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

Raising a powerful breed puppy into calm, social maturity PART 1

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We have a new addition to our team at the Dog Language Center – it’s a bouncing Rottie pup! In this series I will delve into some rare yet wonderful puppy-raising hacks for all our rabid fans out there 😉 This post is lengthy but so worth it. Brace yourselves…its real talk from a genuine dog whisperer again.

If I could recommend one thing above all else it would be socializing the pup. In fact if I could only pick one thing to give to my new powerful breed puppy (or any pup for that matter) it would be ultra-socialization. What does this mean? It means that even above dog training or behavior modification and above visits to the vet or grooming shop, getting a puppy socialized makes all the difference in preparing the animal for success or failure, behaviorally speaking, for the rest of its life within our modern world. This ultra socialization means the gradual desensitization of our pup’s super senses each day/week/month that passes during the entire first year of life. The five senses of Touch, Smell, Taste, and Vision and Hearing develop quickly within young dogs and must be guided and influenced if one ever hopes to have a calm dog. The best way to help a dog truly mature and become calm is to get as many varied experiences and people and animals into the pup’s life as soon as possible. Many breeders do puppies and future dog owners a horrible disservice due to fixating on FEAR of parvo or other zoonosis as they fail the rapidly growing pups by coddling and keeping them away from normal life around the neighborhood. Friends, the health risk of socialization is so, so worth the behavioral reward. The law of the universe says we will most assuredly reap what we sow. No risk = No reward.

Let me point out now that authentic socialization is so much more than just attending a puppy group class somewhere or tossing your growing pup into high excitement environment dog daycare. While the puppy group class consists of one type of socializing please be aware that this “socialization” is usually nowhere near enough for most puppies to achieve social normalcy and it is certainly not enough for many powerful breed pups that tend to naturally guard and become more protective as they age. Also, there are many cons to be aware of in light of our desire to raise a puppy CALMLY and without the need for food treats and excessive shallow external reinforcement! When or if you do decide to place your pup in an excitable group class setting I’d ask you to reconsider. Believe it or not I DON’T typically recommend group classes filled with pups because older, balanced, calm, example dogs are usually absent and not on scene to help set the proper tone! Right off the bat this goes directly against nature’s ways and the way of all canines. So the group class is unnaturally wild with energy and overexcitement. The hapless dog trainer then often employees more excitement usually by way of a treat in attempts at competing with the already excitable pups that they are trying to make perform frivolous sits or downs. Rather than intelligently adding calmness, the professional trainer competes with the already highly excitable environment! Competing by raising more energy with an environment filled with foolish young pups is unwise and wasteful. As the trainer on hand encourages people to utilize high-pitched praise and “high value” treats in exchange for one second of the pup’s attention it often becomes a disgusting display of mismanaged energy and a total lack of natural leadership. It’s a bad scene and a noisy one to boot. Is it any wonder that most puppy “group” classes soon dwindle as the weeks pass to just one or two stalwart owners trying for perfect attendance as they drag their pups to the local Petsmart for the last couple weeks? I encourage any puppy owner to look deeper instead of just doing what’s typically done.

A similar conditioning of over-excitment and high energy can sadly yet easily develop in any pup that is at dog daycare all the time. Typically the workers in a dog daycare love dogs but many may not know much about real dog language or how or when to take action or adjust the pack’s energy. So day after day the rapidly growing and rapidly learning puppy is learning that whenever he lays eyes on his own species it’s supposedly instant play time and he (if he is a already a normally-functioning puppy) most certainly will raise his energy to heightened play levels…even if you’re just trying to smoothly walk down the street and past another dog and dog owner. You can see the problem with conditioning your puppy to be hyper from a young age.

When we compare and contrast the levels of energy found within a normal group class setting or dog daycare versus say of the energy while taking a wonderful hike through the mountains there are stark differences. That, Dear Reader, is not good. Excitement + Excitement = Calmness is a false equation, fuzzy math, that cannot work out mathematically and or scientifically within the animal no matter how badly many large pet training conglomerates might want it too. These conglomerates want to sell “high value” treats to dog owners in order to bribe their way into a pup’s life during an excitable round of obedience! A much more real world, beneficial equation that helps a puppy calm down and learn about real life around it would look like this… Excitement (the pup has this energy normally without being encouraged) + Calmness expressed through proper dog language (this is provided by the loving dog owner) = Calmness and steadily growing Maturity! Now that is a winning equation. Sadly, most dogs never achieve maturity because most dog owners have inadvertently downgraded their relationship to one of employer and employee (by “training” the dog according to typical dog training within the industry) even though the dog lives in the home and, in many cases is even babied and coddled at unnatural and often outrageous levels. Balance is nowhere to be found!

Society no longer requires work from 99% of our dogs. Instead these many dog owners that make up a good portion of our society desire calmness and trustworthiness. This is particularly important for young dogs and pups that will grow to be powerful, natural guardians. “Tapping the breaks” on growing guarding behavior is a must-do as it rears its head. The caring puppy owner must take action at the earliest possible evidences of any unsocial behavior (that is if you want a calm and trustworthy future dog that is fit for your children, your home, your neighborhood, the neighborhood children, and can be trusted in society at large. If you don’t want that then by all means continue “training” and “working” your dog as it is often tragically instructed almost everywhere.) Important Note: these unsocial signs or early signs of misbehavior are often overlooked in group obedience classes and they are overlooked in private sessions with professionals because of their horrible fixation on obedience and work!!! Then, typically at the year or year-and-a-half mark, as the young dog reaches sexual maturity, whatever unaddressed and underlying issues or problems the pup harbored come fully to fruition and suddenly it dawns on the dog owner that they have a serious problem on their hands. Then we get a call. We see this in almost every session we do with clients! What good are tricks and obedience when/if the original professional on hand cannot/did not identify and then take action and instruct you on the proper actions in order to prevent or reverse future issues with your dog? Too many people waste money on early piss-poor training instead of prepping their pups for real world success by way of extreme socialization.

Success Hacks for socializing your powerful puppy:

Because your pup is going to become a hulking beast or a dog that could intimidate some folks it is even more important to get people to TOUCH and pet your powerful puppy as early as possible!

This means week one of bringing the puppy home some visitors must come over and the pup should be starting right away to go out front of your house on mini walks to meet the neighbors. Yes, I know I might be going directly against some vets advice on keeping them “safe” and sound until the pup is damn near a teenage dog but I don’t care! I genuinely want what’s best for you and your pup behaviorally speaking and I’ve handled thousands and thousands and thousands of dogs with serious behavioral issues. Unlike many vets I don’t have the luxury of subscribing drugs and or just suggesting spaying or neutering or putting the dog down – if we’re being honest those are the three main approaches most vets take when dealing with dog aggression or extreme anxiety or other behavioral problems. Back to my point…Denying a young, rapidly growing puppy a couple months of socialization is most definitely Harmful to the dog’s psyche. I love the expression safety third. If life was always safety first no-one would ever do anything, or accomplish anything, or go anywhere. We’d all be paralyzed, unhealthy shut-ins. Socialize for success my friends. Sure, don’t roll your pup in dog crap and don’t bring your puppy to the busy dog park and let it drink from stagnant water while it’s 9 weeks old but other than those two things I would highly suggest the puppy meet as many people and social well behaved dogs as soon as possible in a majority of cases.

Make sure people and other dogs can touch your pup ANYWHERE on their body. This will inform you straightaway if your pup is fearful or dominant or overly hyper and then you’ll be able to devise a plan to help alleviate these issues if present (HINT: they are usually always present and need to be addressed or guided). Discover early on whether the pup refuses to let another dog sniff their rear end…if they’re nervous and they try to avoid being sniffed then you MUST jump in and make the nervous pup get it’s butt sniffed because that’s normal amongst canines. YOU dictate what’s normal to the dog just as older dogs in a large family pack would do. And forcing a nervous pup to get touched everywhere is one of the most important things a caring puppy owner can do for their pups. Yes I said force. You are forcing the pup to get out of your space and to be handled by a friendly person. You are forcing the nervous yet powerful pup to leave your space just like the mother dog weaned and forced her pups away from her body super early on. Hacking into the puppy’s sense of touch early on is INFINITELY More Important than any kind of obedience training!!!!!

Quick update on my upcoming third book…

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I edge ever closer to completion of my Third book on dog and human behavior and, let me tell you, I am excited. This will be my best book thus far and I am so happy to unleash this baby on the wide world.

Recently my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! has really been gaining audiences all over the globe. Big thanks to anybody who’s read and recommended it because, as you know, if read with an open mind Dog Myths can alter the entire way one views dogs and truly help repair damaged relationships between owner and dog. My second book, So Long Separation Anxiety is also gaining readers even though it is nowhere where I’d like it to be (in truth it’s probably because I didn’t make that book available in paperback and because I priced it so low as a thank you to readers of Dog Myths and it’s human nature to value things that are priced highly. It’s a shame though because So Long Separation Anxiety goes over everything from eye-contact denial exercises, to proper doorway greetings, doorway exits, to calming crate work – no treats or drugs required – and much more it is great for new puppy owners or dog owners with older dogs suffering with horrific anxiety. Many readers of both books actual prefer So Long Separation Anxiety because it is filled with very practical step by step instruction on every page.

I’m hoping to release this third, upcoming book about our dogs’ incredible senses and the 4 Pillars of Dog Language by the Christmas season 2021. Fingers crossed we’ll get it done for ya!

Thanks so much to all you fine readers of this blog and please keep spreading the word about my writing because it helps the readers and dogs and my family. That’s a win-win-win baby!

-G

Reversing DOG AGGRESSION!

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A food treat will NOT work in reversing genuine dog aggression. It may work (painfully slowly) on a dog with just a bit of reactivity but as far as a truly fearful, anxious, and or legitimately aggressive dog please know at the outset that you are WASTING your time, your energy, and your money on the behaviorist or trainer that handicap themselves because of their narrow thinking and belief that positive-ONLY is the only way to interact with a dog. The first system of the body that is shut off during a moment of Fight or Flight when the dog’s adrenal glands are pumping is the DIGESTIVE SYSTEM. This means that the truly aggressive dog will NOT eat a treat and make the positive associations that it’s supposed to during a real life moment when the dog is face to face with the neighbor or another dog that just ran up on it! THAT IS REAL SCIENCE! The digestive system is greatly turned down when a biological system (be it dog or person) is in a legitimate moment of fight or flight. This scientific FACT is a Massive Problem that positive only trainers have no answer for except that the dog was “over threshold” and should be placed a thousand yards back from the stimuli! HAHAHAHAHAHA That’s NOT Real Life! The positive-only trainer presumes that their way is the “only” way (it’s in the name of their method) and that also shows arrogance and, to be quite frank, a bizarre approach-because it’s so unnatural – to the wonderfully simple yet complex creatures we know and love as dogs. No dog on the planet uses food treats in order to elicit better social behavior from another dog or their pups. Friends, we don’t have to either.

Mother and Father dogs – any canine really – do NOT use food to rehab the wayward pup’s behavior. So why limit oneself in helping your dog if what we all should be looking for is the humane resolution of terrible behavior in the aggressive dog? Does this mean I’m saying punitive reinforcement is the best way towards reversing dog aggression? Certainly NOT! Many pro trainers that think “correcting” the dog through force is the only way forward can be just as handicapped in their viewpoint as the positive-only folks. Why not a balance like a good parent takes with the children they love and care for? And even more important – Why not something deeper than just pleasure or pain?

Dear Friends, I’d like to suggest to you (especially if you are a new subscriber to this blog) the idea that there is more to offer to the aggressive dog than raw reinforcement from either side. In my experience handling aggressive dogs (which is vast – I’m not going to beat around the bush. In fact my new apprentice just did the math on his limited experience professionally training dogs – he’s been training with me at the time of writing for just three months and has already handled over 500 dogs in private session after private session – and this does not even include his prior year working in the kennel of our Dog Language Center, and it does not include his work with any of our Behavioral Board and Train dogs. In just three months my young apprentice has worked with more dogs, many of these dangerous and a majority with reactivity and aggression and fear issues, than people will possibly even see their entire life! Personally, at the time of writing, I’ve had a very full sixteen years of behaviorally rehabbing dogs and asking the tough questions in hopes of getting to better behavioral answers for people and dogs and society at large. As to experience though please keep in mind – it doesn’t matter much if the person’s been doing it poorly for decades. Learning with an empty cup is critical for improvement. But let’s get back to the point). There is more to offer to our furry family members than the continued Fixation on reinforcement and motivation.

I’m not against an occasional treat (as the name implies treats should be infrequent. A treat is a treat…not the main meal!) I’m also not against an occasional correction (a dog goes to legitimately bite me while I’ve got it’s leash and I might, depending on the situation, correct that dog firmly all the while making sure to back it up and claim the space that it tried to take by entering my own space rudely – teaching it that although it tried to invade my space and bite it just lost ground because of the unsocial and possibly dangerous way the dog chose to interact with me. The main point though, Dear Reader, is that the claiming of the space is infinitely more important to the dog in most instances than the actual punitive reinforcement that just occurred. THIS is what a lot of folks seem to miss. They show very little comprehension in the way of understanding primal, simple animal and dog language and what I have coined as the 4 Pillars of Dog Language. The 4 Pillars of Dog Language are Touch, Space, Movement, and Energy. If you get those 4 aligned then life with your dog is always easy and the relationships, beginning with you and your dog and spreading outward to the wide world, get better and better and more and more rich and mature. It can be so good. This is the way to calmness and trust. Learning and applying the 4 Pillars is following the genuine way of the dog.

Oh just wait because my third book on dog and human behavior is coming out hopefully in 2021 and it’s going to be my best book yet! We go over the 5 Senses of our dogs and the 4 Pillars of dog language and how they pertain to every action our dogs take and the actions we take. These 4 Pillars are primal and elemental and can be observed in every interaction with any canid, at all times, anywhere! My upcoming book details a good portion of the Garrett Stevens Method and how to prevent or reverse a host of issues naturally and calmly and typically easier than the majority of dog training methods out there! We are so excited to get it finished and out to you all.

To reverse dog aggression towards others, be they people or other dogs, the core issue and the solution for genuinely helping lies within the 5 Senses and the 4 Pillars. We must consider the sensual nature of our dogs and the order in which they developed these super senses. We must understand how the brain and body of the canine employs these incredible senses and when the initial disturbance occurs. We must observe how the dog is touching the owner. We must take serious note of how the dog receives touch from the owner and from other people or dogs. We must learn from nature and consider the effects of pressure and the release of pressure. We must understand how social grooming and how touching displays among many species reveal the family structure and an orderly or chaotic and out of control hierarchy. We must intelligently observe the environment and truly see the space around the handler’s body, the dog’s body, the triggering stimuli/other person or dog’s body. We must question all animals and seek to learn about how important these spatial adjustments are. We must cultivate the fine art of movement and get out of our own heads as we allow ourselves to enter the world of the dog and the fine movements and words that that world contains. If we cannot move well results could be stymied. We must seek to guide touch, space, and movement if we ever hope to influence the energy of the animal.

Friends, there is so much more to offer the dog suffering with aggressive than just watch me, sit, down, stay, or come. There is so much more than just immature reinforcement and micromanagement through “work” and obedience. The dog of today doesn’t need more work despite what you may have heard. Let’s not confuse the professional working dog and its high drive training methods with what most dog owners of today have and what they desire – they want a CALM and TRUSTWORTHY family member and not a hyped-up work machine! Examine most dog training methods though and it’s just more excitement and more bribery and more punishment and more work…all of which do NOT lead a dog into calmness and more sociability! Those are the facts!

Friends, there is so much more than positive-only or punitive mostly available to our dogs. The fixation of reinforcement has been holding back new discoveries in dog training, language, and behavior for decades…let’s try and move past it, shall we? If you and I become more curious and intelligently question the 4 Pillars we’ll all be well on our way to further discovery into the elemental and terrifically clear language of animals and we’ll truly help dogs come to an understanding of their own nature. “He who asks a question may be a fool for five minutes but he who never asks a question remains a fool forever.” We must ask better questions if we desire better answers/results with our dogs! Calm the energy and any behavioral problem disappears. To get to energy though we must go through the gates of Touch, Space, and Movement! We must employ the 4 Pillars.

If you liked this one please let me know in the comments because I can continue it if we get enough response and I’ll give a couple practical, naturally calming solutions in the next one on the aggressive dog.

-G

Choosing your new puppy – advice from an award-winning behaviorist and hot-listed author

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  1. Don’t just buy from the cheapest back yard breeder.
  2. Don’t just buy from the most expensive (allegedly) quality breeder – even if they “import” impressive looking dogs from overseas or have the fanciest of websites.
  3. Do your research and ask the tough questions.
  4. When visiting in person ask questions about the sire and dam and look to interact with them.
  5. Don’t pick the pup that just jumps on you unless you want the future dog to jump on your kids and grandma when she visits for Christmas.
  6. Don’t just pick the cutest looking one. How vapid and shallow are you? Realize from the get go that the most important concern as far as quality of YOUR life and your pup’s life is temperament, aptitude, and behavior and energy…this will make or break your home life for as long as you have the dog!
  7. Don’t be talked into purchasing two pups at the same time so they can “play” that is normally a huge mistake.
  8. Don’t get carried away by your heartstrings and buy the sickly or weak or fearful puppy unless you’re genuinely prepared to do the hard and continual work of extreme socialization, forcing the pup into uncomfortable situations steadily increasing the pressure as you combat fear and future behavioral issues.
  9. Ask the breeder about the ideal pup for a house with kids and cats and chickens etc. You’re trying to do what’s best for YOUR household not just what’s best for the breeder’s bank account.
  10. Beware of breeders with too many sires and dams…they may not have enough time to socialize their pups during critical socialization periods that no one can ever get back unless perhaps you have access to a time machine or Dr Emmett Brown or Marty McFly.
  11. Don’t sign any overbearing or over controlling contracts.
  12. Beware of breeders that are keeping their pup’s TOO SAFE due to Extremely common yet a mostly irrational Fear of Parvo! To cultivate a healthy immune system very young pups need to be outside, on grass, putting things in their mouths, and exploring the earth. Most dirt is good for a pup (the homeostatic organism greatly aid in gut health which, in turn effects the whole body’s health). The modern medical industry did NOT create the creatures we all know and love commonly referred to as dogs…ancient peoples did! And they did it a long, long, long time before vaccines were ever around. Somehow pups survived. The immune system (like a pup’s growing mental and emotional state) must be exposed to plenty of varied situations and normal environments if you desire future success.
  13. In almost all cases you should drive to pick up the pup because the pup might be terrified during a plane ride at a young age and cause fear and anxiety that is usually very hard for most dog owners to reverse.
  14. Be sure that the sire, dam, and littermates do not have any sort of food reactivity, possession or aggression issues. Most resource guarding is taught by the parent dogs or occurs when too little food is placed in the puppies communal bowl during their time at the breeders. Resource guarding is easily spread to an attitude of total domination possibly with aggression in pup’s that are rapidly growing during the first year unless the pup owner bends over backwards to correct it!
  15. Check the pup’s environment and be sure it’s pretty tidy. If the breeder’s been up on the chores and kept it clean this makes future housebreaking so much easier.
  16. Check the pup’s eyes, ears, skin, coat, nails, mouth, and rear end. Check their gait and how athletic they are. Compare the pup you’re considering with the other pup’s shape and energy. Go for the best health and usually the mid-level energy puppy.

Hope these little tips help ya!

Personal Responsibility among dog owners

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It’s quite apparent to anyone who’s lived a few decades and observed the state of society that personal responsibility is at an all time low. Tragically, many dog owners fall into this category. In this article we will examine this problem and then go after it directly just like we do in our dog training and unique behavior mod. methods. (Please understand I care about you all…at least somewhat 😉 This article will give you an insider glimpse at what it’s like from the other end of the phone call and what it’s like receiving a buttload (yes, it’s a real measurement) of people’s emergencies (often self contrived emergencies) on a daily basis.

Masses of well meaning dog owners call us with THEIR issues and problems. Many call us frantically with THEIR emergencies! They need help and need it right away. Frankly, many have waited until it’s way too late and they have now come to a critical decision point where the dog may need to be re-homed (as if that’s a walk in the park to do…”Hey neighbor would you like my dog? He’s a fantastic dog – he just bites people at any opportunity.” or “Hi there, would you like to take our family dog we’ve raised her from a pup – she’s a really good dog – she just cannot be around any other single member of her own species or she’ll attempt to kill them straightaway and most likely drag you down onto the pavement during her berserking and lunging? She’s a great dog though.”

These sorts of cases are what we deal with on a daily basis! The other options for the dog owner that has gotten themselves and their beloved pet embroiled in an almost irreversible plight is to look for pro behavior training or finally to put the dog down. And so, we get the call and we are usually very happy to receive said calls but I want to make clear (especially for our excellent team and for my family) that we are here to HELP you, to SERVE, and to TRY OUR BEST to resolve YOUR (and I’ll say that once more) to resolve YOUR Problems and Emergencies (the majority of which You have created). And fyi, if you are one of those instant gratification brats that call us seeking OUR Help for the massive issues you could have/should have handled as an adult and most likely could have prevented in the first place you just might want to apply some Patience and realize that YOUR Emergency does NOT automatically become OUR Emergency just because you could not reach us whenever your heart desires to on the phone! We are very busy for a reason…we are helping other clients that have called and scheduled BEFORE you! (Patience is a wonderous thing to practice because that’s the only way to acquire it)

The very reasons that you may not be able to reach us on the phone anytime you frantically call are precisely the reasons we do such great behavioral work with our clients and their dogs! We are busy in the field actually doing the work! We are a small family owned and family operated business! And so, in our desire to serve current clients properly and to raise our kids properly we are not instantly available on the phone. Instead we call people that left us a voicemail (like instructed) within a day or two and get them scheduled for a few weeks out. Let me say this once to everyone out there – IF you truly desire Success in your relationship with your dog – or success in ANY Endeavor – you Must up YOUR own level of PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY!

Many of these issues are highly preventable in BOTH the classic cases – the ones where owners have bought their new pup’s from decent breeders (and received their pup’s around 8 weeks of age) AND in the cases we see where those bleeding-hearted people adopt some random yet good looking dog at a shelter/rescue. Both kinds of clients are seeking to unload the serious yet preventable problems their dogs have into our capable hands. And, please do not get me wrong, we are very thankful for this extreme popularity because it is my livelihood and keeps food on the table for our growing family of six. BUT let us never forget that many of these issues (human aggression, dog-dog aggression, rude behaviors, separation anxiety, et cetera) occur due to lack of personal responsibility on the part of the dog owner.

For those looking to get on our schedule or talk with me or one of our awesome team members about your dog’s problems I’d highly recommend that BEFORE calling perhaps you read or at least sample some chapters in my groundbreaking books on dog and human behavior. Dog Myths will help anyone with an open mind and open eyes to observe their dog. So Long Separation Anxiety is super practical (and short) and I even suggest it for healthy, sound new puppies in order to PREVENT future problems.

It’s the Holiday Season once again…consider gifting one of the books to a dog lover in your life!

Thanks for hearing me out. -G

Superman knows! What an endorsement! 😉

Quick Update

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As you’ve probably gathered I haven’t been posting on here quite as often as before but never you fear you rabid fans of all things proper dog language and behavior modification because we (our dynamic, intelligent, and may I even dare say attractive team at Garrett Stevens’ Alpha & Omega Dog Training and Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center) are up to Very BIG Things. I do not have the time to go into all of them with you right now but rest assured these new happens at our Dog Language Center in Puyallup will certainly be of service to you and your pooch in at least one way shape or form. Here’s a bit of what I’m toying with and IF WE GET ENOUGH FEEDBACK FROM YOU ALL ON THIS we will most likely move forward so please Respond after reading this!

We will soon be offering you a CLEANER dog upon pickup! After your dog’s stay with us at Stevens Family Kennels for just a few dollars more we would provide your dog with either a dry shampoo and brush out, or a legit wet bath and brush out depending, of course, on your preference!

We are starting up a StevensFamilyKennels Instagram account so you can follow and share the pics we take of your dog with your loved ones! Another reason to follow would be to see the incredible stories of horrific and heinous hound behavior turned by our custom methods into precious, and polite pup behavior! etc, etc.

And, for our prior training clients only, this is quite exciting, we are going to be offering affordable TUNE UP TRAINING while your dog is kenneling with us! I am NOT talking about our creme-de-la-creme, top of the line behavioral Board and Train, I mean simple but highly effective training (like sit, down, stay, come, take it, drop it, etc). I am working out the details first within this furry, dog-based brain of mine and then I will bat around the specifics with our amazing team but again – very exciting stuff happening here at Stevens Family Kennels!

Looking forward to serving you better,

Garrett Markus Aurelius Seth Godwin Immanual Honus Abner Stevens VIII

Smile – it’s good for you!

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!

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