Thinking through images is faster and more fixed than doing it through symbols, however it is less refined and precise.
This is clearly seen with an example: if we think of digital watches and watches with hands*, it is quicker to recognize the time on the image based one (hands), with one look we know what time it is, whereas when we look at the numbers on a digital clock we need a longer glance and greater mental effort. Instead the information that the mental image gives us is less accurate, we will often respond to the person who asked the time with phrases like “ten past”, while the digital will give us highly exact information like “and twelve “. This shows us that the way we receive and process information is very different in dogs and in humans. Dogs, because of their thinking through mental images, are faster in receiving information and, consequently, in their response to this information.
This speed is a problem for us, we need much more time to set our heavy mental machinery in motion, and dogs often go ahead of us during training and respond to situations that we are just beginning to consider. If we do not take into account this difference in speed, we find ourselves in very frustrating situations with ineffective training.
* Of course, the hands are also symbolic because they represent data of another nature, but learning to read it is clearly visual and results in the construction of a consistent mental image that practically all people share (as the image of the finger to the mouth to ask for silence, our response in shutting up is faster when people make this gesture to us than if they ask us in words in which we take a few seconds to process).