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The Mirror Method
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We try to make owners conscious of what they are doing. For example, when I say, come here and I start to walk toward the dog, the information I’m giving is, you can go because I’m coming to you. It’s not what I want to communicate. And then I’m angry that the dog is not coming. Why should he come he understands that I’m coming up to him? There are these communication mistakes, so people have to learn some things mean different things in dog language.

Why did you make “A Doggy Christmas Surprise”?
We had this idea to make this Christmas video, two or three years ago, just for fun. We never thought it would have such a success. We just made it for family and friends and the dog school members.

The eight dogs are members of the promotion group [which included 15 human/dog pairs. A second group started this summer with 12 teams. They meet two or three times a week to choreograph Mirror Method presentations for public events.] The hardest part was to find a flat where someone would let in a bunch of dogs.

We didn’t practice at all for the video shooting. But the dogs knew everything. They understood all the words; they understood to go forward, to bring this, to put that there. It wasn’t difficult at all. In six hours, we shot all the material.

We don’t want to make the dogs look like children, like in American movies. I really hate that. They do human stuff but still we try to find a balance where it’s still OK, it’s funny but it’s still dogs doing the whole thing.

Right now we are planning a third video. It will tell more about the method and show more of Hungary/Budapest as home of the method. It will come out next spring.

I noticed none of them are wearing collars. Is that normally the case when you’re training?
No, usually they have collars on, but we don’t use leashes. We just wanted to make it seem on the video like they are alone, they are having fun, and they are free.

Were you surprised by the huge response?
Yes, we were surprised. This is funny: In Hungary—we have something like YouTube but in Hungarian—we got a lot more criticism, a lot more “why are they doing this? This is not good for the dogs.” On YouTube, it was almost only positive reinforcement. In the first couple weeks, we were checking every day. Now, I only check once a month.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 62: Nov/Dec 2010
Lisa Wogan lives in Seattle and is the author of, most recently, Dog Park Wisdom. lisawogan.com

Photographs Krisztián Gróf

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