Friday, January 8, 2010

Using the Be a Tree Kit with Private Clients

We designed the Be a Tree teacher kit for use in classrooms so that we would have large photos to use to teach the kids how to interpret dog body language. We used to take our dogs into the classroom, but there were two main problems with this from a point of view of teaching about body language. Most of the time the dogs were happy and content and did not show any of the signs of stress that we wanted to teach the kids to recognize. When they did show signs of being fed up, such as licking their chops and yawning, we would have to contradict our own messages if we let them remain in a situation in which they were becoming uncomfortable. So we stopped taking the dogs into the classroom and started taking the photos. Some Be a Tree presenters also take a stuffed dog, which is a great idea.

Once we realized how effective the photos were as a teaching tool, Teresa (co-creator of the kit) started taking it into dog classes and into private behaviour consults to teach about body language. We have had reports from many other trainers and behaviour consultants who have also used the Be a Tree kit in this way. Here is one such report, from Yamei Ross of Canine SOS in Oshawa ON:

I find the Be a Tree materials invaluable when working with my private clients who have children. Parents often believe their dogs are "really good" with kids because their dog tolerates having his hair and ears pulled, or being pushed or pulled around. When I see this, I immediately turn to my Doggone Safe materials and include a mini-workshop for the parents and children as part of their training package. I bring the kit with me and use the pictures to show them what a safe and un-safe dog looks like. I explain what these signals mean and how their family pet is trying to communicate to them when they are feeling uncomfortable.

I especially love when my clients tell me, "Oh, I have seen that look on my dog before!" and "Now I know what it means!" My clients are always grateful to have been given a window into their dog's culture and language. I talk to them about the difference between their dog "tolerating" and "enjoying" interactions with their children. The parents and the kids love the pictures and I always make sure to leave a Doggone Safe postcard with them so they can refer to it if they are unsure. I plan to incorporate Doggone Safe into my group classes as well, so I can teach all my clients, whether private or group, how to "read dog" and have a safe and happy relationship with their family pooch.

I find I am using the Doggone Safe materials with my private clients a fair bit. I don't know what I would do without it!

No comments:

Post a Comment