A primer on the etiquette of butt-smelling


In today’s complex world many of us forget to stop and smell the roses. However, “rose smelling” to a human, while important, is not nearly as important as butt smelling to a dog.  I’ve written this short primer on the art of smelling a butt.  I hope you enjoy it and that your dog can learn to perform this most vital of respectable, social, canine etiquette.

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Dogs are all born blind and deaf.  The primary senses are touch, smell and taste.  The unsocial dog over-uses vision and hearing and doesn’t enter the world of smell and taste enough!  This results in the unsocial touch or unsocial spatial manipulation.

If your dog has dog aggression or is fearful, skittish, anxious, nervous, or whatever other label you can come up with one of the main areas to focus on would be their butt.  I am dead serious.  The back half of a dog is what I like to call “the more social half,” or “the end without weapons.”  The astute observer of dogs and canine behavior can quickly see how important smelling a butt and getting your own butt smelled is as a greeting ritual in a canine’s social world and body language.  If your dog is not comfortable getting it’s rear smelled that’s a big problem!

For the aggressive or reactive dog be sure to have already started a great foundation of heeling and leash work before attempting to get your dog’s rear smelled.  This means the dog should be able to walk beside the owner or handler and NOT in front and the dog should be able to keep the leash relatively loose while doing so.  NO tense, tight, or taught leash!!!  If you and your dog cannot accomplish this heeling feat and your walks are terrible please go NOW and order my HEELING and LEASH MANNERS VIDEO!  (That video is everything you’ll need to get you going initially on a great walk with your dog or pup.)  www.gstevensdogtrainer.com 

If your dog already has a decent heel started and can, for the most part, walk beside you and the leash is loose when there are no other dogs around you are then ready to help him/her begin to advance to butt smelling (Even and Especially if they do not want their butt smelled!).

Forcing a nervous or aggressive dog to get their rear end smelled is critical to behaviorally rehabbing the animal into a future of relaxed, and social interaction!  The relaxed and social interaction has to start somewhere.  I start with the heel and quickly progress to getting the dog’s butt smelled…even if it’s forced (meaning I’ll turn the aggressive or fearful dog around exposing his backside to the calmer, social dog who is attempting to greet the unsocial dog by smelling it).  Forcing a nervous or aggressive dog to do something it doesn’t want to do is the name of the game!  If this is handled correctly and smoothly with proper timing and reading of the dog’s energy it will most assuredly stretch the dog’s capacity for sociability!


If it was up to the fearful or aggressive dog they would never choose to interact socially because they are probably quite comfortable with their tiny, shrinking social circle that includes manipulating and receiving unhealthy and non-beneficial human comfort or touching from the owner!  (yes, this is real talk for you)

At this point many dog lovers would freak out and say something to the tune of “Never force a dog to do anything.”  To that I would say “Rubbish!”  Of course you can lovingly and calmly force a dog to do something.  Example in the human world:  I force my three-year-old to learn the rules of the road, to look both ways before crossing the street, and I may even physically grab him, if necessary, to stop him from running into traffic!  This is done out of love and to teach him how the world works so he can function and successfully navigate the world without me one day.  The great reward for me as a parent will be a future filled with TRUST.  People don’t seem to understand they can have a similar relationship with their dogs if the methods are proper.

The skittish or dog aggressive dog will not go along with getting his/her rear smelled easily…so be prepared to turn your dog’s head away from the approaching social dog they are about to freak out on.  180 degrees is perfect when first starting.  Move as fast as you can to turn your dog’s head away and break the unsocial and aggressive eye contact your dog is giving to the approaching dog.

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Notice how comfortable this dog is in his harness!  Harnesses are terrible for helping a dog walk nicely and certainly don’t work to help control or calm a dog’s eye contact because there is no access to the head.  Don’t be fooled by the salesman trying to sell them!!!


(If this proves impossible for you or very difficult and the dog is still staring and presenting fight or flight at the approaching dog you may want to order our custom fit, strong, hand-made training collars…they work much better than any collar or harness on the market!  I highly recommend them for this sort of socializing and walking-work. To order go to my website below and click on the Custom Products page)

Control your dog’s eye contact – Do NOT let them re-engage and stare at the approaching dog.  Control the eyes and you control the animal.  Then KEEP THE DOG THERE in that position (facing away from the other dog).  They are forced to look away from the approaching dog and their butt is behind them where it should be and the owner has their head in the heel position looking away from the coming dog.  Now the butt is exposed and ready for smelling!

At this point your dog if skittish, or aggressive, hyper, or fearful, rude, or just young will flail about and do everything in his/her power to turn around and stare, lunge, bark or bite at the approaching dog.  They will do anything to get their weapons pointed and protect or hide their butt.  It’s wild because they will do almost anything to remain UNSOCIAL and UNSMELLED!  This is the nature of fear – it’s a harmful addiction.

Stay calm.  Move fast but stay calm. Try not to even enter into what I call “the dance”: when a dog has too much leverage on the leash and is taking advantage of their owner and creating more and more space and lunging about and barking and snapping and leaping every which way – et cetera.

Try your best to control the space in a firm but very calm and commanding way.  Keep the dog looking away and in the heel position.  If you can do that relaxation and much more freedom is right around the corner for you and for your dog.  Sociability is waiting to be had but in many cases will never be found because the fearful, skittish, or aggressive dog, like a drug addict, is addicted to fearful and unsocial habits and they quickly become masters of evading social greetings.  They hide their butt and never “shake hands” in the dog world.  And the majority of trainers try to bribe them with food.  And the majority of owners just let the dog control the interaction and continue to cater to fear.

This is why the caring human must take charge.  When we make a dog get it’s rear end smelled by another calmer dog we are in the very least introducing the nervous dog to what is, in dog culture, half a handshake.  We are helping them with their own canine manners and greeting rituals.

Imagine how psychotic a person would be in our society if they refused to shake hands when meeting people!  Imagine if that person wanted to be successful but would run, or fight, or simply hide anytime a friendly person, coworker, boss, or family member stuck out their hand to say hello.  This is exactly what a huge percentage of dogs and pups do and shockingly the owners do nothing about it!  The dog is certifiably INSANE and cannot even grasp the simplest of its own social beginnings like a dog handshake/butt smelling and yet there is hardly ever the attempt made at forcing them to have an inkling of manners (just get it over with) and helping the dog get their butt smelled.  This inaction on the part of humanity is just one reason why in America each year 5 million people get bit by dogs!

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The wild part is that after a few repetitions where the nervous or aggressive dog is getting spun around and if we are controlling their head and their hip and exposing their backside to smelling from other social dogs… they begin to relax!  They begin to calm down!  We begin to normalize what should have been (and would have been if their hadn’t been any humans involved from birth) normal social canine interaction.  The dog becomes less insane.  The human owner/handler becomes much more confident in their handling abilities and they learn to achieve calmness quicker and quicker with each repetition.  The formerly skittish dog soon only freaks out on other skittish or aggressive dogs and no longer has issue with the social dogs.  A few days or weeks after that if we keep the exposure up they usually don’t freak out on any dogs!

This is critically important information.  This is a key part in the Garrett Stevens Method.

It’s time we do things the dog’s way and get great results.  It’s time to get those unsocial dogs smelled!  It’s time for owners to have the courage to stay on the same side of the street they were originally walking on (not hide or flee when they see another dog coming).  Look at the approaching dog as a learning opportunity for your own crazy dog!  It’s time for action.  It’s time for speed.  It’s time for respect, and calmness…..then…..and only then can you finally have trust!

Imagine trusting your dog enough to walk by another dog.  Imagine trusting your dog off leash.  Imagine trusting your dog at the dog park.  You can get there.  I can help.  Start with “Heel” and then jump into the social adventure of getting your dog’s butt smelled!

If you enjoyed this Read my books, Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety (at least sample them on Amazon)  They’ll forever alter for the better your entire perception of dog language and training!


more info at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com



Any Breed, Any Age, Any Problem

Experience the difference Calmness can make!

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The original “Wolf man”


To me the dog is the original “Wolf man.”

A dog is so much more than just a domesticated (neotonous) wolf.  Of all the domesticated animals on earth none lives more closely to mankind than the dog.   A dog is clearly “more” domesticated than our horses, our chickens, our cows, our goats, our pigs, even “more” domesticated than our cats.  No other creature lives as closely and is as adept at working with, communicating with, and reading us than our canine friends.

A successful hunt with man’s best friend.

Imagine for a moment being a creature in partnership with mankind for the past 10,000-20,000 years!  Dogs can even become what I call “ultra-domesticated.”  If we want this ultra-domestication all we have to do is “ultra-socialize” from a young age and add in some rules and boundaries.  It makes for amazingly well-behaved dogs.  If we do not socialize enough we pay for this later when our dog’s behaviors are inappropriate or out of control.  And, please, please, please understand that socialization does Not just mean sticking your pup into some random, highly-controlled, group class at a faceless training facility that offers dog training as one more stream of income (because they offer daycare, boarding, and selling you whatever else they can upsell you) and then later expect your puppy to be calm in any real life situation that you may encounter in your daily lives…Beware horrific training! Terrible training and behavior mod. runs rampant and usually falls into the “positive only” or “negative only” trap and has little to do with calm, social interactions between your pup and the whole world.

Are you shocked at my disdain for the dog training and dog behavior modification methods as a whole?! Please don’t be. The more we question the status quo the better results we get with dogs and their owners! Beware going the unnatural but extremely common method of bribery and babying with food treats and or the militant, over-board, harsh corrections method both are traps to be avoided!!!

Use your imagination for a moment and step into my laboratory (I’ll be the guy laughing maniacally with the white lab coat…you can be the hunchbacked assistant if you want.)  Please picture with me this new and interesting creature.  Canis Familiaris is wolf-like in appearance but not quite a wolf.  It’s behavior is wolf-like but somehow there is something distinctly human about it. This creature can read our own human body language, energy, fears and excitement like no other animal on earth.  The creature can mirror, reflect, or imitate our own actions, emotions, and energy.  The creature is equipped with super senses and some impressive weaponry.

It’s laying on the table bolted down in the laboratory and about to be released onto the unwitting populace!  The horror!  Sounds funny to you but this is actually my real life experience every day!  Some people will buy puppies because they look cute and in a few months to a year they turn them into real life monsters!  Or say you’re the kinder-hearted folks who decide to rescue a dog who initially acts shy and is sometimes called a “real lover” (the dog manipulates constant touching, claiming, and coddling because it is fearful or dominant- see my post on “Dealing with a fearful dog” and my post on “Introducing a Rescue dog into your home“) but turns out in a few short weeks to reveal he is a monster with little to no socialization or structure in his life!

Domestication has added familiarity which can have great benefits but being familiar in any relationship (a mother and her children, a husband and wife, a boss and an employee) can also have horrible social repercussions!  None of us want to be too familiar with each other because it breeds rudeness.  Many of the dogs that I see are acting downright rude and bratty and attempt to control/dominate everything or everyone in their social circle out of a fearful, aggressive, hyper, or dominant state of mind!

“It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE!”

Many people just assume they know everything about dogs because dogs have been around for so long (as I’ve mentioned above.) but to be a real scientist or learn any new thing you have to step outside the box.  You have to discover and observe and conduct experiments for yourself not just listen to every opinion from the dog park, internet, family member, or the random over-excited, treat-bribing trainer you meet in Petsmart or Petco.  Look closely at this truly unique creature.

In my experience, on a social level, dogs seem to function behaviorally almost as if some mad scientist, some type of Dr. Frankenstein, mixed a wolf right from the wild with a human toddler and mixed in some human teenager as well.  What a wild and enigmatic creature!  Sometimes so similar to us; other times our complete opposite.

Behaviorally speaking, I have seen dogs demonstrate almost identical tantrums as our own human toddlers.  I also see (every day) highly intelligent, socially manipulative “one-ups” and very specific language from dogs toward their human owners and the other people in their lives.  These social manipulations are so excellently performed that the dogs are soon outwitting their owners and getting their own way!  From fake apologies to sneaky misbehaviors dogs can act incredibly similar to our own teenagers who yearn (and whine) for freedom from our households but can only handle it in small doses (all depending upon their level of self control).  I sometimes wonder if our dogs learned some of these social “one-ups” from watching and mirroring us for many thousands of years.  I am constantly amazed at the complexity of the canine language and the wide range of intelligence in our furry companions.

A little grooming goes a long way. It is good for our dogs socially and, of course, good for their skin and coat.

When one considers intelligence you have to take into account the different types of intelligence (spacial, adaptive, instinctive, et cetera) and we shouldn’t just generalize and say (and I’ve heard or read this before in the past) dogs have the intelligence of say…a 3-4 year old human.  That is absurd.  There can be no comparison in regards to intelligence when totally different brains senses and bodies (different species) used for different environments are concerned.  Dogs and humans are uniquely specialized to function a certain specific way and process the world differently. Also…one should not average out the vastly different growth periods of our canine companions and just assume the dog is aged 7 years to our human 1.

My best advice: Try to stop thinking so much like a human all the time!  That will get you into trouble when you are trying to work with an animal.  And don’t you think if the roles were reversed and our dogs dominated the planet like we humans do they would be laughing at our “intelligence” or, lack thereof, as they mocked us about how we couldn’t even smell our way back to our house if we were lost, or how we have no idea where the magnetic north is except through the use of tools, or how flabby and slow we may be, or how we can’t seem to see the benefits of clear, honest, communication, or how loud and talking we all are, or how impatient we are as a species, or how we can’t live in the moment for very long, or how we don’t appreciate each moment and find pleasure in the little things or how we prefer a false sense of safety to real freedom?

Learn from the interesting creature that we often take for granted.  And be sure to teach the interesting creature that we often take for granted.  Develop a real relationship with Canis Familiaris… you won’t regret it.