Crushing 2018

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Dear Friends and Followers,

2018 was such an insane year for me personally and for our family, our business, and our lives.  I wanted to take the time to look back and go over just some of what took place.

  1.  We added a fourth child to the mix!  Now I have two strong sons and two beautiful daughters.  The bride and I must be out of our ever lovin’.  My wife, as always, remained the quintessential image of gorgeousness and grace through it all.  We named number four after my two grandfathers.  He is such a blessing.
  2.  We released my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  Dog Myths, made the Hot list for six weeks consecutive due to the amount of online sales!  This book contains our award-winning philosophy and my personal tips at the end of each chapter.  Basically, Dog Myths, will blow your mind as to what dog’s truly mean when they make a specific movement or touch you a certain way.  The majority of dog training professionals and vets misinterpret dog language or simply fail to delve deep enough thus most dog owners remain fooled by canine manipulation – Dog Myths is a remedy for that!  Readers experience a much deeper revelation of dog communication than what has previously been offered on the subject.  With each page enjoyed the preventing or reversing of problematic pet behavior becomes easy.  Dog Myths has the potential to revolutionize the ancient and often misguided dog training industry so long as you all keep spreading the word and gifting or donating it to others!             DogMyths-BookCover-2000px 
  3.  We lost Bosley.  Bosley the boxer was our first dog and a huge helper for me in all my canine behavioral work.  I learned so much from him, through him, and with him.  We did Schutzhund together.  He also used to carry in groceries for us, throw away trash when I’d said to “trash it,” and help me carry around and hand out business cards and flyers many moons ago when I was just starting out.  Old Bosley helped thousands of dogs with their dog reactivity and aggression.  We are so fortunate and thankful he was strong and stoic and went naturally and quickly in the end.  He will always have a special place in our hearts.Tacoma.Tampa 2007 038
  4. We had three successful meetings with an executive TV producer that is interested in moving forward to do a show about our specific training due to it’s uniqueness and the great results we bring to dogs and people.  (This guy helped put together shows like Ice Road Truckers, The Last Alaskans, and several others.  Their most recent hit show was a summer series on Animal Planet working with a company called The Dodo – check it out if you have a chance.  He is legit and we are excited to see what the future holds.)  If we end up getting a TV show this could really help loads more dogs and their families.  He said he would start by pitching the idea to Animal Planet, Nat Geo, and Netflix.
  5. We got another dog.  Cato the cane corso/pitbull has been a spectacular addition to our home and our behavioral rehabbing team.  His dog language is spot on.  He is a two year old, jet black, musclebound, sweet heart.  He has been great with every guest and client and dog we intro him with and has still been able to intelligently guard our home and hearth whenever a strange new person happens to pop up on the property.  I look forward to continuing to build a great relationship and many memories with him.  (In fact I plan on using him for a new series on this blog about shelter/rescue dogs and their handling and training.  Cato was rescued out of Texas)IMG_2335
  6.  We sold our home, Stepping Stone, which was hard to part with because we loved that well established property, our home, pool, sport court, and all the great trees and other features.
  7. We started another business and bought a new home and property on five cozy acres with a 4000 square foot dog kennel and training building beside the home!  STEVENS FAMILY KENNELS & Dog Language Center is now open for business!  Formerly named Hearthside Kennels, the building came fully equipped and ready to rock.  Two of the acres are wooded and we’ve seen several bucks, some bald eagles, and an occasional coyote on the property.  We have already had several intelligent and enterprising pet owners take advantage of our unique board and train options!  Our board and train, by the way, is the creme de la creme.  Unlike most places it has little to do with dog “obedience.”  You may want to look into it!  (We also offer standard boarding and kenneling)  We also offer our Strong Dog Program wherein dogs that board with us can gain plenty of beneficial exercise on our brand new dog treadmills.  (The Stevens family kennels website should be up very soon)
  8.  We released my second bookSo Long Separation Anxiety!  Yes, you read that right, folks.  We released two books in one year!  This is a little book but a dynamo to be sure.  I like to say it’s 95% hands-on and super practical for any reader.  Great for anxious dogs, dogs struggling with crate or kenneling issues, destructive chewing, attention hounds, or almost any and all rescue dogs!  If you have a puppy read So Long Separation Anxiety in order to prevent it.   We set the price on this book incredibly low as a thank you to our Dog Myths readers.  Please take a moment and and check out the incredible Reviews both books have received on Amazon! UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1605 
  9.  We started another business!  I hesitate to reveal the details to you yet but rest assured you’ll hear of it when the timing is proper.

 

Well I think that’s quite enough of that, eh?  If we can accomplish even half of the sort of creativity and productivity in 2019 that we did in 2018 then I’ll die a happy man.  Who am I kidding?  I relish this sort of accomplishment and achievement and personally believe that if one desires more energy in life then one must work hard at their purpose and trek steadily after the vision and, in this way, one will always find renewed energy in plentiful supplies.  You, Dear Readers, have my promise to try and crush 2018 with even more outrageous and fantastic plans and productivity in 2019.  Stay tuned!  And a big thank you to all our readers and those who share this info by word, or by mouth, computer or phone…Thanks again and please keep telling your friends, fam, and the pet professionals in your areas about us and the differences calmness makes.

Here’s to fomenting the spirit of innovation and hard work in 2019!  Let’s help some dogs and people.

Cheers,

G

Are you playing the wrong way?

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edit 23I know it’s a wild question.  We figure that play is just a “free for all” helluva’ good time with our dogs and pups, right?  WRONG!

Let’s pause for a brief moment and try and think back to any of the educational nature programming you’ve watched on predators (in particular mammals).  Can you recall ever hearing how the wolf pups, or lion cubs, or cheetah cubs (etc) were playing to learn, to reinforce social bonds and positioning within the family group, and playing to practice critical hunting skills they’ll need when they are older?  If you cannot.  I certainly can.  In almost every one of those Nature, Discovery, or Nat Geo programs those lines would be mentioned when considering how the young predators played.  Play, as I’ve mentioned before in this fine blog, is critically important to intelligent creatures.  Let’s take a deeper look and see what we can apply to our dogs to enhance our relationship and their obedience.

Play is structured.  It is NOT a “free for all” where anything goes.  If it even begins to become out of control there will most assuredly be a “foul” called or a “flag” thrown in order to pause the game.  It is the same in wild or domesticated predators!  Your dog is a domesticated predator and not just a furry human toddler.  Dogs are predators even if you earnestly want to believe and buy into the fairy tale of the “fur baby”- it is simply NOT true.  (For healthy relationships honesty is a major key!  Let’s get real please.)

Continuing… Play reinforces social connection, provides exercise, energy escalation and de-escalation, mental stimulation, and can be a huge indicator of just where the relationship is at (I’m talking about the relationship between you and your dog/puppy now).

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Did you know that many dogs and puppies manipulate the heck out of their owners during a simple play session?  It’s true and I observe it everyday in my work with owners and their dogs.  I’ve detailed many dog manipulations that contribute to behavioral problems and that can be prevented or reversed in my HOT Listed book on dog training, language and behavior, DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  (please click on the link, buy it, read it, be shocked by it, be motivated and equipped by it, love it, and then review it so others can find it too!  The reviews have begun to come in about Dog Myths and people are Raving btw!)

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For great play which can help build a great relationship between you and your puppy or dog ……………

  1. Never Chase the dog!  – “But he loves it” you’ll say.  So what?  Drug addicts love their drugs, does that mean they have excellent and successful relationships with those around them?  Does that mean you want them living in your home?  Does that mean you become a drug dealer?  If you chase your puppy or dog ask yourself just what is being reinforced over time?  The average dog can run 32 miles per hour!  And some breeds get up near 40 miles per hour!  Greyhounds can reach 45mph!  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to begin my relationship with a puppy or new rescue dog or any dog teaching them that they can go high speed away from me, away from my space!  I don’t need them in on the fact that they can easily outpace me because rudeness could develop from there.  I say “could” to be gentle on you, Dear Reader, in truth it often does.  I’m guessing that you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you have to catch your dog or pup or have to lunge after them while they showcase their speed and agility in a masterfully manipulative social one-up?  Don’t chase them.

If you’ve read some of my stuff you’ll know that the most important things to our dogs when we are discussing language and communication and relationship are touch and space.  If we chase our dogs and they run and easily take their space away from us it paves the way to more behavioral issues.

2. Always play backwards or run from the dog!  -I have devoted a whole chapter in Dog Myths about playing backwards and drawing the dog or pup to you and to your space because it is vitally important in the relationship.  Our dogs are domesticated predators but they are NOT wild predators.  That means one should never have to catch their dog.  Catching or trapping is what one does with a wild creature and not a domesticated animal that lives in your stinkin’ home, correct?  There must be more respect and trust and clear communication than that.  If you do, in fact, have to catch your pup that is a clear sign that respect and or communication is missing (in most cases it is tragically both!).

Playing backwards helps draw the dog in to your space and it makes it look (physically) like you are the leader.  This is good.  Ask yourself would the mother or father dog have to use high pitched talking to call their pups to their space?  Would the parent dogs have to use a treat to bribe their young to come to them?  Or…would they use reverse psychology and naturally move away from their pups causing the pups to respond by following?  Life can be better than most people believe living with a dog.  Sadly, the majority don’t even know what they are missing.

We’ve gone over some of the spatial parts of play and that’s important but I’m going to continue this article for ya and get another one out probably within a couple weeks.  In that Part 2 we will look at how to touch while playing and when to call a foul or throw a flag as we explore dun-Dun-DUHHHHH…the intricate language of play in the domesticated dog!

To Be Continued…

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Kim Kardashian and your dog

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The Kardashians – what can one say…  If there has ever been a prime example of attention hounds or attention gone wrong I believe it is epitomized in this poor family.  Yes, I wrote “poor” for there are many forms of wealth and they are devoid of several of the better kinds.  While they may be wealthy in terms of finances and buttocks I’m afraid this poor family (in my opinion) has been off their rockers for years now.  In this exciting and illuminating blog post we will go over the Kardashian conundrum and the vital importance attention plays in relating with our dogs.

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Whenever we give our attention to something it lends power or often credence to that subject.  The more we give our attention the stronger habit grows.  Besides Kardashians, another prime example to illustrate my point would be how often we stay tuned to the news.  Much of the “news” and “journalism” today is nothing more than a competitive bloodsport.  A vile competition in conditioning the viewer.   The networks seek out the top 5 or 10 most heinous, atrocious, and shocking stories they can find across our world and then plaster it everywhere.  This GRABS our Attention!  They manipulate our fight/flight responses.  The news plays with our fears and does so quite successfully.

My question, Why are we giving so much attention to it?  Most answer, “To stay informed.”  Really?  Honestly?  Imagine if there was an actual emergency that had something to do with your immediate life, or the life of a neighbor, or neighborhood near yours.  Even if you literally had your head buried in the sand, at some point a family member, friend, or nearby neighbor would most probably inform you of the tragedy by word of mouth and then, and this is critical, you could make a decision to act.

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How unhealthy have we, as people, become just from filling our heads with the “news” and every terrible thing that happens across the planet every moment (even though we aren’t really going to do much about it)?  Oh No!  There’s genocide in Africa!  Oh God!  Thousands have died in a flood in Asia!  I can’t believe it!  There are riots going on in South America!  There’s famine in Ethopia!  Yikes!  A train derailed in the US!  We could literally (and we do) go on forever and ever.  But, Friends, there is only so much a person can or should take into their mind and their heart!  We must guard our attention.

It is totally different if you take action to change, alter, or otherwise become involved in the plight.  But do we?  Well, if we compared the daily and nightly global tragedies vs what we actually act on because it really affects us close to home and personally – it’s not even close.  What is the percentage really of complete and negative BS we are giving our attention to over and over, versus, what we actual give our attention to and then DO something about?

 

What we give attention to grows!  “Energy flows where attention goes.”  This is vital to comprehend if we desire growth in our lives.  Think of some childhood movie stars.  What typically happens to them as the years pass?  They Had everything.  They Had money, houses, cars, growing power, and FAME.  They Had our ATTENTION and it was too much for them!

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Examine what goes on on social media for a moment.  It is often less about connecting with loved ones and friends now-a-days and has become more about announcing what you are doing or how you look with duck lips to the world.  We have been conditioned by Facebook “likes” identically like Pavlov would condition us.  We want to put out the image of fine vacations and cultivate our own little fame to gain more and more Attention!  (Please understand me – I’m not judging you just telling it like it is – we do the same thing on our Facebook business page – we seek attention in hopes of sales)

Attention given to your pup or dog can make or break the dog’s future behavior and relationship with you!  Too much attention given to your new rescue dog paves the way to destruction and chaos!  The mother and father dog give way, way, way, way, way, LESS attention to their growing pups than almost any modern human would give their dog.  The parent dogs do Not fawn all over the pups.  They can be observed readily turning their faces and eye contact away from the pups and walking away!

Imagine how life starts for a wolf pup, a dingo pup, a feral dog pup, a coyote, or just a normal pup at a breeding facility.  The mother dog doesn’t have near the amount of possessions a human does.  She also gives birth to several pups at once.  She doesn’t care if the pups chew on the flooring because she doesn’t know how much you paid for your carpet.  She doesn’t mind if her pups chew up the furniture because dogs place little value on your Grandfather’s antique, roll top desk. Because we have possessions and so many of them and work so hard to acquire them throughout our lives we guard them.  And to guard them takes our attention.  When a new puppy or a new rescue dog comes home to live with us we (as people) have many more rules and boundaries than the mother and father dog naturally ever would.  And that’s okay.  We don’t all have to join the monastery just to have a better relationship and behavior with our dogs.  I’m just saying, attempt to be smooth about what you give your attention to.  I have several nice things in our home that I don’t want chewed, destroyed, or soiled.  But I have learned how and when to ignore (and withhold my attention) how and when to address and calmly discipline if need be, and when to occasionally redirect with a toy, game, or training command.  If you’ve ever watched an older dog interact with a younger pup the older dog is often attempting to ignore the young pup.  They do this with very good reason.

Use reverse psychology for better success instead of constant attention!  This can and does work wonders with any dog or pup!

Don’t turn your puppy into a Kardashian.  Attention hounds are a very real thing.  And attention hounds are skilled at draining our energy.  We only have so much energy and so much attention to give.  A large part of a successful life is determining how and what and when we give our energy and attention.  Why do we direct it?  Why are we doing what we are doing?  Please think about these things with me, folks.  Beware making a needy dog or pup more and more needy!

And…….ATTENTION, ATTENTION!  Ha ha.  I have finished my books on dog and human behavior!  I know you will love it and get loads out of it!  We are so excited to help so many with this book!  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! is available at Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.  Pick up your copy Today and you’ll never look at dogs or their training the same again!  (Update:  My second book, So Long Separation Anxiety, is also available and is receiving great reviews too!)

-G

PS.  As to the Kardashians I hold zero ill will and wish them the best.  I just thought this and the “news” example may resonate with dog owners who may be dealing with an attention hound or accidentally creating a future one!

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