A wee thought - I've been listening to Non Violent Communication on audio book this weekend.
Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenburg, PhD.
Observation means describing what we see in accurate detail WITHOUT applying labels, judgements or assumptions.
"...When we combine observation with evaluation, we decrease the likelihood that others will hear our intended message. Instead, they are apt to hear criticism and thus resist whatever we are saying."
How does this relate to dog training?!
Think about the Big Puppy Play Date. How easily could we have said "that puppy is scared of the big dog" and rolled straight on into a bunch of assumptions.
Instead, we could observe that the small puppy backed away from the bigger dog, then lifted it's head to look up. We saw a slightly arched back and tucked tail.
Continuing the data collection, we note that breed often has lots of hair round the eyes, a slightly arched back and tucked tail is normal for them....
We need to keep observing rather than collapsing into judgement.
What if you see something in class that bothers you?
Definitely tell the trainer BUT make sure you stick to clear observable facts.
If we need to speak to the owner it's important that we use the language of observation and curiosity
e.g. I noticed you needed to grab Puppy's tail to keep him in your area, it looks like he's really interested in the other puppies!
Maybe we could try out some games to keep him busy with you, and tuck his lead under your foot for now?
*there's no judgement in what I've just written, and I need to work hard to keep the evaluation out of my thoughts too!*
This approach doesn't avoid evaluation, it simply tries to keep it separate from observation as a way of opening up communication.
Okay - that was more than a wee thought and will end up as a blog post!