The neurotic Doberman that had excellent training!

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The big Dobie lunged forward snapping and barking at the 190 some odd pounds of Saint Bernard standing nearby!   Straining with all of his might, the Doberman kept the leash taught as his owner, situated about four feet behind his wild dog, struggled to maintain his grip!  Just another day in the life.

I suppose the most bizarre thing about this scene to most folks would be that only moments before (this total behavioral freak out) the Doberman Pinscher was heeling beautifully, sitting admirably beside his owner, and performing “watch me” commands like a professional working dog.  The owner was giving praise and the occasional treat at all the proper times.  It was almost beautiful to watch.  The dog looked like all working dogs do on Youtube – heeling briskly and looking at his handler – whenever the man stopped the dog sat perfectly.  The doberman had excellent training.  And nobody from our company trained it.  In fact, during the entire time the owner was training his dog (this took place at the very beginning of our first session) I was gently but repeatedly attempting to explain that all that fancy obedience that the dog was performing masterfully DID NOT HELP AT ALL when it came to the dog’s Horrible psychosis!  The obedience training did NOT help the Doberman to experience the world they way he naturally could or should through proper utilization of the right senses at the right time.  You see, unlike most folks, I was 100% unimpressed with the Dobie’s quick heeling and fast sitting because nature and all calm, social canines would also be 100% unimpressed with that excitable performance!

The Dobie was dog aggressive and human reactive and the great obedience that the owner had taught his dog to do was NOT working to help calm his dog down enough to think and operate clearly in normal social settings.  His great training FAILED in REAL LIFE.  Here is a fact that I’m hoping the readers of this article can and will spread far and wide to anyone willing to listen (Share this article for the love of dogs)…Dogs can perform incredible feats of obedience and simultaneously be neurotic and out of control dangers to society.

The giant Saint Bernard (who was having his third session at our Dog Language Center) was able to walk very close to the lunging, frantic Dobie and maintain his cool.  The Dobie, for all his prior work and prior tricks and obedience at the hands of his owner, was having an utter meltdown.  But wait…there’s hope…Enter the Garrett Stevens Method!

Over the course of the session we taught the owner how to SLOW DOWN and TURN DOWN his typical training and, in turn, SLOW down his Dobie’s outrageous and unsocial behavior.  Here’s another fact for any dog owner wise enough to consider it – Dogs are faster than humans and will certainly manipulate us by speeding up the action and speeding up their movement and ours.  A skilled dog trainer or whisperer (or owner) knows how to SLOW the movement of the neurotic dog and influence the energy that way.

By the second half of our session the Dobie was walking calmly beside my own example dog.  The Doberman was able to be smelled repeatedly and calmly led around the property.  The owner was blown away at the differences and said so repeatedly.  We are so excited to continue teaching the owner the way of the dog and the Garrett Stevens Method as we work with his Doberman.

Please remember:  Excellent training and wonderful, trustworthy social behavior are two very different things!

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“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

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6.5 unique Tips for the New Rescue dog owner

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  1. Do NOT comfort the weak (you will have to fight your human nurturing instincts here and act like an older “example” dog or mother dog (the mother dog has many fast-growing offspring – it’s her job to make sure they’re respectful and learning to mature behaviorally speaking)…be sure and keep your human mouth shut too so you don’t inadvertently praise misbehavior or enable the testing behavior that naturally occurs during the honeymoon phase/first two to three weeks of ownership with your rescue!  Let the dog grow mentally and emotionally stronger in calmness and, even better, in silence because this will prevent all-too-common psychotic co-dependancy).
  2. Exercise often.  (work the dog’s amazing cardiovascular system and make sure the dog really pants) (also teach the dog how to heel/walk beside you nicely without pulling on leash).
  3. Socialize often.  (expose your new dog to as many differing situations and people and animals as possible – especially during the honeymoon phase – be responsible).
  4. Remember obedience training is secondary to healthy relationship and clear understanding between owner and dog.  (Learn the dog language – read my books)
  5. Claim your space, your furniture, and your new dog.  (the dog is yours not the other way round.  Don’t be one of the people who pretends otherwise because that is a losing philosophy for both owner and dog and it often backfires months later when the dog has claimed everything and now acts like Al Capone).
  6. Touching is like talking in dog language.  (is your dog speaking politely to you and your guests?  Make sure to guide touch interactions – play hard to get and do NOT give the dog every little thing it desires)             6.5  Read and reread Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety (these books are very different from the masses of dog behavioral books in the market place.  They will help anyone with an open and curious mind).

Thanks so much for reading and please tell a friend about our blog!

FYI:  Stevens Family Kennels now has a YOUTUBE account so check that out and subscribe if you desire to continue your canine education!  Thanks everybody.

-G

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Building a healthy relationship the way all balanced, example dogs do can be incredibly rewarding.  Here’s a pro tip for ya:  Ignore the status quo and think a bit more like an animal while blending in all the calmness and sociability required for a skilled and highly social dog living in your household in the modern world!

Smell the butt

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Smell my butt.  This is one of the single most important things in all of Dogdom.  In the dog world butt smelling is vital.

Forget the slogan, “Have you hugged your kids today?”  I say, “Has your dog smelled a butt today?”  And (equally important) has your dog been smelled by another dog in return?  This is crucial when rehabbing aggressive dogs and fearful dogs and any dog that has dog-dog reactivity.  They need to gather information through the use of their primary three birth senses.

One of a pup’s first and most important sense as it is born into this world is the olfactory…the nose.  (This is the part everyone knows) A puppy or dog ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS smells the world before it sees it or hears it.  Think about this.  Look at your dog’s face.  It is triangular shaped because the nose comes first.  The first couple weeks of a puppy’s life are spent blind and deaf – Helen Keller style!  (Now think of the extreme growth occurring physically and mentally within the fast-growing pup during those early stages of life)

This leads us to the question,  What kind of learner is your dog?  If you went to school and they tested you they would then find out whether you are a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner.  This means your brain prefers to learn and experience the world either through the eyes, the ears, or with a more hands-on approach.  And if we, as good teachers and dog trainers, customize our teaching to help accomodate the pupil’s brain’s preference learning should then naturally increase because we are now “speaking the same language.”  We are working with the brain and playing to its strengths.  If a teacher can peak the interest or natural way the brain works, well, then their material is readily received and learning occurs quickly for the pupil.  At Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we view dog training and behavioral rehab the same way.  Dogs are touchers, smellers, and tasters first.  Later they become seers and hearers.

The canine language is based in “cut-off” or “calming” signals (because these signals allow for peaceful coexistence) without which there would be no pack.  There would be Zero ability to live together and survive together if there weren’t calming signals and pressure relief valves within our dog’s language.  The language of our dogs is complex.  All canines can use these signals and this language to release tension and get along socially – tragically though – many do not.  Their need for boundaries in order to be able to calm down enough to live and function in a group is basically what makes a canine a canine.  Dogs that are skilled in their own linguistics use tension and the release of this tension (displayed in their body language and in their energy levels) to communicate their intentions clearly to those around them.  These skilled dog linguists use proper movement and spatial pressure in order to calm/claim/correct the individuals in their social circle that may need help.  If the older example dog has had good leadership they seldom if ever overdo it and they seldom if ever under do it.  It is fascinating and freeing.  It might surprise you to know that in canine culture there is more freedom than in any human government on the planet.

Smelling instead of staring leads any dog into a more calm state of mind.  Make sure your dog is smelling other dogs and people and being smelled by other dogs…if you think it is “too late” and the dog is too much of a danger than increase exercise and increase the rules within your home environment AND THEN attempt to socialize by way of spinning your dog around (controlling the head and eyes and teeth – you cannot do this on a harness) and getting your dog’s butt smelled by a calm, friendly “example” dog.

Need help??? – Read my books on dog behavior and/or leave us a quick voicemail and we’ll answer your questions as soon as is humanly possible 253-653-4890 (calls and vms are handled on a first come – first serve basis!)  Stevens Family Kennels also has a new Youtube channel you might want to subscribe to.  Thanks

-G

Dogs: to drug or not to drug

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That is the question.

Drugs.  Exactly when did we stop saying “No!” to them?  In truth, those of us in the Western world understand that we’ve all been slowly programmed by television “programming” that we’ve steadily yet heavily been consuming over the long years.  You, Dear Reader, know precisely the annoying commercials I speak of.

If you’re experiencing an erection for over four hours, if you have upset stomach, if you have delusions of grandeur, if you have hot dog fingers, “if you’re feeling sad and lonely, there’s a service I can render,” if you have thoughts of suicide, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseam (and at this time please insert any other Latin phrases you’d like to into this poor excuse for a run on sentence).  My point, drugs are more mainstream than ever and if you don’t want to run the risk of acquiring them on a shady street corner in the ghetto with cash you can easily get them instead from your tidy, little, lab-coated, local, neighborhood, MD or your DVM (vet)Image result for drugging a dog images

 

As for me, I grew up hearing drugs were bad.  Now, in the age of ultra convenience and instant gratification, they are often presented to us as a solution!  And because dogs and people are inextricably linked together, our poor decisions and cultural practices often have a way of pulling dogs down the exact same road.  Drugging dogs has never been more widespread than it is today.

I work daily to get dogs off of Prozac and other similar drugs.  My concern is the vets that readily deal these drugs often do NOT have an active plan in place of getting them back off of the stuff!  In several cases I have seen they just want to keep increasing the dosage.  That is a problem.  Frankly, my friends, at what point does someone say, What the hell is going on?  Is my dog supposed to be so neurotic in the first place that drugs are even on the table as a legitimate option for treatment?  Is this a natural and healthy existence for my dog?  Have you, Dear Reader, thoughtfully considered the financial aspects of paying to drug your dog every day of the week throughout its existence?  Have you thought about what a quality life really entails for man or beast?

Please understand I can only speak from my professional training experience (I work with, on average, six or more dogs and families usually six days a week) and I’m surrounded by seriously problematic dogs.  We have a great reputation for handling the monsters.  This isn’t your normal puppy class stuff.  It’s not the classic stuff where the “certified” trainer bribes their way through the miserable hour of training by stuffing hundreds of treats in the pup’s mouth in order to elicit the animal to “sit” for the hundredth time and, as the weeks progress the “group” class soon dwindles down to one or two faithful yet lonesome and disheartened souls.  No, no.  I handle all the dramatic, lunging, totally imbalanced dogs on the daily – be they fearful, anxious, hyper, dominant, skittish, and particularly aggressive.  Many of the dogs I deal with want to (and have) put a hurting on people or on other dogs.  In all my years dealing with these types of dogs we’ve discovered that exactly three were helped slightly by drugs!  And I’ve been doing this for a decade and a half!!!  The rest of these canine junkies were either unaffected by it, made worse from it, or given so much they acted like half-dead zombies!  (Again, this is just my experience with thousands and thousands of dogs, I’m sure there have been others that we haven’t seen that have, in fact, been helped by drugs but my point is why not natural solution first?)

Let me be clear.  I am NOT a vet.  I would never pretend to be and don’t desire to be one in the least.  While the vets deal with the dog body I specialize and work with the dog mind and the behaviors that flow from both the body and brain – resulting in energy and movements, and behavior.  (Again, I am just sharing what I’ve personally seen and worked with and what I’ve heard from all our clients over the many years.)   I’m writing this not to go against your local veterinarian but to try and get to you first to get the gears of your mind turning!  It’s okay to ask questions.

Why not seek out a more natural solution first?  Why on earth would someone who allegedly cares for their pet rush right out and get them drugs?  What happened to just saying No?  Or at least starting that way…?

My prescription:

If you have an aggressive or anxious dog I’d highly suggest employing extra exercise as a first, natural step.  Exercise mixed with heavy socialization (this means exercising out and about not just “exercise” done alone and in your stupid, boring backyard) can work wonders on behavior.  If exercised well (with definitive rules and with socialization) most dogs achieve a lower level of aggression and certainly a lower level of anxiety.

“But, but, but my dog cannot be taken out precisely because he is aggressive or she is so anxious that it makes her worse.”  Please understand, in many cases coddling of the dog is actively contributing to making the entire situation worse.  Also – and this may just be me thinking this way but – if something “cannot be done” doesn’t that make you want to rise to the challenge of proving that it can, in fact, be done!  Doesn’t that entice or tempt you to try?  If your dog or pup is so bad you “cannot” exercise it in a social environment (a local park, the waterfront, a busy neighborhood etc) look into some pro training options.  You might even start with Youtube videos on heeling and leash work.  You know why I’m suggesting that you don’t go running to your vet for advice right off the bat…because their expertise is in treating illness of the dog body and performing routine spay and neuter surgeries, is it not?  Look to Ma Nature, and to common sense, and to this professional dog linguist’s advice because I’ve actually helped thousands and thousands of aggressive and anxious dogs and their households and done it all.Without.DRUGS!

Drugs should be the Last option when it comes to dog behavior modification. 

Add exercise and work on developing a great “Heel” command (where your dog can walk and remain calmly beside you – not in front of you).  Training the “heel” teaches respect fairly quickly.  It also rapidly decreases a dog’s natural energy reserve so that’s an added bonus.  (We’ve made a video on Heeling and Leash Manners available for purchase at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com And if you’re local we offer an incredible behavioral board and train option at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center that provides the massive pattern interrupt many aggressive, anxious, fear-riddled dogs desperately need – check us out at http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com)

Our dogs should adapt to our human way of life, sure, but not in the ignoble or darker side of humanity and society.  They should join us in the finer, elevated things.  Example: being neighborly and saying hello to people while on our walk.  Do this sort of stuff even and especially if it is very ugly due to aggression.  Every aggressive and or anxious or skittish dog needs more exposure to the wide world and not just to your home and property.  Work your heel and be at a safe distance, obviously, but get your aggressive dog on way more social outings.  And as you do that distance should naturally be able to decrease for the better.

I always tell clients, “All you have to do is keep control of your dog’s head.  In particular, the eye contact and the teeth!”  Once you do that you typically no longer have to fight the dog’s body for control (this ranges based on the size of the dog’s body).

By the way, if you cannot control your aggressive dog’s head and eye contact you MUST, MUST, MUST order one of my custom-fit, hand-made, training collars because they work miracles for people!  Incredibly strong, light weight, smooth-flowing and unobtrusive, our collars will out perform any harness, martingale, flat buckle collar, choker, halti, gentle leader, or prong collar on the market!  Check them out at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com (search the Custom Products page)

Aggression in our dogs is so mishandled by mainstream dog trainers, behaviorists, and vets.  They don’t seem to know the dog language, they don’t actually “speak dog” although they all claim to, they only do what’s already been done and yet they expect different or good results and that, Friends, is the definition of insanity.

We must all re-examine our dogs and their behavior.  We must all re-examine why we are acting how we’re acting and what we are doing with our dogs.  We must all confront the tempting trap of convenience as we move into the future.  We must reserve drugging the dog as one of the very last options of treatment especially if we truly care for our dogs like everyone claims to.

Thanks for reading and considering this.  This was another honest post for you and your dogs.

-G

Rescue Dog Revolution!

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Many dog shelters have an incredible amount of dogs siphon through their facilities each month.  A well-meaning army of volunteers try their best to help the dogs that come through the rescue route.  They do great heart work but many do not do great head work.  I see the other side of rescue in my daily work, the side where the rescue dog bites a neighbor’s dog or the new rescue dog bites their own owner or a child in the home!  Why does this happen?  How can we prevent it?

Let me answer the two questions above here and now.  1. It happens because most folks (even professional dog trainers – as I’ve said ad nauseam on this blog – do NOT know the dog language because they are consumed with trick training and obedience.  Keep in the forefront of your mind, Dear Reader, that what most dog owners consider solid obedience has little to nothing to do with canine social skills, language, and teamwork.  2. I’m going to answer the second question and describe precisely how we can prevent most rescue dog problems and help revolutionize the rescue dog industry with three easy solutions in the next paragraph!

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3 EXCELLENT MUST-HAVE SOLUTIONS THAT WOULD REVOLUTIONIZE DOG RESCUE FOR THE BETTER

  1.  In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility must have multiple TREADMILLS.  As new dogs come in they are put on a regular and rigorous exercise routine before being taken for a walk and socialized.  The impact would be incredible.  I know because I work with dangerous dogs every day and there’s an enormous difference working with them before versus working with them AFTER their Treadmill time.
  2. In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility or lead workers there would have to have/own incredibly Social “EXAMPLE DOGS.”  It would be ideal if each facility had continual access to two or three (small, medium, and large) wonderful, lead dogs that were highly skilled in dog language and communication to aid other dogs and to drastically help the rescue volunteers and the would be adopters.  I’m talking about dogs that are trustworthy and calm – excellent communicators.  It is so bizarre to me that more rescues and training companies don’t see and identify these dogs as a must have in order to help any and every problematic dog that comes through their doors.  Sociability is always the key when working with highly social animals.  Anything less is bordering on stupidity and/or abuse.  At our Dog Language Center we use my excellent example dogs to help other dogs every, single day with great success.  All dogs learn from other dogs.
  3. In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility would be required by law to Tell the TRUTH about the animal’s history (yes, tragically there’s loads of lying in the dog rescue industry…perhaps they never heard the old adage ‘Honesty is the best policy’?) And if we were to make just one more great suggestion, maybe a 3.5 option to revolutionizing the rescue dog industry then I’d suggest every adoption comes with a copy of my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! for the future owner in order to dispel the many harmful and often idiotic behavioral myths that reave and ravage the mind of most unwitting dog owners and the masses of inept dog professionals that abound in today’s world.

These 3.5 steps IF applied in dog shelters would do much towards paving the way of one of my grandest goals…to take the yearly American dog bite rate down from about 5 MILLION people each year to just 4 Million!  (And those are only the bites that are reported!)  If that rate could fall by a million that would mean dogs are doing much better and people are doing much better.  That’s a giant win-win!  But I’m not holding my breath.

If you truly care feel free to spread these ideas with your local rescues and shelters!

-G

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My Black Cane Corso/Pitbull: A Rescue Dog Story – Part 3

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We decided to give Cato the Corso a chance to join our family.  I made absolutely sure to purposely scare my wife and children about this powerful dog with the skittish tendencies before taking him into our home.  I am under no delusions when it comes to what nervous, powerful dogs can do to children, other dogs, neighbors, or their own owners after the honeymoon phase (the first couple of weeks when a dog finds him/herself in a new home) is over.  I wanted this strong dog to understand he would have to adapt and fit in with our tribe – not the other way round.  Cato would have to understand he was last place in our family.  By the way, that is such a good place for a new rescue to be in.  When you’re in last place in a family group/pack all you have to do is fit in and follow.  In this way I knew the cares of the world would soon melt away from Cato’s muscle-bound shoulders and he would have a real chance at a quality life with my family and because he’d be in last place that leaves zero room for classic dog manipulation and one-upmanship to gain a foothold in the relationship.

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You see, as I mentioned in Part 2, every single day in our custom behavioral work to save dogs on their last leg behaviorally speaking (we often bat clean up when shoddy mainstream dog training and behavior mod. methods fail) I see the other side of the shelter and rescue industry…the ugly side of rescue that has no delicate commercials with weepy singing.  Every day I see and experience the side where kids have been bitten in the face, the side where dogs escape their yard and then attack the hapless neighbor or the friendly dog passing by!  That’s why I gave you my Touch and Go technique and also why I gave you a strong admonishment in Part 2 of our story.  Please heed my warnings or the next child that’s bit in the face or the next dog that is attacked might be your own!

My family, pre-Cato, was made up of six humans and one faithful, old boxer.  We had recently lost Bosley, our first boxer, to old age a couple months prior.  We decided to take Cato for a few weeks and see if he’d be a good fit with our family.  We piled all four kids into the minivan and drove over to pick him up from the lady’s house.

Initially Cato would not jump into the back of our minivan.  This well-muscled pantheresque beast was afraid.  His fearful posture kept him so low to the ground he was almost scraping his belly!  So instead of just picking him up and placing him in the van (instead of doing what most people would do) I decided to walk him around for a little while and let him bond more with me and then with my wife while he was on leash.  I purposely chose to take extra moments with the dog instead of just doing what was convenient.  I also kept talking to a minimum.  I believe those two things are important to note for any dog owner living in 2019.  While walking him I would frequently walk us back to the open rear part of our minivan and gently but firmly tug him right up close to the entrance.  He’d attempt to face away from the van and I’d make sure his head was facing the right direction.  This was a step I’d make sure to accomplish because in a couple reps I wanted him to be able to hop into the back of the van without me lifting him in.  So I’d walk him up to the rear of the van and then I’d sit with my butt on the edge of the van and adjust his posture to a somewhat normal/relaxed posture.  I accomplished this by petting his neck and jaw area and as I did so I’d gently push/lift his head upward.  Occasionally I’d slip a hand underneath his chest and belly area and lift his body upward too making him stand comfortably.  Then, before Cato had a chance to go back into fearful postures and a flighty state, I’d take the initiative and we’d walk away leaving the back of the van for a short time only to return a few minutes later and repeat the entire sequence.  Each time I did this Cato made progress.  This was done almost entirely without human talking.  (I highly suggest less human talking when working with a dog.  It is fantastic.)  Cato soon hoped into our van with a slight tug from the leash.

Let’s fast forward to his introduction to our family home.

Before ever stepping foot inside our house we had gone to grab breakfast at a fast food place and as my wife ordered for everyone I worked on Cato’s leash manners and taught him to heel in the parking lot.  After breakfast it was back into the van and on to our house.

I kept him on leash and had him heel around our property.  Heeling drains energy and also puts a dog in a follower role.  (There is a video I’ve made available for purchase all about Heeling and Leash Manners)  Draining energy and putting a dog in a follower role are both great ideas for most dogs – especially any new rescue dog.  Then I let him sniff around the front of our property and then around our large fenced back yard.  At this time we lived in a place I had named Stepping Stone.  It was a great house on an acre and had everything a growing family needed.  It came with some very nice amenities too.

To intro our older dog, Rambo, to Cato I had my wife walk Rambo out on leash and we took a long walk around the neighborhood.  Each dog was made to heel and walk parallel with the other.  Even though I knew Cato would probably do well with Rambo I still took the time to cover all the bases behaviorally speaking. IMG_3684

WHEN TWO DOGS ARE INTRODUCED TO EACH OTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME…they should be walked in the heel position with the owners.  (Ideally they’d be exercised already to take the edge off the energy)  The goal is to go down the street side by side and NOT face to face.  They should NOT typically be given free access to meet and go eye-to-eye and head-to-head initially unless you trust both dogs!   After a few minutes of heeling the calmest dog should be given access to smell the other dog’s rear end and then go immediately back to heeling.  Then, after more walking, the other/new dog (if ready and looking to sniff and NOT stare) should smell the calm dog’s rear end and then be made to heel again the next moment.  After a block or three and a few “rear end repetitions” they should be given access to smell all over (face-to-face too) while the owners are acting in a smooth, calm manner and making sure the leashes are relaxed and NOT taut.  Is that how most folks intro a new dog to their other dog?  NO but it should be!  If every dog owner followed this instruction when introducing a new dog to their home there would be way less dog-dog problems!

I’ll pause here and ask you to stay tuned for the 4th and Final part of Cato’s story…

-G

There’s nothing cute about a skittish dog

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I’m going to admonish you.  You probably won’t enjoy it.  Think of this post as the scalpel  that cuts away the necrotic tissue in order to save the patient’s life.  Think of this rebuke as the life-saving maggots that eat away the infected flesh from the mountain man’s rotting grizzly bear wound.  For several dog owners are indeed wounded (relationally speaking) and they also wound their dogs on a daily basis!

There is nothing cute about a skittish or nervous dog.  Listen to the truth…Masses of skittish, fearful dogs are being ENABLED towards greater levels of fear and psychosis every day at the hands of their owners!  Aren’t you exaggerating, Garrett?  I mean you’re going to sit here and tell dog owners that some of them are enabling and even encouraging psychosis in their nervous pets!  YES!  Yes, I am.  Let’s look up the definition of psychosis to illuminate the subject.

PSYCHOSIS:  a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.  

The above definition of psychosis lines up perfectly (often identically) with how a majority of skittish dogs act and with how many dog owners choose to keep them!  I was shocked when I read the definition because it’s precisely what I see day in and day out in our behavioral work with dogs and their owners.

The skittish or fearful dog’s thinking and emotions are “greatly impaired” or blocked and so – they act insane.  This insanity, when weighed against the social baseline behavior of a balanced or relaxed dog, is glaringly easy to spot.  And yet in many homes the owners may have become “dog blind” to it.  (If you know what the term “nose blind” means you’ll understand my phrase “dog blind.  Oh look, I’ve just coined another new phrase!  A host of dog owners are dog blind.)  The skittish dog’s decisions are based in unfounded fears and foolhardy, energy-wasting actions.  The main problem is…the owner then allows their dog to continue making those same fear-based, psychotic decisions day after day after day – totally unhampered!  There is little to no growth or change.  This, Friends, simply will not do.

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HOW does a hapless dog owner enable skittishness and fear?  Here are a couple examples:

The dog owner enables the fearful dog by doing what the dog wants when the dog wants it.  The dog owner enables the fearful dog by doing little to nothing when the dog is lunging at a neighbor or screaming at another dog.  The dog owner enables the fearful dog by allowing the dog to bark at (or behave even worse towards) the guest entering their home.

Let’s compare and contrast the skittish mentally and emotionally unstable dog with the socially well-adjusted dog, shall we?

The skittish dog has senses that are misaligned.  (Like the definition says the thoughts and emotions are impaired and they’ve lost contact)  The skittish dog will not smell and come forward to be pet by the friendly human stranger.  But the socially normal dog can easily and happily come forward for smelling, petting, and social interaction.

Another Example:  The skittish dog is overly clingy and insanely needy.  The skittish dog has to remain in the owner’s personal space and continuously follow the owner throughout the entire house.  The socially healthy dog is flexible and can follow the owner out of relaxed interest but does not have severe separation anxiety and can choose on its own to go and lie down without being asked or told to lie down and separate from the owner’s space.

A Clearer Example:  The skittish dog will NOT smell and taste the world as it should (those senses are drastically impaired due to dreadful habits often enabled by the owner) and so it fears interaction with new people or new dogs and that leads to staring, barking, lunging, aggression.  The socially normal and sensually healthy dog has no trouble at all utilizing their incredible olfactory and gustatory systems and in this way they greet new people, places, and things/dogs easily and properly.

There is nothing cute about a skittish dog.  People, there is something wrong!  There is something wrong with an owner that chalks up their dog’s extreme and unhealthy neediness as “love” for them!  You wouldn’t believe how often this happens.  It is truly egregious.  Be mindful of your thinking when it comes to your pooch.  Let me clearly tell you now that skittish/fearful/nervous/psychotic dogs use and manipulate their owners in order to remain fearful.  Fear is their drug of choice and they are slaves to it.

Foolish dog owners will say things like “I’m the dog’s person” when they observe extreme and unhealthy anxiety within their dog as it presents the problem spatially by following them around the house nonstop like a goon.  The Foolish owner keeps the dog in a relationship of abnormal dependency that lacks genuine maturity and health.

Foolish dog owners will say “my dog’s just protecting me” when their dog growls and snaps reactively to a friendly passersby.  In reality, the dog is protecting its own rear end and is manipulating the owner by hiding in the owner’s personal space.  The owner desperately wants to believe they’ve got a real Rin-Tin-Tin or Lassie on their hands but in reality they enable their skittish dog every time they take him out on a walk or open their front door to a visitor.

Foolish dog owners will say things like, “my dog is so happy to see me when I come home” as they greet the dog merrily and (in some cases) knowingly add to the dog’s severe separation anxiety and hyperactivity!   These are the behaviors that foolish dog owners often downgrade in a playful or cutesy way during conversation with others in order to keep enabling the problematic behavior or passing on the common dog myth.  These are the behaviors of a psycho!  (Here I’m talking about both owner and dog!)

There is something wrong when a human claims to “love” their dog but simultaneously enables the dog in a daily pattern of unnecessary fear!  Genuine love doesn’t work that way.  Perhaps these dog owners are the true psychos, the neediest of all, because they keep their dog stuck in a place of perpetual psychosis day in and day out!

If your dog suffers a severe mental disorder (if your dog is perpetually fearful, anxious, skittish, or reactive or aggressive), if your dog is a psycho – Do NOT ENABLE IT!  PLEASE STOP MAKING EXCUSES about the bad behavior too (we hear this stuff every single day.  It goes something to the tune of “We love our dog, Fido – he’s a great dog – but no one can pet him.”  Remember my phrase “dog blind!”  If nobody can pet your dog then the dog is a psycho and not living in reality!  That’s not a “great” dog.  That’s a dog and family that is desperate for help.  Get some.  Lets combat dog blindness together.

And don’t just “train” it with obedience for crying out loud.  Learn to disagree with fear the proper way – calmly and efficiently – like the mother dog.  Don’t try to mask the psychosis with tricks and obedience.  Instead learn the dog language.  Learn the way of the dog.

-G

For anyone seeking greater understanding of dog psychosis and how to reverse the problem my books will help you – do your dog a favor – read them.  GET THE HELP YOU AND THE DOG NEED (So Long Separation Anxiety and Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!) And if you weren’t aware, you can gift my books to a family member or friend in need or gift them to every dog shelter and dog rescue on the planet!  Let’s help these psychos move forward with their life!

My Black Cane Corso/Pitbull: a Rescue dog story – Part 2

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The powerful black dog trotted my way after a quick visit with his owner on the chair across from me.  His docked tail vigorously wagging this time.  I began putting my hand over his head and stroking his face, eyes, and muzzle.  I do this as a sort of touching and quick temperament test with every dog I work with.  I do NOT suggest you do this unless you have a good grasp of the dog language, which, in my professional opinion, most folks do NOT even though they assume they do!  Please don’t take it personally because I know for a fact many dog professionals (vets, behaviorists, trainers, daycare owners) don’t have a solid grasp on dog language either!  If they did behavioral issues wouldn’t be skyrocketing like they currently are.

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Cato our Pitbull/Cane Corso mix. He will be featured in my upcoming third book on rescue dogs!

 

As I spoke with Cato’s owner I applied my classic “Touch and Go” move like I mentioned in the first part of this series.  I’ll explain it to you now, Dear Reader, so you too can begin a better life with your own dog and with any dog you happen across in the fine future.  Are you ready?  Please pay attention.  Basically it goes like this…

1.  Touch the dog.

2. Stop touching the dog.

That’s it.  That’s what I call a wonderful beginning.  While I’m telling you this slightly with tongue in cheek that really is the whole maneuver.  The magic is that you, the toucher, stop giving touch before the dog, the touchee, leaves your space, or grows tired of your touching, or threatens you, or before he/she demands more touching from you.  You pet the dog then, if you’re sitting, you purposefully stop and lean back and look away from the dog.  If you’re standing and petting the dog then you stop and stand up to your full height and, looking away, you ignore the dog.

This ridiculously simplistic maneuver is so undervalued and underdone among dog owners and dog lovers.  This is astounding to me in my daily dog and human observational studies.  Most people keep petting until the dog determines when it’s over.  Most people are left bent over and the dog has exited their space whenever it wanted.  Most dogs dictate (over time) who touches who and how and when that touch is applied and the human just follows along like a clueless goon.  Then, years and many behavioral issues later, “The dog just snapped,” or “The dog just turned, no warning at all!” I call BS on that, Friends.  For many a dog has spent its entire life telling the person they live with precisely how they will or won’t receive touch!  This is no bueno.

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Touch is a dog’s first sense and the most important sense by far when determining sociability, respect, trust, clear and polite communication, obedience, and every other stinking thing you can think of that happens between human and dog!  PAY STRICT ATTENTION TO HOW TOUCH IS HAPPENING TO YOU AND YOUR HUMAN BODY AND TO HOW YOUR DOG TAKES TOUCHING ON HIS/HER DOG BODY.  My “touch and go” move lets the dog clearly know that I’ll touch when I want, how I want, and then stop when and how I want also just like the mother or father dog would on their young.  It paves the way for healthy relationship between owner and dog as opposed to the classic blunder of – dog dictates touch whenever and however and forever until something awful happens! This is what many families suffer through.

Does the “Touch and Go” work for nervous or aggressive dogs?  YES and YES!  The point is to touch them and then stop before they aggressively warn you off of their body or space or bed or food, or before they run away or slip your touch.  In extreme cases it looks like this – You touched them.  They barely registered it.  They began to get uncomfortable but before they could escalate you already have stopped and you’re ignoring them.  It’s the smooth way to begin to handle a dangerous dog and to begin to lay claim to what you should lay claim to – namely – your dog’s body and the space and items around it.

The owner proceeded to tell me Cato played a bit rough for her older female pit.  That he was afraid of loud noises too.  Fear.  Fear is rampant among dogs these days.  I noticed his flat buckle collar was on his neck pretty tightly.  I guessed he was prone to slipping his head loose by way of backing out of the collar.  All those things mattered little to me though as he took my touching so well.

You see, Dear Reader, when I touch a dog I am communicating to them on a primal, instinctual level that is familiar to all canines (and to the majority of creatures on the planet).  This is so much more important than training and behavior modification!  Touch is the heart of dog language, it goes into energy, space, and how all dogs interact and build relationships.

Cato was a sweetheart.  A heavily muscled, cropped-eared, strong-jawed pushover.  Because he received touching so well from me, a stranger, I knew he could get over those fears and I knew he would make for a great family dog.  Jokingly, I mentioned how cool I thought he was and “If you ever get rid of him just let me know.”  I finished my eval/training session and merrily went off to my next appointments.  (Special note: if a dog training company has time to offer Free evaluations typically that clues us into the fact that they’re services are Not in demand, or they’re planning to pull a big upsell on you, or they do their alleged “training” only part time = I’d typically steer clear of these companies/people when searching for a quality behaviorist/trainer but bear in mind there are always exceptions to the rule)

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Shoulders for days

Well, life has a way of handing us what you put out into the atmosphere and within a couple weeks we got a call about the possibility of us taking Cato or at least fostering him until a suitable home could be found for him.  His owner had hurt her hip (apparently unrelated to Cato or the dogs) and the doc was telling her it would take a while to heal up  and since I had mentioned to her to let me know if she ever got rid of him…

The bride and I had a fitful night of back and forth and other low-minded indecisiveness.  I did not enjoy it.  I liked Cato but weeks later I was purposefully and intelligently thinking of things that would potentially disqualify him from entering our home.  You see, Dear Reader, we should all use our heads as well as our hearts when it comes to rescue and shelter dogs.  We must consider our lives, and our children, and our schedules wisely.  In this way we can foment growth both in our home and family and in the new dog.  I was thinking of all the potentially terrible happenings that could occur if/when we took in a two year old, powerful breed, shelter dog and things went sideways because my first responsibility is as a husband to my wife and a father of four young children and then as a dog owner of my older boxer, Rambo.  If more people thought this way instead of rushing out with emotions blazing perhaps dogs in the rescue world wouldn’t have such a bad return rate, or bite rate, or as many behavior issues.  Maybe shelters and rescues (very well meaning) should stop lying or at least hiding the truth about certain dogs’ temperaments just to up their monthly and yearly adopted dog numbers!  Many rescues do this.  It’s a sad truth.  Many dogs should not have gone out.  They were unready for a home.  I see the rest of the story.  I see the bites on children.  I see the bites on other dogs.  I hear the stories direct from our clients of the bites on unwitting and unequipped dog trainers and behaviorists they hired prior to using our unique services.  I see neurotic dog after dog after dog.  It’s time to stop listening to sappy commercials that purposefully manipulate your heartstrings and utilize both your heart AND YOUR HEAD when contemplating bringing another dog into your home.  By all means love the dog.  Love it fully which includes leading it.

Tune in next time for the Part 3 of 4 of Cato’s story and for more tips about dog language and about rescue dogs and their proper care and handling.

For more reading in the meantime please sample my books on Amazon.  Simply search Garrett Stevens or search Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety

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I know, I know, we need to clean our floors. They are especially messy because the new home we moved into had giant holes in the back yard from the previous owner’s dogs digging like mad. This spring there will be much grass planting going on.

-G