Understanding wolves helps us to understand dogs better. However, research over the last twenty years has radically altered our understanding about the nature of wolves. And while dogs are almost genetically identical to wolves, tens of thousands of years of domestication have created significant differences that should be taken into account by dog trainers and owners.
As a dog trainer in Denver, Colorado, I occasionally am asked to train dogs who are skittish, suspicious, or downright fearful of me. Since most dog training requires me to be in close proximity to the dog, this can be problematic - in more ways than one.
Dogs are keen observers of humans. Their ability to read our body language, tone and even facial expressions is well-known among dog trainers, and good trainers capitalize on that knowledge to make themselves and their students more effective dog handlers.
But not only are dogs aware of how we act, they are cognizant of whether we act, and sometimes doing nothing at all is a powerful way to teach a dog what is relevant and what is not.
...that is the question! And it can be a confusing one to answer. While many prospective dog-wanters at least consider adopting, they sometimes have legitimate concerns.