> Skip to content

Article  •  30 May 2017


How your dog sees you

Laura Vissaritis explores the view from a canine perspective.

Dog behaviourist Laura Vissaritis formulated ‘Dognitive Therapy’, encouraging a more mindful approach to dog training. By promoting consistent, patient and respectful interactions – or ‘CPR’ – between humans and their animal friends she hopes to help thousands of people not only develop better relationships with their dogs, but also improve their own lives. Good dog behaviour all begins with you – to change your dog’s actions, first you must change yours. But what does your dog really want and need? Here Vissaritis offers some insights into what your dog might really be thinking.



Is your dog happy? How do you know? Is their happiness demonstrated by a wagging tail or the excitable greeting upon your return? How do you know if this is happiness?

These questions got me thinking about our relationship with our best mates, wondering if they are happy or if we are just convincing ourselves that they are. Perhaps we are afraid to learn the truth. What if our dogs were telling us something completely different? What if the connection we thought we had was not mutual?

‘Please let me be the person my dog thinks I am.’ If you haven’t read this quote before, it implies that dogs already think their owner is wonderful and that the owner should strive to become what their dog sees in them. I think dogs definitely see their owner as they truly are; only I don’t believe dogs use the rose-coloured lens like in this quote. A dog may wag his tail at his owner and stand by her side even if she is the antithesis of wonderful. But, not because he trusts or respects her. Not because he thinks she is wonderful, but because he has no choice.

Dogs are our most intuitive friends and their behaviours are an honest reflection of who we are. Don’t be afraid to find out. Our dogs’ intentions are favourable and they want you to be your best. They benefit from this too. If they could write a description of their ideal leader, they would jot down something very simple. It would include the basic attributes of a good character, someone who is confident but calm and someone who knows how to give CPR: a consistent, patient and respectful approach. It would look a little like this:


Dog: My leader is consistent. Everything they say has meaning behind it and they follow through. Their fair expectations guide me to succeed, not fail, and as a result I feel confident in their leadership.

My leader understands that while I am devoted to them, I am not fluent in their language. Instead, I speak to them through my body language.

I am not their child and as much as they might like to direct their parenting needs on to my care, they acknowledge that I am a dog and I will never be able to fulfil their expectations as a human being.

I will follow their guidance as they consistently and patiently provide a path toward health and happiness for us together. They respect my feelings. They know I have emotions, that I think a lot and experience fear, happiness, anxiety, sadness, and even love.

I am not a robot. Sometimes, I don’t want to meet that other dog, or lie down on the cold, wet grass, and my leader respects that. I know I have a fur coat, but I still yearn to be beside them indoors.

They know I will disobey them, sometimes I won’t listen and I will disappoint them at times. They will disappoint me too, but that is a part of any honest and real relationship. We are together because we want to be and despite our failings, we still work on our relationship each and every day. We trust and respect each other completely.


Does this sound like you and your dog? To a dog, CPR is imperative to a positive relationship. Are you giving your dog CPR each day?

Dognitive Therapy Laura Vissaritis

To change your dog’s behaviour, first you must change yours. A mindful approach to training your dog from Australia’s leading dog behaviourist.

Buy now
Buy now

More features

See all
Dog facts

Eight surprising doggy details from Laura Vissaritis’ Dognitive Therapy.

Teacher keeps promise to student after nearly three decades

Jacqueline Harvey and Kate Isobel Scott have teamed up after nearly 30 years to create their first picture book together.

Cooper Not Out: An interview with Justin Smith and Matt Day

Cooper Not Out author Justin Smith chats to audiobook narrator Matt Day about his delightfully uplifting Australian novel.

5 books to achieve your 2022 health goals

These books debunk diet myths and teach you how to eat well for happiness and health.

5 books to help with your new year's resolution

Do you want to save money or change a habit? We have five books that will empower you to achieve your goals in 2022.

Australia’s Top 10 Books for Kids in 2021

The most popular books of the year, written by Australian authors.

Author reveals process behind new Friday Barnes book cover

The author of the much-loved series offers a behind-the-scenes look at how she creates her eye-catching book covers.

The simple three-step process for letting go of shame

The Resilience Project co-founder reveals a different side in his new no-holds-barred book tackling feelings of shame.

Dear reader: A letter from Brené Brown

The bestselling author of Gifts of Imperfection and Dare to Lead on the vastness of human emotion.

One of Us is Lying: Meet the suspects

Five students get detention, only four leave alive. How far would you go to protect your secrets?

An exercise in letting go

Get ready to put pen to paper with this activity from Hugh van Cuylenburg's book Let Go.

Looking for more articles?

See all articles