Be Aware Watch Your Dog

Can you hear the dog chewing, panting, or yawning? Can you hear the dog when it is getting off its bed?
Can you hear the dog chewing, panting, or yawning? Can you hear the dog when it is getting off its bed?

Awareness plays a huge role in dog training. Today I’m going to touch on some elements  that will help when training your dog. Awareness is especially useful when working with difficult to train dogs. 714-827-4058

There are several kinds of awareness one needs to consider when training. The most obvious is to be aware of what the dog is doing. A little less obvious is environmental awareness. Self awareness can also be helpful. Sometime self awareness impedes progress and sometimes it accelerates it. To know when to call attention to this element of training is something a skilled instructor should be aware of. The handler should develop positive self awareness as part of the training process. The last type of awareness I want to mention is awareness of the instructor or trainer. A novice dog handler will learn better if they are aware of what the instructor is doing. Some elements to pay attention to are, what direction are they facing, where are their hands, what is the foot work like? If you get the foot work right you will often be positioned to naturally do the right training moment.

In order to know when to give commands and reinforcement you need to know what your dog is doing, has done, and is going to do. How do we know when our dog is behaving, about to behave, or has behaved?

Visual awareness

Awareness of the dog trainer
Awareness of the dog trainer

We become aware of our dog’s behavior with our senses. Humans tend to be visually oriented creatures. It is for this reason that you will often hear me tell dog handlers to “watch your dog.” Sight is the first of our senses used for dog training.

Awareness of the dog trainer
Within a training lesson the client watches how I perform a technique and then they model that behavior. With some additional instruction and feedback almost everyone can learn how to effectively train their dog.

Learning to model another person’s behavior is a useful skill in its own right. I go over the basics of learning how to see what others are doing and how to model behavior within many of my training programs.


Auditory Awareness can you hear what your dog is doing. Can you hear it getting on the counter or kitchen cart?

Auditory awareness
For most people sight is most important but we can also hear what the dog is doing. Having good hearing can be an asset when training dogs. You can often hear that a dog is going to misbehave. The audible clues can be panting, wining, barking, a wagging tail making noise, or the sound of the dog’s tags and collar. There are more noises to be aware of, but this should give you a good idea for the sounds you need to listen for.

Awareness of touch
Touch can also give important clues to what a dog is going to do. If you are training the dog on a leash, with time you may become aware of the dog’s behavior by how the leash feels. Is it made a little tight, is it made very loose? Does it twitch a little to the right or to the left? I think of this type of awareness as an advanced leash handling skill.

Your trainer approaching an active dog
Your trainer approaching an active dog

There are other tactile clues to expand your sense of awareness. Some of these are leaning, bumping, jumping, and grabbing. It’s best if one can respond before the dog has completed the behavior (been rewarded).

The off exercise and touching drills are meant to teach the handler to have better tactile awareness. I consider both sensitivity drills.

Wishing you the best in dogs and the best in life,
Andrew Ledford
So Cal Dog training

I mainly serve Orange County, Long Beach, the San Gabriela Valley, Los Angeles Westside, South Bay, and the LA metro area. I do training throughout Southern California and have worked dogs as far north as San Francisco and East into Arizona. I am also open to teaching abroad. I have done some training in Taiwan.

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