Body language is universal – amongst all ethnicities, all species, each individual!
Our eyes play a huge role in that. We could make the same body movements but with different expressions in our eyes, and we would be saying entirely different things.
So blocking our eyes, the doors to our soul, when we talk to someone is just as bad as when we work with animals. My dogs constantly make eye contact with me – this is not an act of dominance. It’s no different than when I seek steady eye contact with a person. I can catch my horses eye just as I can catch that of my dogs‘ to confirm what I told them.
I train guide dogs for the blind and my dogs learn to accept someone who may, or may not, wear large, dark sunglasses. But before they accept that human, they need to see them without the glasses, at least for a little while. It’s important for them to see that they are simply human. It’s interesting that it’s not necessary that we can see with those eyes, but simply that they are there. Sometimes even that is enough.
When I work with horses I never wear sunglasses unless the horse knows me very well, or I am riding. Just as I never wear them with a new dog – only when I am training a guide dog for someone who wears big glasses.
I see so many people wear sunglasses, losing so much valuable communication with their animals. Your dog or horse has no way of getting a feel for you and what you want them to do. It’s just a body with no soul or individuality.
I’ve also seen cases where people work with dogs and have the hardest time and when they shed their constant need for sunglasses, the dog makes huge improvements… coincidence?
No, our eyes help us communicate! Even a stern or friendly look can tell your dog everything it needs to know – without a word or body movement to accompany it. Play around with that concept a bit more, and see what changes come!