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 many problems of treat training and positive reinforcement – Part 3

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In part 1 of this series we looked at many positive reinforcement trainers that were killed by their own animals (wild animals and domestic dogs).  A domesticated animal should not kill the people it lives with but when folks purposely choose to believe there is just one way to work with animals this sort of thing can happen.

In part 2 we brought up the heart of the issue and took a look at 3 different dogs with 3 different reactions motivationally-speaking in regards to food and treats.  We went over how every dog on the planet reacts to food/treats differently – some are very excited about food, others have a so-so attitude about food, and other dogs, when in the presence of their triggering stimuli totally ignore high-value food and blow off positive reinforcement because their adrenals have informed their bodily senses to turn Down smelling and tasting and to turn Down the drive to eat in order to turn Up vision and hearing to prepare to fight or flight!  

(If you haven’t read Part 2 please read it then come back to this part).

So what about the plethora of dogs that ignore high-value treats and positive reinforcement in the presence of their triggering stimuli???  What about all the dogs that are just too fearful or too anxious or too aggressive to take food from the owner or trainer? The truth is, and we have thousands of clients and past clients that will verify this fact, sometimes positive reinforcement and the stuffing of treats down a dog’s throat simply will NOT work on the more serious psychologically-damaged cases.  This then instantly eliminates dog trainers and behaviorists that limit themselves and only teach the positive approach!  Those trainers have ZERO answers for their clients!  Due to their rigid and close-minded approach to canine behavior they are taking themselves and their one method out of the game!  Their positive-only method that has now failed to truly help change the more serious of dog behaviors is now rendered useless when the dog ignores them!  And the dogs do ignore them.  After careful consideration of the above fact (that many dogs ignore allegedly high-value treats when in a stressful situation) it should lead the curious mind to more questions…if soft praise and constant high-value food was NOT working or barely working…How should we handle these dogs?  Isn’t there a better way?  What genuinely helps these damaged dogs that are practicing fight/flight on a daily basis?  What helps these dogs adjust socially and behave normally when soft human affection, human talking/praise, and trying to feed them with “high-value” treats isn’t working?

Answer:  Knowing real dog language and speaking/signalling it back to the dog because this paves the way for a proper relationship.  A proper relationship between dog and human, despite what you may have heard from the propaganda machine we all know as the dog training industry, is not one filled with gobs of overboard affection and food from the owner to the dog.  A healthy relationship is one that must be based on respect and trust the way all dogs build them naturally with other dogs.  It must be based on clear communication and should not rely on weak external motivation.  You do NOT have to be Tony Robbins for your dog because the emphasis should be natural relationship and calm, healthy energy and NOT more motivation for tricks and obedience!!!  Remember…most obedience has little or nothing to do with canine social dynamics and dog language!  Most obedience and “training” has little or nothing to do with what is important to our dogs!  Most obedience training has little or nothing to do with adjusting misbehavior because obedience adds tricks and is not the best way to modify behavior.

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These days were are seeing more and more ABUSE from dog owners by way of continually vomiting anthropomorphic beliefs upon the dog!  There is a massive trend among dog owners that espouse “positive only” training techniques where they not only call their dog their “baby” but they actually mistreat their dog by treating them like a literal human baby.  We are also seeing more obese dogs – another form of modern-day abuse.  We also see more bratty pups – when an owner gives zero boundaries it means they don’t actually care about the pup they claim to adore.  We also see loads and loads of fearful and anxious dogs and some owners even that think that it is okay for their dog to live like that – it’s just “who the dog is” according to the owner.  What an excuse.  That’s completely wrong!  Fear blocks the real personality of the dog and fear and anxiety can and should be addressed in a thoughtful, efficient, calm, and natural way.  (We didn’t have all the problems we have currently in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s…that was before people believed dogs were babies and just respected them as dogs)

We get many reports from clients who tried the positive approach (before finding us) and those reports all seem to mention how many treats were used (insane amounts) and how their pup quickly lost interest due to the outrageous amount of food used!  People tell us how their puppy was literally vomiting the treats up and became physically sick due to the amount of “positive only” training that occurred during the one hour session!  And yet many professional dog trainers and behaviorists keep lying about how this method is “scientific” and “modern” and they claim that anything else is abusive.  What a sinister and manipulative message they send out, and, as discussed, they have billions of dollars in treat sales to continue to send the manipulative message with!

As a father of four human children and as an owner of two dogs I care for them all as best I can and one part of that loving care is discipline.  Discipline is one of the keys to any successful life.  Think of Larry Bird.  Think of thousands of hours of discipline he spent putting the ball through the hoop.  Proper discipline is just one of many parts of an excellent life.  Applying calming discipline with clear communication is just good parenting and should be part of good, normal dog ownership.  Example: If one of my kids is blatantly rude to their mother or myself there will be discipline (they get sent to a time out, or to their room and then we talk later about how that is unacceptable).  If one of my dogs is blatantly rude to any member of the household they also get proper discipline (I apply the Four Pillars and we spatially address the situation like a dog would.  Does this mean I roll the dog on it’s back – NO!  Does this mean I hit the dog?  NO!  Do I yell – NO!  I don’t do most of the things that people would assume I do.  Instead I bring the proper amount of firmness in my energy and I grow larger spatially (in my body) and I let the dog know it was wrong at that moment but can always trust me – the dog is not allowed to run off or dance away from this calming discipline, the dog is not allowed to flop down and show it’s belly, feigning submission, the dog is not allowed to touch the one providing the beneficial discipline, the dog is not allowed to bark back in the face of the one disciplining, the dog is not allowed to come forward with a touch on the person disciplining –  the dog must be respectful of the few rules we have.  End of story.  Then I walk away (we must always walk away first signaling to the dog that the spatial pressure is over and we are trusting them again) and life is very freeing for all parties involved.  No massive emotional reactions.  No anger in proper discipline.  No fear on the part of the child or the dog.  And certainly no modern delusions coming from the dog owner or trainer pretending that the dog is a helpless human baby.

If anyone wants to quickly disabuse him or herself of the foolish notion that dogs are “babies”…if anyone reading this actually desires to know the truth in this world filled with online lies, they need only contact me and come volunteer to work for a day at our Dog Language Center.  At our 4000 square foot kennel you will see quite clearly and experience – dogs attempting to put a bite on people, dogs in the kennels actively chewing up wood, plastic, and even metal with their incredibly strong mouths, dogs attempting to threaten other dogs with violence, dogs attempting to control everything around them, dogs attempting to bark non-stop, dogs crapping themselves due to insane separation anxiety which the owner allowed to develop, and a host of other animal nastiness that occurs and would continue to occur unless we calmly intervene and help stop those behaviors!

(The great news is that we do in fact stop them at our Dog Language Center and in our training sessions and it isn’t through harsh handling or shocking them or abusing them!  We are able to stop these horrific yet common dog behaviors and it isn’t through babying them and constantly giving them an overwhelming amount of attention – attention that their own dog birth mother wouldn’t even give them btw – and it isn’t through stuffing their faces with food.  We do it by utilizing the Four Pillars and the dogs all love it because this method is not our way, or your way, or the positive or negative way, or whatever other stupid human label you want to give things…the Four Pillars is the heart of dog language as it applies to human and canine interaction!)

I am currently working on a book now detailing the Four Pillars of dog language and the Five Senses that will illuminate genuine dog language for the readers and aid in the behavioral rehab ranging from the most difficult and dangerous of dogs on down to the sweet new puppy.  It should be a doozy.  -G

(In the meantime be sure and read my other two books as they each give the reader more and more critical info about dog language and healthy relationship – things that make behavior issues a thing of the past!)

Enlight190

 

 

 

the Never-ending story: When dogs Fence Fight

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For most dog owners with dogs that “fence fight” it is a miserably familiar never-ending story of escalated energy, quick movements, ugly sounds, and foolish dog shenanigans typically played out in a corner or section of the yard whenever the neighbor happens to let their dog out at the same time the other dog is outside.   Fence fighting is a difficult issue to navigate for many owners because it is so unnatural and frustrating for the dogs themselves.  Nowhere amongst the various Yellowstone wolf packs is there a man-made fence wherein these wild canids can lunge and cuss back and forth at opposing, rival wolves with unrelenting abandon.  If a wild wolf has an issue with another wolf in its pack or with a rival pack it can deal with the individual wolf (or the entire pack) directly in wide open woodlands or on the prairie and, if the individual or the pack want to brawl, there is going to be a definitive winner and a clear loser.  Than, and this is important, life moves on.

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With fence fighting nobody ever wins.  With fence fighting everyone loses (dog owners and neighbors included) because the cycle repeats itself over and over as the pumped up and persistent puppy participants doggedly attempt to get at one another behind their protective, man-made enclosures.  So close to gripping and biting and tearing at each other and yet so far away!  (By the way many cities have ordinances stating dogs left in backyards are not allowed to bark for more than 15 minutes straight!  Be a good neighbor and a good dog owner and STOP your dog from territorial fence fighting and from boredom or anxiety-based barking in your yard)

In a real fight there’s real risk.  Risk can be good.  It can also be bad.  Calculating risk is what wise creatures do to survive.  A wolf or coyote only has so much energy/gas in the tank/ammunition per diem in order to survive.   Their choices count for much more than our domesticated dogs’ choices.  The wolf calculates risk.  The wild animal MUST make wise choices.  Their lives depend on it!  High Stakes.

The comfortable and convenient life of the modern domesticated dog (easy access to food, water, shelter 24/7) particularly in 2019 lends itself to more foolish decision making among our pampered pets.  Dog dignity is at an all time low because owners are basically off their rockers as they lavishly gush the softest of affection (and often not much more) onto their animals.  This allows for dog brats to rise up and take over.  Basically, our dogs can totally waste their energy on idiotic fence fighting numerous times a day and think little to nothing of it!  Zero consequences.  Our dogs don’t have to hunt in order to eat.  They don’t have to hike to a water source.  They don’t have to survive brutal winter storms.  Heck, they don’t even have to get along and employ team work and adaptability anymore in order to survive (which is the very thing that helped make them become dogs thousands of years ago)!  Dogs these days can act like morons in perpetuity, blowing their energy at the drop of a hat knowing full well that there’s a comfy dog bed inside and an owner that will hand them another high-caloric treat and loads of affection  if they simply walk back inside the house!  Is it any wonder more and more dogs are becoming insane?  Wild animals could never afford to muster and then employ all the energy that some dogs casually and consistently waste on fence fighting and frivolous barking unless it was for a real fight or during a dangerous flight for their lives.

Well, what’s the answer to this common dilemma?  I’ll start by telling you what the WRONG answer is…recalling your dog back inside.  Do NOT call your dog back inside to curtail fence fighting!  That’s like placing a Band Aid on a bullet wound!  It will not work for very long.  The next time you let your dog outside when the neighbor’s dog happens to be out there – guess who’s fence fighting again?  You’ve got the same problem day after day after day despite you calling your dog back inside.  But I should call the dog back inside the house in order to be a “good neighbor”, right?  Wrong.  Why settle for “good” when you can be a “better neighbor” and an “excellent dog owner” and actually stop the stupid behavior altogether?  Calling your dog back to you, FYI, is never a natural, dog-like solution in a situation like this because parent dogs go towards who they are addressing/correcting and the older dog will intentionally take up some of the problematic pup’s space.  This means you must move and get outside and stop the behavior where it is occurring in your yard.  You need to take away the space in front of your fence fighting dog.  Do you need to be harsh?  Not usually, but you do need to be firm enough to interrupt the dog at the exact moment in time when your dog is displaying high energy because he/she is in the very act of fence fighting.  You need to break your dog’s eye contact.  You need to respond in order to match your dog at the energy level he/she is at at that moment.  I often suggest turning the dog away if body blocking is not working.

  1.  Move with a purpose toward your dog.  You can yell one time if it helps (often yelling does Not help but experimenting is always a good idea when looking for the most efficient way forward).
  2. Upon reaching your dog and the fence you may have to grab the collar in order to break the dog’s eye contact with the neighboring dog.  If you cannot catch your dog because its rudely blasting by you and making a mockery of your discipline and a mockery of your physical prowess (or lack thereof) continuing to fence fight with the other dog then.. next time you attempt this step in the process… be sure to have the dog dragging a line/rope/leash (not attached to anything).  In this way you can step on the line and then pull the dog quickly into the proper posture.  The proper posture is one where your human rear end is facing the fence and the dog is backed away from the fence to make room for your body.  The proper posture is one where the dog is looking at you and not the other dog behind the fence.  (Do not pay the dog to look at you – there’s no respect in that) In some cases the proper posture is when you place the dog in the “heel” position next to you as you both angle looking away from the neighbor dog and the fence which are now (because of your actions) behind you.
  3. Allow a few heartbeats to pass so your dog can achieve a lesser level of energy.
  4. This next step is a rare and wonderful key to this method so please listen up…As you prepare to let the dog go (yes, you are going to let your dog go again and this will show your dog that you’re trying to establish a bit of trust in your relationship – it will also show supremely confident leadership on your part because it’ll look like you aren’t really concerned about the behavior – although you’re expecting it to stop – if you’re letting the dog go).  Begin to disconnect by standing up fully and looking away from your dog.  Your eye contact and denying eye contact is super important.  Then, let your dog go and start to walk back towards your house.  Yes – this may be shocking info to those of you with very reactive fence fighters but listen to me and do it – walk away as if the whole thing never happened.
  5. If it’s your dog’s first time being trusted and first time given this second chance (as opposed to being dragged inside the home or just recalled for some dumb food treat) your dog may turn and go right back into fence fighting. That’s ok.  Anticipate that failure.  Don’t be afraid of failure.  Our goal here is that over the next few days your dog can “fail forward” as you intercept and interrupt the poor behavior and soon the behavior begins to greatly lessen in intensity and then the neighbor’s dog, even when barking its head off, begins to be almost boring to your dog.
  6. Day two looks much like day one.  Repetition is needed for both owner and dog.  Practice makes perfect.
  7. By day three when you go to stop your dog there should be a noticeable difference IF you’ve been following my advice to the letter.  When you go to grab your dog or go to grab the line that’s dragging on the ground you may not have to even touch or grab this time – so be ready to scale it back a hair.  Less is becoming more!
  8. Et cetera…et cetera…as the days pass the magic begins to work and you don’t come out the backdoor or off the porch as far into your yard.  Soon you only open the backdoor and yell out a parental warning to your dog and, after a bark or three, your dog stops and looks at you and you respond by instantly turning around and going back inside – teaching your dog that you expect it to be quiet and act properly and not escalate his/her energy in YOUR yard and that you are trying to TRUST your dog to remain outside and relax.  You are denying eye contact on purpose and showing real dog leadership.  If your dog heads away from the fence and comes towards your space just ignore it (do NOT praise or give attention to your dog).  Walk inside leaving your dog OUT because you’ve now achieved both respect for you and for your yard and the fencing, and you’ve cultivated some trust between yourself and your dog.  Nice work.

The technique I’ve described here really works.  If it doesn’t work for you then I would humbly suggest you are performing it improperly and your body and energy needs an adjustment.  Be advised, it is initially a difficult technique for some people spatially speaking.  Also, if your dog won’t listen to you inside your own house or is controlling who is touching who inside your home (and basically manipulating you) then there’s an enormous chance that the technique I’ve described here will NOT work for you outside because you have other relational work to do before you could ever hope to accomplish this type of “next level” spatial work outdoors between you and your dog.  All in all though, if you’re dog respects you and trusts you inside your home, the technique detailed here usually takes a week or two to achieve calmness outside in your yard FOREVER!  And often calmness can be accomplished even sooner!  The question is, are you willing to work hard for a week or two to win calmness for you and your dog FOREVER?  Are you genuinely willing to improve your life, your dog’s understanding, and improve your neighborhood?  I know plenty of people who sadly will NOT do the work.  I hope, Dear Reader, that you are different.

Be sure and subscribe to this fine blog!!!  Share this with a friend in need!

-G

Questions?  Read my books, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety then, if you still have questions, let ’em rip as I’d love to help you if I can!

 

 

To correct or not to correct, that is the question?

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In today’s world filled with every conceivable type of information speeding to us from any and every source imaginable it is often hard to decipher which methods of dog training are beneficial to our dogs and their behavior.  We have all been inundated with info.  We have fat heads.  Our brains are overweight and in desperate need of an information diet.

Help!!! Information Overload………………………….

 

We need clean, wholesome, healthy information.  That means we must beware overeating any foolish bit of dog training info that is out there.  Remember, if a common dog training method is largely accepted and you are tempted to gulp it down please consider the many people stuffing their faces with fast food because it’s convenient, cheap, abundant, and also largely accepted!

 

Just because the majority believes in something doesn’t mean it is true or the best way.  Always seek the natural answer when dealing with an animal.

One hot button topic many would even consider taboo is whether or not we should “correct” our dogs or pups.  In this article I will give you a few good reasons to correct your dogs or pups.  Reasons that line up 100% with what the dogs teach us.  Reasons that line up with what any astute person can readily observe within a dog park, dog daycare, or group of three or more dogs.  Reasons that come straight from the dogs!  I will show you that corrections, if performed correctly, are extremely BENEFICIAL to your dog or pup!

First let’s cut through some of the crazy extremeness that exists in the dog training and behavioral community at large.  When one is in search of dog training companies or behaviorists or even vets please beware any extreme dogmatism where training is concerned!  Make sure the methods are based very specifically on domesticated dogs (not other random wild animals) and based on mother nature’s calming methods. And, above all, make sure the trainer or behaviorist gets tremendous results!

There should be no crazed high-pitched excitable human talk, constant giving of treats, or other foolish bribery in the dog or puppy training methods.  If you (or your trainer) act that way  – ask yourself, Isn’t that how a puppy acts?  And if a pup acts all hyper and high-pitched and over-excited then, Who is going to take the role of leader in your relationship?

I hate to break it to you but…Dogs correct other dogs constantly.  Mother and Father dog correct their young constantly.  If more people just looked at the dogs honestly they’d see correcting isn’t this horrible, debilitating and negative ordeal but is instead a great tool the older, social canine uses to instruct the younger ones, teach healthy boundaries, and help calm them.  This calming corrective beneficial behavior I’m mentioning can be observed anywhere!

In correcting there should be no expensive shock collars you need to purchase.  There should be no unnatural things you have to throw at your dog.  There should be no spraying them with anything, no tethering them to anything, no hitting them with anything, no yelling.  It’s time we get away from all that human foolishness. Calmness mixed with firmness and proper spatial technique is plenty.

Dogs are NOT wild animals and should not be treated like a bear learning a trick on a movie set, or like a dolphin doing a flip to earn a fish from a tourist in Hawaii.  Beware of trainers who only teach bribery and excitement or who fixate on one rigid method only (external motivation) as that is the opposite of how the mother and father dog would raise their young.  Mother Nature always teaches energy control and the older socially normal canines always keep a relaxed watch over their pups.  The mother and father dog (and any balanced, older canine for that matter) are not equipped with treat bags on their hips and do not use high pitched, lavish praise, when instructing their pups.  They are usually monitoring the energy (like a referee) in order to keep the peace and the lead dogs always attempt to use as little energy of their own as possible.

Dogs are not Dolphins and should not be treated as such. The bond is much, much deeper between man’s best friend and mankind than some slippery, flippery wild animal could ever dream

Corrections, if done correctly, are very beneficial to puppies and dogs just as they can be beneficial to growing children.  If you want to raise a healthy, well adjusted dog (or child) please don’t be an extremist that only trains with excitement and bribery and treats and don’t, on the opposite end of the spectrum, just dominate with harshness and constant physical “corrections.” Corrections should be calming to the individual being corrected!  Seek out a balance. It’s OK to reward but never to bribe.  It’s OK to correct but never to hurt.  

Here’s a wild concept: Why don’t we look to the dogs for methods on how we should deal with our dogs?  If we honestly observe them we start to see that a correction isn’t so bad when it is performed the way a balanced, older dog would perform it.  In fact, it’s fantastic!  I’ve discovered there is a whole art to it!  It is an art form based in movement, body language, space, and energy control.  A proper dog correction is the art of calmness!  It is the art of proper body movement between you and your dog.  And, shockingly, most times it doesn’t even involve a physical touch but is more outmaneuvering the wayward dog or puppy and then readjusting their body language until the animal is presenting a calm body position (NOT belly up) which then helps them calm their own energy and will always benefit the bond between owner and dog.

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Learning to correct can be simple and is incredibly effective in fixing any and all aggression, fear, dominance, hyperactivity, and many other behavioral dilemmas.  The reason that proper corrections should be learned and adopted by more trainers and behaviorists is because it lines up with exactly what dogs do to each other as standard, regular daily behavior.  When an older dog is surrounded by other dogs they are communicating often through pattern interrupts/corrections in order to keep the peace for the benefit of the group and in order to instruct their young.  It is nature’s way and it is actual phenomenal energy conservation.  Another huge reason correcting (when done properly – which I’ve discovered unfortunately it seldom is) is fantastic due to the fact that it actually works and saves times and energy.  The mother dog uses ignoring or extreme focused attention and then right back to ignoring when correcting her young.  She is a remarkable energy saver.

Notice how the mom is walking away and all the pups are following and watching her…NOT the other way round! She walks away first. She ignores and they follow. She leads the way.

The ideal correction is a beautiful thing to behold because it keeps the peace, calms the energy, and seconds later, lets the game or activity continue on almost as if nothing ever happened.  It is never overboard or emotional and yet there is an intense focus to it when applied the right way.  It is always followed by calmness.  I sometimes equate it to getting a foul in basketball.  If you are a b-ball player and you receive a foul you don’t take it and let it get you down, you don’t play the rest of the game on pins and needles out of fear.  Hopefully, you learn from it and quickly move on and get your head back in the game.  You don’t totally ignore the foul either because you are aware that if you get 5 fouls you are out of the game and of no use to your team/pack.  So when a foul is called – You stop playing the ball game for a second, think it over, and then resume play.  It is exactly the same with a good, calming correction that is perfectly timed.

Do you see what I’m getting at?  Giving a dog or pup a “correction” isn’t done to intimidate the dog or belittle it or prove you are a macho “Alpha,”  it is done to help guide the pup into a healthier relationship with you and/or its surroundings.  A correction is not abusive – it is good parenting.  (BTW never hang the dog, or roll it, or beat it, etc.  Most folks apply their corrections dead wrong!)  A proper correction should always be done to improve the animal’s spirit.  It makes for a better dog.  Like a sculptor chipping away at unnecessary pieces of marble you can chip away at mis-behaviors and unsocial habits in your dog or pup to reveal the true spirit and energy of a socially brilliant and beautiful animal. 

Use spatial pressure and tension so that you can then release it and give the dog access to a self soothing calming signal.  If you aren’t correcting the right way your relationship is imbalanced in the respect or trust category and behavioral issues will be the result.  The guitar needs the right tension on the guitar strings to keep it in tune…too much tension is horrible, it pops the strings.  Not enough tension and you can’t make any music!  Learn to correct and you’ll have real resonance with your dog.

Our dogs desperately need the right corrections filled with just enough tension and pressure and then the right timing to release the tension so it will resonate and -just like a guitar- make wondrous music!

Remember a correction should never create fear or aggression. We don’t want a pathetic, super-submissive dog.  Does this mean we stop controlling an out of control dog?  No – we must seize control as a calm, wonderful leader always does in an out of control situation but our goal should always be better relationship and calmness because we also don’t want a dominant, hyper brat for a dog.  The correction should get the dog’s attention.  I seldom need to correct a dog with a leash.  I often correct a dog by getting in his/her way spatially and backing them up a bit.  When correcting you are attempting to cut off any misbehavior at the earliest identifiable outset.  This makes it much gentler and easier on everyone.  And if you can match their energy level you can communicate what you want or what you don’t want much clearer and more effectively.  If you do not match the dog’s energy initially their energy will keep escalating into higher and higher unsocial levels.  Learning the art of calming/correcting/claiming takes time.  Mastering it takes proper observation of nature, dogs, people and years of experience.  But rest assured, Dear Reader, it will come with practice, persistence, and patience.

If I  could sit you down and teach you the language of Dog (like French or Italian) the word for correct would be the same exact word for calm and the same exact word for claim.  Correct = Calm.  Correct = Claim.  Claim = Calm.

Your dog will always tell you honestly what it needs.  Let’s build a relationship with our dogs based on respect and trust instead of bribes or brutality.  Let’s seek out maturity instead of just motivation.  Let’s make music!

Need help?

Give me a call but do so only after reading my book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  (available wherever books are sold! Check out the stellar reviews on Amazon!)

-G