My Hypothesis Is . . .

Consider yourself a scientist doing research. Turns out, in many ways, every time we interact with a dog, we are trainer/scientists at work.

As trainer/scientists, we enter every interaction with a dog as an experiment, whether we know it or not. Here’s how it goes.

We begin with a hypothesis:

This dog is friendly!

We look for what will prove or disprove our hypothesis.

His tail is wagging! And he’s coming right to me! That proves he is friendly!

We may do fine with such a simple hypothesis and such limited proof. But experience will teach us that behavior and interactions are complex. And sometimes we learn this the hard way.

Hey – he bit me!

If our working hypothesis is wrong, and our “proof” is inadequate, the decisions we make for and with the dog may end up with an outcome different from what we intended. More research needed!

Back to the drawing board we go.

Now, you can probably list 5 things that could have been observed instantly that let you – the experienced trainer – know that the dog was not friendly. What you have learned to see leads you to respond differently towards the tail wagging dog than an inexperienced observer might.

The better your observation skills, the more information you have. It’s as simple as that. What you see – or don’t – will inform everything you do with a dog, affect the choices you make, lead you to conclusions. Your timing depends entirely on your observation skills. Your ability to stay safe – and keep dogs and others safe – will depend on your observation skills.

Above all, our relationships with dogs depend on our observation skills. I consider observation to be a sacred act of love. Seeing someone clearly for who they are, in that moment, is the basis for humane treatment of another being.

So put on your scientist lab coat or thinking hat or maybe just some lucky socks, and let’s explore the art of observation. And it is an art, one that requires passion for the practice, curiosity for what is possible, and a desire to connect the dots – and with another being.

LEARN MORE in our online courses that help you build your observations skills in fun and exciting ways. Better observations lead to better training!


Having taken many of Suzanne’s courses and webinars, I know they are always going to exceed my expectations. This course is not a checklist. It’s training your brain to be a better observer. You’ll have several aha-moments during the course and course work, but it continues way beyond that. You will observe everything differently, and continue to improve your observation skills after this course. It doesn’t happen overnight, but the road to improvement is fascinating once you know the limitations of your own mind and how to better overcome those limitations. I can’t wait for part 2 of this course. ~ Vibeke A. J.

Find out more about Observation Skills Part One here.


This course, as well as Observation Skills Part 1, has me asking more questions at the end than when I started. This is a good thing. If you are at all a “curious” person, always asking “why” and wanting to know and understand more, this is a perfect course for you. I so enjoyed the endless opportunities to ask “why” and to learn what follows the question, whether that be the answer, or more questions. The Q&A sessions are so helpful, both because of the direct interaction with Suzanne and her endless knowledge and her own questions, as well as for the insights of the others taking the course, whether professionals or pet owners. I found learning how to take notes, for various purposes, challenging, but at the same time rewarding. It helped me to start to understand what I needed to focus on and what might be extraneous, but useful later for reference. Even if you don’t work with dogs, but want to improve your own Observation Skills for other purposes, the skills and tools introduced in this course make it so useful. One of my top favorite courses taken so far. ~ Gwen G.

Find out more about Observation Skills Part Two here. 

LEARN MORE in our online courses that help you build your observations skills in fun and exciting ways. Better observations lead to better training!