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

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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The aggressive dog – three common mistakes owners initially make

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The aggressive dog is usually overcompensating for fear.  (It is often the same with people)  As discussed, fear in a wild canid is a perfectly normal and totally acceptable part of survival in the wild.  If the wild animal has triggering fear behavior it serves to keep the individual alive longer.  But fear presenting as aggression in our domesticated dogs, dogs that live with families in our modern world, is a serious and often misunderstood problem.  Most dog training tactics NEVER help aggression.  This is why aggression is so serious and why I say it’s almost always misunderstood.

Over the many years I’ve observed two tactics that clients employ when dealing with their dog’s aggression.

1.  They don’t do anything.  Believe it or not this happens quite a bit!  Let me clarify.  Obviously they do something because they’ve sought out our professional help (certainly the right call to make when encountering serious aggression issues).  So great job on that.  But, when they arrive for their first appointment they typically do NOT do anything (physical) during the exact moment that their dog needs it the most!  They don’t take action.  I mean to say that many clients (the first time they arrive at the Dog Language Center and take their dog out of the vehicle to begin the session) do NOT attempt to intercept or cut off the dog’s intense staring, barking, screaming, lunging, or snapping!  I have often observed them holding onto the end of the leash for dear life and that’s about it.  They let the crazy dog lead the way.  The aggressive dog is just doing what it’s been allowed to repeatedly do, and thus, seizes control of the space all around the owner.  The reactive dog hits the end of the leash and keeps the tension there in order to ramp up its energy and achieve even more anti-social behavior (directed right at me or at Jesse, my apprentice)

2.  They do the wrong thing.  Sometimes I’ll watch and see that the aggressive and fearful dog is usually being comforted by the owner (they say, “It’s OK” or “Your fine” repeatedly) and, as discussed many times on this fine blog, the dog is now being verbally reinforced by way of soft human talking for the wrong (fearful and aggressive) state of mind at the completely worst time to do so!  Often the aggressive dog will, with the unwitting aid of their owners, position their rear end (the exact body part that cannot bite or attack) near the centerline of the owner’s body.  The rear end of a dog is the part that is supposed to be available for smelling by other social members of their species. Please pause and reread that last sentence.  It is quite common for us to see the dog sit on or right near the owner’s feet.  The aggressive dog is, in simple terms, hiding it’s butt and simultaneously signaling that it is not at all social because it’s hiding its most social and smelly side – the butt!  A dog’s rear end contains a lot of scent – that is the natural gateway to gaining proper information that leads to greater levels of social relation.  Wise dog owners must Never let their dogs position the backside at the owner’s feet or position their body under the owner’s body by way of sticking the dog’s butt in between the owner’s legs.  In this dreadful position the fearful and aggressive dog can truly fight because they now have their socially open/vulnerable backside fully covered (anti-social position) and seemingly protected and reinforced (by the owner)!  In this position the dog has its weapons out in front of the owner and directed straight at the person or dog they intend to bite!  It is a horrible position to let the dog get into and about half of our clients (initially) allow their dog to get into this fighting position.  Remember, the aggressive dog is masterful at manipulating the touch, space, and movement of their owner.

3.  They attempt training at an improper time.  Most forms of dog training (however advanced the training may be) are excitement-based and externally-based and that’s NOT beneficial for excitable, anxious, aggressive, or fearful dogs!!! When the owner gets their dog to sit, or watch them, or stay right with them instead of allowing their dog to freak out on a stranger (or on a strange dog) or instead of allowing them freedom to sniff and explore and actually be social – the owner seldom realizes that all the obedience commands in the world (all the sits, downs, stays, et cetera) usually amount to niceties that have little or nothing to do with the real social work and experience we need to accomplish within the dog and within the owner’s psyche!  In fact, many caring dog owners rely on “training” as a crutch because they know that their dog is quite unsocial and cannot be trusted.  So, they often pile more obedience training upon more obedience training in hopes that if they just had TOTAL control their dog wouldn’t attack a person or bite another dog.  Friends, total control is and always has been an illusion.  Anyone who thinks total control is possible is living in a dream world.  Good leadership, however, just like good dog ownership, seeks to balance control with freedom.  At Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we teach people that too much attempted control results in eventual rebellion within the dog.  Just as too much wild freedom without some basic rules and boundaries will most certainly result in chaos.  Good dog owners, like good parents, or good government officials, must be aware of the locus of control/freedom and rebellion/chaos.  Balance is key – as all nature testifies.  Please think about that.

To sum up: do not comfort (with human talking) a fearful or aggressive dog during the exact moment that the dog is freaking out!  And be sure and do somethingdo ANYTHING – to physically change the bad or violent positioning your aggressive dog may be used to assuming in order to save his/her own hide and in order to simultaneously threaten any one who walks up to you!

Need more help?  Read my two books on dog behavior – Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety.  And keep an eye out for my third upcoming book (!!!!!!) that will be all about the 5 incredible senses of a dog and the 4 Pillars of dog language as it pertains to real world behavioral results and proper application of the Garrett Stevens Method!

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Aggressive dog in a harness…world’s WORST IDEA! If this owner only knew about our handmade training collars (they work wonders!)

 

I just wanted to Thank You

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I just wanted to pause for a moment and thank you all for reading my stuff.  I know I probably come off like an arrogant prick occasionally and please understand that’s not my intention it’s probably just who I am (hahaha- little joke – that’s partially true).

I am so blessed though whenever I think of my readers (readers of my books and of this blog) and those that are willing to look boldly and honestly at themselves and to look with a curious and open mind at their dogs as we imagine a brighter future together.  It is a very exciting time to be alive and active.

I also wanted to let you all know that I don’t get online and critique some random electrician’s wiring job on a new home, and I don’t write bad reviews of restaurants, and I don’t criticize how my mechanic could have done a better job.  I leave those professionals, and others like them, space to do their work as genuine professionals in their specific fields.  Unfortunately, this is hardly the case where dog trainers are concerned because every Tom, Dick, and Harry has had a dog of his own.  And the internet crowds obviously do not mind, even as lay people, critiquing (and or lying about) an expert that has bled and sweat for many years to build a successful business that has served thousands of dogs over the years and stimulated authentic and lasting change in both canine and human alike.  It’s strange to me that these lay folk, these non-professionals, these people that have never helped a dog with true human aggression or with severe dog-dog aggression (let alone handled thousands of them), would be so free with their criticisms.  Maybe it’s just the foolish trap of the inter webs?  Perhaps they’ve never read Roosevelt’s classic “Man In The Arena” speech about how “It is not the critic who counts…”  Friends, I have been a man in this specific arena for a long time and wanted to take a moment to thank you all for sticking with me.  Your comments and legitimate questions and shares on this blog cheer me on.

So if, at any time on this blog of mine, I seem a bit assertive it is because the dog training world and many a dog owner we encounter is filled with high emotions and with misinformation concerning nature and dogs.  I am trying daily to calm and clarify a portion of it for all our clients and for all our faithful followers.  If I seem a bit defensive occasionally or on the attack in my writing, it is because I see hosts of damaged dogs and hear stories from clients who tried other training (often with methods filled with ridiculous and unnatural training techniques) before those same clients happened upon our custom behavior mod. and finally began to see a difference within their pet.  I see these dogs and hear these true and sometimes harrowing stories over and over, day after day, month after month, and year after year.  And so, instead of mourning for a lost industry that cranks out neurotic dog after neurotic dog, personally, I get active and assertive and – I get to work.  I am assertive because I actually care!  Thank you for your understanding.

As many of you know, we train and rehab dogs around the clock – we don’t have the time or the luxury to give “free evaluations” like many dog training companies do because all our hours are filled to the brim with private session after private session, and with time spent helping those dogs fortunate enough to grab a spot in our behavioral board and train at Stevens Family Kennels.  A bulk of our life is spent serving dogs and clients and trying to fix problems.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to share our stories and my behavioral training or “anti-training” advice – each time you do you never really know just what dog owner and dog you could help.  And that’s exciting!  Thank you so much for reading my two books and please keep an eye out for the third – in it I will reveal even more of our instinctual methods.  I promise if you apply our stuff properly (using the 4 Pillars of dog language and the Garrett Stevens method) it truly works to calm dogs down and to help them align their senses, and it works to help you build a healthier relationship with the unique and fascinating species we all simply call…a dog!

Thanks again,

-G

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Is your dog like Muhammad Ali?

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Perhaps your dog “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee?”

Maybe you are one of the multitude of dog owners that “can’t catch what they can’t see.”

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali had masterful footwork and incredible spatial strike and retreat/retreat and strike techniques on the canvas that won him the heavyweight championship title.  Known today simply as “The Greatest” he was a masterful tactician and a true artist of the sweet science.

I’m here to inform you that your puppy (or dog) also has these same incredible moves at their disposal just like Ali had.  Whenever he/she performs these keep away moves on you it is purposefully rude, manipulative, and a relationship killer which then leads to a host of other dog behavior problems!  Whenever your puppy slips your touch or evades you, the pup then grows steadily worse.

 

All normal canines can perfectly calculate (just like Muhammad Ali could) the length of your arms and hands in relation to where their body happens to be.  They are true masters of fight/flight distancing.  Dogs know and care about space as it concerns their body and the environment they find themselves in.  They can dance away just as skillfully as the champion pugilist did in his prime.  Ali used the “rope a dope” tactic successfully on many an opponent in the ring.  Dogs and puppies also do this to their owners all-the-stinking-time! This allows them to grow steadily ruder and, in their doggy mind, more and more in charge of the household, the yard, the couch, the dog daycare, and the neighborhood!

When a dog attempts to slip your touch and stay out of your personal space bubble when you’re reaching towards them or clearly asking them to come into your space in order to be touched or groomed or pet, or leashed up, we must be able to control that interaction.  When you approach your dog they should not back away.

Beneficial suggestions to stop a dog from slipping your touch:

As detailed in my first book, Dog Myths, you must learn to play while moving backwards – use the tug, rope, or ball to lure the dog into your personal space.  When playing tug of war be sure to add your second hand into the mix in a fun way.  You should be able to touch your dog with your second hand without your dog slipping the touch.  This is how you desensitize and slow the classic Muhammad Ali slip and rope a dope behavior.

Do NOT lunge after the dog or chase it!  (Chasing the dog is a bad game because it reinforces the fact that your dog can run way, way faster than you or any human can)

Have your puppy wear a flat buckle collar around the house so that when he/she decides to slip your touch and give you the rope a dope you can easily reach forward under the neck of the animal and hook the collar and (gently) drag them forward into your space – then perform your originally intended purpose (the reason why you attempted to touch the pup in the first place – petting, grooming, leashing etc) Then be sure and turn away and exit the space first (before your pup runs off).  This little paragraph is important and has the potential to greatly alter misbehavior and bring about healthy relationship!  (If you’re still struggling with this then go to the leash and have your pooch drag one around)

Call your dog less.  Our pets live in a world of human talking and man made noise.  Humans are incredibly loud a majority of the time.  It is not that way in the woods.  Most animals don’t like loud noises.  Many dog owners kill the “come” command by overuse.  They also destroy the dog’s name because of overuse.  Don’t be one of them.  Be creative.  Think like an older dog.  Older dogs do NOT sit there calling the pups to them.  What do they do?  (I’m not giving you the answer because I want you to up your observation skills).

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This is my favorite pair of boxing gloves and my favorite jump rope

Muhammad Ali was fun to watch in the ring – he was one of the best boxers ever – but when a dog or pup slips their owner’s touch that is blatantly disrespectful and will most certainly grow poor behavioral patterns if left unchecked.  It matters not if the dog is nervous or shy.  Please follow my suggestions and then let us know how quickly you saw the changes in behavior occur!  (This stuff works and not only does it work…it works better than many behavior modification methods out there.)  DO it and both you and your dog will certainly reap the benefits!

-G

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Puppy life skills vs. Puppy owner’s fear

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Many caring puppy owners are hurting their pups!  Parvo.  Giardia.  Corona.  Whatever you are afraid of and/or whatever you are afraid might harm your little puppy is largely a waste of mental and emotional energy and legitimately just may harm the very pup you are so desperately concerned about protecting.  How?  Why?  It’s because of a couple of reasons.

1. Because people have the power to create what they focus on  – be it good or bad.

2. Because people, especially scared people, tend to make poor decisions – particularly in regards to handling nature.

Let’s look at the second reason.  You love and care about your pup.  You ought to care, the thing was costly enough on the old bank account.  Gone are the days when dogs were “Free to a good home” as seen from the ad in your local newspaper.  Now pups are thousands and the vet bills add plenty to that, and so does training, and consistent grooming.  You care enough to shell out the cash and that puppy face is irresistible however irascible the pup’s behavior may be.  You care and so you want to protect your little pup from all the dangers of the outside world.

Frankly, I’d be more afraid of your handling skills as an owner and your potentially excessively unnatural attention that you most likely are showering upon the poor pup (most puppy owners fail miserably in this regard and it’s only by the grace of dog that more dogs don’t let it go to their heads and become monster brats that dominate everything within their environment).  Too much attention directed at a pup destroys any and all respect towards the owner.

I’d be concerned, socially and behaviorally speaking, if you are not taking full advantage of the first year of life the pup has with you and your family.  The first six months are of particular importance within the life of all rapidly growing canines.  Bear in mind that the incredible physical growth rate we all see during the first six months of life for every puppy is also a tremendous mental and emotional time of growth within the pup.  The future dog’s social skills, or lack thereof, are greatly influenced during these first six months of puppy life.  The first two months you can’t really do anything about because that was up to the breeder and whether they were a quality breeder or not.  The first two months behavior depends largely on whether the pups had a balanced, healthy mother and father that they were able to spend time with and learn from.  It also greatly depends on proper human handling and the ability to explore their surroundings.  But what happens when a person buys and brings home a new pup into their household?

What should happen is a steadily growing relationship built on the proper touch, space, movement and energy.  A relationship of mutual respect and trust that is demonstrated physically and spatially and as the younger member of the family mirrors the energy of the older members.  That is dog language.  That is how dogs build good relationships amongst each other.  (Notice there is nothing about food or treats or excessive human talking or obedience).  The relationship based on dog language and respect and trust is what helps a pup mature into a fantastic and easy life companion in any situation or circumstance.  Dogs don’t do obedience training with their young and yet their young certainly aren’t (if left to their own devices) growing up afraid of their surroundings!  (Only a human would raise a pup into a fearful and neurotic dog)

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Each month of a pup’s life is the human equivalent of a year or two!  Think of all the behaviors learned within the mind of a human child during a year or two…now apply that to the puppy in just a month’s time!

How do I know what this guy is telling me is a fact you may ask?  Well, I don’t know a lot of seven, eight or even nine year old human children that are naturally looking to breed with the opposite sex at those young ages (Thank God).  But…I do know that loads of non neutered and non spayed 1 year old dogs would want to get in on the mating action if they could even when they are just a year old.  My point – dogs grow and mature at a much, much faster rate than the previously believed “seven year average” to every one human year.  Basically, humans destroy pups and their behavior every single day and many times it’s done through letting a little FEAR creep in through the door of the mind!

Instead of keeping your pup under lock and stinking key because the vet said it’s unsafe to socialize or take your pup to the dog park unless and until he/she has had their last round of shots…maybe you use your brain and walk the pup around your neighborhood, or at a Costco parking lot, or near a local park (not a dog park but a people park).  In most cases you will be absolutely fine even though there is a slight risk.  Do NOT roll your puppy in another dog’s feces.  Do NOT pour contaminated urine into your pup’s water dish.  If you follow this advice chances are things’ll be fine.

When I fly on an airplane there’s a slight risk the plane may crash burning into the ground and killing everybody aboard – but I still fly.  When I get into my car there’s an even greater risk that I could die in a horrible car accident (it happens to people every day around the world) but we all still drive.  If you really care about your puppy you won’t deny months/years worth of mental and emotional stimulation that lead the pup into social success and future maturity and relaxation just in case he/she might catch parvo or corona virus or whatever else that may cause you fear or discomfort.

If you truly care about your puppy you must disagree with fear.  If you desire an excellent, calm, socially-adept pet and family member you must socialize the heck out of the pup and do it as early and as often as possible.  Do not let your fear win out over your pup’s sociability and intelligence.  Make the right choice.  Be a person of action…dogs love that!  Say no to fear by way of action.  End of story.

(Keep an eye out for my third book on dog behavior!  I plan to release it in 2020 (if the world is still functioning).  We will explore the 5 incredible senses of the dog and the 4 Pillars of dog language and behavior training.  In this book I will reveal more of the Garrett Stevens Method than ever before!  Stay tuned all you rabid dog lovers!

-G

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