Was your dog abused? Are you continuing to abuse it mentally? You probably are due to poor yet commonly accepted dog training methods you’ve taken from the status quo

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Today many dog rescue groups are working tirelessly to help an overwhelming number of dogs that have been physically abused. And although we know several of these same dogs have also been mentally abused once they are taken in, treated physically at the vets, and then placed in the rescue organization it seems we (as a society) are largely clueless about how to help them finally move on to a successful, relaxed, playful, “happy” dog life!   Dog owners can’t seem to get past the dog’s past.  It seems there is a large disconnect when it comes to solving mental abuse.

There is a host of quite common mistakes that are frequently made when we examine how the often fearful or aggressive “rescue” dog is handled.  (I will try and refrain from mentioning that many dog rescues are boldly lying to the potential adopters face about the level of potential dangers inherent in many of the dogs they are attempting to adopt out in order to fudge their “rescue” numbers!  That, perhaps is an issue for another day)

The whole focus after the new rescue dog is checked out and treated by the vet (and, Dear Reader, often if the dog is dangerous to people the vet gives a quick visual inspection…NOT even Touching the dog during the half-hearted exam!) anyway…the focus then shifts to fostering and simply getting the animal a “forever” home.  I’ll tell you now  – it’s too quick!  The dogs aren’t ready.  And they will NEVER be ready if the vets or volunteers aren’t prepared properly or don’t know what they are doing!  So, invariably, many dogs are returned a couple days or weeks or months later for aggression, phobias, anxieties, destructive behaviors, housebreaking issues, and in general because they were adopted out while still needing massive amounts of natural, calming behavior modification and socialization.

There is a giant disconnect and it is 100% behaviorally related between when the rescue dogs arrive at the vet/rescue and how they are handled while in the rescue to prep them for their new homes.  THIS is where many mistakes are happening and this is why so many dogs can’t be adopted out or if they are they come back so quickly or remain in their new home only to attack people or other dogs or cats!   Let’s take a closer look.

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These dogs were (usually) taken out of physically or socially poor situations but then they are placed in very well-meaning but still mentally poor situations!  They are treated physically (somewhat) but then viewed as these poor, pathetic, victims and then typically forced right into a “positive only” -bribery and high excitement-based training philosophy that was doomed to fail from the beginning!  At this point, if they aren’t biting too much or if they are a physically good looking dog they will be adopted out…at least for a few weeks.  And, as discussed above, even if they are a danger to society many shelters/rescues will STILL try and adopt them out!!!

Once in their new home the dogs are most usually babied. (something any older, normal, social canine would never do to a younger pathetic newly placed dog or pup) If we, as people, act like pups and talk in high pitched tones all the time to our rescue dogs they may seem to like it but in reality you are just pumping them up in their energy as you attempt to “Sell” the dog on your friendship and love.  Most folks seldom if ever ask themselves what does this dog need mentally/psychologically from me?  Most rescue owners never honestly observe and learn from how a calm, social, normal dog would handle meeting one of these fearful new rescue dogs.  (Excepting, of course, you fine followers of this blog.  You and I now know better.) If one did consider how calm, socially normal dogs function in their society one would soon discover that dogs start out with a quick smell to identify and meet the dog then the calm, social dog would usually do the right thing and IGNORE the nervous, neurotic rescue dog.  They lead dogs play a little hard to get.  The ignoring is to establish who’s in charge and let the new rescue dog know that it’s the social and friendly way or the highway!  The ignoring also signifies a degree of trust and freedom in the newly blossoming relationship.  Healthy older dogs do NOT rush to sell or force a relationship the way 99% of people do with dogs!  Do we do that when we are introduced to a new dog?  Do we follow the dog way?  Or are we adding to the problem and bumbling through life?

Most people are totally wrong when it comes to rescue work!  They feel bad and present weak energy toward the “victim” dog.  And the dogs, being naturally intelligent creatures that depend on a pack to survive, quickly start manipulating more and more control of their bodies and then their crates and then whatever the hell else they want to manipulate or claim or control!  Their fears then grow and grow until they are biting anyone for touching “them” anywhere or flipping out on people if they go to walk by “their” kennel, or “their” food, or “their” owner.  It is a horrible and slippery slope when fear manipulates more of a foothold in the dog brain.  And it always, always, always does if the training methods are poor and if we, as people, do not follow nature’s wonderful example.

Please understand me.  I am on the side of the rescue groups and all the hard working volunteers and vets that spend their free time in so noble a pursuit as helping those animals that sometimes cannot help themselves.  I am aware that there are thousands upon thousands of dogs that are in the rescue organizations throughout this wide world.  And I am just offering a bit of honest advice as a pro trainer/behaviorist to help rapidly advance the cause of the dog in order to actually help these vets, rescue leaders, and volunteers and that in turn will help the animals both mentally and physically.  Tom Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence and noted brainiac, and our third President said, “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”  Have we taken a healthy and honest look or is rescue work over-emotionalized to the point of lying to ourselves and others about whether a dog is a danger to our own children and to society at large?

I for one want to save as many dogs as possible but I want to help them physically as well as mentally and emotionally.  We must seek out better solutions than what is happening currently (in 2018).

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I don’t want to rescue dogs to fill some gaping hole in my own life because that is not actually a healthy way forward…that is a mask, my friends.  We all know full well that those commercials they show us are intended to go straight to the heart and then to our wallet.  I don’t want to fawn all over a fearful or skittish dog because I know most fearful dogs can and actively do grow that overboard soft attention into possession and aggression.  I don’t want to live in a neighborhood where the vet is giving dogs a pass physically although the examination was barely conducted or shall we say conducted half-assed due to the vet being terrified of the dog and then…then they have the despicable audacity to lie about the danger level of the dog or its past, pawn it off on to some unwitting yet kind family as the rescue group crosses their fingers and throws up a prayer hoping that the dangerous dog stays in its “forever home!”  (I’m writing about a recent specific case if you couldn’t tell, folks.  But, believe me, this is not an isolated incident!)

I want better.  I want better for my family and our neighborhood.  I want better for my country.  I want better for the dogs.  These rescues need to wake up and focus more on quality as well as quantity.  They need to stop fudging their rescue numbers and look at the truth of 5 MILLION reported bites a year in the USA alone.  (And those are only the reported ones!) They need to look images of the 39 people killed in 2017 by dogs (most were killed by their own rescue dogs).

I wanted to share this with you all because I see and experience and have to do my darndest to avoid getting bit while actively rehabilitating dogs (behaviorally) that were in no way ready to be released to the public yet the rescue group adopted them out!

We need to rescue, sure, but let’s rescue the whole of the dog.  Let’s rescue physically of course but let’s be real sure to rescue them emotionally and mentally too!  (Dogs are dying for proper leadership)

For more insight on dog and human behavior order my hot-listed book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  Check out the stellar reviews on Amazon and read how our book is changing households and calming and reversing behavioral issues!  Also, you may want to check out my newest book, So Long Separation Anxiety it gives real-world, hands-on, calming spatial solutions to successfully treat anxiety in dogs and prevent it in puppies!

-G

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When dogs fight! Reversing aggression

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Fight and flight behavior in our dogs is tragically becoming more and more common according to the facts and figures.  You, Dear Reader, and I are the ones responsible for this.  We cannot spell the word responsibility without including the letter I.

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Friends, it lies with all of us to plant seeds of success now in the present day in order to prevent, reverse, and eliminate aggression in our dogs as we move towards the future together.  In this exciting installment from thecaninecalmer I’m going to give all you handsome and beautiful readers two straightforward techniques to help prevent aggression in your dogs.

  1.  Cultivate a killer Heel.                                                                                                                 Heeling means the dog walks beside (or slightly behind) the handler.  Many dogs are complete freaks and blatantly rude to their owners as soon as they set paw outside.  We must not allow our relationship to go out the window the second our dog is on leash.  Make your dog mirror you.  Be cognizant of your center line (the line running down the middle of your body from your nose to navel).  I often encourage clients to play “hard to get” with their center line and their dog when walking in a heel.  This means we should utilize turns and sudden movements in odd directions.  This should stand out in stark contrast when compared to our boring, ol’ straight sidewalks on human designed streets.  Work your dog with turns and quick stops and varying paces.  Maintain a little rhythm and then, try to catch your dog or pup and switch it up and use broken rhythm.  (Good martial artists and boxers do this when sparring).  Keep your dog on it’s toes as you work the heel.  Your line influences his line ideally in perfect team work.                                                  (For help with your heeling we have a video available for purchase and our amazing custom-fit, handmade, training collar!  I highly suggest you take advantage of them because most dog training tools on the market are simply crap.  Put our collars to the test, I dare you)

 

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2.  Control Eye contact.                                                                                                                             The majority of owners with aggressive dogs typically fail miserably at this.  My suggestion.  DON’T.  But…if you do then try, try, again.  After a week of practicing your heeling and as you steadily progress with the heel work controlling the eye contact whenever your dog wants to fight or bark, lunge, or scream at another dog (or person) it should now be easier to turn your dog.  Turning is critically important to your success and the behavioral rehab the dog desperately needs.  Do NOT turn too late.  Turn early and turn often.  Maintain the heel but don’t let your dog face the other dog.  Here is where you’ll have the opportunity to glean the ultra-important life lesson we call persistence.  I’ve learned my persistence from Pit Bulls!  Seize the day and don’t give up.

It is important to note here that when using the Garrett Stevens method or any beneficial naturally calming way of dog handling/training we do NOT pay the dog with food or even with high-pitched praise.  Please remember, external motivation (positive or punitive reinforcement) is never as powerful as internal.  IF your dog does indeed respond to a treat stuffed into his face right before he’s about to stare down another dog and then explode into a furry fiasco of fury and fangs I still would NOT suggest using a food treat.  Please pause and re-read that last sentence.  Whenever we pay a dog for a rigid obedience posture or trick…

1. It is Not calming.   2. It has little to no reflection on your relationship. (if the dog performs the command in exchange for payment it doesn’t mean your relationship is good)  3. The mother and father dog would NEVER do it.  4. It can eventually turn your dog into a very bratty Al Capone type creature.  5. For many people it can be difficult juggling an aggressive, lunging dog on a leash and the food treats and proper timing.  6.  It has zero to do with a dog’s natural social patterns and canine communication.  The main point being that if we have to pay a dog to focus on us instead of another dog even IF it works (and it usually does NOT with a dog with serious aggression or fear because the dog has shut off his smelling/tasting in order to turn up his vision and hearing – precisely because those senses (vision and hearing) are associated and utilized during fight and flight) then you gain an untrustworthy robot that performs “Watch me”s and “Stays” but still may not respect you and certainly cannot be trusted off leash with another dog.

Imagine for a moment, Dear Reader, if you were getting ready for the fight of your life.  You’ve paid your dues and have worked hard.  You’ve got a shot at the title.  Can you picture the moment before your fight?  Listen to the thousands of fans roaring in the arena awaiting your arrival.  Now let me ask you, Are you in the locker room warming up, stretching, and throwing punches as you shadow box and dance around or……….would you be sitting down to a massive Thanksgiving dinner and loading your fat face full of gravy-drenched turkey, your mother’s mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce, and Stouffer’s stuffing?

When any creature is ready to fight they do NOT take food into considerationAggressive dogs “turn down or turn off” their nose.  They turn off their smelling and tasting in order to ramp up their vision and then get ready to bite.  THIS here, folks.  THIS is what many dog behaviorists/trainers/vets CANNOT SEEM TO GRASP.  And so, those intelligent few of us that employ the Garrett Stevens method, those of us who are disciples of the way of the dog and have read Dog Myths well, to put it bluntly, we simply get much greater results than the behaviorist or trainer that clings to only one very limited answer to aggression, to fear, to anxiety, to hyperactivity, their answer is unnatural and non-calming, their answer of course, is food.  And food ad nauseam.  To consistently attempt to bribe a dog with food in order to get it to look at you is, when closely examined, ridiculous.  When fight or flight is presenting food is, naturally, the last thing on the aggressive dog’s mind.  (Only a horrible teacher would attempt to keep addressing the pupil using a sense that has been shut off)

Does this automatically mean if you’re not using “positive only” that you are now a low-born villain that ax murders old ladies after midnight every Wednesday?  Certainly not, although any behaviorist/trainer that limits themselves to the unnatural and non-calming and often ineffective methods of “positive only” (and many do) will readily label you as such.  However, all good human parents know that bribing a child is not a sustainable or healthy method for child rearing.  It is not good for the amazingly social and intelligent dog by your side either!

Typically people employing the “treats non-stop approach” see a quick and temporary bump in results (and by results I mean surface level obedience only NOT healthy social normalcy and wonderful canine communication and certainly NOT a mature relationship between owner and dog) but then, of course, it is accompanied by the all-too familiar steady, easily predictable frustrating failure in the long run for both owner and dog.  It is truly a viscous cycle that 99% of our clients will tell you happened to them before they found us and employed the naturally successful way of the dog.  Remember, BOTH positive reinforcement And punitive reinforcement were scientifically proven ( by teams of scientists in the 1970s and different teams again in the 1980s – turns out positive reinforcement isn’t modern at all) to fade in the long run and were BOTH not nearly as powerful and effective as Intrinsic motivation!  Remember, we should seldom if ever need to use treats or harsh handling when dealing with our dogs.

The RELATIONSHIP should be the REWARD!  Please re-read that and then tell your friends and family.  Tell your vet, and groomer, daycare and kennel owners.  Tell Everyone.  The relationship should be your dogs reward and your reward!  Intrinsically motivated dogs that learn to focus on the relationship, based in respect and trust and clear canine communication with healthy energy levels, will always achieve social normalcy before the extrinsically “motivated” food-bribed dog.

So work your heel and work on turning or angling to the right or left so your aggressive dog doesn’t go right into dropping doggy F-bombs (cursing and cussing by staring and mean-mugging every dog or person he sees) with every conceivable step he takes throughout your neighborhood.  Control his head and eye contact.  It should be nose before eyes because that’s how all canines are born.  Olfactory and gustatory must take precedence over the dog’s vision and hearing if one desires a calm and socially adept dog.

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For more info please read my HOT-Listed book on dog and human behavior  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  and keep a sharp eye out for my next books.  (I’ve got two more coming down the pike for ya, hopefully available soon!)

Go here:  http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  -For our handmade, custom fit, training collars to help revolutionize your heel, or for our training video on Heeling and Leash Manners or, to schedule an appointment with me.

Have a marvelous day and keep socializing for success. PLEASE SHARE THIS so other dogs can be helped as more of us learn the dog way!!!

-G

Rocky the aggressive boxer: one of the first dogs I ever trained professionally

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Rocky was a large male boxer.  Powerful, stubborn, hyper, and completely neurotic.

Rocky’s owners could not take him for a walk.  He was out of control.  He would pull, lunge, bark, leap in the air, snap at all manner of things – up to, and including, people.  He was nervous about everything…wind chimes, people, cars, birds, cats, trees or leaves blowing in the wind, other dogs, and a host of other common, everyday things.

A skilled Rookie

This was my earliest and first official “dog whispering” session at a client’s home.  I say whispering because whenever I deal with problematic dogs and need to help alter behavior naturally (by infusing calmness mixed with normal societal rules that apply to dogs and humans) I would hardly ever choose “training” (no matter how advanced).  Dog training is usually a terrible idea when attempting to prevent, reverse or eliminate poor behavior because dog training in essence is just the addition of obedience and tricks and often in exchange for payment or punishment.  Thus dog training (even done well) does NOT mean it will subtract problematic behavior!!!  (I fully understand this info may be shocking to many of you.  But it’s true nonetheless.  Let’s continue.)

I decided I was going to take Rocky for a walk.  The walk would be an attempt to get him to heel (walk loosely beside or slightly behind me without lunging and attacking anything).   I wanted to get him heeling so he could bond more naturally with me, burn off excess energy, and learn to follow me and then his owners.  The owners wanted to be able to walk him normally without all the insanity and aggression, drama, and without the public embarrassment, the outright danger and liability, and the excessive wasting of the dog’s energy and the frustrated owner’s energy.

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This is not Rocky but he was a big boy

The dance begins

To start I had to somehow get in the door without being bitten as this was also another of Rocky’s many issues.  Rocky was territorial.  He loved his family but was dominating everything he could and doing it out of nervous over-excited energy.  I tried to remain as calm as possible as they greeted me at the door with Rocky right there.  Please keep in mind, Dear Reader, that I did not know nearly as much back then as I do know but was “jumping in the pool” and taking a risk.  As I look back I realize that it was quite a risk I took because this dog was an excitement junkie hooked on fear and aggression.

Learning to Ignore is powerful stuff

He lunged for me as I came in the door but his owner had him on leash and pulled him back.  I went into introductions all the while attempting to ignore the threatening and aggressive body language of the dog.  Ignoring a dog can be a great safety measure when dealing with certain displays of aggression, fear, and escalated energy.  The ignoring is a method learned from watching older dogs and how they handle and raise younger pups.  It is the puppy who acts excited, foolish, and is initially an energy-waster.  That excitable behavior is the total opposite of how a more mature, socially-adept dog would enter a territory or meet another dog or pup.  This statement should instantly bring to your minds the question of how you meet and greet other dogs or puppies that you encounter, and also consider how the trainer you may be considering meets and/or greets your own dog or pup!  This can be quite telling.  Are we acting calmly, like a leader?  Or are we imitating and acting like puppies ourselves?!  Are we pumping up the dog or pups’ energy?!  If so please keep in mind that that is very poor leadership on our part and completely opposite of nature’s way!

Continuing…I was able to come in the door without getting mauled.  We spoke for several minutes on how to calm and lead a dog, mother nature’s way, the differences of dog training and dog whispering (for those readers that don’t know, I can do both methods but dog “whispering” or whatever you want to call naturally communicating calmly through space and energy -if done correctly- is much more natural, calming, and beneficial for the animal and our relationship with it and it always succeeds socially where other forms of training and behavioral mod. do not!) We spoke of other useful info all while Rocky was on leash and close by yet not close enough to bite me.  I was purposefully stalling as I gave all the vital info concerning their dog and this allowed him to calm down and deescalate.

Stepping up to the challenge

Then it was time for me to conquer fear, test my skills, and take the beast outside!  I asked that my clients initially just watch from the porch or stay inside altogether because Rocky was at a high level of aggression.  He would act worse if his owners were around or watching him and he would use them socially as backup for his manipulations and misbehavior against me – basically, he would get more aggressive with me and any others we encountered.  (Dogs are skilled manipulators of their owners and, in particular, their owner’s emotions and eye contact.)

Getting Bloody

I remember when I went to take the leash from the husband, Rocky kept lunging up in the air in a wild attempt to bite my hands and arms!  When I took hold of the leash (and my destiny for the next several years) his claws raked and scratched me as he clutched onto whatever flesh of mine he could find.  He was flailing and attempting to bite me and bite the leash or whatever he could get his teeth or paws on!  This may not sound like much to many of you but I have had scars that have taken close to a year to heal up just from a dog’s gripping claws!

Those babies can do some damage when they’re frantically wrapped around your bare arms!

Today when I look down at my forearms and hands I don’t see any scars from Rocky’s claws.  There is, however, one small scar from his teeth under the fleshy part where my right hand meets the wrist!  I remember my blood was flowing freely on that session.

I continued to let Rocky waste his energy as he attempted to bite, snap, nip, scratch, throw himself on the ground, bite the leash, and twist like a whirling dervish.  Some time later I felt he was calm enough to begin the walk.  This is another point in time where being extremely sensitive to the dog’s body language and energy comes into play.  You have to be super observant and patient yet active and willing to push the envelope.  We need the dog to go beyond the fearful or neurotic comfort zone.  Fortunately for me I’ve been an extreme animal nerd my whole life and have a well developed eye.

Animal nerd 

Growing up I lived in Massachusetts, Florida, Maine, and Maryland. Very different states with different animals.  I was able to catch frogs, toads, mice, lizards, snakes, turtles, and of course we owned several dog breeds over the years, many differing reptiles, some amphibians, a couple cats, and the occasional bird or rabbit.

As a child my first official pet was a box turtle named Speedy.   I got Speedy when I was around five or six years old.   My dad drove me to this run-down home that was converted into a too-cramped pet shop in a small Maine town.   It was jam-packed with creepy crawlies and furry bodies around every tight turn.  I was fascinated.  I remember seeing some python or boa almost bursting the sides of the dirty glass aquarium it was in, a raccoon in a wire cage, a skunk or two, and of course, loads of birds and reptiles.

Looking back, I can now say that Speedy actually had a great effect on the course of my life.  To my curious young mind this animal perhaps was a left over dinosaur that I could handle and study.  I clearly remember feeding him raw hamburger, bananas, strawberries and other salad stuffs.  I picture him walking around our apartment in Maine so many years ago.  I recall misplacing him once and then discovering him later in my clothes closet.  Upon his death we buried him in an empty Girl Scout Cookie box.  I still hold the opinion that his casket was just a bit too small but it was a great memorial service to honor a unique pet.

This imposter will have to suffice. I don’t think I have any pics of the real Speedy.

 

Working for a living

When I got my first job at fourteen it was at a pet store.  Clara’s Tropicals: a small pet shop specializing in tropical creatures in Maryland.  The first thing I ended up bringing home was a juvenile green iguana.  I named him Sam.  A few years later I had acquired another. Sam and Max were kept within a hand-built, custom, six-foot-high cage.  I’d make them a salad everyday.  As the years went by my animal collection and my knowledge grew.  I added a friendly Pac-man frog named Newton.  (Most horned frogs are not friendly.  They are an interesting species of frog that actually bite people and have teeth!  This actually makes them very unique as most amphibians do not.)  Newton was the bane of many a goldfish.

My second job was also at a pet store.  House of pets.  This store was not nearly as nice as Clara’s but I got to mess around with and care for caimans, tegus, monitors, rats, boas and pythons, chameleons, turtles, ferrits, and several other critters.  I was learning a ton about animal husbandry (through self education and intelligent observation) and occasionally handling some serious animals that did not desire to be handled by anyone.  Some of the caimans would snap at you if you weren’t careful and the tegu lizards and the monitors can be down right nasty!  There were some creatures I would only handle with gloves (Tokay gecko and a large green vine snake come readily to mind).

I also had acquired a bearded dragon named Roy.  Roy ate crickets like there was a coming famine.  We supplemented his diet with some salad and the occasional baby mouse.  He was very docile and I will, even to this day, recommend bearded dragons for those of you considering a lizard for a pet.  I know for certain there must be thousands of you out there reading this fine blog and thinking something to the effect of, You know what would really complete my life…if I only had a docile enough lizard sitting on my shoulder right now.  Well, now you know what my pick would be.

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A bearded dragon.

I was going to go further into the other animals and all the differing breeds of dog that my father would bring home for the family (usually free or extremely cheap and found from ads in the newspapers) but several of these pets did not last long in our house.  These intrepid animals would live with us often until they showed a problem or a behavioral issue was discovered and then they soon found themselves back in the paper and or in another home!   We never mistreated them but many certainly didn’t have too long of a stay with us.  Although this is not recommended for the animal  – it did afford me, during my childhood and teenage years, vast exposure to many differing breeds and personalities.  Due to the length of this post let’s just get back to Rocky the aggressive boxer and suffice it to say I was “good with animals” shall we?

A Dangerous Walk

We made quite a pair walking down the street.  After bearing the brunt of Rocky’s claws all over my forearms I was bleeding.  Rocky, after fighting me on leash and twisting like a crocodile going into a death roll, was heavily panting and frothing at the mouth.  I’m pretty sure his tongue had tripled in size.  Somewhere during all his rearing up and flailing, his teeth had snapped forward and cut my wrist.  I determined then and there that I was going to either bleed out or we could strive to have a normal stinking walk.  I would die trying.  We pressed on.

Utilizing good movements to stay away from his snapping maw and scratching claws I would patiently ride out Rocky’s explosive tantrums.  Whenever his energy needed a moment to rebound, we’d be off walking down the sidewalk as if nothing ever happened because I would instantly begin walking again making him heel.  There were several times he threw himself fully on the ground.  That was usually after he launched himself fully into the sky.  (bratty dogs will do this when they are used to controlling  their head and are not getting their way.)  I needed to walk him for his owners and he desperately needed to calm down and learn that the entire world wasn’t in his control and it also wasn’t that scary either.  So whenever he’d have an energy explosion and flop around and struggle like a prize Marlin on a line, I’d make sure he wasn’t able to bite me.  I’d ride out the storm and then, as quick as a jackrabbit on a date, we’d be off once again side by side like old chums out for a casual afternoon constitutional.  (Over the years I zero in on “where the dog is” at the current moment in it’s life and with it’s owners and “where it is” psychologically and then distinguish that from “where it needs to be” to achieve normal or calm balance.  This is necessary in order to achieve great results for both client and dog.  This sort of vision, I believe, is key for leadership in any endeavor or area of life in which one requires real growth.  The ability to move from “where you are” to “where you need to be” must never be undervalued.)

Eventually we were both tired and bleeding and sweaty (dogs do sweat despite what you may have heard.  They sweat from their paw pads).  Rocky had settled down due in large part to an iron will and decent dog-handling and we got through the difficult time all without bribing or beating (no need for positive reinforcement and no need for punitive either)!  He was heeling beautifully when we arrived back to the client’s home.  They were amazed.  I was happy.  Rocky was calm.  He was respectful towards me and now trusted me.  We were able to touch one another much more freely.  I would greatly build on this in future sessions with Rocky.

I then experienced a sort of glow, I suppose.   I’m not sure whether the clients noticed or if this sort of thing even shows from the outside or on my countenance at all, but  I’ve noticed this happens in my life internally whenever I am able to achieve something wonderful.  A burst of renewed energy (maybe joy) wells up within me.  I had done it.  I was a professional trainer, albeit very inexperienced, and had truly helped this dog and the results were plainly there for everyone to see.  It all happened within our first hour together.

Thanks Rocky,

-G

Remember to read my HOT Listed book on dog language and dog and human behaviors, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! by Garrett Stevens

 

Dog Myths (my book) is Now available for a Free sampling!

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Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Apple iBooks (and everywhere else too)!  And the best news…for a limited time the online version is on sale at a crazy price of just $4.99!  Spread the word.  Tell your friends.  Tell your enemies.  Tell your co-workers.  Tell your neighbors -especially the ones with the terribly behaved dogs.  Tell your 2nd and 3rd cousins.  Spread it on your facebooks and your instagrammys too.  Tell your dog for crying out loud!  Dog Myths is here and already we are seeing people take advantage and snap up this precious pricing.  (UPDATE: my book has made the HOT List for six weeks consecutive!!!  Find out why!?! Order your copy Today!)

What is Dog Myths about, you may be asking?  It is certainly NOT about whether our dogs can see color or something stupid and overdone thing like that.  It is NOT just more white noise and foolhardy dog or puppy training info that falls into the oversimplified and almost cranium-dulling Sit, Stay, Come, type of training book either.  Those are literally a dime a stinkin’ dozen.  It is also NOT one of these overly-scientific yet largely UNhelpful industry jargon-filled giant tomes of a book, written by some terribly nonathletic behaviorist rotting in a lab somewhere wearing his taped up, coke-bottle glasses, a dozen pens crammed inside the pocket protector within his lab coat shirt pocket while he awkwardly nurses yet another nose bleed.  Those types of books are also all over the dog training book market and boring as all get out.  They don’t equip people well.

So what is my book Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! about then?  My book details in honest, direct, and logical fashion the many, many behavioral and training myths and false beliefs that people have concerning their dogs, their language, their behavior, and their training and handling.  It is super beneficial for adjusting problematic dogs!  As people we act on what we believe.  These beliefs of ours can literally make us or break us, and they certainly are the first key factor in determining whether our dogs or puppies develop behavioral issues.  We believe so many things that simply are untrue in the dog training and pet industry it is almost psychotic!  Examples…you got it…

Did you know that when a dog or pup rolls over and exposes their belly to us that this is often NOT a submissive gesture?  The belief that when a dog shows us it’s belly is one of the myths we bust wide open and then the reasoning why it is displayed and how to naturally and gently adjust for a healthier relationship.  (A healthy relationship by the way leads to amazing things and certainly prevents and reverses behavioral issues much faster and more efficiently than even advanced training and behavior modification does!  -Insert dramatic Gasp here!- Yes – It’s true but you probably didn’t know that because you believe the age old myth that the addition of obedience training means the subtraction of poor behaviors.  NOPE!  I explain so much more in Dog Myths.) When a dog flops over in front of a human it is NOT necessarily submission.  Often it is a way to manipulate control of the environment or the owner!  Interesting, right?  Get the book – it’ll blow your minds!

Were you aware that when a dog or puppy licks you that this is NOT the human equivalent of Kissing.  That is another common dog myth, a false belief, that plagues society and contributes to many rescue dogs manipulating the dickens out of their new owners.  And later these same dogs bite people or attack dogs and it all stems from the human’s perception and belief system!  “He’s a real lover” – yeah right!  In true dog language that often translates as “I control what I repeatedly touch” or “If I get the first or last touch on you – I’m in charge.”  Who grooms whom is quite important in the canine language.  Do dogs make out?  NO.  Do our dogs get married and kiss at the alter?  Certainly Not.  Kissing and licking are NOT the same thing, folks.

These are just two very small examples of the many false and unnatural beliefs that are pervasive in the Western world and that actually lead to more misbehavior, more fear, more anxiety, more hyperactivity, and more aggression in our dogs!

For five bucks you could change your dog or pup and alter forever, for the better, the way you perceive dogs, their amazing language, and interspecies communication.  This book, I truly hope, can pave the way of our future interactions with our house dogs for the next 1000 years!  The future has never been brighter!

It’s time we STOP giving our dogs a job to do (because the vast majority of dogs are indeed Semi-Retired) (“Giving a dog a job” is another Huge dog training myth discussed and dissected in my book) and instead give them natural relaxation and more freedom as we move forward together as man and beast.  The shocking thing, is that there is little need for obedience training when the relationship is right and there is smooth efficient communication present!  The bad news is that so many lack this.  Time for a big change.

It’s time to look past all the foolish Positive reinforcement and look past the stupid Negative reinforcement and finally, finally, finally examine the more potent and natural relational rehab that is based on Internal Motivation, calm energy, and family dynamics that every dog on the planet uses when interacting with other dogs.  In Dog Myths, you will be shocked, educated (or maybe I should say re-educated properly by the dogs) equipped, and inspired to take action and think, move, and talk like a dog.  Let’s build a better world together, shall we?

Here is the link to Amazon so you can snag a paperback for yourself and a loved one!  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!

Our readers are greatly enjoying the paperback because they can easily highlight or flip to a beneficial chapter with ease.  Paperbacks are $25 and worth their weight in gold.

Or you can go to Apple iBooks or iTunes and –  Search “Dog Myths by Garrett Stevens” the book comes up first on the list.  (I guarantee you you’ll learn something new and it will indeed benefit your dog or pup.)  It’s only 4.99 for a limited time!

Thanks for all your support everybody.  We will announce more about the coming book signings and whether we make the Bestseller list very soon!

 

Dog Myths: What You Believe about Dogs Can Come Back to Bite You!

 

Thanks so, so much and please, seriously, spread the word about Dog Myths!

Share this article too!  And keep an eye out for my next book!!!  It’s all about naturally and spatially treating the dreaded SEPARATION ANXIETY!  Stay tuned…

It’s called, So Long Separation Anxiety and will be available for super cheap as a Thank You to all our readers, clients, and former clients!

Once the honeymoon is over you may be in for serious trouble…

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Hello.  First off, congrats on your honeymoon.  Really, a full and hearty felicidades from me to you.  BUT…and it’s a big but (think Sir Mix-a-lot) are you ready to move on from the honeymoon and into this new phase of your real life?  Are you ready to get on with your day-to-day?  Are you prepared to get real?  I hate to break this to you but once the honeymoon is over you may be in for trouble…

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I’m writing very specifically about what I call “the honeymoon period” -whenever a new puppy, or a new dog, or rescue dog enters a new home.  So let’s take a quick look at exactly just what transpires between dog and new owner during and after the honeymoon.  Let’s get real.  Let’s be honest.

The honeymoon period is often a fantastic time (or seemingly so) between a dog owner and their new puppy or rescue dog.  The first week or three the dog is basically just feeling things out and exploring the terrain.  Most new dog or puppy owners are so thrilled with their new pets they are showering them with so much human affection and attention that they are blind to what is actually going on with the psyche of the new pup or dog in their family’s home.   So what exactly is going on as the new creature explores new relationships and new home environs?

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I would caption this pic, “Humans are insane”   This poor dog is probably just begging for a little bit of dignity

Many people are under the impression the first couple weeks that the new dog in the house is just going to work out great because everything is going swimmingly on the “honeymoon.”  The dog or pup is following them around.  Often times the dog is still unsure of where it stands and who is leading who, so, it will seem to the unwitting new owner as if it’s the sweetest and dearest creature on the planet.

As the days pass though the dog or puppy starts to (at least in the dog world and in the canine way of communicating) lead by controlling touch and manipulating the space around their own furry body and the space around their human’s body.  They soon can control and manipulate the space and items in and around the home.  (Ask yourself how do dogs naturally build relationships.  Think on that for a bit.)

People will often think their dog is a “real lover” because the animal is establishing a domineering form of over-touching.   Only a human would believe (in our incredible imagination) that our dog’s consistent touching of us is some form of dog love or affection…in reality it is simply a canine way to lead through social grooming.  A large portion of mammals establish relationships and leadership techniques through touching and social grooming rituals.

Do dogs make out with their mouths like people do?  Do dogs kiss?  NO- they don’t.  So please don’t fall victim to the “kiss” myth your own new dog or puppy may be attempting to sell you on!  When a new dog or pup is constantly licking or mouthing you this is most usually a canine way to one-up you and gain control.  Never let your dog or pup consistently lick you.  If left unchecked this will, of course, lead to the animal assuming too much command in most areas of it’s life (even though it should Not be in command of your personal space while living under your roof) and this will then lead to an onslaught of behavioral issues.

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Over the top much?

*Hint*  Be very aware of the honeymoon period and be sure to set clear boundaries about your own personal space and body and your new dog or pup’s body.

*Bigger Hint*  Do NOT let your dog or puppy constantly lick you.  Do NOT let them demand petting or touching.  Do NOT let them always invade or be in your personal space.  There is absolutely Zero reasons for a dog to consistently lick it’s owner unless the dog is seeking to gain social control by controlling touch.  And if you’ve got a fearful dog or pup this applies DOUBLE!!!  Do NOT let the dog live in your spatial bubble!!!

Most folks, while very well meaning, are doing almost Everything completely backwards when compared to how the mother, father, uncle, or aunt dog would behave and treat a new or younger pup in their environment.  Most people are showering the dog with over-attention during the honeymoon period and then wonder why weeks or months or years later they can’t relax because the dog has become an attention hound!

The honeymoon period presents a giant opportunity for the astute observer of nature and her glorious and calming ways.  Please take action during the honeymoon period so that when it comes time to get real it is an easy transition.  Lay the ground rules.  Set a firm but calm foundation.

Let your dog or pup EARN your attention and affection little by little.  You – the human, the one paying the mortgage, the one holding the keys to the house, the person who drives the car, the guy or gal who feeds the dog…YOU need to guide your dog or pup and have the relationship begin with Respect and then let the dog or pup EARN your valuable trust.

If your dog and you are already beyond the honeymoon period and you need help or for more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  and #getgarrett

How to avoid the plague

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There is a plague spreading!  This atrocious affliction is assailing families across the country at a truly alarming rate.  If, and only if, you can identify the symptoms you may have a chance for survival.

Thankfully the symptoms of this torment are fairly easy to recognize.  They are listed below in story form…

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Alice Jones arrives home after an uneventful day of work.   Alice has developed a strong and recent loathing for her boss but that’s a story for a different time.  She walks through the door and is greeted by Jethro.  Jethro jumps up on her and wags his tail; a happy tan furball in the lamplight.  After tossing her work outfit in the hamper and replacing it with a pink sweat suit Miss Jones trots down the stairs and heads towards the bench near the door.  Under the bench her shoe pile awaits.  Jethro is beside himself; the ritual of the evening constitutional almost more than he can bear.  Alice plops down on the bench.  She grabs her favorite jogging sneakers.  The stitching in them just beginning to open up in places.  The sneakers will need to be replaced within a few short weeks.  Jethro, a large brown beast, snorts his excitement and continues his dancing.  Alice grabs the treat pouch affixing it to her sweatpants.  Jethro is finally able to sit after being told six or seven times as she puts the leash on him.  They go out the door and into the cool evening air.

Alice and her dog keep a brisk pace as they pass the first block.  They pause to look both ways before crossing.  Alice’s eyes darting here and there scanning the lonely intersection before continuing onward.  Jethro strains – keeping the leash taut and panting all the while.  Alice increases her speed to attempt to match her four-footed friend’s.

Then it happens.  Alice inadvertently tenses.  It was a bark.  Turning quickly to her left she hears the bark again before she sees the rushing dog’s form through the fencing.  Jethro goes buck wild.

Jethro is dog aggressive.  Alice spits out a curse attempting to restrain seventy pounds of muscle, teeth, and fur.  What was it the behaviorist had taught her?  She reaches into her treat pouch and grasps for the food.  Rifling through the little bag at her hip, she is just able to pull out a small treat.  As Alice struggles to maintain her footing in the dark night, keep her shoulder in it’s socket, and keep Jethro from climbing the neighbor’s fence and biting the barking dog she wonders why her dog has made so little progress.  So little progress even after hiring a professional behaviorist?  Anger, frustration and desperation all begin fighting for the throne of her emotions.

Jethro lunges again and again, straining at the leash; fighting for leverage.  His brown eyes like laser beams of concentrated fury.  The dog’s energy rises with each passing second.  Alice speedily shoves the treat almost into one of his nostril’s and as instructed yells, “Watch me!”  She brings the treat back up toward her own face.  No change.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  Jethro has now almost reached the fence several times and has almost spilled Alice onto the sidewalk below them.  This exasperating spectacle continues on for another minute.  Alice finally resorts to straining her damnedest and eventually is able to yank Jethro past the end of the neighbor’s fencing.  They escape the barking dog and continue into the night.

Later Alice and Jethro arrive home.  The dog – wagging happily from the walk.  The person – defeated and vexed from the battle.

This phenomenon is happening now and occurs all over the world.  The plague we forewarned you about, good reader, was not the dog-dog aggression. The terrible epidemic we are specifically talking about is the weak and inefficient method commonly used to fix the aggression.   This is the same bad method used in countless situations across the globe.  The same method that brings about little to no change and IS the bane of unsuspecting dog owners…and it is so sinister because it is consistently sold as the cure!  The method described in the story above is constantly sold as the solution!  And caring dog owners buy it hook, line, and sinker.  And what a “sinker” it is.

It causes hope to sink.  It causes confidence to sink.  It causes human emotion to sink down into the mire and muck until the poor dog owner is so beaten down by the continual losses, so very distressed and afflicted by this plague they soon give up.  They give up because they have already tried dog training and it did little to no good.  Maybe they already paid top dollar for a dog behaviorist and the method may have worked on their dog at a far distance from another dog, or it may have worked just slightly when the dog was less distracted, or in a controlled setting, but not in the real world and certainly not for lasting results the owner was anticipating!

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“Bring out your dead!”

 

Folks, this goes far beyond obedience training for dogs.  This sad and pathetic yet all-too-common story is a perfect illustration showcasing the piss-poor methodology of a humongous majority of dog behaviorists and dog trainers.  Attempting to perform a “watch me” command or a “look” command using a food bribe while a dog is beginning to freak out on another dog (or person, or cat, or squirrel, or mail carrier, etc) is the scourge that we fight daily.  This is a Plague!

 

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You would probably not believe how often I hear my new clients recount (like Alice’s dreadful tale) their similar poor experiences with professional dog behaviorists and dog trainers.  My question…When, When, When will we realize that bribing anyone at any time INSTANTLY makes for a less healthy relationship.  

Any and all close relationships have several ingredients included in order to be successful and close.  Respect would be the glaring one in a case like Alice’s.  Jethro had zero respect for her and he showed it in dog speak.  He showed how important he viewed their relationship as he practically abandoned it in an instant to give direct attention to something else.  This was terribly rude to Alice.  And totally unacceptable behavior if Jethro was a human being.  This behavior however is tolerated many times in our relationships with our dogs.

Imagine the human equivalent of the Alice/Jethro relationship with me for a moment.

Let’s say you are having a conversation with someone and you are in mid-sentence and out of nowhere they just totally start ignoring you.  Not only that but they start jumping around, staring at something, and begin screaming out their over-excitement.  Puzzled you turn around to see what they are going on about and see your neighbor casually mowing his lawn.  The person you were just talking to is going bonkers now…dropping F-bombs, needing to be physically restrained while they bodily threaten the neighbor; all the while screaming their head off.  The troubling thing is that this is extremely common because your neighbor is out there typically every couple weeks to trim up his lawn.

Now, as a concerned individual, you ask them to stop.  You are totally ignored; blown off as if you did not even exist.  The sort of extreme ignoring that would impress even the most snobbish of royalty the world over.  The person you used to be talking to, maintaining directed intense eye-contact and the continued onslaught of monstrous insults at the hapless neighbor is becoming quickly uncontrollable.  You take it a step further and decide to step in front of them.  This individual, like a professional athlete, slips left and continues the disgusting yet powerful display of raw energy and physicality-curse words flowing toward the neighbor.  What is a caring person to do with this Tyrannosaurus-type-terror?  Bribe them?  Beat them?  WHAT???

Let’s pause for a moment and then honestly ask ourselves would bribing them at this point be prudent?  Would bribing them at any point over the years of your relationship be prudent?  And does the bribe, if it indeed works, guarantee no future outbreaks of alarmingly aggressive behavior?  (Just to let you know Beating them is NOT the solution either!) 

Should they always look to us for reinforcement?  Should our friends, coworkers, or children (or dog for that matter) as intelligent creatures ALWAYS look to us for reinforcement?

This last question is a critical question because it is where my beliefs on dogs and their training and behavior differ from almost all other dog trainers and dog behaviorists I’ve ever met, read of, seen on TV, or even heard of!

I believe we should NOT always be the answer for our dogs.  Just as our human children grow we should NOT always be the answer for them.  ALL GOOD LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT DUPLICATION, DELEGATION, and DECISION MAKING.  As a father of three great kids one day I may not be there when they have a tough decision to make.  I may not be there when they are pressured to try drugs.  I may not be able to be there holding their hand as they apply for their first job.  But I do my best to be the best leader I can be and equip them as much as possible so that when I am not there they can make an intelligent decision on their own.  

Good leadership is the key on the parent’s part.  Maturity is the goal for the growing child’s part.  For a healthy relationship we need both respect and trust.  How can we trust the child if they don’t respect us?  How can the child trust us if we don’t respect them?  It is a two-way street.

^^^^^^                      It is the same two-way street with dogs.           ^^^^^^

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I find it fascinating that Bribery is a crime in our society but yet highly, highly encouraged by dog behaviorists and trainers when it comes to our close relationship with dogs.

 

Bribery is actually a CRIME in our society!!!  Why is it sold to us as the most “positive” way?  This is amazingly bizarre.  And this is foolish!   Bribery needs to stop if we want calmer, healthier, more social interactions from our dogs and pups.

 

TO BE CONCLUDED…

PS.  Please keep an eye out for the exciting conclusion to this post as we will examine what happens if the food treat/bribe does actually work and the effects on our relations with dun, dun, duuuuu….(exciting musical crescendo here)…..our dogs!

-G

 

 

Are you safe?

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Are you safe?

Are you stuck in a self-created, bland, daily routine?  Would you call your life adventurous and free or would you call it safe?   Adventure: an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.

While adventure isn’t the most important thing in life I believe it should hold a place of value and be sometimes specifically sought after.  I am not alone in this belief.  If we follow the fun in life as we travel, reach out, and interact in this our wide world and embrace the fascinating people, places, creatures, and things in it we all can find a richer experience as we journey this life together.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine, it is lethal.” -Paulo Coelho

If we follow after safety nothing great is accomplished!  Imagine the great heroes in the history of our world.  Since the dawn of time they have been memorialized because they chose the unsafe path!  They placed themselves in harm’s way to help others.  They chose adventure over safety and comfort.  They did the hard thing not the easy thing.

We’ve all heard the expression “No risk – No reward.”  It’s true.  Risk is good!

Dogs are natural explorers.  They are naturally curious and adventuresome.    A dog left loose in a neighborhood will range and rove and follow where his sensitive senses take him…for better and sometimes for worse!  This is nature’s way.  The way of freedom.

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We are facing a crisis in this country currently.  A crisis called fear.  In the name of “safety” and “security” certain rights and freedoms have been taken away.  As the years pass us by and more corrupt politicians enter the game we steadily lose more freedoms as big government continues it’s unhampered growth.  This pervading feeling that “safety” should be foremost in our minds and lives is usually motivated by fear.  The media constantly preys on our fight/flight instincts as the news manipulates the masses.  If you avidly watch the news to “stay informed” you may find you are just “staying programmed” to whatever messages the media may want inside your brain.  (Personally I try my best to limit all forms of “news” media and have found it amazingly beneficial on my mind, and my thinking and actions.)

This crisis of fear and the medias plays on our “safe” thinking isn’t safe..  Sadly this way of thinking isn’t limited to government.

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Many loving parents over-protect and condition their children from a very young age to be fearful and non-adventurous.  The days of “free-range” kids roaming neighborhoods until sundown are tragically diminishing.  In place of kids running around and getting into their own mischief and adventures their mothers set up play-dates.  Play-dates (if you do the research) lead to less self-reliance, less creativity, and less freedom for the child and parent!

We have done this exact thing with our dogs over the years.  And we have done worse. When leash laws started being implemented we actually took away our dogs natural ability to successfully navigate a neighborhood with traffic and people, critters, and distractions.  As we tightened up on the illusion of control and patted law-makers on the back for “dog-safe” leash laws we didn’t consider the possible future rebellion from our dogs!

The results of increased laws in the name of safety have been increased aggression toward people and dogs, dogs without wisdom running into traffic and being killed, increased territorialism, increased fears and phobias, and wildly unsocial dogs!

Please consider this.  Please don’t just brush this off.  Allow the thoughts you have on this subject to begin in the past… about 30-40 years ago when many dogs (like kids) used to romp and adventure through the neighborhood and interact with other dogs and people.  Then bring your mind to present day and consider that although we have more dog training programs, more behaviorists, more dog daycare programs, more vet offices, more pet television programs, more “safety” and more alleged dog info than ever before in all of the history of the world …dog bites (dog aggression and dog fear) are on the rise!  It’s been steadily getting worse over the past 10 years!  

Am I against leash laws in cities and urban areas and towns.  Of course not.  I’m just trying to stimulate some thoughts.  I’m hoping to get some conversations going.  Because we do need a change.  Each year 5 million Americans are getting bit by dogs!  Half of those bitten are our own precious children!  Most training and behavior modification methods are shoddy and inefficient.  So I’m hoping people will start asking questions.

Questions about safety vs. adventure.  Questions about law-making.  Questions about human behavior.  Questions about dog behavior.  Questions about growing government.  Questions about control vs. freedom.  Questions about intelligence.  Questions about sociability.

“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.”  -Thomas Jefferson

“The secret of happiness is freedom.  The secret of freedom is courage.”  -Thucydides

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.”  -Gandhi

The point of this post = To raise critical questions and thinking among the masses.  To remind you, as you work with your dogs and puppies, never over-control, and never micro-manage or a rebellion may result in the future!  To seek out adventure and newness in your relationship with your dogs and those around you and sometimes throw caution to the wind.  Seek to balance freedom with direct communication with your dog.

Questions?  Give us a call.  We are the best in the business.    -G