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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not sure if this belongs in this particular category, but I was training/playing with my 1 yr old pup a couple nights ago and noticed that a simple eye movement was enough to get her to respond correctly. Needless to say, at 1 yr old I was amazed, so I pressed it a bit further. She will come from a down-stay or sit-stay with only a slight movement of my head, or often just a signal with my eyes. She will also back up, a command that we have worked on forever, with just a slight head movement or even just eye movement...like telepathy. It's amazing! But for ANYONE who has ever wondered if their dog picks up on body or posture signals...I'd say this is a pretty good indicator LOL.

Any one else ever experience this kind of responsiveness? Let's hear your stories!
 

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I watched a video from a well known trainer who cautioned his viewers about unexpected body cues. He taught his dogs verbal commands and they followed them well. Then he did a trial and it seemed that his dog had no idea what the commands were. It turned out that he made facial expressions, especially with his eyebrows, for each command. For instance for Down he lowered his brows. His dog was reading his face more than listening to his words.

I also saw this in a local trial where the trainer, walking straight, did not give the quick twist of her shoulder when she gave the down-in-motion command. The dog didn't respond right away because he was watching for her body movement.

So depending on what you want to do, be aware that your pup will more likely take physical ques before verbal ones.
 

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When I was practising the recall at the end of the BH routine, Eska seemed to be reading my mind, and breaking her down a half second before I gave the command. I eventually came to the conclusion I MUST be giving some sort of physical signal that I was about to call her. Maybe it was the deep breath in, maybe it was a very slight change in my posture - I don't know! But it was happening much too often to be a coincidence.

It took awhile, but she eventually learned to WAIT for the verbal signal!

Both my dogs do respond to my facial expression, that's for sure! If they are focused on my face, and I give a big cheesy grin, they get excited. I think it's because I usually smile when giving the YES marker (my equivalent of a clicker) for doing something correctly, and they're expecting a treat!
 

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Yes!Our breed is so attentive and tuned into us!If you watch a BH routine and wonder why the handler strides around sort of stiffly and unnaturally - the reason being so the dog will respond only to the verbal cues.I can go all day giving my dogs directions and never speaking.Pretty fun isn't it?
 

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A trainer I know did an experiment with his demo dog, who was trained to both hand signals and verbal commands. He gave conflicting commands to see which one the dog would follow (in other words, he'd give hand signal for "down" with wrong word attached, maybe "come") -- and every time, the dog followed the hand signal, not the spoken word. EVERY time.

I think that says a lot about how dogs process cues. Dogs are masters of reading subtle canine body language. There's a sophisticated language they speak with each other. I think that's why they respond to hand signals and facial expressions so easily.

You can also play a similar game with a ball dog. They know which way to run before you even throw the ball because they're watching your eyes. If you fake them out by flicking your eyes the opposite way you're going to throw, they'll sometimes go off in the wrong direction, as they trust the facial cue.
 

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That's very interesting Magwart! Will have to remember that (though it should be obvious to me from what I posted... :rolleyes: )
 

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When I was practicing obedience exercises with Keeta, she started anticipating the sit and down in motion. It was like Sunsilver said, all I had to do was think about giving the command, and she platzed or sat. I tried to mix it up with the order of the routine, the amount of heeling before the command, etc, and still, she was doing the command one or two steps before I actually gave it.

I realized she was reacting to my breathing, the intake of air before the spoken word. So I started mixing up my breathing too! Purposely breathing in an un-regular fashion, taking in sharp breaths randomly, breathing out partially before giving the platz, etc. That fixed the problem, but it highlights just how incredibly attuned dogs are to the most subtle of body language. We do use our eyes to "cheat" and give invisible help to our dogs during obedience (shh . . . don't tell the judge!).
 

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You can also play a similar game with a ball dog. They know which way to run before you even throw the ball because they're watching your eyes. If you fake them out by flicking your eyes the opposite way you're going to throw, they'll sometimes go off in the wrong direction, as they trust the facial cue.
I was doing this with Gryffon (because I'm evil), but he picks up on something else, and does not get fooled. I tried different things, but it is very, very VERY hard to fool him about which direction I'll throw the ball. Heck, he know which direction I'll throw the ball even before I do! I haven't yet figured out what cues him in.
 

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I read somewhere that German Shepherds are the only breed that can follow our gaze... so if we look at them and then look at the moon (for example) then they will also look at the moon.

I've always trained both hand and voice commands. I like that I can get Kaiser to sit or down or stand with a subtle hand movement that others haven't even noticed. Or if I'm talking to someone I can give him a command without having to interrupt my conversation.
 

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When I talk to Nitro when he's in the back of the car and I'm driving, he makes eye contact with me in the rear vision mirror. When I ask him where a particular toy is, (at home - not while driving), he will move his head to look at it, giving me the visual cue. As humans, most of our communication is body language or tone of voice. I'm guessing our inter species communication would be predominantly body language or tone of voice as well.
 

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When I was practicing obedience exercises with Keeta, she started anticipating the sit and down in motion. It was like Sunsilver said, all I had to do was think about giving the command, and she platzed or sat. I tried to mix it up with the order of the routine, the amount of heeling before the command, etc, and still, she was doing the command one or two steps before I actually gave it.

I realized she was reacting to my breathing, the intake of air before the spoken word. So I started mixing up my breathing too! Purposely breathing in an un-regular fashion, taking in sharp breaths randomly, breathing out partially before giving the platz, etc. That fixed the problem, but it highlights just how incredibly attuned dogs are to the most subtle of body language. We do use our eyes to "cheat" and give invisible help to our dogs during obedience (shh . . . don't tell the judge!).

Oh, they KNOW Castlemaid, they know! When the judge was giving the evaluations to the BH participants, he told one competitor if he was going to coach his dog during the routine, he should use cues that weren't audible to the judge! >:)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Great stories, thanks for sharing! I'm now rethinking whether or not to encourage this behavior. I can see where it could confuse the dog, especially in a circumstance where I might want her to follow verbal commands only. I also have always taught both verbal and hand signals together, and frequently go through her entire routine using just one or the other exclusively for practice...But I had never thought about breathing or unconscious facial ques. Though now that I have, it explains a lot! Amazing dogs!
 

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In agility I wanted her to go right but my shoulder turned slightly left, so she went left! She observes me keenly when I look out the window and can see in my eyes if I see something interesting like a deer or squirrel.
It is so important to be aware of our own body language so we don't have to correct them for following our non-verbal cues. It is their most important communication.
 

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Science side explains: eye gaze = happy drug

Oxytocin bonds between human and dog
TAKEFUMI KIKUSUI

"During domestication/evolution process of dogs, dogs have acquired human-like nonverbal communication skills, such as gaze and pointing following by humans, and gaze alternative behavior toward the owners. These skills, especially using eye gaze, are believed to promote the co-habituation of dogs in human society. Not only the communicative function of dog's eye-gaze with humans, it works as to form bonding between them. Eye-gaze from dogs to their owners increased urinary oxytocin, and the owner showed affiliative interactions with their dogs, which in turn, stimulate oxytocin release in dogs. Oxytocin is a hypothalamic neuropeptide stimulate maternal behavior as well as social interactions. Therefore, human and dogs can form a biological bonding via oxytocin positive loop in both sides. This type of positive loop was not observed in wolves, suggesting that dogs have acquired this function in their domestication process. Future behavioral genetic research will reveal the critical genes responsible for human-dog interaction, which would shed a light on the critical questions; "why", "how" and "when" dogs become a Man's best friend."

From
Japanese Journal of Animal Psychology
Online ISSN : 1880-9022
Volume 67 (2017) Issue 1 Pages 19-27
 

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Yes. I do it on the recall when giving the Fuss command to tell him where to go. Dogs read body language and has been proven that they watch your face. No new info there. :)
 

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I think anyone or anything that communicates without a spoken language picks up minute body language, or even electrical impulse mood or intentions energy...like telepathy.

I was sleeping on the couch while heavily pregnant a few years ago, I could not sleep so I lifted my head to look out the open window. Mistook my evergreen for a person outside the window, and I screamed. Startled my 2 dogs. I laughed at myself and told them to settle, but they were rattled and spent the next 15 minutes or so looking out the windows. What was interesting was that the 2 living room windows were across the room from each other. Every minute or so the dogs would simultaneously break their post, and walk across the room to switch windows. This went on, nearly on schedule, for like I said a good 15 minutes. There was definitely silent to us, yet complex communication going on there.

And my son....autism. Not very verbal. Can state his needs but no real conversation ability. Well, he seems like he reads my mind sometimes. We were alone and I thought, to myself, I wonder if my dad is coming to visit. He said " Grandpa is coming." Statement, just like that. A LOT of stuff happens like that with him. I believe, based on the types of things he has "read my mind" about, that I make a certain face when I am with my dad or talk about him. And my autistic son notices. I may have a specific face or movement when I am going to suggest a movie, stuff like that.

It definitely is a good theory at least.
 

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Tim I feel like everyone must be sick of Sabi stories by now, but this fits with the conversation.

Sabi learned to nod and shake her head in response to questions. So I would ask her "Did you knock this over?" and she would shake her head.(of course!)
I would ask her "do you want supper?" and she would nod.
But funnier still, she would raise one eyebrow at me if I walked into a wall, or told her to fetch. lol. And ordering her around would get the doggie equivalent of the finger, she would flip her nose up and snort at me. Usually while walking away.
My second patrol partner would look were I was looking and if I wanted him to confirm something I had only to give him a tap and look were I wanted him to look.
He was also the dog that would shoulder into me while walking and then point his nose at were he wanted me to look.

I could direct her by looking in a given direction, or by dropping a shoulder
 

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Discussion Starter #20 (Edited)
It is amazing to me, and never will cease to be, how in tune GSDs are! My previous dog, Dog, would do the exact same "dog's version of the finger" whenever I had to leave her at home. She'd tear up the garbage always, and strew it about the kitchen floor. But when I got home there was no remorse in her being, just a "see, that's what you get" kind of thing, while giving me the eye...

Made me mad occasionally, but you couldnt argue with the reasoning...so I always just let it go..darn dog anyway!

PS: I am not and will never be tired of Sabis stories!
 
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