Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble…

Standard

In the Middle Ages dogs were often tried and punished along with their owners.  Two dogs were hanged in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 for witchcraft.

Dogs have often suffered in their 10,000-20,000 thousand year partnership with mankind.  Whether from actual physical abuse or just mental and emotional.  Try to do your best to balance a great relationship with your dog and don’t forget to give them exercise, discipline and rules, and some loving each day.

Just out for a normal midnight game of catch with my two headed, beady eyed, dog and my ax. Maybe he was planning to get rid of one of the heads while the dog was distracted in its frenzied prey drive? Or maybe the ax is for the living serpent-root of that tree?

If you’re staying home to pass out tricks or treats don’t forget to work your dog on Calm doorway greetings (see our excellent post).  You should control the doorway entrance Not your dogs.  Claim your personal space, the doorway, and your dog’s personal space.

I don’t know if this is the diet your local vet would recommend for your growing pup but I’m sure the dog enjoyed it.

If you’re planning to go out be sure to work your dog in “heel” and rest assured it will be fantastic socialization for them (proceed with caution if your dog is fearful- we don’t want anyone getting bit- unless you are bitten by some pathetically sensitive, brooding, teenage vampire or werewolf!)

Have a safe All Hallows Eve and have fun howling at the mooooooooooooon!!!

I don’t quite know what’s going on with this guy but it’s either gotta be Werewolf Tai Chi or maybe some medieval game of catch…? Either way he’s definitely got a great therapeutic stretch going for his left ankle.

-G

Advertisements

Has your child been bitten in the face yet?

Standard

Almost 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year!  Half or more of those bites are on children.  And many of those bites are on the child’s face!  Dog-bite related injuries are highest in kids who are 5-9 years old.

This article will help to safeguard your own children or any child you welcome into your home and around your dog.  Be sure to teach your children how to act correctly around dogs because each dog is different and each is equipped with serious weaponry.  But first you have to know how to act properly…

If you want to allow your kid to manhandle your own dogs that’s your business but be forewarned… dogs don’t usually like hugs and when we wrap our arms around them and put our face in their face it can be taken as a sign of dominance (like when a dog wraps their arms around another dog to hump them) (or when two dogs get too tense for too long at a face to face meeting).  Hugs and kissing can make a nervous dog totally uncomfortable because there is no escape route in sight…which can quickly escalate from flight to fight!

 

A dog is all about it’s body.  I know you may think you are too (especially you gals who try to line up with whichever new Hollywood buffoon is gracing the cover of the magazines near the checkout lines) but however self conscious or self obsessed you may be about your cankles, love handles, crooked nose, chicken wings, mole or other blemishes it is nothing compared to the amazingly body conscious, furry, companion you’ve got lying next to you.

At this age all the pups are blind and deaf so you can imagine the importance the sense of touch plays as they fumble around and find mom, dad, milk, and their siblings. Touch, taste, and smell are a dog’s first senses.

Dogs do not have a spoken language like we do but that in no way means they do not have an amazingly complex language based in movement and energy.  The movements of their body, their energy levels, and who is touching who and when, where, and how on their body a touch may or may not occur- all of these little details are actually words in dog speak or the canine way of communication.

A dogs intelligence is a masterful blend of ancient instincts mixed with empirical activity and social manipulation.  They form habits after discovering what works for them.  If your dog is out-touching you or over-touching you be it a lick, a mouth, a nip, jumping up, a bump, leaning on, stepping on, nosing you or any other touching I’ll tell you clearly you are being manipulated and dominated!  Your dog thinks it is in charge of the routines and habits that run your life.  And your dog is absolutely right in this thinking.  He/she is dominating you even if it appears friendly or if the dog is desperately “in need” of comfort.  (See our blog posts about Dealing with a Fearful dog and Introducing a Rescue dog)

This article should forever change how we view our dogs because, let me tell you, they can be more manipulative and socially brilliant than most people I see.  A dog, through touch and social spacing, can have a human trained within a few short weeks.  I see it every single day!

To safeguard children and yourself from dog bites be sure to truly observe how touch and social spacing are the number one top priority for determining leadership and developing habits of energy control in our dogs.  Think like a dog.  Get out of your distracted, human head and live in the moment for a second or three to see what your dog is doing and how they are talking.   Are they speaking rudely?  Are they dominant?  Are they scared and threatening other people, kids, or dogs?  Are they hyper and taking it out on you and your personal space or your guests?  Are they constantly licking you or on your lap or hiding behind you?  If you answered yes to any of these questions you need help and not just the typically lame sort of help that most behaviorists and trainers suggest because no amount of “sitting, downing, staying, or watch me” is going to help solve real behavioral manipulation and the social one-uping that your dog is exhibiting.

Now ask yourselves if you were so unaware about how important a dog’s sense of feeling and touch is and how important a dog’s physical body is when considering behavioral patterns and sociability how on earth would a child be privy to such information?  Kids are bulls in a dog’s personal China shop because they will get right in a dog’s face.  Kids will pull a dog’s ears.  Kids will often smack a dog with any large item if they see the dog jump back and find that to be humorous.  Kids will attempt to ride a dog or sit on them.  Kids will drag a dog or pup around on leash.  Kids will hug the heck out of a dog whether the dog is their calm and friendly, already desensitized, old, family dog or some new terrified and aggressive rescue dog that the neighbors just brought home…kids will treat almost every dog the same based on their former experiences.

Teach your kids to ask before touching.  Teach your kids simple canine communication.  Teach them silence can be a big warning.  Teach your kids to be gentle and stay out of the dog’s face.  Teach your kids never to corner or trap an animal.

This is an image of what I would call a calm, balanced, and relaxed dog that is not guarding or claiming its backside. Notice the relaxed open mouth. The confident yet calm posture. The dog is not attempting to move away from the touching going on back there or move towards the vet menacingly.  This means some wise dog owner made sure their puppy or dog received ample touching when and where the owner wanted to touch…not just when and where the dog wanted it!

For those adults who believe that dogs just snap one day and go crazy I’ve got news for you.  Unless the dog is rabid nothing is further from the truth.  Dogs never just go wild and give no warnings.  There are always subtle warnings. In fact, usually there are warnings for months!  This does not mean the dog will send you an email, text, or prepare a Power Point presentation to let you know they are feeling uncomfortable and are about to bite.  The dog will not stand up like a human and speak out loud to you.  It means YOU might need to take some time to learn to read and speak your dog’s language better since you were the one who decided to welcome a domesticated predator into your home.

If you currently have a puppy I suggest you start to manhandle and over-touch it how and whenever you want every single day.  Please note, I did not say whenever the pup wanted or wherever they want to be touched on their body.  Half of good, early, dog training is denying them the touch and attention they want when they want it to replace it with a more correct social touch or spacing that teaches calmness but doesn’t let the dog or pup manipulate us.  Social grooming, touching and spacing is everything when communicating with an animal.  This goes far, far beyond treating them for frivolous tricks.  This goes much deeper into a real and social language instead of just “finding what motivates your dog” like the majority of trainers and behaviorists go on and on about.

Handling and touching of your puppy or dog will have several great benefits.  It will prep them for vet and grooming visits.  It will teach them not to claim any part of their body so that in the future they do not guard it.  It will make you look more like the mother or father dog and establish a more real and meaningful relationship as opposed to just having the dog manipulate and use you.  Handling your dog the right way will make the dog much more comfortable socially as it will learn the proper way to receive human attention and touching.  Your learn kids are loud, climb on things, roll on the floor, move fast, and will sometimes get right in their face to give them a hug.  Most importantly the dog will learn there are more options than just fight or flight!  By touching your dog or pup correctly they will learn to access the appropriate social, calming signals.

Protect your kids and desensitize your puppy or dog to touching and you’ll be doing everyone a huge service.  Need help?  Give us a call!

-G

 

STAY, DOG, STAY!

Standard

Many times we are guilty of not giving credit where or when credit is due in regards to proper timing, rewarding or acknowledging of the behavior we want in our puppies or dogs.  In other words when we try to “speak dog,” we stutter, mutter, and generally screw up clear communication with our dogs and pups.

If you want better results and a firmer hold on the “Stay” command from your puppy or dog please read and heed this post.  It does not have to be that complicated.  Here it is in four easy steps…

1.  Have incredible patience.  Think of patience as a muscle you get to exercise and strengthen while you work with your dog on the “stay.”  Under the patience umbrella I would also remember to acknowledge, slightly, the fact that the dog has first mastered the “sit” or “down” commands and to let them know we are pleased with that.  Please no huge praise or foolish treats at this point because we want the dog to remain stationary.  Feel free to pet or praise calmly or express gratitude or happiness about the initial sit or down.  Your dog will sense it.  This may not be important to you but, believe me, so many humans skip this simple part and then end up blowing the “stay” part.  Don’t worry if your pup fails the first few stay commands as they have to fail in order to learn what stay really means!

2.  Use hand signals.  In my experience I have learned dogs actually prefer vision over hearing.  If we were able to sit them down (like we can with school children) and administer one of those tests that determine whether a person is a visual learner or a more auditory learner or a hands-on, kinesthetic learner we would easily discover our dogs would always prefer touch and feeling before vision and hearing.  Since all pups are born blind and deaf they much prefer to learn things through touch and social spacing (kinesthetic all the way!).  So feeling/touch trumps vision but vision trumps hearing.  Use hand signals and body language for the clearest possible communication with your dog.  Keep the signals easy and smooth and tell your whole family about them.

edit 23

This is me and Rambo working some Frisbee obedience. If you don’t have the eyes you don’t have the animal’s attention! Get their focus on you and then give the appropriate, clear hand signal.

3.  No cheating.  And have a correction/fail sound.  After commanding, “Stay” in a very clear and low voice attempt to back away.  I didn’t say loud voice, folks, I said low.  After telling your dog or puppy to stay (with your stay hand signal too) proceed to stand up first and then back away from the animal one step at a time.  If the dog is just learning it don’t freak out if he fails.  Remember patience.  Don’t let him cheat ahead and gain ground on you.  Don’t let him walk forward closer to where you are and then sit and stay.  Walk the dog back to where he originally put his butt on the ground, relax yourself, have him perform the “sit” again and then repeat the whole sequence.  If your pup can only last in a “stay” for two steps back or about three or four seconds that is okay.  Be sure to anticipate failure (I mean get ready for the dog to start to come out of the stay!) and give some short, sharp verbal disciplinary sound.  Aim for great timing and body language.

4.  And here’s a Garrett Stevens special tip for really strengthening your “stay” command…Instead of calling your dog with a “come/here/heel” out of the stay walk calmly back to where your dog is already staying still and reward there!  In essence reward for the stay and NOT for the come.  Most folks reward for the come!  Almost every single person I’ve met and worked with over the years has never added this simple and very effective technique until I show them how effective it is to really help the dog realize just exactly what we want from them.  The dog just needs to learn to not move.  How simple is that?!  By commanding stay and then walking around, backwards and forwards, sideways and wherever else and adding in more distractions little by little then returning to your stationary dog and Rewarding them there for staying in no time your dog will start to really understand what you want and how simple “stay” can be.

Good luck and keep practicing,

-G

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

 

Star Wars, the Force, and Dog Aggression

Standard

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Yoda the Jedi Master

I believe in the force.  You may think I’m joking but if you had the privilege to study, learn from or hang out with any of the world’s most successful people you would find (like Napoleon Hill did- author of Think and Grow Rich) almost all of them use the force and use it often.

One example is George Lucas; net worth around 5 Billion dollars!  Who would have thought a story about space aliens could yield that sort of amazing fortune?  If one of our friends told us they had come up with that exact story we would probably respond with a complacent, “Yeah, that’s a cool story, man.” and leave it at that.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” -Johnathan Swift

Our thoughts often determine our reality.  Because thoughts are real things.  And thoughts lead to attitudes and words and those in turn lead to actions which then become habits which direct our character and character becomes our destiny.

I think we can all relate to Star Wars because we recognize that there is good and evil in our world.  And that there is always a choice in our lives.  We get to choose what type of person we become.  The Jedi are on the good side – selfless, caring, protecting, patient, peaceful.  The Sith are on the dark side – selfish, jealous, plotting, angry, evil.

When we work with our dogs we should always check our own energy and, “act like a Jedi,” if you will.  Stay calm.  Stay patient.  You can use force (physically) because dogs are very physical but it is always better to “use the force” mentally rather than physically as dogs can easily cue in on that.  Attempt to “be at one” with your pooch and your surroundings.

A warning to the idiots out there: please don’t take this too far.  Don’t hit your dog with any flying Jedi kicks or fashion your own light saber in order to beat your confused puppy over the head.  And for God’s sake don’t video yourself acting like a Jedi or Sith.  I would hate for any of my clients or the followers of this fine blog to have an embarrassing video surface of you attempting to twirl your light saber and attack the invisible minions of the Dark Side like that poor, nerdy kid a few years back (Search on Youtube for “Star Wars kid” if you want to see the videos I’m referencing).

Live in the moment with your dog when training and especially when you need to correct/alter a behavior.  Develop a great heel = your dog walks beside you (not in front).  If you need to correct a behavior attempt block out the whole world and focus on only your dog.  Look at their body.  What is it doing?  Look at their energy level.  Try to match it and then calm it.

Concentrate like only a predator can (your dog is a domesticated predator- remember that)  Use tunnel vision to your advantage as dogs and practitioners of “the force” do.  Breathe.  Use intense focus but be ready to switch back to instant relaxation and the rest of the world around you= switch back to “normal” (this is tough for most people but keep practicing).

Luke Skywalker learned to live in the moment, preserve his energy, be ready but not tense, and out maneuver his opponent. We should follow these steps too when dealing with dog aggression.

Out maneuver your dog (physically).  Any good Jedi knight or Sith lord knows that to win a fight or battle it is always critical to out maneuver or gain the better ground.  This means cutting off any unsocial eye contact with whatever or whoever your dog wants to threaten!   Control the eyes and you control the animal!  Be prepared to switch back to total relaxation instantly when and if you achieve the desired results – usually the dog should make some form of eye contact with you out of respect for what you are telling it and the dog should stop threatening the other dog or person.  Do Not attempt to bribe the dog into the eye contact with a treat or “watch me” command like most training companies teach!

Beware the trainers trap:  over-treating and over-excitement!  Those can (if misused) lead to the Dark Side of the force!  Too much excitement will not really work if the dog is very fearful or truly aggressive and it leads to a dog who acts like a brat and still usually manages to stay aggressive towards people or dogs!  If you are always attempting to bribe and get the dog to “watch” you when the dog is flipping out with escalated energy and wants to attack another dog or person soon your dog won’t even give a rip about your dumb treat or your lame attempted “re-directing.”  You have to calm the energy first!

When I mention the “quick calming and back to normal” that falls into the all important category of Trust.  You need to cultivate a real relationship with your dog (whether they are aggressive or not) and it needs to be based on Respect and Trust.  Without either of those ingredients your efforts are doomed to fail and “the Emperor will have already won.”  Don’t let your dog continue his/her life in fear.  Fear leads to the Dark Side of the force.

Yoda is right. Don’t let your dog continue living a life of fear and suffering. Take Action!!!

I would say 95% of the aggressive dogs I behaviorally rehab are coming from a place of fear.  Their aggression is fear-based.  The only answer then is to conquer such fears.  Action helps conquer fear in our dogs and in our own lives.  Sociability is the only answer.  I can hear Princess Leah saying “Help us Sociability…you’re our only hope!”  She is right!  But your dog has to be Calm enough to be social.

Sound Advice…please take it and use it.

Always ask yourself what would the mother dog do?  WWTMDD?  Nature’s way will ALWAYS trump our foolish human ways when it comes to dealing with an animal.  You should see all the ridiculous ways mankind has come up with to “train” our dogs…from unnatural tethering of a dog inside your home that will allegedly help it not jump on guests (but in reality makes a dog More aggressive and energetic and territorial) to idiotic partitions/cubicle devices that separate dogs and pups in group classes to allegedly help calm them (but in reality raise the dog’s energy because they can still hear don’t understand why they can’t just be near the dogs a few feet away behind the mysterious curtain/partition) these foolish gimmicks will work poorly at best.  The path to the Dark Side is a path most unnatural!

In regards to constant bribery with treats and over-excited methods of typical training Obi- Wan says “These aren’t the methods you’re looking for. You can go about your business.  Move Along!”

Heed Obi-Wan Kenobi’s sage advice and look for different methods than what is sadly standard methodology in the majority of the dog training and behaviorist world.  Over-excitement and escalated energy is the enemy of calmness.  The only answers for fixing dog aggression are calmness and sociability.  Don’t be fooled into mistaking escalated energy or over-excitement for dog happiness.  A calm dog is a happy dog.  It is nature’s way.

Don’t settle for just another clone trainer or training company out there using their same tired methods and getting their same poor results with your dog!

When looking for a training company make sure they aren’t clones!  You don’t want just run-of-the-mill “treat and praise the dog every two-seconds” type-trainers.  This is not a healthy relationship and often the training backfires later as the puppy matures and is now a colossal brat who won’t do a thing unless you have a treat!  Also be sure the trainers are not just “dominate and beat the heck out of your dog” type-trainers.  Both camps are to be avoided as they are too extreme and both unnatural methods!!!!  Both sides will not cure real aggression or fear in your dog.

Work with your dog (or wookie) often. Build a relationship based on respect and trust and you two will be a smooth functioning team in no time.

Be sure to socialize and work with your pup or dog often.  Give them loads of exercise.  And remember, dogs are individuals and should not be treated in a cookie-cutter training manner.  We have a vast galaxy with many diverse and wonderful dogs please give them credit for the amazing social intelligence they possess and build a healthy relationship.  In the future you can ask more from them.

Be sure to follow this excellent blog so you can stay tuned for any new, exciting, humorous, strange, educational, or inspiring future blog posts for yours truly!   If you do I’m sure you’ll be light years ahead in your dog whispering and training methods!

Click to “Follow” our blog and you’ll soon be Light years ahead of the crowd!

Remember, the Force will be with you, always…

-G

for more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com