My Black Cane Corso/Pitbull: A Rescue dog story

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Black as a moonless night and rippling with muscles, the dog approached me.  I was sitting down on the couch in the living room of a client’s home as a guest.  I was there to give her an evaluation on this black beast’s demeanor and behavior.  It was her new rescue dog from Texas.  The dog gave me a serious look and a few huffs as he trotted towards me.  His ears were cropped short and tightly towards his head which only served to emphasize his eyes and the strength of his neck, head, and jaws.  His muscled shoulders were rounded and spoke, I knew, of an explosive power.  He was oily black all over extending from the tip of his nose to the thick docked tail and on down to each claw.  The lighting inside the home at the precise time of day I was there wasn’t affording me the greatest visibility.  It was hard to read his face.  Was he calm or concerned?  Would I be friend or foe?  I did what I thought best in the moment and what I often advise when folks ask me how to meet a dog  –  I ignored him and continued chatting with the owner.

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Here he is the first day we took charge of him at the Ruston Way waterfront in Tacoma. We went on a long explore as we bonded/traveled together

Cato, that was his new name she said – chosen, I supposed, from the Cane Corso/Italian Mastiff heritage –  he continued to smell me.  “Cato” was a famous Roman, philosopher poet.  A follower and teacher of Stoicism.  Perhaps this dog possessed such a spirit?  Then again, maybe he was named Cato after Bruce Lee’s black-masked, kung fu dynamo in the 1970s TV show, The Green Hornet.  The dog certainly appeared athletic.  Or possibly his moniker came from the Peter Seller’s Pink Panther character that was always lying in wait to attack him!  I hoped it was not the latter.

He wasn’t as large as a standard male Cane Corso or as jowly, so my guess was that one of his parents (possibly both) were jet-black Pitbull terriers.  Either way he was a beautiful animal.  His movements catlike.  His eyes were an alluring and friendly amber color and his face could only be described as cute and powerful.

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Here’s Cato at our home during the first critical week of the “Honeymoon phase.” My third book (upcoming in 2019) on dog behavior will be all about Rescue/Shelter dogs and those vital, first few weeks in a new home!  Rambo, our twelve year old boxer, is asleep next to him.

Ignoring Cato was working like a charm and as we shared more time, more moments together, I steadily began to explore a relationship with this strong, dark dog through our mutual senses of touch and space.  I began to perform what I have coined in my business years ago as the “Touch and Go” maneuver.  This “move” or maneuver doesn’t seem like much at first glance to us as human beings but I use it in every single dog training and behavioral rehab session I’ve ever done (at the time of writing this) in the last fourteen years!  Why?  It works and works wonders.  Are treats required?  Heck no – no part of the Garrett Stevens Method requires food or treats or any training tool outside of one’s own body.  (Isn’t that great news for all you nudists following us out there?  I know you’re out there) Is it based in dog obedience training?  No way – most obedience training is honestly a waste of time in 2019 because every method of dog obedience training is excitement-based so that the dog gets pumped up in its energy and then works harder for you – Why do that though when most every dog owner with a house dog desires a calmer, more trustworthy dog?!  Most of us are NOT shepherds any more, most aren’t heading for Afghanistan on active duty with our dogs.  We aren’t as rural in general and certainly we aren’t spending all day afield on a hunt like we used to in days long past.  We have changed and we should be open to letting our dogs change with us!  Being adaptable is what has given our dogs their success since their beginning.  For more info about this and about achieving better dog behavior without the use of positive or punitive reinforcement – read my first book, Dog Myths (available on Amazon and everywhere).

The Touch and Go move is so easy that everyone I’ve ever met concerning dog behavior or training, be they professional or lay person, simply misses it…and therein lies the power, beauty, and art of the thing.

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My black panther!

Want to learn it?  Follow/Subscribe to this fine blog of ours and in the next exciting episode I’ll describe in unabashed detail the Touch and Go maneuver (which helps btw with any dog or pup and with any behavioral issue!) and we will continue our story of how Cato the Corso travelled from a rescue down in Texas to Washington state and from a client’s home into our crazy abode!

-G

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Cato and some clown spending his life in attempts at deciphering the dog language

Separation Anxiety or Hostage Situation!

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Have you ever been taken hostage?  Masses of kind and caring dog owners are literally living out each day in a horrific real life hostage situation because their pet suffers with terrible Separation Anxiety!  When our dogs are anxious we, in turn, can eventually become anxious too.

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Treating separation anxiety in dogs USED TO BE a difficult path to navigate for both industry professional and lay person alike but that, Friends, is about to change!  Some dog trainers and behaviorists would suggest food treats (peanut butter or bully sticks) be given in order to “occupy the anxious dog’s mind” while the owner is away.  Many vets would sadly just suggest drugging the anxious dog.

Why is it that we seldom if ever hear of a calming, natural, spatial solution for successfully treating separation anxiety?  

Why don’t we hear more about the spatial movements that all dogs employ when speaking their own specific canine language?

Why is separation anxiety prevalent in households across the globe today IF the majority of vets’ and dog trainers’ methods are truly sound and beneficial to/for our dogs?

Could it be possible that we (those of us involved in the dog behavioral and training industry) need to reevaluate our method of treatment for separation anxiety?

Shouldn’t we take a closer look at dog language and canine energy levels in order to find the answers and solutions that so many desperately seek?

Shouldn’t you and your dog be able to live anxiety free?

Are you sick of being a hostage to your dog’s separation anxiety?

If you answered those last few questions with a resounding, “YES!” then my new book, So Long Separation Anxiety will be just right for you and your anxious furry friend!

(So Long Separation Anxiety will only be an e-book so we are sorry but no paperback this time.  For paperbacks be sure and read my groundbreaking book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!)

From destructive chewing to whining and barking, from nervous drooling to anxious urination or defecation, from breaking out of the kennel to rudely jumping all over you when you arrive home, separation anxiety is a major problem for masses of dog owners!

This book is here to help you and your dog discover relaxation and balance through a healthier relationship and through practical proper spatial maneuvering!  Contained in this exciting new book are beneficial, real world techniques and methods that anyone can put to use!  Step by step we examine how dog’s interact and move with us, how separation anxiety subtly takes root, and how we can begin to smoothly reverse it.  So Long Separation Anxiety is chock full of real life, practical, hands-on, calming solutions!  And the best part…you will NOT need a bunch of peanut butter or food treats or bizarre contraptions, you will NOT need harsh or severe handling, and you will NOT need to repeatedly fill a prescription in order to drug your furry family member!!!

The successful treatment of separation anxiety in our dogs is possible if we can learn from the dogs themselves.  So Long Separation Anxiety is now available on Apple iBooks/iTunes or on Amazon kindle or most other platforms!

Let’s begin making our future better today!

-G

Training your dog instinctively (and naturally)

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This means NO food treats and NO e-collars or harsh methods!  YES, training a dog or pup this way most certainly can be done.  In fact, I’ve behaviorally rehabbed seriously problematic dogs and pups thousands of times with great success using my unique instinctive and natural way.

Reasons to consider doing it the natural way…?

1. Dogs respond wonderfully.  (Technically speaking you shouldn’t need any other reason than that – but I’ll continue)

2.  My instinctual method brings every hidden problem right to the forefront.  There’s no beating around the bush wherein a human client or the dog or pup can manipulate or hide a troublesome area.  There’s also not the usual training for tricks and masking the underlying issues.  Remember it doesn’t matter if you teach Charles Manson how to juggle…he needed more psychological help than the addition of tricks and so do ALL dogs. (Honesty is the best policy – let’s remember that and apply it)

3.  The natural way of working with your pet will most certainly bring you closer than any external form of excitable obedience training you may have done in the past.  (All our clients experience and love this renewed and much healthier relationship)

4.  Working instinctively brings out the good in both human and canine (My method is direct, forthright, efficient, and kind – it helps calm both owner and pet and in many cases helps bring a bit of healthy assertiveness out of the owner)

5.  My natural method saves incredible amounts of time (This is especially true when compared with what passes as dog behavior modification or other forms of expert dog training!  And you can take that to the bank because our instinctual training works way, way faster at calming both owners and dogs and is more efficient at beginning the excellent journey towards a lasting healthy relationship)

6.  Almost nothings better than this method for serious aggression, anxiety, and other neurosis.

 

How does one use this amazing instinctual and natural method of dog training?  Good question – I’d start by keen observation of nature (not just dogs).  Begin looking at everything and, if astute, you’ll start to see many similar patterns throughout all of nature.  Next I’d question everything within the dog training industry and the veterinary industry.  Take time to think critically and take yourself away from the deluge of horrible advice that can be readily found on the internet concerning dogs and canines.  Third I’d encourage you to look within.  (Ask yourself the hard questions are you too soft to influence this tough old dog?  Are you too hard on this young pup?  Or are you just right?  Think of the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  There are always deep lessons in the old children’s tales)  Next I would begin to really look and then question your pet’s behavior.  Begin with touch because that is the very first sense of all canines when they are born and it is the most important sense when it comes to dog behavior, language, and social interaction!

Does this sound too far out for some of you?  If so I’ll leave you with one example of instinctual dog training and how it is easier, faster, and often better than what passes for mainstream dog training or behavior modification.  Here it is…

The dog or puppy will not come.  So everybody decides to “train” the dog by way of food rewards or with a long line and that’s typically the standard within the industry and among masses of dog owners.  I say that’s dumb and here’s precisely why I say that – When we do that we can actually diminish or even kill what nature has put into the very animal we are trying to train!  All dogs and pups (if they’re not terrified at the moment of course) naturally have an instinct to follow and remain with the social group.  It is a powerful drive that goes all the way back to the wolf and is still found within dogs of today.  This drive or instinct is in place as a survival tactic…if I’m separated from the group/pack I cannot hunt as efficiently.  If I cannot hunt as efficiently I am more likely to become the hunted and or die off from starvation.  (And there are many other reasons why a canine would wish to remain close to their pack but for brevity I only went over one)  SO, INSTEAD OF GOING RIGHT TO THE FOOD TREAT OR TO THE LEASH (these external methods) I WOULD HIGHLY SUGGEST BRISKLY TURNING AWAY FROM THE ANIMAL AND WALKING AWAY IN THE EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION THAT THE DOG WAS INITIALLY HEADED.  DO NOT CALL THE DOG.  AND DO NOT, DO NOT, DO NOT, LOOK BACK!  IF THE DOG SEES YOU SEEING HIM BECAUSE YOU LOOKED BACK THIS SIMPLE METHOD WILL NOT WORK.

*There are exceptions to applying this one instinctual technique of course (like if you have a proven runner or escape artist or if you have a super bratty dog or pup that you have allowed to juke and slip you for weeks or months on end – then I’d begin by doing the natural method in a confined space like the family room or back yard.  Next I’d mix the natural with the unnatural/external method of leash dragging in a larger space.  If, however the dog is so rude that even in your own backyard it will make everything you say or do into a mockery as it zips by you in order to showcase it’s speed and agility and give you the dog finger so to speak, then I’d combine the instinctual walk away method with a dragging leash/rope (typically the rope I’d suggest would be about 10-15 feet depending on the size of the yard – if the rope is too much longer than 15 feet you cannot fade off the method efficiently enough to get to total off leash trust and respect)

Keep an eye out for my upcoming (third) book on dog language and behavior!!!  I’m about 60% complete and hoping to release it by the end of 2020/beginning of 2021!

-G

 

 

When your puppy or dog lays down at the water bowl

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Many dog owners think “What a cute picture this would make” as they scramble for their  phones to snag a photo while the pup’s legs are wrapped around the water bowl.  But when a dog lays down at the water bowl or food dish it can mean that the dog is CLAIMING the bowl for itself and isn’t really interested in sharing.  And that, Dear Reader, is never good for anyone (including the dog or pup that’s doing the claiming).

Step 1.  Stop the behavior before it grows worse through repetition and compounds over time.

Step 2.  See Step 1.

That’s it.

Follow the steps above and you’ll be doing at least one great thing towards preventing or reversing “resource guarding.”  Or blow my advice off and potentially suffer the consequences – what do I care.  Either way I win.  If you don’t listen now you’ll eventually need to spend more time and energy getting our help to reverse what could have been prevented or…if you listen now – you’ll have listened to beneficial dog language advice and done me, your pet, other dogs, and the wide world a favor by making it a better place.  Have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Your local, neighborhood dog linguist

Want the PERFECT dog?

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“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”  Antione De Saint-Expurey

Almost every method of dog behavior modification and dog training I’ve heard of, seen, or come across in my life has been the endless quest to ADD motivation and reinforcement onto the dog.  Obedience and work are the order of the day when it comes to 99% of professional dog trainers’ philosophy and methodology.  What a shame!  And, often, these mainstream training and behavior modification methods are a sham as well as a shame when considered and contrasted in the ever shining light of Nature and Nature’s way.

The true way of the dog is a path many behaviorists and dog trainers never tread upon because of their unending quest for great obedience.  Obedience (as it pertains to the dog training industry) is highly unnatural because what we all call obedience is never taught by the parent dogs to their pups.  Respect is taught and certainly trust is taught from older dog to those that are younger but “watch me, sit, down, stay,” et cetera – not so much.   Older dogs teach Respect and Trust in very clear canine language to their pups from an amazingly early age but what most folks consider to be good, solid dog training and sound dog behavior modification does, in reality, typically fall utterly short of what healthy, socially-skilled, older dogs teach their offspring!  

Most dog owners and professionals within the industry are missing the simple, direct beauty found already contained within the pup or dog instinctually.  Instead of looking to Add something to the dog – the wise individual would seek to Chip Away the rougher parts and Refine what is Already Naturally Present within the dog or pup.  Calmness not work is the way forward for the house dog or companion dog of today and of the future!  Nature and nature’s God has already provided everything one needs to communicate perfectly with our domestic dogs and to prevent, reverse, and or eliminate any and all problematic behaviors within the creature with which we are interacting (no food treats required).  There is usually ZERO need for the majority of what’s been taught to us as “dog training” and as “behavior modification!”

You and I have been brainwashed.  We have all been brainwashed through year after year after year of advertising and teaching from major conglomerates (seeking more profit) concerning what dog training is and what it should look like!  And the only way to change this conditioning and washing of the mind is to experience a change in perspective and by forming new thoughts and new neural pathways…perhaps like honestly considering the concept I’ve just written about here.

Please think on it.  Want the perfect dog…?  I’ve put info below for you!

 

Garrett Stevens is the creator of the Garrett Stevens Method of natural dog handling and behavioral rehab (no food treats required and no harsh handling either), Hot-Listed author of Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!, and So Long Separation Anxiety, and owner/operator of Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center and founder of the award-winning Alpha & Omega Dog Training in Puyallup/Tacoma WA.

http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

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The neurotic Doberman that had excellent training!

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The big Dobie lunged forward snapping and barking at the 190 some odd pounds of Saint Bernard standing nearby!   Straining with all of his might, the Doberman kept the leash taught as his owner, situated about four feet behind his wild dog, struggled to maintain his grip!  Just another day in the life.

I suppose the most bizarre thing about this scene to most folks would be that only moments before (this total behavioral freak out) the Doberman Pinscher was heeling beautifully, sitting admirably beside his owner, and performing “watch me” commands like a professional working dog.  The owner was giving praise and the occasional treat at all the proper times.  It was almost beautiful to watch.  The dog looked like all working dogs do on Youtube – heeling briskly and looking at his handler – whenever the man stopped the dog sat perfectly.  The doberman had excellent training.  And nobody from our company trained it.  In fact, during the entire time the owner was training his dog (this took place at the very beginning of our first session) I was gently but repeatedly attempting to explain that all that fancy obedience that the dog was performing masterfully DID NOT HELP AT ALL when it came to the dog’s Horrible psychosis!  The obedience training did NOT help the Doberman to experience the world they way he naturally could or should through proper utilization of the right senses at the right time.  You see, unlike most folks, I was 100% unimpressed with the Dobie’s quick heeling and fast sitting because nature and all calm, social canines would also be 100% unimpressed with that excitable performance!

The Dobie was dog aggressive and human reactive and the great obedience that the owner had taught his dog to do was NOT working to help calm his dog down enough to think and operate clearly in normal social settings.  His great training FAILED in REAL LIFE.  Here is a fact that I’m hoping the readers of this article can and will spread far and wide to anyone willing to listen (Share this article for the love of dogs)…Dogs can perform incredible feats of obedience and simultaneously be neurotic and out of control dangers to society.

The giant Saint Bernard (who was having his third session at our Dog Language Center) was able to walk very close to the lunging, frantic Dobie and maintain his cool.  The Dobie, for all his prior work and prior tricks and obedience at the hands of his owner, was having an utter meltdown.  But wait…there’s hope…Enter the Garrett Stevens Method!

Over the course of the session we taught the owner how to SLOW DOWN and TURN DOWN his typical training and, in turn, SLOW down his Dobie’s outrageous and unsocial behavior.  Here’s another fact for any dog owner wise enough to consider it – Dogs are faster than humans and will certainly manipulate us by speeding up the action and speeding up their movement and ours.  A skilled dog trainer or whisperer (or owner) knows how to SLOW the movement of the neurotic dog and influence the energy that way.

By the second half of our session the Dobie was walking calmly beside my own example dog.  The Doberman was able to be smelled repeatedly and calmly led around the property.  The owner was blown away at the differences and said so repeatedly.  We are so excited to continue teaching the owner the way of the dog and the Garrett Stevens Method as we work with his Doberman.

Please remember:  Excellent training and wonderful, trustworthy social behavior are two very different things!

(SUBSCRIBE to THIS Blog for further help!)

 

 

 

German Shepherd behavior and training

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We handle a buttload of German Shepherds.  Almost every single day we work with at least one or two of them.  As an intelligent and sensitive guarding breed many, many owners screw things up with their GSDs.  (Yes, I’m giving it to you straight like I always do and like a dog would)  In my opinion many professional trainers screw it up too through “over training” (more on that later)!

Here are 4 Great Tips for the German Shepherd dog owner:

  1. Never coddle the weak.  All of nature teaches us this and yet a lot of dog owners refuse to learn it.  If you have a nervous pup or a skittish older Shepherd coddling it and talking softly to it at all the wrong times will only serve to grow the fearful state of mind and misbehavior.  GSDs come with extra nerves so they could potentially be alert watch dogs but way too many owners let this grow to out of control proportions.  Keep in mind the dog’s own birth mother and father would NEVER coddle!  GSDs give birth to too many pups to do it.  And they do not talk as much as humans – instead, they prefer action.  Do you think you’re a better canine communicator and dog leader than the pup’s own natural parents?  Do you have dog instincts?  Can you run 32-45 mph?  Do you have an incredible sense of touch, smell, and taste?  Et Cetera Et Cetera…NO – you don’t – so please don’t presume to know more than mom or dad dog and to then dramatically change how they (and almost all animal parents) would do things with their young.  INSTEAD of coddling place your German Shepherd into confident and peaceful postures familiar to all canines.
  2. Don’t over train.  If you have a GSD then you know a lot of training comes fairly easy when compared to many other breeds.  The GSD is definitely smart and highly observant.  Sometimes they are too observant and too smart!  Do not over train and over ritualize everything.  In fact, the only thing I really want to set a rigid schedule for is feeding and elimination.  Everything else I do with my German Shepherd should be about flexibility and sociability (with the caveat of raising and training a professional working dog – which most folks do not do).  Over training your GSD just leads them into manipulating your training and controlling the same tired, stupid routine that you set.  Maybe you were impressed at first because the dog knew precisely when you were going on your walk but now there’s rudeness involved because the dog is hyping everything up prior to your getting the leash out of the closet, spinning in circles, whining, etc.  He knows where the leash is kept and that initial hyperactivity and rudeness can easily lead to exploding out the front door, and that then leads to dragging you off the porch, which then leads into pulling on the leash while walking, and then maybe even going crazy at every dog or person your dog sees!  And all this trouble actually stems from your training and you having your GSD perform the same thing each day!  Change it up, buttercup. y9W6UhdYSg6AqgpdYoQYEA
  3. Socialize like crazy.  Socialization does not just mean taking a puppy class at the local Petsmart.  Socialization is the gradual desensitization of our dogs’ super senses.  Socialization is any and every new experience, new location, new touches, smells, tastes, sights, and sounds.  Think about the vehicles, the beaches, the mountains, the cities, the country, the children, the old folks, the other dogs, the neighborhood cats, the squirrels, the garbage trucks, the Home Depot, the Costco parking lot, being left behind, or loading up and coming with…genuine socialization is infinitely more important to raising a healthy dog than going to the vet, than attending formal training, than grooming…socialization is and must be King!  If you socialize your GSD enough with calm, firm, and sometimes playful leadership your Shepherd will absolutely have the best life and love you the more for it.  Your GSD should NOT only love your family – that’s great in a literal war zone but everywhere else it sucks.  Don’t let yourself, your family, your dog and all society down…socialize for success. IMG_3047
  4. Learn your dog’s language and use the 4 Pillars for great behavioral results.  All dogs share an authentic and universal language.  I’d highly recommend learning  it from the dogs themselves.  To aid you in this observational quest to learn real dog language my books are always available for purchase.  Dogs can be incredibly manipulative – my books are there to help you identify and then stop those manipulations which then can let the better parts of your German Shepherd’s nature (and none of the nasty) come to fruition and full maturity. IMG_3629  IMG_3515  IMG_3141  Enlight172   (All dogs featured belong to former clients)

Speed hides mistakes. SLOW DOWN and you’ll make less mistakes with your dog.

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Sifu Hill, my Wing Chun Kung Fu instructor, always tells his students that “Speed hides mistakes.”  As a martial artist master with 50 years experience in differing martial arts (40 years studying Wing Chun) my Sifu knows what he’s talking about.  He often exhorts the individual that is going too fast to slow down in order to get the technique down properly.  Speed may look flashy to the beginner but the master knows that a good Wing Chun practitioner should be able to work the method both slowly and quickly and that doing it slowly and smoothly is the best way forward for the beginner.  It is the same with the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavioral rehab and natural dog handling.

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This is my Mook Yan Jong, my “wooden man dummy.” It is a necessity for the serious Wing Chun disciple. I begin by SLOWLY working the forms around the imaginary human arms and legs while simultaneously striking the hard wood of the dummy sometimes causing tiny micro fractures in my arms which toughen the bones upon repair. I am loving it!                                     For more info check out Hill’s Wing Chun

Mainstream dog training techniques also hide many mistakes behaviorally speaking.  Many dog trainers go fast because A. They’ve been taught to go fast and to continually motivate. and B. They know (in some cases) they can hide a dog’s mistakes and make themselves and the dog they are working with look better momentarily.  They encourage their students to “work the dog” and take fast turns.  These turns do a full circle when heeling (which, incidentally, is what overexcited or neurotic dogs do – they circle and pace and stare).  The Garrett Stevens Method is different because we also encourage a quick turn to interrupt problematic eye contact when a dog is about to stare at an energy-escalating stimuli BUT (and this is huge) then we have the owner slow down immediately and many times even instruct them to stop moving for a moment.  We do NOT have them do a full circle like so many trainers and behaviorists do – instead we have our clients turn 180 degrees then greatly slow down their movement and the dog’s.  This way the dog’s body and the dog’s energy is not allowed to complete the turn and hype the dog back up again by way of letting him/her continue to stare and in many cases continue to threaten the stimuli.  The Garrett Stevens Method is 180 degrees different from what most trainers are teaching – that is why it works so well!  We do NOT attempt to hide mistakes.  We point them out and then move on towards success.  By tapping into the 4 Pillars of dog language one will find it is much, much easier to influence a dog’s energy and behavior – especially when compared and contrasted with other dog training and behavior mod methods.

Your dog, as the member of a fast living, fast dying, fast moving species, may seek to control the situation through speed and by speeding your movements up.  Don’t let that happen!  Stay as calm as possible.  Don’t talk a lot while attempting to slow the dog down.  Take action quickly then take action smoothly and very slowly.  Now pause and take action even slower.  We desire DE-escalation.  We need to keep experiencing the energy drop and guide the dog to do the same.  (For more info look for my third book on all things dog and human behavior about the 5 incredible senses of our dogs and the 4 Pillars of dog language!)

Please don’t be one of the millions and millions that are impressed by watching some Belgian or German Shepherd briskly heeling like a robot, doing circles and trotting beside the handler on Youtube.  If we could ask more questions of that same exact dog behaviorally in many cases it may be found wanting.  Is that same dog that was excitably performing the heel on Youtube trustworthy and calm near human babies?  Is that same dog calm around other members of his/her own species?  Can they play with other dogs?  Can they be off leash and calm at a buddy’s barbecue?  Is the dog going to destroy the home when the owner/handler leaves or is it calm enough to manage itself maturely?  Speed hides mistakes.

There’s a saying that came to us all from the Military.  It goes “Slow is smooth – smooth is fast.”  Take it to heart when handling your dog or pup.  Take it especially to heart when handling the out of control, or fearful, or aggressive dog.  If I had a saying it would be something like “Speed up socialization (because we can never socialize enough) and Slow down the dog or pup’s movement in the midst of that socialization.”

Happy Handling and keep Slowing Down and getting it right,

-G

the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and canine linguistics

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The Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and training is unique within the dog training and behavior modification industry.  This is why.

  1.  We begin by ASKING tough questions about dog training in general and the behavior industry and by thoughtfully considering many tactics and methods we can then streamline efficiency and get better results.  Here are some of the terrific questions that one could/should ask when looking for a professional dog trainer or behaviorist or when examining ANY dog training method in the world.  Do the methods used line up with what we know about how dogs naturally raise their young?  Does the method take into account the dog’s point of view and how all dog’s think and respond within their environment?  Are the methods of training CALMING because calmness is a very valuable and desirable quality in today’s modern house dogs just as it is within all of nature?  (That last question often disqualifies a host of training methods)  Do the methods line up with what we know as good, basic parenting (either among dogs or people) and common sense or are the methods unnatural and overly fixated on external motivation (positive or aversive reinforcement)?  Is there a backup contingency when/if one part of the method fails?  Is the training method bringing both dog and owner to a place of curiosity, thoughtfulness, and more physical activity?  Would the method work for other domesticated animals?  Is the training method FREE from limiting items (ex: food, shock collars, etc, – Will it work without these items)?  Is there evidence of the philosophy and method found easily within nature and within the universe?             The Garrett Stevens Method can answer YES to all of these questions!!!  The overwhelming majority of dog training and behavior modification methods available to most people though – tragically cannot answer the above questions in the affirmative!  Please pause to consider that.
  2. We put first things first in the Garrett Stevens Method.  It is wise to put the horse before the cart and not the other way round.  Yet, this is NOT often the case within the dog training industry.  Obedience and tricks and “work” for a dog should be of secondary importance (yes, even amongst pro trainers) when compared in relation to the dog – human bond, to the fundamental order of the animal’s senses, and to how the dog experiences the world around him/her.  This is why we teach all our clients the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Learning and applying those is a more simplified and highly efficient way to jump into understanding dogs and their culture and behavior and, in that way, the client will then be able to express themselves back to their dogs.  We must look to nature and to our own dogs to discover what must be of primary importance (even above looking to the sterile science lab) and then we must put those things of primary importance first if we desire success.  That is key to relational and behavioral excellence.
  3. We educate clients much more than we ever train dogs.  While some obedience training is necessary here and there – within all the cases we handle, believe it or not, the human client is the one where all our “dog training” either fails or succeeds because dogs are relational and any and all results must be Maintained BY THE OWNER!  The dog’s capacity for sociability must be stretched to the limits of that capacity (like working out and strengthening a muscle) so that real growth can occur!  When owners are taught to take responsibility and action (by employing the 4 Pillars) the changes that happen during our training sessions together can not only take route but genuinely grow into something wonderful.
  4. In the Garrett Stevens Method we put an emphasis on physical action and touch.  We do this because it lines up perfectly with what all DOGS care about and how all DOGS on the planet express themselves back and forth to each other and to us within the confines of their specific language.  Touch is a pup’s first sense.  All puppies are born blind and deaf.  Touch is also the first of the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Touch reveals everything to a person once they learn to use our unique method!  Taking action (by way of touch, space, and movement) is the name of the game when initially communicating with a dog – knowing when to calmly address your dog (gaining respect) and when to smoothly ignore your dog (giving trust) is key.  Being sensitive to touch and the space around our bodies and the dogs’ bodies is critical for healthy relationship and good behavior.
  5. Frankly, My Dear, we don’t give a d*mn when it comes to what training method is popular at the time or to what any doggy organization has to say when we employ the Garrett Stevens Method.  In fact, we don’t care at all what other experts may or may not have to say.  Does this mean we are closed minded?  Hardly!  In truth, it means the opposite because what we care about are Real Results for the dogs and for our wonderful clients.  We care more about what nature is teaching us and less about what new fangled “certification” comes out within the money-guzzling dog training industry.  Those utilizing the Garrett Stevens Method care more about what dogs care about and less about what people’s concept of dog training is or should be – because we’ve found that the more we align with nature and the balanced mother and father dog, the greater the relationship and the greater the behavioral success between human and canine.  The more we distance ourselves from the status quo industry methods the greater the outcome!  And we’ve discovered that that excellent relationship and great results we get often has little or nothing to do with certifications and group think and the selling of billions of dollars worth in treats or sweaters for dogs (or in selling largely unnecessary training equipment).  Results alone are and should be King!
  6. The Garrett Stevens Method does NOT require harsh handling or food treats!  Yes, it’s true – you heard me correctly.  We are the anti-trainers and we are the dreamers of dreams, we are the movers and shakers, of the world forever it seems.  As mentioned probably thousands of times on this blog – BOTH positive reinforcement and punitive reinforcement are externally based (fleeting) motivators and not the best choice in most circumstances.  Internal motivations (things like healthy relationship, freedom of choice, autonomy, curiosity, instinctual play drive, etc) are much, much better motivators than external positive or punitive reinforcement.  Internal motivation is one of the starting points in the Garrett Stevens Method but once that is rolling we begin teaching authentic maturity to both client and dog (as seen in mother nature) and that is one huge reason that sets this special method apart.  We are pioneering the way into the FUTURE of dog ownership (don’t believe me – read my books and discover why I say that).  Dogs are smarter than most training methods and therefore, they can and often do manipulate the heck out of it!  Training is secondary to a wonderful relationship particularly if the dog is NOT a professional working dog.  Don’t treat your dog like a dolphin doing flips for tourists in Hawaii – don’t stuff it’s face with food and don’t rely on weak external motivators that fade quickly – instead learn our method and truly communicate with your intelligent companion.  Once that happens freedom for both parties is just around the corner!
  7. When we use the Garrett Stevens Method we don’t need to make excuses.  Over the years we hear the stories first hand (over and over) from clients that have used other dog training philosophies and methods, prior to experiencing ours.  We hear about how the professional behaviorist, or dog trainer, whisperer, or animal communicator loaded the client up with many lame excuses once their method failed.  We’ve heard everything from “Your dog just shouldn’t be around other dogs or people.” (Yes, a professional trainer that someone was paying gave them that sage advice after their great “training” didn’t work – It’s ridiculous, asinine, and totally unrealistic!) to “Your dog is your dog and maybe it shouldn’t be touched by anyone else.”  (What a life for one of the world’s most social species – that brilliant advice, which came direct from a K9 trainer, is unbelievably stupid, and a cop out used to cover poor methods!) to one of the best lame excuses, in my personal opinion, we’ve ever heard.  It went something like, “Your dog wishes she wasn’t ever born.”  (This gem came to a client from a gen-u-ine “animal communicator” with psychic powers and all.  I guess that explains why her dog was barking too much whenever she was in the client’s vehicle…the poor dog just didn’t want to be born.  Excellent.  And this woman was paid for that “reading!”)  The Garrett Stevens Method is so DIFFERENT from all that because if something isn’t working, which is very rare, it usually means the client wasn’t emulating it precisely and that precision is EVERYTHING IN Dog LANGUAGE.  In proper language I cannot say, “I love the smell of that colon” and leave the sentence that way – can I?  I MISSPELLED the word “cologne” and instead stated that I love to smell a part of the human intestine!  That’s nasty and, furthermore, the communication is off kilter.  DETAILS MATTER!  The fine details matter to every dog that exists because they are the details of their language.  What does NOT matter, when interacting with our socially brilliant and highly communicative dogs, is whether you or I enjoy the absolute FACT that the details do matter!  It’s THEIR language so…I highly suggest learning it and learning to speak it back to them through our natural method because that, Friends, just may be the closest thing you’re going to get to calm, natural touch, space, and movement.  That is how you can learn to influence energy and really speak dog language and that will, in turn, influence your relationship and your dog’s behavior.  IF you truly love your dog – as so many claim to – put your money where your mouth is and learn their language.  Learn the Garrett Stevens Method.

Good luck on your quest.  For those legitimately interested I’d begin the journey by reading Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! because there’s a huge chance that what you believe about dogs and their language is way off base.  Then I’d move on to So Long Separation Anxiety (this little book is packed with plenty of other dog behavioral excellence far beyond separation anxiety alone) and then I’d pick up a copy or two of my upcoming third book about the dog’s 5 incredible Senses and the 4 PILLARS of Dog Language!  This book is going to reveal much more of the Garrett Stevens Method of behavioral rehab and canine linguistics!

Happy Learning!

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Advice for puppy owners during COVID-19

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Ignore most of what you’re being told and socialize your pup as best as you can.

That’s always my advice to pup owners and rescue dog owners corona nonsense or not.  Ignoring at first glance may sound like it’s irresponsible but, in fact, it’s the exact opposite because it means you’re going to take real responsibility for yourself and for the pup that is depending on you to lead it for the remainder of its life.  Ignoring the status quo is a fine art that, in most instances, should be cultivated in order to attain further freedom, autonomy, self-education, success, and self reliance!  Please think about that and really consider whether you are a person that enjoys freedom, autonomy and the rest.

Enjoy your day.  Seize it.  Say no to fear mongering and manipulation.  Throw caution to the wind.  Go boldly forth!

And always remember…both mankind and dog-kind survived for thousands and thousands of years without any organizations (medical or otherwise) dictating to them in the name of safety or health.

In my line of work we see loads of unnecessarily terrified puppies and rescue dogs and usually people are to blame because they did NOT socialize enough.  They sacrificed the poor creature’s mental and emotional health by an overzealous overprotection of the same creature’s physical health by way of waiting to do anything before the pup was vaccinated!  HUGE MISTAKE behaviorally speaking!  

Both people and dogs survived for thousands of years before vaccines and before modern medicine.

Get out and about and have fun doing it!

“Who rescued who”…touching sentiment or a losing philosophy doomed to fail?

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We’ve all seen the bumper stickers.  We’ve seen the magnets and touching T-Shirts.  “Who rescued who?”  Some of our clients have these rescue dog stickers on the back of their cars.  I totally see the merit and get the idea behind it…but…the problem (and it is often an ENORMOUS problem which is why I’m mentioning it) occurs when the “rescuer” (the person who got their dog from the pound) either Keeps Their Dog As A VICTIM, not allowing the dog to move on and not allowing the dog to live in the moment, by continually informing anyone and everyone that’ll listen of the old sob story about the dog’s dread past.

I’ve often found that the stories that people make up and imagine are typically much greater in the categories of abuse and maltreatment than what the dog most probably went through!  (Example: most dogs that are afraid of men were NOT abused by a man)

Seneca (a pretty wise individual that took time to ponder things out) said, “We are more often frightened than hurt, we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  And he was talking about people.  Never before have so many people had their dogs “suffer” in their imaginations!  It is quite unhealthy and a miserable way to begin a relationship.

The other failure that can and often does occur (behaviorally speaking) within the relationship between rescue dog owner and pound puppy is when they fail to give the dog beneficial boundaries and firm follow through when the dog breaks normal societal and individual house rules.  Basically, the rescue dog, gaining oodles of misplaced and unwarranted attention from day 1 within the home, often seizes command of touch, space, movement, and energy (the 4 Pillars – my third book on dog behavior!) and begins to do whatever the heck it wants to even and especially within the owner’s personal space.  Before they know it…little poor behavior patterns are established and the dog is on its way to establishing seriously bad behavioral patterns.

When a dog is termed a “real lover” by a potential client that is calling us to see if they can find a time slot on our training schedule we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their dog is over touching and out touching them.  It doesn’t matter if the dog that is always touching the owner is friendly or not.  Life among all canines and their ranking system is clearly determined by who is touching who and how and when that touch is applied!  “Real lover” type rescue dogs often sneak in way too much touch on their owners and this is the starting point of many horrible future behaviors.

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Well, there you have it.  I’m sure many of you that just happen to read this but that have never been clients may not understand it but these, Friends, are the facts as seen in nature and among all dogs.  Dogs that are allowed to enter your personal space whenever they want to, dogs that demand petting, dogs that lick you, dogs that slip your touch when you go to pet them, dogs that mouth you, dogs that always flop over and direct you to touch their belly are all controlling touch in one way, shape, or form and that is precisely how mother and father dog raise their young – they control touch, space, movement, and energy and, as their young age, they grow up properly with authentic respect, trust, and clear communication which, in turn, leads to maturity and calmness and self control (which means more freedom for the individual).

Don’t get it mixed up.  You got a dog from a pound.  Now please lead the thing the way it deserves to be led!  Let go of the imagined past suffering your rescue dog probably didn’t ever go through.  Understand that dogs can change for the better or for the worse rapidly!

Your relationship should NOT just be an emotionally-pathetic or odd thing wherein you offload tons of your own past wounds onto the unsuspecting dog!  (This happens way too much these days)  These creatures are born for living a life of physical vigor and adventure IN THE MOMENT each day with their owners.  Make it happen for your dog.  I can certainly get behind “Who rescued who” if it implied that both human and dog were working together to improve one another’s lives and to go boldly forward into a better future together but…if it’s an overemotional, overly needy, somewhat lost statement morphing into a translation like, “I don’t know what’s going on but I really need my dog” then I’m not going to be big fan of the slogan.  I am all for needing your dog but as mentioned your pet is NOT the place to dump your past emotional baggage.  We can all do better than that.  How we think and the words we use matter!

P. S.

If you have a nervous dog it will most assuredly manipulate you and your touch and space even more than a more balanced and relaxed dog would – so be careful and be sure to read more of our stuff!  Subscribe to this fine blog because we’ll be honest with you.  Also subscribe to Stevens Family Kennels on YOUTUBE seeing the dogs and people touch and move will help.

Honesty is the best policy because it is a great starting place towards a healthy relationship!

-G

Do you have what it takes to be a record breaker?

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So, do you have what it takes?  I think with a little effort many of you most certainly could be – and that, my friends, is fantastic news!

A record breaker isn’t just one of those people that take the time to look up precisely how many powdered donuts were inhaled during a frantic 60 seconds in order to win a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.  The people that research those records and then try to top feats like that by submitting a video of their own grotesque display to the good people at Guinness are not the sort of record breakers to which I am referring.  I’m talking about potential record breakers like you and me.  I’m talking about those of us that may not have enough time in the day to practice devouring insane amounts of donuts in very little time but about those of us that could break through a personal best at the end of the month.

Anyone can become a record breaker and (in my opinion) everyone should try because it means that you are growing. Personally, I reap great benefits (both mental, emotional and often financial) when I break records in my life, and records with my family, and in our two businesses (Alpha & Omega dog training and Stevens Family Kennels).  I love it.  So I just wanted to take a moment to encourage and challenge anyone reading this to at least consider the possibility that you may be an untapped record breaker!  We know there is a reason you are alive on the earth today.  We know that nobody out of the 7 Billion people on earth is just like you.  That’s spectacular!  So what are you gonna do about it?!

Step 1.  Take an honest look at your life.  There will be definite areas where growth is needed and there will be areas of strength where you could potentially ease off the gas pedal and let that coast for a little while.  Be forthright with yourself.  It’s okay to begin breaking records in an area of strength though because then, as you gain momentum from month to month, you might want to venture into areas of weakness and try to tidy those up with a new personal best.

Step 2.  Decide which area of your life you want to break a personal record in.  This is the exciting part.  It can be in ANY area!  It could be bettering a relationship with a spouse or a child (maybe you decide to keep track of quality time spent, or number of gifts or compliments given this month, or the number of phone calls).  You could break a record physically with your workout or your food choices (you’d be amazed how eating a large carrot every day can lead to weight loss – those disgusting, orange root tubers require a lot of chewing which then fools the mind and mouth into thinking you are full).  You could break your record financially as you decide to crush last months haul and earn more commission, or maybe because you boldly arranged a meeting with your boss to get that overdue raise.  Even the sky is not the limit if you can just believe that.

Step 3.  Get a vision and be your own cheerleader.  Vision questing is nothing new.  It usually takes time and sacrifice and open-mindedness.  Many great men and women from history have searched for a vision.  Many, upon finding theirs, followed it and changed the world. When’s the last time you set a goal or looked forward excitedly to the future while fully embracing the present?  Even if you’re not out to change the world I want to encourage you to try and cultivate the belief all the same.  Cultivate the belief that just maybe, if the circumstances were right, you could change the world!  I’ve heard it said that without a vision the people will perish.  Once you have a vision then guard it and stubbornly hold fast to it.  Once you have a proper vision learn to encourage and cheer for yourself (with relation to your vision) because many times throughout life you may be the only one doing that.

My grandmother’s family can trace their roots back to Scotland.  They were from the Highland clan Ross.  I want to share their motto with you now as an encouragement.  It reads, Spem Successus Alit.  That can be translated as “Success nourishes Hope.”

Friends, once you begin to break records (once you tap into some success) you’ll always have hope and a bright future in the area you’ve chosen to focus on.  Once you taste what it’s like to crush a personal best at the end of the month (set your records monthly) and then do that repeatedly as the year goes by – be careful – because you just may become addicted.  Forget the powdered donuts, baby, because if you follow the steps listed above you’re already on your way to authentic growth, better relationships, better vigor and physicality, and more finances, and… you’ll be a record breaker in no time at all.

-G

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