“Who rescued who”…touching sentiment or a losing philosophy doomed to fail?

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We’ve all seen the bumper stickers.  We’ve seen the magnets and touching T-Shirts.  “Who rescued who?”  Some of our clients have these rescue dog stickers on the back of their cars.  I totally see the merit and get the idea behind it…but…the problem (and it is often an ENORMOUS problem which is why I’m mentioning it) occurs when the “rescuer” (the person who got their dog from the pound) either Keeps Their Dog As A VICTIM, not allowing the dog to move on and not allowing the dog to live in the moment, by continually informing anyone and everyone that’ll listen of the old sob story about the dog’s dread past.

I’ve often found that the stories that people make up and imagine are typically much greater in the categories of abuse and maltreatment than what the dog most probably went through!  (Example: most dogs that are afraid of men were NOT abused by a man)

Seneca (a pretty wise individual that took time to ponder things out) said, “We are more often frightened than hurt, we suffer more in imagination than in reality.”  And he was talking about people.  Never before have so many people had their dogs “suffer” in their imaginations!  It is quite unhealthy and a miserable way to begin a relationship.

The other failure that can and often does occur (behaviorally speaking) within the relationship between rescue dog owner and pound puppy is when they fail to give the dog beneficial boundaries and firm follow through when the dog breaks normal societal and individual house rules.  Basically, the rescue dog, gaining oodles of misplaced and unwarranted attention from day 1 within the home, often seizes command of touch, space, movement, and energy (the 4 Pillars – my third book on dog behavior!) and begins to do whatever the heck it wants to even and especially within the owner’s personal space.  Before they know it…little poor behavior patterns are established and the dog is on its way to establishing seriously bad behavioral patterns.

When a dog is termed a “real lover” by a potential client that is calling us to see if they can find a time slot on our training schedule we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their dog is over touching and out touching them.  It doesn’t matter if the dog that is always touching the owner is friendly or not.  Life among all canines and their ranking system is clearly determined by who is touching who and how and when that touch is applied!  “Real lover” type rescue dogs often sneak in way too much touch on their owners and this is the starting point of many horrible future behaviors.

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Well, there you have it.  I’m sure many of you that just happen to read this but that have never been clients may not understand it but these, Friends, are the facts as seen in nature and among all dogs.  Dogs that are allowed to enter your personal space whenever they want to, dogs that demand petting, dogs that lick you, dogs that slip your touch when you go to pet them, dogs that mouth you, dogs that always flop over and direct you to touch their belly are all controlling touch in one way, shape, or form and that is precisely how mother and father dog raise their young – they control touch, space, movement, and energy and, as their young age, they grow up properly with authentic respect, trust, and clear communication which, in turn, leads to maturity and calmness and self control (which means more freedom for the individual).

Don’t get it mixed up.  You got a dog from a pound.  Now please lead the thing the way it deserves to be led!  Let go of the imagined past suffering your rescue dog probably didn’t ever go through.  Understand that dogs can change for the better or for the worse rapidly!

Your relationship should NOT just be an emotionally-pathetic or odd thing wherein you offload tons of your own past wounds onto the unsuspecting dog!  (This happens way too much these days)  These creatures are born for living a life of physical vigor and adventure IN THE MOMENT each day with their owners.  Make it happen for your dog.  I can certainly get behind “Who rescued who” if it implied that both human and dog were working together to improve one another’s lives and to go boldly forward into a better future together but…if it’s an overemotional, overly needy, somewhat lost statement morphing into a translation like, “I don’t know what’s going on but I really need my dog” then I’m not going to be big fan of the slogan.  I am all for needing your dog but as mentioned your pet is NOT the place to dump your past emotional baggage.  We can all do better than that.  How we think and the words we use matter!

P. S.

If you have a nervous dog it will most assuredly manipulate you and your touch and space even more than a more balanced and relaxed dog would – so be careful and be sure to read more of our stuff!  Subscribe to this fine blog because we’ll be honest with you.  Also subscribe to Stevens Family Kennels on YOUTUBE seeing the dogs and people touch and move will help.

Honesty is the best policy because it is a great starting place towards a healthy relationship!

-G

Is your dog like Muhammad Ali?

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Perhaps your dog “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee?”

Maybe you are one of the multitude of dog owners that “can’t catch what they can’t see.”

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali had masterful footwork and incredible spatial strike and retreat/retreat and strike techniques on the canvas that won him the heavyweight championship title.  Known today simply as “The Greatest” he was a masterful tactician and a true artist of the sweet science.

I’m here to inform you that your puppy (or dog) also has these same incredible moves at their disposal just like Ali had.  Whenever he/she performs these keep away moves on you it is purposefully rude, manipulative, and a relationship killer which then leads to a host of other dog behavior problems!  Whenever your puppy slips your touch or evades you, the pup then grows steadily worse.

All normal canines can perfectly calculate (just like Muhammad Ali could) the length of your arms and hands in relation to where their body happens to be.  They are true masters of fight/flight distancing.  Dogs know and care about space as it concerns their body and the environment they find themselves in.  They can dance away just as skillfully as the champion pugilist did in his prime.  Ali used the “rope a dope” tactic successfully on many an opponent in the ring.  Dogs and puppies also do this to their owners all-the-stinking-time! This allows them to grow steadily ruder and, in their doggy mind, more and more in charge of the household, the yard, the couch, the dog daycare, and the neighborhood!

When a dog attempts to slip your touch and stay out of your personal space bubble when you’re reaching towards them or clearly asking them to come into your space in order to be touched or groomed or pet, or leashed up, we must be able to control that interaction.  When you approach your dog they should not back away.

Beneficial suggestions to stop a dog from slipping your touch:

As detailed in my first book, Dog Myths, you must learn to play while moving backwards – use the tug, rope, or ball to lure the dog into your personal space.  When playing tug of war be sure to add your second hand into the mix in a fun way.  You should be able to touch your dog with your second hand without your dog slipping the touch.  This is how you desensitize and slow the classic Muhammad Ali slip and rope a dope behavior.

Do NOT lunge after the dog or chase it!  (Chasing the dog is a bad game because it reinforces the fact that your dog can run way, way faster than you or any human can)

Have your puppy wear a flat buckle collar around the house so that when he/she decides to slip your touch and give you the rope a dope you can easily reach forward under the neck of the animal and hook the collar and (gently) drag them forward into your space – then perform your originally intended purpose (the reason why you attempted to touch the pup in the first place – petting, grooming, leashing etc) Then be sure and turn away and exit the space first (before your pup runs off).  This little paragraph is important and has the potential to greatly alter misbehavior and bring about healthy relationship!  (If you’re still struggling with this then go to the leash and have your pooch drag one around)

Call your dog less.  Our pets live in a world of human talking and man made noise.  Humans are incredibly loud a majority of the time.  It is not that way in the woods.  Most animals don’t like loud noises.  Many dog owners kill the “come” command by overuse.  They also destroy the dog’s name because of overuse.  Don’t be one of them.  Be creative.  Think like an older dog.  Older dogs do NOT sit there calling the pups to them.  What do they do?  (I’m not giving you the answer because I want you to up your observation skills).

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This is my favorite pair of boxing gloves and my favorite jump rope

Muhammad Ali was fun to watch in the ring – he was one of the best boxers ever – but when a dog or pup slips their owner’s touch that is blatantly disrespectful and will most certainly grow poor behavioral patterns if left unchecked.  It matters not if the dog is nervous or shy.  Please follow my suggestions and then let us know how quickly you saw the changes in behavior occur!  (This stuff works and not only does it work…it works better than many behavior modification methods out there.)  DO it and both you and your dog will certainly reap the benefits!

-G

 

 

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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Wing Chun Kung Fu and dog training

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I am a Wing Chun practitioner.  What does this form of Chinese Kung Fu have to do with my dogs and their training and behavior?  Plenty.  (Stay with me)  Wing Chun is a form of Kung Fu that employs close combative methods.  Legend has it that a Shaolin nun, one of the five original Kung Fu masters from Shaolin Temple, created the Wing Chun system based on movements she observed as a snake fought with a crane.  The good Wing Chun practitioner utilizes touch, space, balance, and speed to their advantage and looks to exploit the opponent’s mistakes and movements by way of trapping, and direct striking and blocking simultaneously.

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“Trapping” in Wing Chun is whenever one person arrests the movements, usually the forearms, of another.  In Wing Chun we always seek to move forward and to control the center line of the opponent’s body.  Once center line is gained the Wing Chun man has a direct line of attack.  The fastest distance between two points is a straight line.  Wing Chun teaches straight line punching to foment speed and accuracy.  In order to gain the center line of the opponent – touching (seek the bridge) inevitably takes place.

Over the years I’ve noticed how direct and effective dog movement and touching is.  As predatory animals they don’t beat around the bush.  Dogs, like the good Wing Chun disciple, move forward with determined intentionality.  Dogs are extremely sensitive to touching as is the good Wing Chun student.  Dogs, if left unchecked, will build strong habits of over-touching and out-maneuvering those people that are around them.  Those touch habits then lead the dog to assume command of the household.  Once a dog assumes command there’s no reason in their mind why they can’t discipline a guest, neighbor, or even a family member with a bite because sometimes that’s actually acceptable behavior in the world of canines.  The higher ranking family member is supposed to guide and discipline the lower ranking/younger or less balanced individuals within the group/pack to aid them in the fine art of canine social skills and language and in order to claim what is what and whose is whose.  The animal doesn’t know that we humans tend to frown upon a dog if it bites one of our children – the dog only knows it’s been given totally unhampered reign in the areas of touch and space, movement, and in primal grooming rituals within its home environment!  In other words, the dog owner has really dropped the ball and so the dog naturally takes charge filling the leadership void.  This “taking charge” often appears friendly at first until…months or years later…it doesn’t!  (This friendly familiarity breed rudeness quite quickly within the relationship between dog and human)

To begin to reverse poor behavior in ANY dog or pup you must consider and then employ The Four Pillars of dog language.  (for more on the Four Pillars please see my other posts by that name and keep an eye out for the upcoming book I am writing about them!)  I want anyone reading this to act like a Wing Chun expert and first of all  – be very aware of touching.  Most people are greatly lacking in sensitivity when it comes to The Four Pillars of dog language.  (People know to be sensitive with a horse, or with a bird, or when swimming with sharks but with dogs everyone’s been taught the wrong things – they’ve been taught many behavioral myths – hence my first book, Dog Myths)

Secondly, if and when your dog attempts to jump up on you, or nose you, or lick you, or mouth you, or elicit petting from you by way of barging into your personal space – move forward, take up space, and intercept the dog’s touch with a touch of your own if necessary.  Use your hands and move your body forward into the dog.  Be aware of your center line!  In this case though, because your dog is not your enemy or opponent, it’s necessary to also keep your dog in center line with you to attain the clearest form of communication possible – you both meet in the center line.  Make sure you are looking right at the dog and the dog is looking right at you.  (Do NOT pay the dog with food for this attention or it reduces the relationship to that of a wild animal and you do NOT have respect and therefore cannot offer trust – also, and this is rather important – no other dog on the planet needs food or treats or baby talk to enter into a healthy relationship with another member of their species).  Aline both centers.  In this way a clear understanding on the part of the dog is gained.  If the dog is looking away or leaving the space or just blowing you off – then your center line is weak and/or your energy was not firm enough.  It is also possible that your energy was very strong but not calm enough.

We need both firmness and calmness; respect and trust; control and freedom within the relationship.  This can be hard because many people are lacking in one or the other.  Some are firm enough but not calm (they are frustrated, or angry, or over-emotional).  Others are really calm with their dogs but have no fight in them at all and so they lack any sort of firm or strong energy and, thus, the dog persists in misbehavior.  Learn both firmness and calmness and you’ll work wonders with any dog or any animal for that matter.

Wing Chun blends internal (soft and calm energy) martial arts with external (hard and strong energy) martial arts techniques.  It can be quite effective in a real fight depending, of course, on the individual using it.  As dog lovers we should all strive to be as well rounded as the ancient Kung Fu masters as we work to better ourselves and our dogs and their behaviors.  Good luck!

-G

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The Four Pillars of dog language

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Dog language and the adjustment of behavior need not be complicated.  After a decade and a half of examining and questioning the dog training industry and observing other pet professionals and after learning and studying the Way of the Dog directly from thousands and thousands of dogs themselves I have broken down dog language into what I have coined The Four Pillars of Dog Language.  These relatively unknown pillars of canine communication and language are the essence of dog behavior and social interaction.  They are incredibly important to all canids on the planet!  The Four Pillars have nothing to do with positive reinforcement or punitive reinforcement – they go far deeper than shallow motivation.  Once you recognize and utilize The Four Pillars you will see rapid improvement in even the most difficult of dogs.

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The Four Pillars of dog language I’ve discovered and am sharing with you now are tried and true.  They stand the test of time.  Every single dog I’ve ever worked with knows and responds whenever I tap into these pillars.  It doesn’t matter what breed you have, what age the dog is, or the dog’s sordid past history – every canine on this planet, be they wild or domestic, use and clearly understand these pillars of communicative interaction!  The Four Pillars are instinctual and, thus, primal and powerful.

If more dog behaviorists focused on first learning these Four Pillars and then teaching dog language instead of settling for and being perpetually enthralled by frivolous trick training and dog obedience the world and dog ownership as a whole would rapidly improve!  If veterinarians knew the four pillars of dog language they’d be much better equipped to handle the large, fearful, and aggressive dogs that come for exams without accidentally adding more negative stress to the visit and the dog (this frequently occurs)!  If animal shelters and dog rescue groups knew the four pillars their adoption rates would skyrocket because dogs would settle down peacefully and adapt much faster to modern households and society!  But let’s not hold our breath.  In the meantime at least you and I, Dear Reader, can begin at once a deeper relationship with our dog as we, the curious, the questioning, the nature-loving, and the open-minded, embrace these Four proven Pillars of dog language.  Here they are for the very first time…

THE FOUR PILLARS OF DOG LANGUAGE

Touch

Space

Movement

Energy

 

The Four Pillars are what every mother and father dog concern themselves with when raising their young.  They are what all older social dogs rely on to remain socially skilled.  These Four Pillars are what either goes right or goes wrong when two dogs meet for the first time.  These Four Pillars determine whether a puppy will be a joy to live with and easily get along socially or if they will become a nightmare.

In the next installment (Part 2) we will examine each one and look at practically applying them with our dogs!

Thanks so much for following our blog.  Please tell your dog-loving friends about our blog or share our articles!

-G

http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com

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