Reply To: Curt & Mo


Thanks once again, Alana, for the insightful critique. To be honest I’m not sure if some of your questions were rhetorical, letting me know what I should be pondering on my own, or if they were questions you wanted an answer for. So here I go–whether answering you, or thinking “outloud” for my own sake!

You asked about Mo’s body language and my joint energy in the sequence of interactions right around 1:10. If my joint energy looks awkward, I’m pretty sure it’s due to one of two things. It could be because I’m still experiencing some pain in my left knee, post-Lyme disease, and that has me squatting awkwardly in a way that I never would have before this year. Another possibility is that ever since you pointed out in the last class that Mo seems to back away from heavy touch/body direction coming down on him from atop, I’ve tried to not lean in quite so much and I’ve tried to give touch praise from underneath, on his chin, neck, or chest. After you pointed that out I could see that tendency in Mo when almost anyone is interacting with him. It seems especially obvious to me when my younger (13-year-old) daughter is interacting with him, but it could be simply because she handles/trains/interacts with him more than anyone other than me. More frequent examples.

You do mention that Mo’s “stiffness” could be rather natural for Mo. I’ll watch for that and consider that question.

You also asked about the transition from the first hide to the second (in the context of my awkward joint energy/posture). I went back and looked at the unedited tape, and most of it looks unexceptional to my untrained eye. After the reward sequence, Mo and I sat for a moment looking at each other in still silence. I then stood up, and Mo stepped back a bit while maintaining the same directional focus and (to my eye) the same posture/body language. I untangled the lead from his front leg, gave the cue “houby,” and he resumed hunting. I can post that sequence if you’d like to take a look. I’m always amazed at what you see, and are helping me see.

Finally, you noted better energy in the final reward. I don’t remember it being intentional, but it could be because the last find did take a bit longer and I saw him distracted by several scents outside the search area. It also could be that I just remembered on that reward that generally I should be a bit more enthusiastic. I’m a pretty typical northern Minnesota guy, fairly stoic. My younger daughter told me that she read in Hare and Woods’ _The Genius of Dogs_ that dogs generally respond better to female voices/interactions than to males, though males could be taught or socialized to improve their communication style with dogs. I’m trying to be more demonstrative and willing to sound or act in a way that a month ago I would have found mildly amusing or embarrassing.

Thanks again, Alana!