Do You See What I See? The Benefits of Keen Behavioral Observation

“Be a good student of behavior.”

-- Ken Ramirez Scientist

George Schaller says that to understand behavior, you need “thousand-hour eyeballs.” Trainers can have 10,000-hour eyeballs and still never really know what an animal is experiencing.

The scientific position of attributing human emotional states to animals (anthropomorphism) as being inaccurate, is steadily becoming obsolete. Ethology has taught us that animals are designed to convey their internal states of affect by all kinds of non-verbal movements and gestures, from hunched shoulders and raised hackles, to relaxed body posture and bright, alert eyes. Reading behavioral signals accurately requires giving up assumptions. One must pay attention to objective observations without immediately attributing subjective judgment.

Individual dogs differ; study your own dog. Can you recognize the tension lines in the sides of the face when stress levels get serious? How about respiration rate? Are you aware if your dog sighs? Do you notice that widening of the eye?

Clicker training demands that you develop exquisite observation skills so that you can anticipate when to click. Behavioral observation is a fascinating area of study that is likely to enlighten, and open your eyes wide. Kay explains how and where to focus your tactical behavioral observations.

Kay Laurence

Kay Laurence runs a training and education business, Learning About Dogs Ltd. Her business is located in the United Kingdom, in the Cotswolds at the Wagmore Barn Centre, and is focused on excellent training, thinking, and canine enjoyment. In addition to workshops at her own training facility and in the virtual learning environment, Kay holds workshops and seminars across Europe and the United States, teaching a wide range of clicker training skills and encouraging trainers to enjoy the expansive views outside the box.

Living intimately with many dogs over many years, observing their daily interactions, puppy-rearing, and activities, Kay has learned to view our world through their eyes. Dogs demonstrate the art of living skillfully and as a harmonious and connected group. Kay's understanding and skills are shared through her workshops, where consistent, high-quality results with a range of different dogs and people are achieved. With her passion for understanding dogs and her experience in teaching, Kay leads the way developing practical techniques that leave owners with a great sense of personal achievement and connection to their dogs.

Kay is considered one of the world's advanced clicker trainers. With 10 titles published and translated into German, French, and Spanish, her exciting books and videos offer her unique combination of talents. Kay has been a presenter at the twice-annual Karen Pryor Clickertraining's conference ClickerExpo more than 15 times and continues to enjoy exploring new cities in the US as part of the ClickerExpo faculty. A regular presenter at the ORCA "Wicked Minds" Conference at the University of North Texas, she has also been a Presenter at the Australia APDT Conference, Sydney 2011.  Learn more about Kay at her website.