the tiny signals that let me know that the dog is not fine; no they are not bolting in fear but you don't want to wait that long or get to that point. Communicating with your dog can be very rewarding, the more you learn about your dog the more you will have to talk about. The more you communicate the more you will learn, it's a win, win.