There is, and I am quite sure my fellow instructors will agree, an intangible mystic beyond comprehension, existing at times between instructor and dog. It is impossible to justify this feeling as compensation for one’s efforts based on experience. It has little in common with sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing or intellect. It’s an unknown understanding sense of judgement. You know, without knowing why, the limits allowed when handling certain dogs.
Communication is a two way street, encompassing a giving and receiving of information. The rewards offered are based on the ability to learn through reason, but, how is one to reason that “gut feeling?” I would guess, at best, the gut feeling is a conscious recognition or impression that conveys deeply felt convictions of pending results. To be sure, a phenomenal form of communication.
I doubt seriously if this form of communication exists in instructors who provide lip service only for they are enamored by the sound of their own voices and oblivious to all other needs. Then there are those overbearing intimidators who delight in demonstrating their technical prowess, taking the dog far beyond his ability to reason by using an overwhelming concentration of undue force. Naturally, the insensitive instructor would also be unaware of this sensation.
The concerned instructor’s emotions, stemming from intuition of this nature, are unparalleled for their unique arousing of physical sensation and mental awareness. Further awareness of these particular premonitions may be attributed to risks or dangers involved, or the instructor realizing the ramifications of failure. This could very well be the reason some instructors refuse to handle problem dogs. However, I have always felt instructors who fail to handle problem dogs within their classes are short-changing themselves of needed knowledge and thus failing themselves.
Let’s face it, dog response influenced by a threatening environment activates instinctive behavior. If the instructor fails to understand the dog’s unalterable capacity to react in a given manner, severe consequences may be in order for both parties. The so called “gut feeling” when handling, or about to handle, certain dogs is an awareness to tread lightly for the time being. Be grateful for this talent – respect it and the dogs you handle will respect you.
©1976 J. R. Kenner