Speed hides mistakes. SLOW DOWN and you’ll make less mistakes with your dog.

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Sifu Hill, my Wing Chun Kung Fu instructor, always tells his students that “Speed hides mistakes.”  As a martial artist master with 50 years experience in differing martial arts (40 years studying Wing Chun) my Sifu knows what he’s talking about.  He often exhorts the individual that is going too fast to slow down in order to get the technique down properly.  Speed may look flashy to the beginner but the master knows that a good Wing Chun practitioner should be able to work the method both slowly and quickly and that doing it slowly and smoothly is the best way forward for the beginner.  It is the same with the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavioral rehab and natural dog handling.

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This is my Mook Yan Jong, my “wooden man dummy.” It is a necessity for the serious Wing Chun disciple. I begin by SLOWLY working the forms around the imaginary human arms and legs while simultaneously striking the hard wood of the dummy sometimes causing tiny micro fractures in my arms which toughen the bones upon repair. I am loving it!                                     For more info check out Hill’s Wing Chun

Mainstream dog training techniques also hide many mistakes behaviorally speaking.  Many dog trainers go fast because A. They’ve been taught to go fast and to continually motivate. and B. They know (in some cases) they can hide a dog’s mistakes and make themselves and the dog they are working with look better momentarily.  They encourage their students to “work the dog” and take fast turns.  These turns do a full circle when heeling (which, incidentally, is what overexcited or neurotic dogs do – they circle and pace and stare).  The Garrett Stevens Method is different because we also encourage a quick turn to interrupt problematic eye contact when a dog is about to stare at an energy-escalating stimuli BUT (and this is huge) then we have the owner slow down immediately and many times even instruct them to stop moving for a moment.  We do NOT have them do a full circle like so many trainers and behaviorists do – instead we have our clients turn 180 degrees then greatly slow down their movement and the dog’s.  This way the dog’s body and the dog’s energy is not allowed to complete the turn and hype the dog back up again by way of letting him/her continue to stare and in many cases continue to threaten the stimuli.  The Garrett Stevens Method is 180 degrees different from what most trainers are teaching – that is why it works so well!  We do NOT attempt to hide mistakes.  We point them out and then move on towards success.  By tapping into the 4 Pillars of dog language one will find it is much, much easier to influence a dog’s energy and behavior – especially when compared and contrasted with other dog training and behavior mod methods.

Your dog, as the member of a fast living, fast dying, fast moving species, may seek to control the situation through speed and by speeding your movements up.  Don’t let that happen!  Stay as calm as possible.  Don’t talk a lot while attempting to slow the dog down.  Take action quickly then take action smoothly and very slowly.  Now pause and take action even slower.  We desire DE-escalation.  We need to keep experiencing the energy drop and guide the dog to do the same.  (For more info look for my third book on all things dog and human behavior about the 5 incredible senses of our dogs and the 4 Pillars of dog language!)

Please don’t be one of the millions and millions that are impressed by watching some Belgian or German Shepherd briskly heeling like a robot, doing circles and trotting beside the handler on Youtube.  If we could ask more questions of that same exact dog behaviorally in many cases it may be found wanting.  Is that same dog that was excitably performing the heel on Youtube trustworthy and calm near human babies?  Is that same dog calm around other members of his/her own species?  Can they play with other dogs?  Can they be off leash and calm at a buddy’s barbecue?  Is the dog going to destroy the home when the owner/handler leaves or is it calm enough to manage itself maturely?  Speed hides mistakes.

There’s a saying that came to us all from the Military.  It goes “Slow is smooth – smooth is fast.”  Take it to heart when handling your dog or pup.  Take it especially to heart when handling the out of control, or fearful, or aggressive dog.  If I had a saying it would be something like “Speed up socialization (because we can never socialize enough) and Slow down the dog or pup’s movement in the midst of that socialization.”

Happy Handling and keep Slowing Down and getting it right,

-G

the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and canine linguistics

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The Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and training is unique within the dog training and behavior modification industry.  This is why.

  1.  We begin by ASKING tough questions about dog training in general and the behavior industry and by thoughtfully considering many tactics and methods we can then streamline efficiency and get better results.  Here are some of the terrific questions that one could/should ask when looking for a professional dog trainer or behaviorist or when examining ANY dog training method in the world.  Do the methods used line up with what we know about how dogs naturally raise their young?  Does the method take into account the dog’s point of view and how all dog’s think and respond within their environment?  Are the methods of training CALMING because calmness is a very valuable and desirable quality in today’s modern house dogs just as it is within all of nature?  (That last question often disqualifies a host of training methods)  Do the methods line up with what we know as good, basic parenting (either among dogs or people) and common sense or are the methods unnatural and overly fixated on external motivation (positive or aversive reinforcement)?  Is there a backup contingency when/if one part of the method fails?  Is the training method bringing both dog and owner to a place of curiosity, thoughtfulness, and more physical activity?  Would the method work for other domesticated animals?  Is the training method FREE from limiting items (ex: food, shock collars, etc, – Will it work without these items)?  Is there evidence of the philosophy and method found easily within nature and within the universe?             The Garrett Stevens Method can answer YES to all of these questions!!!  The overwhelming majority of dog training and behavior modification methods available to most people though – tragically cannot answer the above questions in the affirmative!  Please pause to consider that.
  2. We put first things first in the Garrett Stevens Method.  It is wise to put the horse before the cart and not the other way round.  Yet, this is NOT often the case within the dog training industry.  Obedience and tricks and “work” for a dog should be of secondary importance (yes, even amongst pro trainers) when compared in relation to the dog – human bond, to the fundamental order of the animal’s senses, and to how the dog experiences the world around him/her.  This is why we teach all our clients the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Learning and applying those is a more simplified and highly efficient way to jump into understanding dogs and their culture and behavior and, in that way, the client will then be able to express themselves back to their dogs.  We must look to nature and to our own dogs to discover what must be of primary importance (even above looking to the sterile science lab) and then we must put those things of primary importance first if we desire success.  That is key to relational and behavioral excellence.
  3. We educate clients much more than we ever train dogs.  While some obedience training is necessary here and there – within all the cases we handle, believe it or not, the human client is the one where all our “dog training” either fails or succeeds because dogs are relational and any and all results must be Maintained BY THE OWNER!  The dog’s capacity for sociability must be stretched to the limits of that capacity (like working out and strengthening a muscle) so that real growth can occur!  When owners are taught to take responsibility and action (by employing the 4 Pillars) the changes that happen during our training sessions together can not only take route but genuinely grow into something wonderful.
  4. In the Garrett Stevens Method we put an emphasis on physical action and touch.  We do this because it lines up perfectly with what all DOGS care about and how all DOGS on the planet express themselves back and forth to each other and to us within the confines of their specific language.  Touch is a pup’s first sense.  All puppies are born blind and deaf.  Touch is also the first of the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Touch reveals everything to a person once they learn to use our unique method!  Taking action (by way of touch, space, and movement) is the name of the game when initially communicating with a dog – knowing when to calmly address your dog (gaining respect) and when to smoothly ignore your dog (giving trust) is key.  Being sensitive to touch and the space around our bodies and the dogs’ bodies is critical for healthy relationship and good behavior.
  5. Frankly, My Dear, we don’t give a d*mn when it comes to what training method is popular at the time or to what any doggy organization has to say when we employ the Garrett Stevens Method.  In fact, we don’t care at all what other experts may or may not have to say.  Does this mean we are closed minded?  Hardly!  In truth, it means the opposite because what we care about are Real Results for the dogs and for our wonderful clients.  We care more about what nature is teaching us and less about what new fangled “certification” comes out within the money-guzzling dog training industry.  Those utilizing the Garrett Stevens Method care more about what dogs care about and less about what people’s concept of dog training is or should be – because we’ve found that the more we align with nature and the balanced mother and father dog, the greater the relationship and the greater the behavioral success between human and canine.  The more we distance ourselves from the status quo industry methods the greater the outcome!  And we’ve discovered that that excellent relationship and great results we get often has little or nothing to do with certifications and group think and the selling of billions of dollars worth in treats or sweaters for dogs (or in selling largely unnecessary training equipment).  Results alone are and should be King!
  6. The Garrett Stevens Method does NOT require harsh handling or food treats!  Yes, it’s true – you heard me correctly.  We are the anti-trainers and we are the dreamers of dreams, we are the movers and shakers, of the world forever it seems.  As mentioned probably thousands of times on this blog – BOTH positive reinforcement and punitive reinforcement are externally based (fleeting) motivators and not the best choice in most circumstances.  Internal motivations (things like healthy relationship, freedom of choice, autonomy, curiosity, instinctual play drive, etc) are much, much better motivators than external positive or punitive reinforcement.  Internal motivation is one of the starting points in the Garrett Stevens Method but once that is rolling we begin teaching authentic maturity to both client and dog (as seen in mother nature) and that is one huge reason that sets this special method apart.  We are pioneering the way into the FUTURE of dog ownership (don’t believe me – read my books and discover why I say that).  Dogs are smarter than most training methods and therefore, they can and often do manipulate the heck out of it!  Training is secondary to a wonderful relationship particularly if the dog is NOT a professional working dog.  Don’t treat your dog like a dolphin doing flips for tourists in Hawaii – don’t stuff it’s face with food and don’t rely on weak external motivators that fade quickly – instead learn our method and truly communicate with your intelligent companion.  Once that happens freedom for both parties is just around the corner!
  7. When we use the Garrett Stevens Method we don’t need to make excuses.  Over the years we hear the stories first hand (over and over) from clients that have used other dog training philosophies and methods, prior to experiencing ours.  We hear about how the professional behaviorist, or dog trainer, whisperer, or animal communicator loaded the client up with many lame excuses once their method failed.  We’ve heard everything from “Your dog just shouldn’t be around other dogs or people.” (Yes, a professional trainer that someone was paying gave them that sage advice after their great “training” didn’t work – It’s ridiculous, asinine, and totally unrealistic!) to “Your dog is your dog and maybe it shouldn’t be touched by anyone else.”  (What a life for one of the world’s most social species – that brilliant advice, which came direct from a K9 trainer, is unbelievably stupid, and a cop out used to cover poor methods!) to one of the best lame excuses, in my personal opinion, we’ve ever heard.  It went something like, “Your dog wishes she wasn’t ever born.”  (This gem came to a client from a gen-u-ine “animal communicator” with psychic powers and all.  I guess that explains why her dog was barking too much whenever she was in the client’s vehicle…the poor dog just didn’t want to be born.  Excellent.  And this woman was paid for that “reading!”)  The Garrett Stevens Method is so DIFFERENT from all that because if something isn’t working, which is very rare, it usually means the client wasn’t emulating it precisely and that precision is EVERYTHING IN Dog LANGUAGE.  In proper language I cannot say, “I love the smell of that colon” and leave the sentence that way – can I?  I MISSPELLED the word “cologne” and instead stated that I love to smell a part of the human intestine!  That’s nasty and, furthermore, the communication is off kilter.  DETAILS MATTER!  The fine details matter to every dog that exists because they are the details of their language.  What does NOT matter, when interacting with our socially brilliant and highly communicative dogs, is whether you or I enjoy the absolute FACT that the details do matter!  It’s THEIR language so…I highly suggest learning it and learning to speak it back to them through our natural method because that, Friends, just may be the closest thing you’re going to get to calm, natural touch, space, and movement.  That is how you can learn to influence energy and really speak dog language and that will, in turn, influence your relationship and your dog’s behavior.  IF you truly love your dog – as so many claim to – put your money where your mouth is and learn their language.  Learn the Garrett Stevens Method.

Good luck on your quest.  For those legitimately interested I’d begin the journey by reading Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! because there’s a huge chance that what you believe about dogs and their language is way off base.  Then I’d move on to So Long Separation Anxiety (this little book is packed with plenty of other dog behavioral excellence far beyond separation anxiety alone) and then I’d pick up a copy or two of my upcoming third book about the dog’s 5 incredible Senses and the 4 PILLARS of Dog Language!  This book is going to reveal much more of the Garrett Stevens Method of behavioral rehab and canine linguistics!

Happy Learning!

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Please remember to Share the stuff on this blog with family, friends, and colleagues.  Thanks much!

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I just wanted to Thank You

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I just wanted to pause for a moment and thank you all for reading my stuff.  I know I probably come off like an arrogant prick occasionally and please understand that’s not my intention it’s probably just who I am (hahaha- little joke – that’s partially true).

I am so blessed though whenever I think of my readers (readers of my books and of this blog) and those that are willing to look boldly and honestly at themselves and to look with a curious and open mind at their dogs as we imagine a brighter future together.  It is a very exciting time to be alive and active.

I also wanted to let you all know that I don’t get online and critique some random electrician’s wiring job on a new home, and I don’t write bad reviews of restaurants, and I don’t criticize how my mechanic could have done a better job.  I leave those professionals, and others like them, space to do their work as genuine professionals in their specific fields.  Unfortunately, this is hardly the case where dog trainers are concerned because every Tom, Dick, and Harry has had a dog of his own.  And the internet crowds obviously do not mind, even as lay people, critiquing (and or lying about) an expert that has bled and sweat for many years to build a successful business that has served thousands of dogs over the years and stimulated authentic and lasting change in both canine and human alike.  It’s strange to me that these lay folk, these non-professionals, these people that have never helped a dog with true human aggression or with severe dog-dog aggression (let alone handled thousands of them), would be so free with their criticisms.  Maybe it’s just the foolish trap of the inter webs?  Perhaps they’ve never read Roosevelt’s classic “Man In The Arena” speech about how “It is not the critic who counts…”  Friends, I have been a man in this specific arena for a long time and wanted to take a moment to thank you all for sticking with me.  Your comments and legitimate questions and shares on this blog cheer me on.

So if, at any time on this blog of mine, I seem a bit assertive it is because the dog training world and many a dog owner we encounter is filled with high emotions and with misinformation concerning nature and dogs.  I am trying daily to calm and clarify a portion of it for all our clients and for all our faithful followers.  If I seem a bit defensive occasionally or on the attack in my writing, it is because I see hosts of damaged dogs and hear stories from clients who tried other training (often with methods filled with ridiculous and unnatural training techniques) before those same clients happened upon our custom behavior mod. and finally began to see a difference within their pet.  I see these dogs and hear these true and sometimes harrowing stories over and over, day after day, month after month, and year after year.  And so, instead of mourning for a lost industry that cranks out neurotic dog after neurotic dog, personally, I get active and assertive and – I get to work.  I am assertive because I actually care!  Thank you for your understanding.

As many of you know, we train and rehab dogs around the clock – we don’t have the time or the luxury to give “free evaluations” like many dog training companies do because all our hours are filled to the brim with private session after private session, and with time spent helping those dogs fortunate enough to grab a spot in our behavioral board and train at Stevens Family Kennels.  A bulk of our life is spent serving dogs and clients and trying to fix problems.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to share our stories and my behavioral training or “anti-training” advice – each time you do you never really know just what dog owner and dog you could help.  And that’s exciting!  Thank you so much for reading my two books and please keep an eye out for the third – in it I will reveal even more of our instinctual methods.  I promise if you apply our stuff properly (using the 4 Pillars of dog language and the Garrett Stevens method) it truly works to calm dogs down and to help them align their senses, and it works to help you build a healthier relationship with the unique and fascinating species we all simply call…a dog!

Thanks again,

-G

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The Four Pillars of dog language – Part 2

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TOUCH: the most important and first sense of a pup.  Yes, that’s right, touch, NOT smell is the first sense and the most important in our dogs’ lives.  All canines, wild or domestic, are born blind and deaf.  The primary senses are touch, smell, and taste.  The secondary senses are vision (comes on day 15 after birth) and hearing (ears open fully around day 21).  Touch is the first Pillar of dog language (as defined in the Garrett Stevens Method) and it is the first of the five senses.

Now let me ask you, how important is touch for you throughout your day as a human?  Let’s go further and think about how important touch is for a blind person?  And if we go one step further we’ll be getting close…How important was touch for Helen Keller?  She was bereft of vision and hearing just like all our puppies began their lives.

If you want success with your dog’s behavior then forget everything you know or think you know about dog training and behavior.  Instead let me guide your imagination on a bizarre, fascinating, new journey.  Pause with me and really imagine having eyes and ear canals that are tightly closed to the world around you.  It’s hard to comprehend because if you close your eyes for a moment what happens?  Instantly our sense of hearing leaps to the forefront of our mind and we cannot simply shut our ears.  Maybe we need to run and grab the noise-cancelling head phones to fully experience the affect.

Imagining being born blind and deaf, being roughly licked and cleaned as you begin to breath your first breaths.  You stretch your stubby little legs, fight to lift your head, and basically just wiggle until you bump into, climb onto, or clamber under your mother and your many brothers and sisters.  What initially guides you?  What keeps you safe and warm from the start?  How do you first find the life-giving milk from mother dog?  Touch.  Touch is first.  Then, nipping at the heels is the next sense, Smell.  Smell and scent communication and scent memories develop but…touch communication and memories of touch come first.

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The olfactory and the gustatory system are indeed critically important in the language of dogs but why do so many dog trainers and dog owners (people who love their dogs) overlook touch.  Overlooking how dogs or pups touch us (or how they avoid our touch) is the Biggest Mistake in any and all manners concerning dog behavior!

In today’s world we’ve been conditioned to think that anytime a dog touches us if that touch isn’t an aggressive bite or a snap that the touch that is presented is somehow “affectionate.”  I say that’s preposterous!  That belief is literally hurting millions of dog’s and millions of people across the globe.  That belief gets human children and babies bit in the face.  The belief that most times when a dog touches a person that this behavior is just “displaying affection” is harmful and incredibly, and overwhelmingly narrow-minded.  As if dog’s don’t have a real language and clear communication.  As if touch isn’t one of their main ways of communicating.  As if there aren’t a plethora of polite touches and a host of rude ones within the scope of dog language.  As if dogs don’t manipulate their owners on the daily.  They do, Dear Reader, they most certainly do manipulate unwitting or unwilling dog owners or guests to the home and they almost always do it by way of rude touching.

Dogs will, every single one of them, test the physical boundaries of your personal space, or that of your child’s, or that of your guests, or they will watch just who claims their food dish, or the space on their bed, or on the couch! (Et cetera, et cetera)  And to their credit most dogs do not take all the unadulterated touching and unrivaled attention that they receive day in and day out and attempt to take over everything in the home or on the street.  Thank God only some dogs do this.  But the crazy thing is is that many do indeed attempt a full and eventually hostile take over! What typically passes for dog training and behavior modification sets up most dog owners for miserable failure in the long term!  And the hostile and violent take overs are usually brought on by the nervous, anxious, fearful dogs because everyone lets these type of dogs over-touch and out-touch them!  Too many dog owners are clueless about touch which is why there are 5 MILLION reported dog bites each year in the USA alone.  Many more go unreported.

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You must question touch because as you do it will open up more questions.  Did you ever wonder why we get our pups around 8 weeks of age?  Is that really the best time to get a puppy?  Is going to a group class where obedience is the focus the best way to help raise a puppy?  Is obedience training actually teaching your dog to be unsocial?  Why is the “sit” command typically the first thing everyone teaches their pup?  Is it even necessary or beneficial?  Does your style of training line up with how dogs naturally interact with each other?  Should it?  What touches does the mother dog allow on her body?  What touches does the mother dog give to her young?  How do older dogs interact with pups?  Is your rescue dog too needy in the area of touch?  (Hint, hint: the rescue dog is almost always imbalanced in the area of touch)  Do you have any boundaries about your body?  Do dogs have more or less boundaries about their bodies?  Are you building a healthy relationship based on respect, trust, and clear communication or have you downgraded the relationship to that of employer and employee?

-If you enjoyed this post keep an eye out for my upcoming book because it will go further into authentic dog language and how we can help our dogs and pups succeed socially in this modern world.  We will go into touch a good deal more and define just what is rude and what is not, what is going to lead to trouble and what can rapidly reverse trouble.  It should be groundbreaking in the pet industry as we discuss the ideal dog of the future…Stay Tuned!

-G

Wild news 2019 and our goals for 2020!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G

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Simplicity

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” Bruce Lee

“Simplicity of approach is always best.”  Charlie Chaplin

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Nature is pleased with simplicity.”  Isaac Newton

If you’ve ever juggled a lunging dog on a leash in one hand and a clicker and a treat in the other hand all while being instructed to get the dog’s attention and mark the behavior with good timing if your dog performs… you’d definitely relish the complete and utter simplicity of The Garrett Stevens Method.  You’d fall in love due to the opposite nature of that aforementioned complex yet common clicker training nightmare!  Our natural method, that was learned direct from the dogs themselves, requires no clickers and no treats, it requires no weak and/or complicated external motivators.  Instead it calls for simplicity.

Dog language and canine behavioral rehabilitation is quite simple.  In fact, it is so simple most folks miss it. Some don’t have time for it because they’ve been conditioned to rush about and be busy in their daily lives.  Others think they already know about dogs and dog training and so they come into a session unwilling to learn this simple art of movement, touch, space, and energy – unwilling to learn these 4 pillars of dog language.  Finally, and thankfully, many people come to us ready to simply receive.  They are at wit’s end with their dog and thinking of rehoming the animal but they are prepared to learn and soon they see real results.

My secret weapon in my work with the dogs is simplicity.  My behavioral books are short and simple to read on purpose.  My custom, handmade training collar (that will outperform anything on the market btw) is quite simple, and because it’s simple it’s incredibly effective in helping dogs walk calmly.  The Garrett Stevens Method of dog training and behavior mod. works very simply and yet brings great results.  Stevens Family Kennels is a rather Spartan-type setting but dogs love it and grow more mature when they’re with us.

My advice:  Look to simplify your relationship with your dog.  Get rid of the fluff and the  extraneous stuff in your relationship and in your home life with your dog.  Seek out dog dignity.  Be direct.  Be honest.  Be real.  Seek simplicity.

“If you cannot explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.”  Albert Einstein

(I think of this Einstein quote whenever I see another giant tome about dog behavior or training!)

-G

 

Maturity is better than Motivation for you and your dog.

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I will unpack this whole thing for you here and now in three short, precise paragraphs (not counting this one).  I hope you all understand that the vast majority of dogs and their owners never move past the first phase (external motivation) due to their unyielding belief in the many dog myths about canine behavior and “science” that are rampant in the pet industry.  But here you are anyway…

EXTERNAL MOTIVATION = positive reinforcement and/or punitive reinforcement.  These are the very lowest levels of relating and, as science reveals over and over, those employing this sort of base motivation see an initial and temporary upward bump in performance and, then, in the long term, the motivation and the individual’s performance takes a steady and serious dive unless consistently given stronger and stronger reinforcement.  (examples of externally motivating your dog – training with food treats or with shock collars)

INTERNAL MOTIVATION = tapping into the individual’s nature, drives, instincts, and personal desires.  This form of motivation is stronger than most forms of external motivation and it stands the test of time due to the individual remaining engaged because of their own inherent interests.  (examples of internally motivating your dog  –  tapping into curiosity, autonomy, freedom of choice, play, and loyalty within a relationship)

TRUE MATURITY or MASTERY = little to no motivation is necessary because the individual has moved beyond the realm of immature reactivity towards stimuli and into the realm of genuine understanding.  A realm wherein liberty and freedom are expressed within a healthy relationship with and among others and is valued above self and selfish drives and natural instincts and responses.  (This should be the goal for both human and dog!  You’ll see examples of it in your dog when they do something to help out instead of help themselves.  However, as I’ve said dozens of times…tragically most people and dogs never move past the lowest level/external motivation!!!)

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For more info on the sort of stuff I’ve just gone over please read my books, Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety – they can be found on Amazon and they will help you and your dog on the path towards mastery.  (Superman is holding onto them in the pic at the top of this article)

-G

Your dog wants you to read these books!

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The information contained within these books is incredibly different from what most dog trainers, dog behaviorists, dog whisperers, and vets are espousing…the methods actually work!  Order your copies TODAY (your dog will thank you!) on Amazon, Apple, or at Barnes and Noble.

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#gotcalm ?  #getgarrett #experiencethedifference

-G

Rex the Hero dog…the rest of the story

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Rex the hero dog, a German Shepherd from Des Moines, WA, was shot three times and attacked by home invaders!  The burglars had smashed the home’s rear sliding glass door possibly unaware that a teenage boy was upstairs with his dog.  Rex was rapidly on the scene and, protecting home and hearth, went after the invaders, biting at least one of them!  Rex was then fired upon and sustained three bullet wounds.  He was shot in the neck and hind legs!  The criminals fled the scene after hearing police sirens.

Naturally, the family and Rex’s story gained much media attention.  They were able to raise many times what they were asking for in regards to Rex’s medical bills.  (In just two days they were gifted $52,000.00 on their gofundme to go toward his surgery!)

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Javier giving Rex some love while he recuperates.

However, what the news folk all failed to go into was the rest of the story…how Rex became people aggressive to everyone and anyone aside from his immediate family and how the normal behavior training they initially attempted did NOT work!  The truth of the story, of course, is that this is Not just another touchy, feel-good dog story – there’s more to it than that.  Some segments of Rex’s news story even featured some dog trainer talking about PTSD and giving the dog food treats but the media’s story stopped there and failed to go into how that did NOT work for the family or for Rex or for society at large!  Classic.  The fact that Rex was now psychologically messed up and that the “positive” training they tried failed was NOT included in any of the media’s follow up reporting on Rex and the family.  I’m not exactly sure why.  It probably has to do with the fact that people these days are only familiar with telling one half of the story when it comes to our dogs.  Only the good half.  We tend to shy from what’s ugly even if it’s the God’s honest truth.  But, if you’ve been a reader of this fine blog you know I do Not do that.  I strive to be honest and direct and open like all dogs are with me.  I know Abe Lincoln was on to something.

When a large dog is aggressive towards people it is an issue that must be taken seriously.  The sad fact is that we as people, no matter how desperately we desire it, don’t always see our dogs for what they really are or how insane they may be becoming.  People are often misreading, mishandling, and mistaking our dog’s language and their training (for more on this – much more – read my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!).  In Rex’s case it is a totally understandable reason to become aggressive and untrusting of other people, he was shot three times for crying out loud, but how do we move on?  How does a person successfully lead their dog back into sociability?  How do we lead the dog properly in order to vanquish fear and embrace living in the moment?  Will keeping him as a “victim” truly help?  Will stuffing his face with food treats truly help remove severe psychological damage?  Will oodles of human comfort aid him mentally and emotionally?  Will adding more training and rigid obedience help solve the problem?

Many pet owners and many pro trainers would suggest giving Rex food.  Food treats, when the dog is at a distance from a person in order to develop a “positive association,” is NOT the best way forward in a case like this and often will NOT work with dogs at higher  levels of aggression BECAUSE dog’s can turn down their sense of smelling and tasting in order to turn up their fight/flight senses of vision and hearing leading them to ignore the food and continue escalating their energy by way of extreme, instinctual, predatory concentration directed right at the stimuli/person.  Also, for many dogs, food is exciting – why add that to an already excited dog?  Fighting is also exciting.  (I know because I loved sparring in my martial arts classes and adored tossing boxing gloves on to do some backyard brawling with a buddy).  Lastly – if one looks at literally every single dog on the planet, we see that they do NOT need to utilize food treats when interacting and relating with other dogs!  Dogs simply converse with one another.  The father and mother dog do NOT rely on a food treat in order to “condition” or “modify” their pup’s behaviors…instead they simply communicate using dog language.  (By the way, the parent dogs don’t use brutal or harsh tactics either in order to effectively raise their young).

Other people might suggest taking him to a former police or military dog handler turned private trainer because, well, they have worked with a lot of shepherds (German, Dutch, Belgian Mal.).  The problem that we often hear about after this sort of training fails is that they’ll teach the dog to stand on a log for a long time, to work a bite sleeve efficiently, to jump a fence, and perform rigid sits, downs, and stays and will train them using German or Czech commands but…they barely ever consider what it takes to RELAX the dog.  They seldom if ever consider what is important to all older dogs and dog “society” in general because the emphasis is always on working obedience and not on calming down and getting along.  (FYI: we are very thankful for those serving in our military and for the military working dogs – both dog and handler do a great job serving and protecting our nation).  Some times taking your Shepherd to a former LEO or military dog handler is overkill on working obedience when what most dog owners desire and desperately need is trust and the ability for the dog to get along with others at the local barbecue.  One of the biggest myths in the dog training and behavioral modification industry is that the addition of obedience removes behavioral issues!  Please reread that last sentence.  The addition of obedience does NOT necessarily mean the subtraction of poor behaviors!  If you fixate on obedience (which all mainstream dog training does) you’ve just added some juggling to your dog’s bag of tricks.  Keep in mind the mother dog doesn’t care whether or not her pup’s can perform a “sit” command.  Please think about what she cares about. Think about what dogs care about and need.  I’ll let you puzzle that out.

Back to Rex…the good news…

Thank goodness Rex’s family made a wise choice and did some well thought out research because they ended up eventually finding and working with us, Garrett Stevens’ Alpha and Omega Dog Training, on Rex’s behavioral rehab after trying all the other stuff.  They drive a long ways to see us and the natural, spatial techniques we’ve gone over are working to help calm him down and get him closer and closer to how a normal, healthy, social dog acts and interacts with the world.  Great job, Julia and Javier!

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Time to socialize. Socialization is always the answer for a house dog no matter what the question is. Living with constant fear is no life at all! If you have to begin on muzzle then begin on muzzle but socialize always!

When I first met Rex he was intensely barking, lunging, jumping, and snapping at me while on leash.  I instructed Julia and Javier on dog language and Rex’s need for leadership and for natural calming and proper positioning and leash manners.  For weeks now I’ve been able to calmly lead him on walks, pet him, and help guide him back into what is acceptable behavior and energy within his family and within society at large as I try my very best to impart to him that not everyone is a bad guy looking to do harm to him or looking to hurt his family.  I am realigning the dog’s senses so he can once again navigate his world.

Trust is so important.  We cannot get to trust though unless we have real respect too.  Respect and trust don’t come from food (even if your local trainer is forcing the food down your pup’s throat).  It doesn’t come from a certain rigid training method.  Respect and trust do not come from raw obedience either.  Respect and Trust are something altogether deeper.  Remember, reinforcement in dog training and behavioral modification is tremendously overrated.  Relationship has almost unlimited potential!  Forget “positive only” methods and forget punitive mostly – focus on how dog’s relate and your dog will thank you!

It has been a privilege helping Rex the hero dog and teaching his family the ins and outs of efficient dog handling and relaxation techniques directly from the Garrett Stevens Method and Mother Nature.

Rex has come a long way.  He, like all of us, has more to learn but we are glad he’s learning to self soothe and to truly calm down and follow Julia and Javier’s lead.  Here’s to a bright future for Rex and the family.

-G

 

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