It’s my belief that the best dog trainers have an unspoken form of communication with their dogs. Whether going through conditioning exercises or hitting the fields after feathered foe, their brains almost seem to work on similar wave lengths as they display an uncanny ability to be on the same page. Now I’m not suggesting that to be a great trainer you must also have the mental capacity of Harlan Pepper from “Best in Show,” but perhaps the phrase “keep it simple” isn’t so stupid after all.

As a younger dog trainer, it can be somewhat frustrating to see the ease of success other more experienced trainers have and I’ve come to the conclusion that their ability to train dogs is wholly dependent upon their skill to think like a dog and to know how a dog sees the world and the challenges set before them.

Therefore, to help me begin “thinking like a dog” I’ve started writing down various scenarios and what I’m thinking versus what I believe my dog is thinking:

Retrieving Bumpers in the Yard:

(ME): The neighbors are outside watching… please just return this to hand and don’t make me look like a fool…

(Beau): Ooooh! People! Do they have treats? I smell treats.

(ME): Crud.


Working the “Stay” Command at Longer Distances:

(ME): Ok, here we need to simulate me sneaking up on a duck slough and then releasing her after shots are fired.

(Beau): Ok, if I just slowly creep up on my belly every time he turns his back he’ll never know I’m moving…

(ME): She's lucky she's so damn cute.


Missing a Shot in the Field and Inadvertently Practicing the “No Bird” Command:

(ME): #&*@!

(Beau): #&*@!

As you can see, at least we’re on the same page when it comes to one thing. It’s a start.

The Over/Under blog is written by Andrew Vavra.




When both handler and dog are in sync, it's a beautiful thing.

When both handler and dog are in sync, it's a beautiful thing.

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