Wild news 2019 and our goals for 2020!!!

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We experienced an incredible amount of growth in 2019.  I’d just like to recap for those readers who may be interested.  (This post has exciting news)

2019 was the first year Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center opened and it was an education for us.  We were incredibly blessed/successful in the operation of the business and we were able to serve many dogs and people.  I’m sending out a huge thank you to all our staff members (all members of the Stevens family) for their amazing hard work, and dedication, and for getting down and dirty in our kennel.  You guys make our work on all fronts fun for me and terrific for those we serve.  You guys truly care about people and dogs and make life a joy for anyone that spends time with you.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for your professionalism, your work ethic, and your people skills, and for your excellent animal husbandry!IMG_3270

For a decade and a half I’ve been working with crazy dogs and their owners (sometimes the owners are equally or even more crazy than their pets 😉  it makes life fun.  In 2019 we accomplished several big goals.  Opening Stevens Family Kennels was one of my long time dreams.  It is always a joy to accomplish a big life goal.  Another giant goal I’ve had for the past several years was to find and educate a worthy apprentice.

My apprentice would have to be curious, intelligent, ambitious, hard working, highly observant, physically fast and strong enough for the nature of the work (a human-aggressive mastiff is something one has to be prepared for and physically strong enough to handle!).  I was seeking someone willing to take direction and do precisely as I say, because dog language is precise, and I was seeking out someone that was able to see past the lures of a status quo lifestyle.  For years I’d been kindly rejecting requests via emails and calls from would-be apprentices that were looking for a way to enhance their own life and find a meaningful career that forever impacts, for the better, many people and animals like our company is fortunate enough to do.  They were all very sweet people and yet something in me held off.  Looking back over the years I am so glad I did wait because now Jesse Stevens, my own cousin, has become the apprentice trainer at Alpha & Omega dog training and he has a real talent for our unique work and for the specific methods I’ve discovered and refined over the years.  He is doing a superb job with both people and the dogs (balancing both client and dog is a real skill that some pro trainers sadly do NOT possess) and Jesse is just beginning to rise in the world.  As valedictorian of his class he won scholarships to attend college and was half way through his formal schooling when he left all that, and moved across the country, in order to begin his education in the real world of work and business and of course with the dogs.  Jesse joined our apprenticeship program and began shadowing me daily and studying (researching and reading whatever books I’d assign concerning dogs and business) as the apprentice.  He worked overtime for many months on end in training sessions and in our kennel.  Jesse has demonstrated his commitment to our company, to all our clients, and to the dogs.  Currently he is the only trainer in the world certified under the Garrett Stevens Method of dog handling/training.  In my opinion (which is professional and even more important than just being professional my opinion is based on year after year of real world results) Jesse already knows more about dogs than many dog trainers will learn in a lifetime because he’s already handled and experienced hundreds of serious dogs during our round the clock training and boarding sessions.  Over the past several months he’s interacted with hundreds of dogs and people and because we purposefully keep an open and curious mind whenever we interact with a dog his skills have grown.  This curious mind, this open and questioning mind, is very valuable when one is in the problem-solving industry like we are.

BIG NEWS…We are edging ever closer to our own professionally produced TV show!  As some of you know, we were approached by an executive TV producer from Hollywood and Seattle about a year and a half ago that was interested in showcasing the Garrett Stevens Method of dog training in an episodic format on a major network.  The director had seen me work with his parent’s dogs two years prior to this and he became an instant fan of our techniques, our rhetoric, our business, and a fan of the results the dogs experienced during the session.  Over the past year or so he has been working on getting us a television show!  Recently we met with him (the director), the executive producer and his wife, and a PR professional in order to go over all the options.  Currently we are moving forward and the producer and director both agree that a show featuring our unique behavior mod. has the ability to reach and influence a very large audience and help many people and dogs in the process.  Exciting stuff to be sure.  We’ll see what 2020 and 2021 holds!

I am almost finished with my next book and it is NOT a book about dogs.  (Although I do weave some of my story throughout the book)  The next book I plan to release in 2020 is a book that goes into the personal development and leadership category in the bookstores.  My original idea for this book was sort of in reaction to the best selling book entitled “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”  You see, I don’t really like that title (it’s a bit crass and in today’s world we need less of that, because this crassness and these common callous and lazy attitudes that surround us on all sides (even in our vernacular) are already too prevalent and certainly do not contribute to a healthier society or an encouraged family group or individual).  To be clear, for all I know the book with the crass title is a decent book about not caring about the wrong things in life – which is good advice – but my book will be called something quite contrary to books like those.  I am undecided on the precise title but it’ll go something like “The highly noticeable art of truly Caring!” or maybe “The Not so Subtle Art of Actually CARING!”  The point of my upcoming book is that those who CARE More end up with great results in any endeavor and they also end up influencing more people.

Another exciting thing about this upcoming book is that each concise chapter is one that will greatly aid the reader in further personal development within his/her life and place them on the path of excellence and success.  Each chapter in my book on leadership and life is finely illustrated by a great person from history that we can all emulate.  From people like the founding father, Benjamin Franklin to the world’s best cartoonist, Bill Watterson, this upcoming book has stories about a shepherd turned warrior from the Middle East who lived thousands of years ago, to stories about a floppy-haired, sagging-socked basketball machine who revolutionized the game in the 1970s, this upcoming book will entertain and inspire you to believe more, achieve more, and to genuinely care about who you are, and what you are doing with the limited time you have left on the planet.  This book will help you care more about all those fine people that you come into contact with every day of your life.  I am thoroughly enjoying the writing process on most days and am looking forward to sharing more about this upcoming book with you all in the future!

Here’s to a marvelous 2020.  Semper Paratus and Carpe Diem

-G

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The many problems of treat training and positive reinforcement – Part 3

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In part 1 of this series we looked at many positive reinforcement trainers that were killed by their own animals (wild animals and domestic dogs).  A domesticated animal should not kill the people it lives with but when folks purposely choose to believe there is just one way to work with animals this sort of thing can happen.

In part 2 we brought up the heart of the issue and took a look at 3 different dogs with 3 different reactions motivationally-speaking in regards to food and treats.  We went over how every dog on the planet reacts to food/treats differently – some are very excited about food, others have a so-so attitude about food, and other dogs, when in the presence of their triggering stimuli totally ignore high-value food and blow off positive reinforcement because their adrenals have informed their bodily senses to turn Down smelling and tasting and to turn Down the drive to eat in order to turn Up vision and hearing to prepare to fight or flight!  

(If you haven’t read Part 2 please read it then come back to this part).

So what about the plethora of dogs that ignore high-value treats and positive reinforcement in the presence of their triggering stimuli???  What about all the dogs that are just too fearful or too anxious or too aggressive to take food from the owner or trainer? The truth is, and we have thousands of clients and past clients that will verify this fact, sometimes positive reinforcement and the stuffing of treats down a dog’s throat simply will NOT work on the more serious psychologically-damaged cases.  This then instantly eliminates dog trainers and behaviorists that limit themselves and only teach the positive approach!  Those trainers have ZERO answers for their clients!  Due to their rigid and close-minded approach to canine behavior they are taking themselves and their one method out of the game!  Their positive-only method that has now failed to truly help change the more serious of dog behaviors is now rendered useless when the dog ignores them!  And the dogs do ignore them.  After careful consideration of the above fact (that many dogs ignore allegedly high-value treats when in a stressful situation) it should lead the curious mind to more questions…if soft praise and constant high-value food was NOT working or barely working…How should we handle these dogs?  Isn’t there a better way?  What genuinely helps these damaged dogs that are practicing fight/flight on a daily basis?  What helps these dogs adjust socially and behave normally when soft human affection, human talking/praise, and trying to feed them with “high-value” treats isn’t working?

Answer:  Knowing real dog language and speaking/signalling it back to the dog because this paves the way for a proper relationship.  A proper relationship between dog and human, despite what you may have heard from the propaganda machine we all know as the dog training industry, is not one filled with gobs of overboard affection and food from the owner to the dog.  A healthy relationship is one that must be based on respect and trust the way all dogs build them naturally with other dogs.  It must be based on clear communication and should not rely on weak external motivation.  You do NOT have to be Tony Robbins for your dog because the emphasis should be natural relationship and calm, healthy energy and NOT more motivation for tricks and obedience!!!  Remember…most obedience has little or nothing to do with canine social dynamics and dog language!  Most obedience and “training” has little or nothing to do with what is important to our dogs!  Most obedience training has little or nothing to do with adjusting misbehavior because obedience adds tricks and is not the best way to modify behavior.

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These days were are seeing more and more ABUSE from dog owners by way of continually vomiting anthropomorphic beliefs upon the dog!  There is a massive trend among dog owners that espouse “positive only” training techniques where they not only call their dog their “baby” but they actually mistreat their dog by treating them like a literal human baby.  We are also seeing more obese dogs – another form of modern-day abuse.  We also see more bratty pups – when an owner gives zero boundaries it means they don’t actually care about the pup they claim to adore.  We also see loads and loads of fearful and anxious dogs and some owners even that think that it is okay for their dog to live like that – it’s just “who the dog is” according to the owner.  What an excuse.  That’s completely wrong!  Fear blocks the real personality of the dog and fear and anxiety can and should be addressed in a thoughtful, efficient, calm, and natural way.  (We didn’t have all the problems we have currently in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s…that was before people believed dogs were babies and just respected them as dogs)

We get many reports from clients who tried the positive approach (before finding us) and those reports all seem to mention how many treats were used (insane amounts) and how their pup quickly lost interest due to the outrageous amount of food used!  People tell us how their puppy was literally vomiting the treats up and became physically sick due to the amount of “positive only” training that occurred during the one hour session!  And yet many professional dog trainers and behaviorists keep lying about how this method is “scientific” and “modern” and they claim that anything else is abusive.  What a sinister and manipulative message they send out, and, as discussed, they have billions of dollars in treat sales to continue to send the manipulative message with!

As a father of four human children and as an owner of two dogs I care for them all as best I can and one part of that loving care is discipline.  Discipline is one of the keys to any successful life.  Think of Larry Bird.  Think of thousands of hours of discipline he spent putting the ball through the hoop.  Proper discipline is just one of many parts of an excellent life.  Applying calming discipline with clear communication is just good parenting and should be part of good, normal dog ownership.  Example: If one of my kids is blatantly rude to their mother or myself there will be discipline (they get sent to a time out, or to their room and then we talk later about how that is unacceptable).  If one of my dogs is blatantly rude to any member of the household they also get proper discipline (I apply the Four Pillars and we spatially address the situation like a dog would.  Does this mean I roll the dog on it’s back – NO!  Does this mean I hit the dog?  NO!  Do I yell – NO!  I don’t do most of the things that people would assume I do.  Instead I bring the proper amount of firmness in my energy and I grow larger spatially (in my body) and I let the dog know it was wrong at that moment but can always trust me – the dog is not allowed to run off or dance away from this calming discipline, the dog is not allowed to flop down and show it’s belly, feigning submission, the dog is not allowed to touch the one providing the beneficial discipline, the dog is not allowed to bark back in the face of the one disciplining, the dog is not allowed to come forward with a touch on the person disciplining –  the dog must be respectful of the few rules we have.  End of story.  Then I walk away (we must always walk away first signaling to the dog that the spatial pressure is over and we are trusting them again) and life is very freeing for all parties involved.  No massive emotional reactions.  No anger in proper discipline.  No fear on the part of the child or the dog.  And certainly no modern delusions coming from the dog owner or trainer pretending that the dog is a helpless human baby.

If anyone wants to quickly disabuse him or herself of the foolish notion that dogs are “babies”…if anyone reading this actually desires to know the truth in this world filled with online lies, they need only contact me and come volunteer to work for a day at our Dog Language Center.  At our 4000 square foot kennel you will see quite clearly and experience – dogs attempting to put a bite on people, dogs in the kennels actively chewing up wood, plastic, and even metal with their incredibly strong mouths, dogs attempting to threaten other dogs with violence, dogs attempting to control everything around them, dogs attempting to bark non-stop, dogs crapping themselves due to insane separation anxiety which the owner allowed to develop, and a host of other animal nastiness that occurs and would continue to occur unless we calmly intervene and help stop those behaviors!

(The great news is that we do in fact stop them at our Dog Language Center and in our training sessions and it isn’t through harsh handling or shocking them or abusing them!  We are able to stop these horrific yet common dog behaviors and it isn’t through babying them and constantly giving them an overwhelming amount of attention – attention that their own dog birth mother wouldn’t even give them btw – and it isn’t through stuffing their faces with food.  We do it by utilizing the Four Pillars and the dogs all love it because this method is not our way, or your way, or the positive or negative way, or whatever other stupid human label you want to give things…the Four Pillars is the heart of dog language as it applies to human and canine interaction!)

I am currently working on a book now detailing the Four Pillars of dog language and the Five Senses that will illuminate genuine dog language for the readers and aid in the behavioral rehab ranging from the most difficult and dangerous of dogs on down to the sweet new puppy.  It should be a doozy.  -G

(In the meantime be sure and read my other two books as they each give the reader more and more critical info about dog language and healthy relationship – things that make behavior issues a thing of the past!)

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