Behavior: Observable activity in a human or animal. The aggregate of responses to internal and external stimuli.
I have been studying canine behavior for a very, very long time. Even before consciously being aware that I wanted to deal with dog behavior I was reading it and learning. Some people work with dogs all their lives but never take the time to truly understand canine behavior, it is truly fascinating. Dogs and people are very, very different but we too have some pretty interesting behavior. As a fallout to all of my dog watching, I have learned a great deal about human behavior as well.
When I work with dogs I am of course working with people too. There are good and bad ways to approach both humans and dogs. After hundreds of behavior modification consultations I am continually learning about dogs, you can never stop learning. Each is an individual and just when you think you've got it figured out a dog will throw you a new behavior that you have never seen before. With all of these meetings with dogs and humans I have learned how to approach different humans as well.
At a first meeting I can pretty much assess what is really going on, but that takes listening and watching. Often an owner doesn't want to share all the info. Perhaps they feel like they have failed their dog so they skirt some of the issues. Maybe they feel overly confident that their dog has no issues at all. This is where the watching comes in. I try to stay as non present in the situation as I can. I like to sit back and watch, you can learn a great deal this way. An owner might be telling me one thing but their actions are telling me something all together different.
There are times when I can deal with a behavior head on but with the owner hovering I have to take it slow. After much listening and watching I can clearly see the problem with both the dog and the owner. The dog is easy, the owner make take some finesse to work around. I may need to give it to them straight, tell it like it is. Other times I have to be tactful, perhaps giving many examples of similar behaviors. Then again I might just do the "name that tune," routine where I give enough hints that the owner finally comes to the answer seemingly on their own. This can give a much needed confidence boost to someone who needs it.
Dealing with dogs goes hand in hand with humans. There is always a human in the picture somewhere. If you do not school yourself in dealing with the human factor of the dog then you won't get far. Every dog is different, every person is different and if you have one and only one "I'm the expert" mode of communication then you aren't going to get a lot of people to listen to you.
Tact: a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense. Skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations.
I have been in situations where I had to tip toe around an issue to get the message across. Other times I've had to come in with guns a blazing or hit someone over the head with a 2x4 to get them to get the drift. We are a vastly different bunch. If you work with dogs you work with people. Bedside manner is very important and the more versed you are in human behavior the easier working on the dog behavior becomes. Most canine problems are human related, being that dogs live in our human world and not a dog world. Dogs are dogs; it is our lack of ability to figure out and deal with dog behavior that is the issue. If you cannot communicate correctly to the human, you are never going to help the dog.