Inspiration from a guy who idealizes pirates?

Standard

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Good stuff from Bobby L. Stevenson.  I often think of this quote for my business and financial life, my personal relationships, my health and exercise, and, of course, when working with clients and their dogs.

Keep planting little seeds folks…eventually you can reap big rewards!

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

Slugs do Not play. Worms do Not play.

Standard

Dogs DO play!  Playfulness is a defining characteristic in any intelligent animal. Play enlarges the mind. Play is discovery. Play is competitive. Play is learning.  And play is fun.

When I Google searched playfulness in intelligent animals (and other searches similar)  I found page after page filled with animals…but none of the searches were about dogs!  There were, of course, countless stories and clips about dolphins, elephants, crows and whales.  Then a few pages after that you can find pigs, river otters, more stories of dolphins and whales, and even stories on the intelligence of the octopus but not a one on wolves, dogs, or other canines.  What’s up with that?

Dogs are play masters (the gods of frolic) and I know they are one of the smartest creatures on earth.  You want proof.  Here’s my proof…the dog has traded the dangers of the brutal wild, the need to scrape by on the brink of starvation, fighting and flighting just to survive, to instead, lounge next to our hearth, our couch, or on a comfy Costco dog bed!  The dog gets fed each day like clockwork, and in general has it, “made in the shade.”  Doesn’t that imply the dog is brilliant?  Haven’t they won, so to speak, when it comes to the game of survival?  Don’t dogs use us, their owners, as tools or a means to their ends?  As humans we know we are smart because we dominate the planet and we build civilization but aren’t dogs right there with us?

Don’t talk to me about the intelligence of a pig when they are still living in the cold outdoors!  (sorry to all you rabid pig fans out there!)

The dog has won.  In fact, many scientists ie: nerds who come up with theories in very specific detail and then conduct experiments and tests to try and prove said theories.  (sorry to all you rabid scientist fans out there too!) have come to the conclusion that many wolves may have actually chosen to domesticate themselves! Talk about intelligence, that is a bold and daring choice.

Imagine leaving the wild to join up with a totally different species and by hanging out with that species you eventually get to eat some of their trash and left over food scraps.

It takes all the danger out of hunting much larger animals (which wolves do on a regular basis).  Leaving the wild and being in a state of perpetual youth (the state our domestic dogs are locked in due to us breeding them for calmness, playfulness, and working abilities over the years – neoteny) obviously can add health and longevity since the average life span of a wild wolf is only 6-8 years (and many die sooner).

Let’s get back to the topic of play as pertaining to smarts.  On a personal note, most of the smartest people I know tend to play and goof around quiet often.  They are quick-witted and easily thrive in a group setting.  (I am not talking about the rare genius who lacks all social skills because his brain is so different).  I’m talking about the people who become leaders in our world.   To live and survive in a social group (pack) you have to be intelligent.  Let’s go a step further and I think you’ll see why I hold the opinion that dogs are both outrageously smart and playful.

Have you ever gone to pet a dog and they pet you back?  I think we are all familiar with this.  You reach your hand down to stroke/pat the top of the dog’s head and instead of letting it happen that dog intercepts you with it’s nose, it’s tongue, light mouthing, pawing or jumping up. This is clear canine communication.  I see it quite often in my day-to-day work with dogs.   As friendly or excited as the dog may appear to be the dog is, in that exact moment, testing the social boundaries and attempting to determine or anticipate what behavioral pattern is going to happen next and what they can and cannot get away with from the person touching them.  Many dogs intercept our touch trying to one-up us, sort of a one-sided game, forcing us to play their way with their rules concerning their body and social spacing.

Next time you pet a dog watch for who is petting who first, or who gets the last touch.  It is fascinating to watch these interactions from the dog’s point of view.  There is something much deeper happening than just a surface, “Pet me.” going on in the brain of the animal.  And I know this because most dogs left unchecked in the touching department ie: dogs that spend their lives on top of us (our laps) or jumping on us, licking us, mouthing us, et cetera, soon become masters of manipulating rituals that surround us everyday and…they manipulate us perfectly (which leads to behavioral issues).

I’m getting off track again and this is for another post but please remember your dog is brilliant.  And if they aren’t learning rudimentary sits, downs, and the like maybe you should check your mirror for who is lacking in the intellectual department because your dog has trained you and certainly not the other way round.  But I’ll cut you some slack since you are reading this blog and if you follow this blog or continue to read it soon you may be just as clever and quick as the furry animal that slobbers on your pant legs.

“So what can I do”? you ask.

Find out in my next exciting post!  Garrett’s Five Steps to Perfecting Playtime with your Pooch.  To Be Continued………………………………………………………………………

“Follow” us for more epic info!

go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com for more info or help with your puppy or dog.

The Secret to a Relaxed Loose Leash Walk with Your Dog

Standard

Alpha Omega Collar

Garrett Stevens’ custom hand made collar is the ideal training collar. Strong, safe, and smooth-functioning, the Alpha Omega Collar will greatly aid in perfecting a heel or loose leash walking. The Alpha Omega Collar is the professional’s choice. They are made from military grade, 7 strand, 550 parachute cord. The collars are incredibly strong and resistant to rot, abrasions and mildew.

The Alpha Omega Collar snaps around the highest part of your dog’s neck so it makes a perfect fit for ease of control and safeguarding the trachea. The Alpha Omega Collar flows effortlessly and smoothly (there are no pounded metal links) which helps immeasurably with training a dog to keep calm and keep the leash loose. This solves the two major problems found in most training tools/collars on the market today.

Alpha Omega Collar

 

This collar will out perform Any choke chain, pinch collar, prong collar, martingale collar, flat buckle collar, gentle leader, halti, or any body harness. If your puppy or dog is over-excited, pulls, lunges, jumps, over-smells, over-marks, suffers from fear or aggression, or just needs a better heel this custom calming collar is the perfect tool for you.

Visit http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com to order yours today!

What people are saying about The Alpha Omega Collar…

“Garrett’s collars work tremendously well for my two strong, young adult Rotties.  We saw an immediate change on our walk!  Now that they are calmer we get to take them out more often.  Thanks again.”
John B.  Lakewood, WA

“There was an instant difference after we put the collar on.  The collar functions great and makes walking our dog so much easier.”

“These (collars) are great!  They work great for controlling our two Danes!”
Michelle F.  Port Orchard, WA

“Amazing collar you’ve created!  Moose is making huge strides in just a few hours.  I’m amazed at the progress.  The insight you’ve provided us is invaluable.  We can’t wait for the next session.  The collar makes walking Moose a complete pleasure.  It allows us to put the techniques to work while seeing immediate success!  He’s obviously enjoying it.   
  Thanks,”  Alex P.  Ft. Lewis, WA

 

Questions or comments regarding the collar?  Please feel free to contact us at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com or through the blog.

 

The Benefits of Having a Dog

Standard

According to the American Pet Products Association, 63% of U.S. households have a pet, which works out to be approximately 71.1 million homes and 382.2 million animals.  Though they require time and attention, pets also give in return.  People add pets to their families for numerous reasons, from friendship to protection. Our dogs, Bosley and Rambo, have been a great addition to our family. They were the perfect precursor to having babies.  Puppies don’t always sleep through the first few nights!

Image

Rambo welcoming Charlotte into our Pack

Dogs Start Us Off on the Right Foot…Research has shown that children who have a dog in their home have a stronger immune system, according to a study from the University of California, San Francisco.  There is reason to believe that some germs, such as those associated with dogs, may be beneficial for children’s health, lowering the risk of asthma and ear infections.  Studies also show that children who grow up with pets in their home benefit in social and emotional development.

Dogs Help Us Stay Healthy, Physically and Mentally…Not only are dog owners more active due to the dog’s exercise requirements, but we smile more.  How many times have your dog’s antics made you smile?  Probably more than you can count.  Joy and laughter trigger the release of chemicals in the brain that enhance our immune function and petting something furry is a proven immune boost. A Wilkes University study found that stroking a dog for 18 minutes caused an increase in the body’s natural antibodies against invading germs. Another study found that people with pets make fewer doctor visits.

Image

                                                Our first Boxer, Bosley,he’s the intellectual type.

Dogs Boost Our Social Interactions…A study done in 2000 found that when walking with a dog, there were three times as many social interactions than when walking alone.  When out and about with your dog, whether at the dog park or on a hike, people are more likely to strike up a conversation.  This “magnet affect” as National Institutes of Health Research named it, has been found to help many, from natural introverts to wheelchair patients.  Their research indicated that “a companion dog increased the quantity and quality of attention directed to the handicapped individuals from both familiar individuals and strangers.”Image

With the many benefits of dog ownership is there any wonder that so many of us welcome a furry friend into our home?

A New year…

Standard

As 2013 comes to a rapid close I imagined how the natural world (animals- our dogs) would process a “New Year.”  Of course, they don’t really care or are not really aware concerning things like our New Year’s celebrations because they already live totally “in the moment.”  Each day for a dog could be viewed as a brand New Year!  Take that thought to heart when dealing with a puppy or dog with a behavioral issue…it should help you greatly!

We know they don’t view time the same way as humans do.  And they certainly don’t keep over-busy schedules where they become slaves to the rat-race like we do.  Also, our dogs have no need for any New Years resolutions (particularly because they are not deceptive, egotistical, evil or immoral, or any of the other host of problems that plague humanity – I like to say there are no “good” or “bad” dogs…just dogs with social behavioral habits or unsocial (fight/flight) habits.)

As we reflect back on a (hopefully) excellent year and excitedly anticipate an even better new year remember to work with and explore Mother Nature a bit more this next year.  Take the time to slow down.  Breathe.  Reflect.  Meditate.  Concentrate.  Focus.  Relax.  Get out of doors.  Put your cell phone down!  Have family meals together.  Use the Slight Edge (an excellent book by Jeff Olson- I highly recommend it) daily in your life.  Act on purpose.  Make more friends.  Basically, act like a calm social dog would.

Social dogs run to get the heart rate up and play with friends.  They hang out socially.  They would explore and traverse large territories outside if we let them. They guard our hearth and home.

Our dogs stand as one of our last links to a simpler and better time.  A time linked to Mother Nature.  And we can join them in that world at the drop of a hat if we so choose.  Do it.  You won’t ever regret slowing down to catch up with what is important to the animal that lives so closely with you and your family.

Start out the New Year like a dog.  Stay moving and exploring.  Get outside.  Cuddle with your pack at night.  And always guard what is most important in life.

Happy New Year from your local neighborhood dog guru!

Calm Doorway Greetings

Standard

It seems the holidays are already knocking at our door and soon we will have, literally, many relatives, guests and holiday visitors knocking too.  There is no better time to start getting our rambunctious dogs under control at the front door.  Far too often I see dogs and pups bark, climb, jump, scratch, nip, mouth (and in many cases growl and attempt to bite) at the door.

The main thing we must help our dogs understand is how to calm and get right into the action of smelling the guests.  And, of course, the dogs can’t do that if they are put away or behind a gate, or held so far back that they never can smell the visitor.  If you have a dangerous dog obviously proceed with caution and get help(call me) but if not remember a pup or dog has a biological need to smell a new person entering the home environment.  Everything in the canine world is based on touching and smelling.  The dog or pup needs to learn to switch from an excitable habit of staring and constant movement near the entryway to actual thinking and investigating with their wonderful noses.  This can only be done through great leadership from the owner.

Dog leadership is very easy to define.  Dog leadership is also very easy to see.  If you truly wish to see dog leadership all you need to do is go to any dog daycare or dog park and watch for the calm, firm yet social dog in attendance.  You will soon discover that “Alpha” dog leadership is mostly like good human parenting.  It is not what many people imagine as domineering and over-controlling but instead is calm, patient, firm and exceptionally fair about the canine social rules (Alpha/parent or grandparent dogs are excellent peace-keepers among the group and many dog daycare owners love having them in their pack because they naturally help with the rest of the dogs.)  (FYI- you can argue about linguistics and labels all you want.  For my part I know for a fact that certain dogs with excellent language and social skills do exist and they act cool, calm, and collected, competent, confident, and with great self control.  I call them alpha dogs.  They do not over-police situations. They do not cause fights – they prevent fights in a fun and relaxing fashion.  They are just like great parents.)  Fun fact: Scientists have studied and proven that canines make spectacular parents and are often better at parenting than primates!

So, with dog leadership in mind you will have to be pretty firm at first (spatially speaking do NOT let the dog blow right past you or control any space near the doorway) as you teach your dog about the doorway and then very calm right after.  Remember, there are no bad or good dogs, there is only reaction and habit and differing energy levels.  As soon as the doorbell rings or you hear a knock and your dog starts speeding for the door…stay calm.  Be patient as you practice.

Next, move to the door in an assertive manner.  No need to run but walk with purpose.  Never open the door when a dog’s face is in front of your body and they are forcing their face in the crack of the door.  This is when you must claim the doorway and your own dog and back them up at least two to four feet (enough to give yourself some room to open the door and to not let them dominate/claim the door or guest or explode out the door).  Picture a basketball player playing defense.  The door is the hoop and you want to stop them from driving forward.  The main goal here is trying to get the dog to stop doing the overexcited habit of barking nonstop, or moving constantly, or jumping on the guest, or exploding out of the doorway, or trying to attack the visitor, etc.

 

You have to get your dog’s eye contact for a moment and they have to physically slow their movement way down (it’s best if they stop moving all together).  Do NOT pay your dog for eye contact by using a treat!  (If a dog does something in return for payment it certainly does not mean the relationship is healthy or respectful) Be comfortable using the leash inside as you practice this greeting initially.  If you get eye contact then you can turn around and answer the door.  Once you open the door, be prepared for a rise in the dog’s energy and movement again and repeat the above procedure!  Then (if they aren’t aggressive) let them go and get into smelling your visitors.

Smelling is an excellent way for a dog to gather information and also calm down quicker.  If you don’t get the eye contact or the calmness it means you need help and I’m a phone call or email away.

The holidays can be a ton of fun or they can be stressful…the choice, my friends, is up to you.  Good luck and may all your greetings be good ones.

 

Garrett Stevens is the author of the Hot-Listed book on dog and human behavior DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!

He is the owner of the multi-award winning, Alpha and Omega Dog Training in Tacoma WA  (unaffiliated with any other companies)

He excels in dog rehabilitation and is a specialist in canine energy and body language.

Tacoma based, Garrett trains, whispers, and rehabs many dogs and pups a day while also working on his other books and training videos soon to be available to the public.

For more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com and buy Dog Myths it will shock you, enlighten you and equip you and your pet to move forward together into the wonderfully calm future!

Doggie Devotion

Standard

Dogs have earned the title of “Man’s Best Friend” throughout history, with tales coming from all over the world with the common thread of the faithfulness of dogs.  The most common dog name, Fido, comes from fidelis in Latin, or “I am faithful.” Stories such as that of Capitán, a German Shepherd who ran away from his home In central Argentina after the death of his owner Miguel Guzmán in 2006. A week or so later, Guzmán’s family found Capitán standing guard at Guzmán’s grave after finding the cemetery on his own. When brought home, Capitán again ran away back to the grave of his former owner. As of January, 2013, he continues to stand vigil over his owner’s grave and receives provisions from the cemetery staff so he does not need to leave.  Image

Photo credit: La Voz

Hawkeye, a Labrador retriever, stayed by the coffin of his owner, Jon Tumilson, a Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan on August 06, 2011 when the Chinook he was riding on was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade.Image

Lisa Pembleton  /  Getty Images

Carlo Soriani died in an air raid in Italy in 1943 during WWII; his dog Fido waited for his return for the following 14 years, going daily to the bus stop where the man used to get off after coming home from work.

Heidi, a Jack Russell terrier, made her way down a 500-foot drop in Scotland to get to the body of her owner after he fell to his death while hiking and stood guard over his body for two days in 2001.

There are countless stories of the faithfulness of dogs to their humans.  Such amazing devotion is surely why they hold the title Man’s Best Friend.  

As you spend time with your dog today, be sure to exercise, set rules and be the sort of leader your dog will happily follow. 

Anyone for Balderdash?

Standard

 Many a fun family game night has included the entertaining game of Balderdash…the Laughable Laws category always stumps us!  Here are a few Crazy Canine Laws that are actually true:

  • In Anchorage, Alaska, it is illegal to tie a pet dog to the roof of a car.
  • In some areas of California, it is illegal for animals to mate publicly within 1500′ of a tavern, school or place of worship.
  • In Belvedere, California, no dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.
  • In Denver, Colorado, the dog catcher must notify dogs of impounding by posting, for three consecutive days, a notice on a tree in the city park and along a public road running through said park.
  • In Hartford, Connecticut it is illegal to educate dogs.

Garrett often shares tidbits from his training appointments with me and one thing is consistent: it’s often the humans that are being educated, not the dogs!

For a top-notch education for humans and canines alike, contact Garrett Stevens and Alpha and Omega Dog Training!