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!

The many problems of treat training and “positive reinforcement”

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“When the tiger bit at Horn’s sleeve, Lawrence made a move to intervene, tempting him with raw meat.  The trainer grabbed Mantecore’s leash and the tiger managed to knock both men down.”  USA TODAY

“A grizzly bear that appeared in a recent Will Ferrell film killed a 39-year old trainer with a bite to his neck…Randy Miller has 25 years experience training animals and his facility has had a perfect safety record, according to the website.”  INDEPENDENT  

“Swedish wolves kill zookeeper who raised them…Even after discovering the zookeeper’s body officials had trouble removing her remains.”  TIME

“Tilikum grabbed Brancheau by the ponytail and pulled her into the pool, then began violently swinging her around…died from a combination of blunt force trauma to the head, neck, and torso, plus drowning.  The attack happened during a performance.  It wasn’t the first time Tilikum killed someone either.  In 1991 he was one of the three whales responsible for the death of trainer Keltie Lee Byrne.”  GRUNGE

“Tyke entered the ring…kicking around what looked to audience members like a dummy. ‘We thought it was part of the show,’ one witness told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.  They soon realized the supposed dummy was a severely injured (elephant) groomer.  Panicked, audience members fled for the exits.  Tyke went on to fatally crush her trainer – who was trying to intervene – before fleeing the arena herself….Honolulu police eventually shot her 87 times before she succumbed to nerve damage and brain hemorrhages.”  HUFFPOST

“Utterback’s girlfriend heard something fall, police said.  She got up to see what the noise was and found Utterback on the floor with the dog biting his neck…by the time EMS arrived Utterback was dead.  Utterback’s girlfriend told officers the dog was their pet for a decade and was Utterback’s ‘best friend.'”  DOGSBITE

“Ashton McGhee, 1 year old, was mauled to death by a family pitbull-mix.  The child had ‘deep abrasions to the head, chest, and neck.’  The child’s grandmother and great grandmother suffered injuries while trying to pull the dog off the toddler.  The baby had been playing with a ball on the floor when the dog came in from the outdoors.  The dog attacked the baby, causing deep lacerations to the head and chest and a broken jaw.”  WHOP

“66-year-old dog trainer found dead in her backyard with multiple dog bites on her face and arms.  Elaine Richman was discovered dead with multiple dog bites…Richman had not been seen at her dog training classes for two days.  Police found Richman dead in her backyard with dog bites on her face, arms, and hands.  Two doberman pinschers were located inside the home.  The victims brother…said she had trained and showed dobermans for decades.”  MEAWW and DOGSBITE

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Friends, when you or any other person – be they “professional” or not – reinforce a dog (or a wild animal) with FOOD in order to get them to perform obedience or tricks we must all realize that this in NO way means that genuine RESPECT is present in the relationship!  

Friends, if you lack real Respect then you must NOT give TRUST to the animal no matter how fancy the obedience, behavior modification, tricks, or alleged “training!”  

What everyone in the world labels as “dog obedience,” and “dog training,” “work,” and “canine behavior modification” in truth often has little or nothing to do with canine social skills and dog language!   

If people truly grasped dog language and The Four Pillars (and they clearly do not) horrific tragedies like some of those listed above would be preventable.

This is part one in a series I’m going to do for you.  In the second installment we will get to the heart of the issue.  Stay tuned!

(Also, don’t fret because I’ll do one on the many problems of correcting a dog and harsh handling)

-G

 

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 has your dog been smelled from 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 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 fantastic and the learning comes readily to 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 a dog is astounding.  All canines can use these signals and this language to release tension and get along socially tragically – 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 defines a canine.  Dogs that are skilled in their own linguistics use tension and the release of 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 pressure spatially in order to calm/claim/correct the individuals in their social circle that may need help.  They seldom if ever overdo it and they seldom if ever under do it.  It is fascinating and freeing.  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 still attempt to socialize by way of spinning your dog around (controlling the head and eyes and teeth) and getting your dog’s butt smelled by a calm, friendly “example” dog.

Need help – leave us a quick voicemail and we’ll answer your questions as soon as is humanly possible (calls and vms are handled on a first come – first serve basis!)

-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

Aggression in dogs: the possessive dog

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The large dog lay resting comfortably on his bed in the family room.  The kid approached quickly to grab a toy soldier figurine that accidentally flew then slid across the room landing near the head of the German Shepherd.  As the boy came closer to the toy and to the dog’s bed a low rumble began.  The family dog was growling at the child.  The German Shepherd tensed – frozen in energetic anticipation of the explosive action that would invariably be coming next in the dog’s primal ritual.  Would be coming next if the boy continued on his toy-retrieving trajectory unabridged.  Fur stood up on the Shepherd’s back.  The animal was stiffened and ready to strike!

Sound familiar?  I hope not but dog aggression is currently and has been on the rise in the USofA.  As the world turns and people grow less connected to nature and more connected to comfort, convenience, consumerism, instant gratification, and all the digital insanity…basically, as we grow more unhinged in our own lives, our dogs will reflect these growing issues back to us and sometimes even on to us or on to the unwary child, family member, friend, or neighbor by way of outright aggression!

Have you ever been bit, snapped at, or purposefully threatened by a large animal equipped with a tremendous amount of bite force and long sharp canines?  For most dog owners it can be pretty intimidating.  For me it’s just another day at work.

In my daily work (averaging five or six private 1 hour training and behavior mod. sessions a day) I am now seeing an increase in resource guarding and/or possession aggression from the dogs.  Resource guarding is exactly like it sounds –  the dog claims whatever it deems a resource!  This is highly problematic and can be and often is downright dangerous.  Possessive dogs bully people (or other dogs) into submission in that they cause them to back away from “their” stuff, or “their” bed, or “their” food, or “their” person or “their” body.

Friends, those “theirs” I just mentioned – they need to go.  They need to go and go quickly from the mind of your dog, otherwise you are just biding your time, waiting for the ticking time bomb to go off.  So many well-meaning dog owners are blissfully unaware of the dangerous creature they keep in their home amongst their children and spouse!  Because so few people know the dog language they cannot identify the INITIAL stages of resource guarding  and/or if and when they eventually do identify it, they take a poor course of action in reversing and preventing it!

At this point we must, if we are being honest (and I’ve heard that’s the best policy) also add that many a dog owner’s philosophy of dog ownership is weak, non existent, or in the least, not beneficial.  Some dog owners’ philosophy of ownership, care, and handling amounts to wishy-washy fluff and not much more – they take the jelly fish approach to dog ownership and care.  They may even expect the dog living in their home currently to act like a prior dog they had, or like a childhood dog that they knew, or like a friend’s dog.  Dear Reader, if this resonates with you please understand this sort of relationship is not living, acting, or working with your dog to your full potential or to the dog’s.  Success always requires intentionality.

Step 1.  Think about your dog and about what kind of leadership (if any) you are providing.

Step 2.  Develop a philosophy of ownership or examine and possibly alter your existing, most probably, sub-par philosophy to include the main theme that NOTHING IS THE DOG’S!  Yes, let’s repeat that.  NOTHING.IS.THE.DOG’S.

Step 3.  Contemplate WHY your dog, your loving, furry family member, should definitively understand that NOTHING in his/her wonderful life with you is really his/her’s.

Step 4.  You must begin right away, today, to claim your dog and not the other way round.  Guys, all older dogs know this stuff (why are we as humans so slow on the uptake?).  All we have to do is watch the mother dog and observe grooming rituals, greeting rituals, and other common interactions among dogs in order to easily identify and learn Who claims Who in order to then apply these techniques and movements by adopting them into our own lives with our dogs.  Begin with your dog’s body because every dog on the planet with behavioral issues (no matter what the issue is btw) is somehow manipulating the owner using their body and using yours!  (This does NOT mean rolling them, or hurting a dog in any way)  We must claim them and we must occasionally deny them free and unhampered touching on OUR body even and sometimes especially if it appears “happy” or “friendly” to you.  (Also, in the case of the skittish dog, your human body should NOT become a comforting pacifier if you desire a healthy relationship and if you desire genuine maturity with and for your dog).

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Imagine if your body was transformed suddenly into a dog’s body (like we see in the werewolf movies) and you were able to enter your home as an older dog…How would your dog greet you?  Rudely?  Politely?  Aggressively?  Fearfully?  How would your dog interact with you and touch your dog body and the space surrounding it when you sat down near or on the couch to relax?  Another question to ask yourself is…Would your dog’s biological birth mother (or any older dog for that matter) put up with your dog’s behavior as it applies to their bodies?

If you desire less possessive behavior from your dog – less resource guarding –  Then you’ve got to control who is touching who, and how the touch is applied, and when it is applied!  Please reread that last sentence like 50 times in a row.  It will help you.  It will help anyone who is open-minded enough to consider it.  Then you can begin all the other steps to continue treating resource guarding.

As you know, I could go on and on but I’ll end here.  For more info please read my books on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!, and So Long Separation Anxiety available wherever books are sold!

-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