Empathy for dogs
A volunteer is needed, and half of the class is keen to be involved. After asking permission, Kaye wiggles the young lady’s nose, touches her chin and ears, and ruffles her hair. She then asks if doing so made the girl uncomfortable.
She is too polite to say yes, but Kaye can tell by her face that it did.
Kaye then stands to the young lady’s side and places a hand on her shoulder and the volunteer says that is much more comfortable.
“Would me touching your face have been less weird if I was your mum?” Kaye asks. “Yes,” comes the reply, “because she’s my mum and I know her!”
As the volunteer takes her seat, Kaye explains that having a total stranger touch your face feels invasive for a dog, just as it does for us. Being touched on the shoulder was less intrusive, and a dog feels more comfortable with being stroked by someone they don’t know on the shoulder too.
Putting yourself in a dog’s position is a great way to understand how your action might make them feel.
“And how would you feel if you were playing with your Xbox and someone took the controller away?” Kaye asks the group, and an enthusiastic young gentleman replies: “I would literally be like, ‘Why are you doing that?!’”
Similarly, snatching away a dog’s toys and waking them from a peaceful slumber are occasions that can cause a dog to get annoyed.