Quick QUESTIONS for you

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Quick questions may require long consideration and critical contemplation.  If we ask the right questions we get the right answers.  Here are some questions to really mull over.

 

Do we as the human race really have our dogs best interests at heart?

Do we as human beings value our dogs over and above what or how they should be valued or do we undervalue them?

Did you know we have never attempted to rescue as many dogs in the USA as we are currently?

Did you know dog bites (and dog attacks on people) are on the rise?

Have you ever been bitten?

Are our dogs giving back to us as much as we are giving to them and vice-versa?

Do you take a realistic viewpoint of the dog and their many behaviors do you have an over-simplistic, anthropomorphized viewpoint?

Are treats exciting for our dogs?

Is excitement actually good and beneficial to our dogs?

Do parent dogs exhibit a lot of excitement around their pups and vice-versa?

How does excitement and high energy play a role in most of mother nature?

Is calmness valued by the mother or father dog?

Who is calmer the older dogs or the younger ones?

Are we all applying calmness when interacting with our dogs and pups?

Are professional trainers and behaviorists using calmness or excitement in their training methods?

Does your dog come with a laundry list of rules (don’t poke the bear!)…things you can’t touch on his/her body, things you can’t do around the dog, things guests can’t do?

Is your dog rude or polite?

Do dogs think positively or negatively or not at all like that?

What is your favorite sense (out of the five senses)?

What is our dogs favored sense or senses?

If you were to lose a sense which would you chose and why?

If your dog was to lose a sense which would he/she choose and why?

 

These are just a couple of the quick questions I wanted to share with the masses out there in internet land.  I have several others for another time.

Please feel free to comment or answer some of them in the comments section.  These are not to trick or insult or manipulate you in any way.  I just want to hopefully broaden people’s minds and delve a bit deeper into the fascinating creatures we all have such familiarity with.

Keep an eye out for my coming book!  In it we ask and answer many of the above questions and of course the book will greatly help prevent or reverse behavioral issues you may be facing with your dog or pup.  There are great chapters on Touch, Spacial control, Energy control, Calmness, Heeling and Leash work, Dog manipulations, Myths, and much, much more!  There are illustrations.  There are motivations.  There are challenges.  There is a call to action.  The book should broaden anyone’s mind on the subject of our dogs, their behavior, and our behaviors with them.  It broadens my mind every time I add to or examine it.

-G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The amazingly accelerated growth rate of our dogs (and how it really applies to training!)

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Have you heard the old saying that one human year of life is the equivalent of seven dog years?  Most of us have and have readily believed it but I’ve got some news for you…it’s totally Wrong!  Let me clarify.

 

In case you didn’t know…A human and a dog are totally different biological creatures and should not be compared with each other in terms of longevity.  As humans we tend to over-think things and usually fall into thinking subjectively on most subjects.  That aside let’s just assume for the sake of this article that we did compare the longevity and growth rate of dogs vs. humans.   Let’s take a closer look at how the accelerated growth rate of our pups (in comparison with a human’s growth rate) can really make or break training and behavioral development.

It takes 1 year to raise a good dog but you’ve got 18 years to try and raise a respectable human!  Let me tell you, dogs are easier!  (Personally I have and am raising both dogs and children) In my day-to-day business of successfully training and behaviorally modifying owners’ habits and their dogs I see many dogs that still act much younger than how they could or should be acting at the age they are at.  Is your dog presenting bad or unsocial or rude behaviors that could be or should have been done away with by six months of age?  For many of you out there the answer is sadly, Yes.

Year one:  puppy goes from the human equivalent of newborn to one-year-old to human equivalent of 15-17 years!

In the pups first year they are transformed from newborn to toddler and from toddler right to what would be the human equivalent of an older teenager ready to breed and looking for independence and responsibility!  The growth rate is astronomical!  If you have a small breed dog the transformation happens even faster because they simply do not have as much growing physically to do.  Please, never forget behaviorally speaking that the brain and body of your dog are so much more closely linked and functioning together than our own imagining, time-traveling human brains.  There’s another saying that we as humans think of our bodies as, “a vehicle that brings our brains to meetings.”  All animals know better though.  They go through life richly connected to their senses and are contented and happy with the simple pleasures.  They are always alive to the moment.  If we miss critical training and behavioral lessons as well as the all important socialization factor at early stages we are doing our new pups great harm!

 

Year two: Teenager pup can add another 10 human years of growth!

Take advantage of the time.  Take action today!  Get your dog or pup outside and socialized.  If you can’t due to behavioral issues that are too great to handle and you’ve been doing the, “Let me put the dog away.” when you have guests, or the classic, “I’ll just cross to the other side of the street when I’m out walking my dogs because they go crazy.”  or even worse, “I’ll walk my dog at 3:00 a.m. so we don’t run into any dogs or people!”  You are shrinking your dogs social circle and time is working against you!  (Helpful Suggested Reading:  my blog- thecaninecalmer.wordpress.com  please Subscribe, The Slight Edge by Jeff Olsen)  You are literally exacerbating the dog or pup’s issues and you are running out of time!

 

(If you already have a dog older than 2 and they have behavioral issues please understand normal training, group classes, obedience training, agility, schutzhund, herding, et cetera will NOT help your dog get over their anxiety, their aggression, their fear, or whatever other crazy, unsocial or rude behavioral patterns they are presenting…all that training will only add frivolous tricks to the equation and cost you plenty of money.  Instead of going that route seek out real help based in calmness and how dog’s move, think, and act in the environment and space around them.

Contact us if you need assistance.  We are rapidly expanding!  My book is almost complete, we are working on training and behavioral videos that will be available for purchase, our training collar works amazingly well (better than most tools on the market), and word keeps spreading about the fantastic difference our natural, calming methods provide for our clients.

Go to gstevensdogtrainer.com for more info

Wanna be a dog trainer? Do you like getting bit?

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Are you ready to get bit? If not…don’t get into dog training or behavior modification.

 

So many folks now-a-days want to be trainers or behaviorists or dog whisperers yet they are not prepared for real aggression.  I suppose I should thank them because it makes my company stand out as one of the best because “we ain’t afraid of no…dogs”  (Sorry about my lame attempt at a Ghost Busters joke)

Seriously, though, be prepared to get bit, scratched, torn, dirty, and sprayed with anal glands!  If you are in the least bit afraid…….the dogs will sense it!!!  Once that happens forget any and all leadership on your part because you won’t be able to lead from a place of fear or nervousness.

 

I have been bit several times over the years.  Not bad bites, usually, because my skills protect me.  But let me say quite clearly…most people should Not be dog trainers because most people don’t know the language.

Just because you “love” dogs does not mean you should work with them or fix their behavioral issues or that you are cut out to be an entrepreneur!  And the dogs will be the first ones to prove that to you if you aren’t careful!  

It’s great to love dogs but remember, there is no real love if there is not respect and honesty with it.  And I’ve found most humans don’t actually respect dogs.  If we did truly respect them we would take the time to learn and speak their language much more efficiently than we do currently.

-G

PS.  Here are a few other considerations…

Think seriously about entering a field that is already inundated with competition.  Only 2% of people are successful entrepreneurs.  You have to be good with and be able to influence dogs and people (this is rare…many times folks are good with one or the other).  And don’t forget to add a host of other entrepreneurial, people and dog skills you would have to develop over years.

The Legend of “Shoebox” Millie and her 17 children

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My grandmother is legend.  My father is one of seventeen children!  This is not an exaggeration.  And they all came from the same man and woman…

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My grandparents: Mildred and Sherman Stevens

 

I call them Grandpa and Grammy.  I come from what any person, people-group or culture on earth would call a “large” family.

This post will be a more personal look into my Stevens family legacy and (of course) beneficial info about dogs and canine behavior.

Dogs also tend to be from large families.  Some people call them packs.  They live in large social groups.  Whenever a dog is having a problem behaviorally they will manifesting a problem socially.  It can always be traced to how they interact with the owners, the other animals in the home, and, of course, the neighboring animals or people in the environment.  Social behavior is always the key.  Is the dog using “cut-off” or “calming signals?”  Or is the dog presenting more fight/flight behaviors and habits of over-excitement?

Personally speaking, I find it humorous and even bordering on the ridiculous when a mom or a dad freaks out because they are having trouble dealing with their couple of kids.  Many parents jokingly, and often seriously, complain or act as if it is so extremely tough dealing with a couple of playful kids (I’ve fallen into this category too, occasionally- I think we all do from time to time)  But if you can imagine what my grandfather and grandmother had to deal with for a moment and then adjust your whining attitude, shut up and take the time to go play with your kid I’m sure you’d have a much better day and I know for certain you’d be a better parent!

Our children are only young and wanting our attention for a little while.  Then they become teens and, like a common criminal, don’t want any measure of attention drawn to their covert activities excepting the attention it takes for us to read the “KEEP OUT” sign on their door.   I’m sure if more of today’s parents could walk in my grandparents shoes for a week or two they would grow leaps and bounds in the masterful parenting category.

On the subject of parenting, canines are highly respected in the world of science.  The family group is very patient but still firm as many contribute to raise the pups into adulthood.  Sociability and calmness are key.  They are taught the rules of social spacing and body language, how to play, how to calm down if the older canine says to calm down, self control of their energy levels, how to hunt and eat, what is and isn’t theirs to claim, how to touch and be touched -smell and be smelled and, of course, many other things but most importantly how to survive by living together peaceably.

When people talk of “Alpha dogs” they usually misrepresent them and talk of domination.  The true alphas are patient yet firm parents who spend their lives raising pups into balanced adults.  They are fantastic peacemakers.

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A couple of true Alphas in this life – they work for the benefit of others and know how to run a successful team!

 

I have always joked that after having seven or eight children I’m sure it’s just as easy to deal with seventeen because you can just delegate more responsibility to the older ones.  Make them your workers so to speak. A good leader always attempts to multiply himself.  This theory of mine would only work though if you did a good job raising the older ones! So don’t start cranking out the kids just yet.

The average litter of a dog is six pups.  Obviously this varies based on health, age, breed (size) but it averages out to around six.  That’s a family of eight.  Not as big as my dad’s family but still not too shabby, especially when you consider that (in the wild) some of the previous years siblings stay with the parents and become “uncles” and “aunts” for the new pups.

My father and his many siblings (and my grandparents) were all very athletic.  They all excelled in sports.  This came from natural talent, of course, but I also believe a couple other factors helped to develop the natural athleticism.  One reason was that they had enough brothers and sisters as there are players in most organized sports!  They could literally play a full court game of basketball (5 on 5) and still have subs left on the bench.  Another factor was that there wasn’t a ton of money to go around and sports generally are cheap (especially when the whole team lives together!)  Combine these reasons with a time when kids weren’t morbidly obese, addicted and indoctrinated all day by TV or computers, or had ridiculous phones glued to their faces but instead spent actual time outside and you can see a recipe for making better athletes.

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My dog Rambo leaps for the Frisbee!  How’s this pic for capturing a canine athlete in action?

Dogs are athletic.  Plenty of dogs can run at the average speed of 32 miles per hour!  Some can run faster, Greyhounds can do 45 mph!  Dogs can leap, spin, and dance with the best of them.  If trained properly and the body type or breed of the dog allows many dogs can learn to rock climb, jump and scale over very high walls, wrestle larger creatures/people to the ground, herd much larger numbers of animals successfully, leap off docks at incredible distances, make amazing, flipping and leaping catches of balls, toys and Frisbees, and, if socialized, dogs even handicap their wrestling or play to be able to play at lower energy levels and with much smaller or weaker individuals. They are excellent athletes and the number one (land) endurance athlete on earth!

All my family loves to joke and fool around.  We are quick-witted and can be brutally honest.  Little to nothing is sacred.  A “tough skin” comes with the territory.  There are little to no brats like you may find in a very small family.  The emphasis was not on “That’s my toy!” or other material things but instead on getting along and playing with each other.

A famous and textbook brat, Veruca, wants things her way all the time.  Typical of an imbalanced dog but naturally (out in the wild) very rare and un-canine like.

I recall my dad laughing as he told us a story when he was little………..

At Christmas time the siblings would sometimes wrap up some of their old items and give them as gifts to their brothers and sisters.  Eventually my Grandparents were forced to call a halt to that method of gift-giving after a few jokers started wrapping up their old, used underwear.  I can just hear Bing Crosby or Andy Williams singing a lovely carol about that!

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My dad is the big lad making the goofy face next to the Christmas tree

Anyway, the point I’m making is that play and teamwork was actually necessary.  The sheer large numbers of beings living that closely together calls for cooperation.  And playing, whether some sport or making fun of each other or someone else, can and does function as a sort of stress reliever.

In canines this method is used often.  It is used by the wolf packs Alphas and by the Omega.  The Omega, instead of being a sniveling weakling like the traditionally propagated beliefs, are in reality, more like the class clowns and are experts at relieving tension.  The idea is – “Chase me, chew me, nip me, just don’t seriously fight and injure or kill one another.”

Wolves and dogs should all be specialists at tension relief and have what are called, “cut-off” or ,”calming signals.”  These signals are used constantly in the dog language and are what allow for pack living.  The Alphas are fantastic teachers and peace keepers who use these signals readily.  These are what set the canine apart from many other solitary predators.

Stevens Family Reunion…

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Stevensfest 2011

Just some of the family (many could not make it)

Just some of the tribe (many could not make it)

We had a Stevens Family Reunion a couple years back.  I think there has only been three or four official reunions over the years due to the large numbers it’s hard getting folks all together in one spot at one time. It was so great to spend time with the family.  We played our instruments, played sports, told stories and jokes, explored New Hampshire and reconnected.  My wife, Amalia, commented to me about how marvelously everyone got a long and how there was no drama.  I think that is an interesting point coming from someone who wasn’t born into the family.  She noticed the difference of how to function in a giant family.  Almost a selflessness that each individual shows to or for the benefit of the group.

My Grandparents, Parents, and Siblings and our spouses and kids (2011)

My grandparents, parents, and siblings and our spouses and kids (2011)  I’m the devilishly handsome bloke on the right (near the gorgeous brunettes: my wife and daughter)

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Impromptu Stevens Jam on the beach 
I’m on the mandolin (near center of pic).  Loved every second of jamming with the pack.

Being part of a team and being playful and athletic is a big part of the Stevens family…possibly even a survival tactic.  Very similar to dogs.  All intelligent animals play and dogs are masters of it (see my post “Slugs Do Not Play. Worms Do Not Play” and check out my Five steps for Perfecting Play in your pooch!)  In order for group play to occur there has to be some level of control.  Human example: If you smack someone in basketball a foul is called.  Canine example:  If a young dog jumps inappropriately on an older dog that older dog will “call a foul” …with a bite if need be.

Living in packs also causes competition and there are few people I’ve met in life more competitive than the members of the Stevens pack.  We want to win.  Dogs also want to win.  Winning means surviving and that was passed down to dogs from their great, great, great, (et cetera), grandparents, the wolves.  This is also one big reason why dogs are master manipulators and it is second nature for many dogs to attempt to one-up their owner to get their own way.  The dog will clearly communicate what it wants and it is up to us to agree with the behavior or to disagree.

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“Shoebox Millie” Stevens in her old seat at the church they used run (my Grandpa Sherm was the pastor) in an extremely small town in New Hampshire.

Anyway…I hope this post gave some of you my clients and followers a look into my family/personal life and sort of answered the commonly asked question of how or why I’m so good at dog behavioral rehab and training…maybe…I just come from a family who are more like dogs?  And coming from me… that’s a high compliment.

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One of my grandmother’s autographed pics from when she used to sing on the radio

 

–This post was dedicated to the passing of a Legend.  My sweet Grammy “Shoebox” Millie, born only 2 pounds, the doctors thought she wouldn’t survive, did she prove them wrong!  When Millie was an infant her mother had to keep her warm in a shoe box in the stove!  She went on to have 17 children and many, many grand-kids and great-grand-kids.  A mother of many, a world traveler and missionary, talented (she used to sing and play on the radio) humorous, and kind, a selfless woman who left an amazing legacy.

My legendary Grandmother “Shoebox Millie” weighed only 2lbs at birth. Her mother kept her warm by placing her inside a shoe box and in their stove!  She went on to live an amazing life and had 17 children (and many, many more grandchildren and great grandchildren!

John 15:13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

 

Grammy, you left this earth with a legacy of love and humor and now heaven is much richer.  I love you.

And love to all my many Stevens relatives out there and to the best Parents and Grandparents a guy could ever wish for.

Stevens Strong

With Smiles,

Garrett

But what did he know…?

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Would you say that Albert Einstein was a fairly smart guy?  I know people tend to really hold him up there as a real brainiac.  “Look deep into nature and then you will understand everything better.”

I think Einstein said the quote about nature…I’m not sure about the quote on the above image though…

What to do if your dog is afraid of loud noises

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The fourth of July is right around the corner and I have been talking with many of my clients everyday concerning how to handle their dogs that suffer from ligyrophobia (fear of loud noises).  Most vets will suggest drugs (of course!… this is a growing problem in our medical community, in my opinion, whether it be human or canine the “quick fix” of drugging is seldom effective and typically an unhealthy habit.  But because it is a money maker why would the medical world ever stop it?)

(image: Rachel Cooper)

 

I will make this short so you can enjoy your holiday with family, friends, fireworks and stuffing your face with a spicy Italian sausage…

1.  EXERCISE the hell out of the dog.

2.  Start to desensitize the animal to more and more sounds and socialization.

3.  Be sure to NEVER CODDLE or touch or comfort the fearful dog (please see my post about Dealing with a fearful dog- it can change your life and save your dog from a life of misery!  You would be shocked to see how many dogs suffer with preventable fear and ridiculous phobias because of an enabling owner)

4. Intercept any start to the fearful behavior – meaning: as soon as the dog starts to whine, pace, freeze, bark, circle, run away…etc, etc you need to intercept or interrupt this behavior ASAP.  You only have two seconds to do this!  And be sure to interrupt the behavior with a clear countenance and energy that disagrees with what the dog is doing.  Be firm.  Stop excess movement if the dog tries to run or circle.  Stop whining by instantly standing up quickly, “get big” and head toward the dog as a warning (remember you have to match the dog’s energy in order to even break through to their attention level and then, if you do get the attention, Calm the dog! Be firm until you get eye contact.  Do not let the dog use you as a comfort blankey and constantly touch you.  Do Not say and this is a human classic….”It’s Ok.”  Fear is never “Ok.”

5. Remain calm and relaxed and actually enjoy the fireworks or whatever other loud noises are going on.  The dog should look to you for feedback on how to act not steal all the attention with doggie drama and insanity…remember always ask yourself what would the calm, social, unfearful older dog do?  Chances are the calm dog would simply ignore the fearful one.

6.  You can play some calming classical music if you want but don’t rely on unnatural solutions like this.  You can also try a “thundershirt” they can work for some dogs.  You can also try to actually bring them outside during the fireworks and let them see and understand what they are.  DO NOT CODDLE.

Stay relaxed and have a Happy Independence Day and a less fearful dog.

-G

don’t forget to follow this blog and go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  for more info on Garrett Stevens