Is your dog Flexible or Fragile?

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Is your dog psychologically flexible or fragile?  Is your method of dog or puppy training and dog handling unbending and, therefore, rigid and fragile?  Is the daily routine you keep with your pet, perhaps, too rigid and too regimented or is it pliable and relaxed?

These questions, I think, are worth EVERYONE’S consideration.  Whether you have a dog or not, the subject matter we will go over today is the real stuff that often makes or breaks one’s quality of life.  It can Make you or, as the fragile tree, the poorly heat-treated sword, the overly-emotional person, or many dogs often experience, it can Break you!

So many dog owners lack flexibility.  Thus, their dogs lack flexibility too.  This is due, in large part, to so many professional dog behaviorists and dog trainers and vets clinging to their unyielding philosophy and close-minded dog training methodology.  If you follow this fine blog you know I’ve been extremely honest about the mainstream dog training industry (much to some trainers’, behaviorists’, and vets’ chagrin and much to many others joy, education, and puppy prosperity) You, Dear Reader, and your dog or pup bear the brunt of this unyielding philosophy and extreme dogmatism that mainstream trainers hold so dear and continuously propagate on an unwitting society.

Real World Example:  Some dog trainers proudly exclaim “We are a “positive only” training company.”  (They even think it’s modern!  That shows even less research on their parts) I hope everyone understands that those that confess and practice this singular and rigid method of dog bribery are immediately eliminating one entire half of possible external motivation for the dog they are working with!  And what’s worse is that they are also starting off the human-dog bond with a bizarre and unnatural set of limitations.  I’ll also mention that good human parents and certainly good dog parents would seldom if ever load up their children, or pups, with gobs of sweets or consistent bribes in exchange for decent behavior.  That builds a relationship devoid of respect and trust.  My question is, When the “positive” approach doesn’t work (which is quite often) because they never calmly address any misbehavior and because they are Not Free to calmly disagree with the dog, are they flexible enough to learn from nature and take a page out of every older dog’s playbook and spatially address the situation to enhance calmness and peacefulness???  OR do they remain stubborn, rigidly clinging to their food bribes, and thus blindly continuing on the fragile and foolish path all the while collecting money from their customers in exchange for weak results?

(Now if you know even the smallest thing about us and our award-winning company or if you’ve read my two books you would know we do NOT cling to or preach either “positive” or “punitive” reinforcement because they are BOTH just shallow External motivators and lack long-term relational staying power – especially when compared with the relatively untapped yet naturally stronger Internal, relational motivation found within ALL dogs and pups on the earth!  Please re-read that sentence.  The ways of the mother and father dog will always trump the ways of the human scientist in the lab or the one-sided, strangely dogmatic behaviorist, vet, or dog trainer!  If we are going to be dogmatic, friends, it should be dogmatically for excellent and humane results for the dogs we work with and dogmatically for daily improvement (a concept the Japanese Samurai called “kaizen”).  We could be dogmatically for doing things the dog way: cultivating techniques that echo and reflect Mother Nature’s way.  Now let’s continue with the other side of the fragile and inflexible example seen readily in most dog training and behavior mod…)

Several other kinds of dog training companies (these sorts often attract GSD owners or Belgian Mal owners) will hyper focus on negative reinforcement and rely on the classic yet foolhardy “rolling” of the dog, hanging, zapping, or choking it, or other too-harsh tactics employed carelessly in order to show the dog “who is boss” or “who is the Alpha” (FYI, when and if a dog rolls over and exposes its belly – this gesture does NOT usually indicate a submissive gesture when it is presented towards humans – even though everyone on the planet has been conditioned by the dog training industry to believe that it is a submissive gesture!  That, My Friends, is a myth!  For more on this clarification of dog language and behavior – much more – read my hot-listed book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  You’ll get alooooooooooooot out of it if you have an open mind!)

The point of the examples is that Both sides, Both of these unflinching methods generally lack flexibility and cannot truly help bring the relationship between you and your dog into MATURITY because of it!  

The great news is that YOU don’t have to join or cling to either restrictive side!  You can free yourself from the classic dog training debates and seek out, what we have discovered is a third more natural, beneficial, method of training and modification that doesn’t desperately rely on shoddy external motivation and foolish excitement but is based, instead, on internal motivation, the natural world, and specifically how the human body moves with the dog body, how touch is happening between owner and dog, and how peaceful postures enhance relationship in every dog on the planet.  The Garrett Stevens Method utilizes touch, space, energy influence, proper postures, and actual dog language in order to guide dogs into better behavior and relaxed freedom within the relationship.  It far surpasses what counts as dog training and canine behavior modification.  Our dogs are looking for leadership that guides them into maturity.   We should stop being impressed with stupid tricks and often frivolous obedience.  It’s 2019 for crying out loud – YOUR DOG IS SEMI-RETIRED and Does NOT always need a job to do (which would require higher levels of energy to accomplish) because that often just adds more tricks to his/her repertoire and does NOT remove problematic behavior in a natural way familiar to all canines.  Can I get an amen?

Real life example for you:  Ron takes his dog Winston (a French Bulldog) out for a walk.  Winston always gets over-excited when putting the leash on, and Ron always asks him to perform an excitable “wait” command at the door because that’s what Ron has taught him to do from puppyhood.  That’s dog training.  Ron is doing that because that’s his limited concept of training and he’s supposed to do that to gain respect from his dog.  Ron never considered that when we have a dog perform a “stay” or “wait” command at the door when the dog is already presenting escalated energy it can, and usually does, make matters worse internally.  Meaning Winston’s energy goes up because he is now frozen and many predators freeze just before exploding after prey.  So Ron’s little “wait” routine, his training is actually creating more of a problem than he had at the get go!!!

When a dog is locked into a routine – it is NOT flexible.  This is because dogs are intelligent and they know what is going to happen next and thus, often try to speed us up.  They jump the gun.  The truth of the matter is that Winston has learned to wait or stay physically all while ramping up unnecessary energy psychologically!  And, like almost any command performed in typical dog training and “modern” behavioral modification style…the dog remains excited mentally or, even worse, escalates his energy more!  So even when or if the “wait” or “stay” is accomplished… as soon as the release term comes at Winston he is exploding forward again out of the doorway and pulling and straining on the leash.  So little to nothing was actually gained by asking him to “wait” in the first place!  Inadvertently Ron’s “dog training” has made the situation worse!

Friends, the mother and father dog would probably never keep their pups in a frozen position if they knew that the pup’s energy was skyrocketing.  Escalated levels of energy often lead to fight or flight behavior and, in the very least, lead to the rude and manipulative habits in our dogs.  (please ponder that FACT)

Ron, in his search to train and raise his bulldog properly, has inadvertently squashed Winston’s natural autonomy and freedom near the doorway.  Everyday is the same in Winston and Ron’s life.  Every time they go for a walk it is the same.  The direction and route they take on their walk is usually the same.  And Ron is setting Winston, his French bulldog, up for failure if any subtle difference, any slight chaos ever happens to occur in their life or routine.  He’s training his dog to be fragile!  And if there’s one rule that is truly constant in our lives it is that successful folks embrace change while the unsuccessful fear it.

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Every single dog-lover I know that has been interested in training their dogs has over-trained and over-conditioned them at the doorway or, and this example occurs in almost every home I’ve ever been in (at the time of writing in 14 years as a pro behaviorist), before their feeding ritual each morning/evening with this mind-dulling “stay” or “wait” command.  Now, please understand me, I am 100% for teaching a puppy this initially.  My caveat comes into play when it is continuously used and the energy of the animal is seldom if ever considered.  We must consider the ENERGY if we want a wonderful house dog.  End of story.  Tricks and even OBEDIENCE are SECONDARY to cultivating great RELATIONSHIP and HEALTHY ENERGY LEVELS!  Please quote me on that! Tell everyone you know because they need it.  Believe me, I see this played out daily in our successful behavior modification processes while I continuously ad nauseum here over and again real life stories of miserable and rigid failings on the dog training industries part.  Inflexible dog training methods are a genuine nightmare on very well-intentioned dog owners and their families and their neighbors.

One of my heroes, Bruce Lee, has a quote that I love.  I’ll share it with you now.  “Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.”  That is what I try to do every day when I work with people and dogs.  It is a winning philosophy because it takes in all sides of a story, and then gets rid of the crap, and finally, it encourages creative solutions and actions on our part.  I hope in the future more dog trainers and behaviorists and more vets and dog owners will be open to thinking like Bruce Lee did.  The palm tree survives the hurricane because it bends in the wind.

For flexibility…mix things up.  Shake things up.  Do something novel or different.  If your dog always pees on a certain tree or hydrant during your walk – skip it next time and form a new neural pathway in the moldy, dusty, old mind.  If your dog always performs a “sit – stay” or “wait” for his food in the morning, next time skip that incredibly boring routine and let him simply have the stinking food, or use that minute to train a different and fresh command – for instance – work the “come/here” command or the “catch.”  If your dog always barks at a certain guest put the leash on him and stop him from doing it.

Let’s refresh and renew ourselves and our dogs as we add new experiences into our lives.  Let’s look beyond the shoddy external motivation (positive or punitive reinforcement) and all the fragility that’s continuously shoved upon us all from all the “dog people” in the industry.  Let’s shake up our daily routines.  Routine can truly destroy the mind when it is overdone.

Think Flexibility and your dog or pup will not be psychologically Fragile!  As always, socialize for success.

For more info of this nature read my books, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety  

The books are available almost everywhere.  Thank you so much to those who have left me thoughtful reviews on Amazon or Apple iBooks.  It means quite a lot to me.  And thank you so much to those clients who read and re-read the books on their quest for greater relationship and better behavior with and among their dogs.  I am humbled that you would re-read again and again Dog Myths in order to grasp the principles of dog language.

-G

 

 

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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

In praise of tangled leashes – Why dogs SHOULD meet ON LEASH: Part 1

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Are you one of those dog owners that typically avoids the meet and greet with other dogs on leash whenever you’re out and about?  If you are then your dog probably has or soon might have behavioral problems!

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This image shows why people have trouble on leash…the owners seldom go slack! They don’t give the dogs enough freedom on leash so that the dogs can get to the rear end of the other dog in order to properly finish a typical, normal, social canine greeting! Do NOT be the type of owner that is so afraid that you do not let the leash become loose enough to be tangled with the other dog owner’s leash. Seek out the tangle!  (More on this in Part 2)

Dogs are one of the most, if not the most, social species across the globe.   A canine’s very survival depends on teaming up and working together, whether it’s wolves forming a pack in order to take down larger prey in Yellowstone or a Chihuahua living with an eighty year old woman on the 49th floor of a Seattle skyscraper – teamwork makes the dreamwork.  And even though we know that all dogs are highly, highly social (it’s instinctual) there are thousands and thousands of well-meaning dog owners that will not allow their dog to meet another random dog walking by them on leash.  And these days there is bad info out there even suggesting such.  What gives?  Why won’t more and more dog owners simply relax enough to let their dog meet another dog?

  1.  Because they follow bad, status quo advice that sounds good but, upon further investigation or deeper thought, proves to be ridiculous.  Want an example?  (I was hoping you did!)  Below is a perfect example of the “well-meaning yet stupid” advice that comes right from the mediocre, mainstream, status quo dog “lovers” and “trainers” direct to your phone or computer via Facebook, Instagram, et cetera.  The below memes, while initially seeming to make sense, IF followed, would literally make thousands and eventually millions of dogs (and their owners) less and less social and more and more psychologically fragile and problematic!  Which, if we’re being honest, is already happening at an alarming rate without the idiotic advice of skipping all on leash meetings!  Please SAY NO to these memes and help your dog achieve greater levels of sociability.

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    Although I agree with all the listed reasons in this meme -the advice here is still asinine and should NOT be followed! Instead teach your dog to heel and then, when you’re close enough to the other dog owner, after asking to meet, make sure the leash is loose enough for your dog to move in and get to the back part of the other dog to smell it’s rear end!  Leashes should usually get mixed up and tangled as evidence of a good, social smelling session between dogs!

  2. Reason numero dos why more and more dog owner’s will not relax and let their dog meet another dog…Because more and more people these days are fearful.  We have been slowly conditioned over generations to think “Safety first.”  We have been taught to helicopter parent.  People are so afraid and have insane amounts of info telling us to continue to be afraid.  We have been given so much information so fast due to the digital revolution that most of us are addicted to it.  Many folks watch the “news” or receive updates moment by agonizing moment on the latest tragedy that happens anywhere and everywhere in the world.  People, this is bad for your brain and bad for your body!  Stop being wooed by the internet.  Say NO to a high information diet!  Say NO to letting the “news” consistently trigger your adrenals and your fight/flight responses because, as I’ve explained before, chances are high that you’re Not going to fly over to Timbuktu to actually aid in fixing the most recent famine, or pitch in for hurricane relief, or take up arms in some civil war effort half a world away.  And because you’re Not going over and DOING anything about it then it is a sort of folly (a foolish mental gymnastic) to simply bog down your mind and emotions with this alarming info consistently throughout your day.  Let it go.  Safety, My Friends, is way, way over-rated.  In fact, in the name of “safety” we in the USA, are watching as our rights and freedoms steadily erode and disappear as a Nanny State grows but that is perhaps a subject for a different post or blog altogether.
  3. The third reason we SHOULD let our dogs meet on leash – No Risk = No reward.  Successful people in every walk of life know that if there’s No Risk then there’s little to No Reward.  We should take it to heart for ourselves, for our children, and for our dogs.  “Risking” your dog meeting another dog on leash is necessary in our society to keep dogs from going further off the deep end towards fear and aggression!  How do you think dog daycares or dog parks even work?  They rely on the inherently peaceful and social nature of our dogs and on their excellent language skills.  The “risk” of having dogs meet on leash is so minor when compared to the upside and when compared to plenty of other risky things in the wide world I believe that it is only in pathetic 2019 dog owners that a meme like the one above and immediately below would ever be taken seriously.  Is this how far we’ve fallen as a society and as dog owners – we can’t even talk to a neighbor/fellow dog owner on the sidewalk and ask if the dogs can meet?  If so then we are truly Pathetic with a capital P.

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    Please DO NOT spread the word about this bad advice! The folks that designed these foolish memes must have never heard the truth that being uncomfortable often can lead to success. Pressure builds muscles and discomfort creates pearls and high tension transforms coal into diamonds…et cetera…et cetera. Dogs NEED to socialize any which way they can. They should be able to intelligently greet one another ON leash!  Instead of skipping the greetings altogether (like a coward) WHY not learn to lead your dog or pup into a proper canine greeting?!  JUST SAY YES TO ON LEASH GREETINGS IF YOU WANT A SOCIALLY “NORMAL” DOG!  Stop and talk to your neighbor.  “Risk” some real life sociability!

 

We really struck dog intelligence and sociability a nasty blow when random bureaucrats instituted leash laws in cities and towns across the country several years back.  Am I against leash laws currently?  No, because we can’t go back due to the fact that our dogs have now lost so much common sense, language skills, and because of the rampant rise of fear and aggression among dogs.  When we forced the leash on them, stifling their freedom and natural movements, we took away two key factors in our relationship with dogs.  We lost RESPECT for their natural intelligence and their ability to navigate the world around them, and we obviously didn’t TRUST them, thus the institution of leash laws, and, sadly, that was the final nail in the coffin of TRUST.  Dogs lost real world wisdom and experience and we now see and experience the fallout daily in society.  (Example: Dogs that escape the front door, dogs that escape the yard, dogs that go crazy with territorial guarding, dogs that are hit by cars when they’re running loose, dogs that run up and just attack another dog unprovoked…these things didn’t happen as often when they were free to run the neighborhoods many years past.)

Think for a moment of cats.  Many outdoor cats still have real world wisdom and do NOT get hit by cars even though they are loose out of doors.  Many outdoor cats do not randomly attack each other.  Many outdoor cats are savvy.  These cats know when it’s proper to slip away quietly and when it’s proper to stand their ground and fight (yes, sometimes, in rare cases, fighting IS the best option).

Instead of taking the unsocial approach by not letting your pooch meet other dogs on leash (which causes horrific psychological damage and more fear and aggression) I would highly, highly suggest cultivating a great heel.  Get those heeling and leash manners going so that you aren’t being dragged down the sidewalk and so that you can contain some of your dog’s energy levels as you approach another dog and owner.  Have the on-leash skills and get the know how in order to efficiently move and guide and direct your dog’s head and eye contact.  We have a great intro to Heeling and Leash Manners video available for anyone interested  – go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com to order it!

Before just obeying some gormless meme offering facile solutions on the internet concerning dog behavior even if it’s from a dog training company, I encourage you, Dog Owners, to listen and follow instead what lines up with Mother Nature and what advice agrees with more peaceable, relaxed, playful socialization among all dogs and all canines. Does your dog need to meet all other dogs on leash – of course not.  Should you keep your dog in a rigid heel and pass by every dog you see – of course not.  Flexibility that leads to greater levels of Sociability is the name of the game!  If you want a better dog then socializing is always, always, always the answer (and within that answer you must learn the hows and whats of doing that smoothly through proper movement and leash handling – Not just avoiding every dog on leash because your dog (or their dog) may be nervous).

Practically speaking:

When dogs meet each other they will attempt to rush forward.  This is very normal because dogs are a fast species and their primary senses (first senses of touch, smell, and taste) should be itching to engage with the other dog.  This, Friends, is where hosts of dog owners typically blow it.

In the next and final installment of this little series In Praise of Tangled Leashes we will go into the practical, physical specifics and how to make it go smoothly for both your dog, the other dog, yourself, and the other dog owner during your meet and greet.  I will also touch on why the fearful or aggressive dog desperately needs to learn how to meet on leash and how to get that started efficiently through proper handling!

Stay tuned and while you do please Follow/Subscribe to this fine blog and sample my books on Amazon, Apple iBooks, or at Barnes and Noble.  Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety will greatly aid you in your quest to develop your dog into all he/she can be and so that you can prevent, reverse, or eliminate any and all behavioral issues instead of run from them like the above memes suggested!  Don’t believe me?  Read some of the marvelous reviews from other readers then try the samples of the books.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

Dog Harnesses: a terrible idea!

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Are you tired of your dog pulling on the leash?  Are you sick of being dragged down the sidewalk?  Are you embarrassed by being walked by your dog and being asked, “Who’s walking who?” by the more annoying of your neighbors?  Does your dog lung and bark at passersby?  Has your dog ever nipped or jumped up and snapped at anyone or at any other dogs?

 

Friends, dog harnesses are NOT the best way forward out of those behaviors!  NOT even close!

Let’s make this perfectly clear.  Most every dog walking tool on the market today in 2019 sucks.  (Not every tool but the majority)  Dog harnesses are a plague on humanity.  Why you ask.  There are several sound reasons but I’ll just give you a couple.

Reasons Why Dog Harnesses Are A Plague On Humanity:

  1.  Dogs are way too comfortable pulling on them.  Many dogs will pull even on “no-pull” harnesses!  This causes many caring owners to struggle to maintain a decent walk or any form of leadership while outside.  In fact, many folks are getting injured from being pulled over and smashing onto the ground by their beloved dogs who, incidentally, have a much lower center of gravity, four strong legs, external claws permanently extended for running, and who come equipped with a predatory “eye of the tiger” often directed purposefully at prey animals or even at other dogs or people.  Harnesses were invented for pulling!  No one in their right mind would attempt to lead an ornery or dangerous horse or ox around in a harness, would they?  Then why do we try it with ornery, dangerous, or rude dogs?  (“Because we’re a larger species” is a horrible answer to that question)  Dog harnesses make it almost impossible to train a dog to learn to heel properly due to where the leash connects to the dog’s body (it is too far on the back or too low on the chest – both connections are downright awful) and if/when the handler attempts to work with a dog on a harness in the heel position the handler is at a huge disadvantage.
  2. People and dogs frequently get bit by aggressive dogs lunging at them while simultaneously being very comfortably pulling and straining in their harness!  I know several people that assumed that the teenage salesperson making minimum wage at the giant pet conglomerate knew what they were talking about when they told them to, “Get a dog harness.  You won’t hurt your dog’s fragile neck and you’ve got control of their body.”  Friends, why fight the dog body when what you really need is control of the eyes and mouth?  You need the dog’s head.  Its basic physics and basic anatomy.  How ridiculous have we all become when it comes to our dogs and their care and handling?  Someone has a powerful breed dog that is lunging at people and dogs and so they buy a stinking harness in order to fight with the dog’s body???!!!  Give me a break.  Meanwhile, while you’re struggling to control your out  of control dog the dog’s eyes and weapons (teeth) are pointing in whatever the heck direction the dog wants them to point and at whomever they decide to threaten!  Let’s all get beyond this harness foolishness, can we?  When a dog or pup is out of control we need to control the head and eyes  – NOT the body!  THE BODY FOLLOWS THE HEAD.  The eyes are contained in the dog’s head.  If you don’t have control of your dog’s head you don’t have much of anything!
  3. Many dogs can slip backwards out of their harness.  This happens all the time.  As if the first two reasons weren’t reason enough, did you want your dog loose on the street too?
  4. Harnesses can cause irritation around the pits.  Many dogs get chafed around their armpit areas.  Ain’t nobody got time fo’ that.

In my opinion (and it is professional) the only time a harness on a dog is ever acceptable… is if the dog is involved in the Iditarod, pulling competitions, skijoring, cart pulling, legit service work, or if the pup is under four or five months old!  Now if the dog has a real, true, actual, verifiable neck injury or medical issue (and, believe me, this is rare), or if the dog is already very friendly, social, obedient, and already adept at heeling and loose leash walking (note I said HEELING and loose leash walking, NOT just loose leash walking) then a harness is fine.  Honestly though, every dog I know could improve on their heeling and leash work, including my own dogs, and they’re excellent.

Because dog harnesses cause so much trouble they are a plague to our dogs too!  They keep the dog mentally and physically locked in a place where they just keep pulling.  They struggle against you and gain an inch of ground and the struggle is rewarded in the mind of the dog through the forward motion!  It can make for a horrible relationship!  A relationship that often amounts to the dog thinking it does whatever the heck it wants as soon as the idiotic harness is in place around its body.  A relationship where the dog totally and unequivocally ignores the owner/handler in order to pull (and pull comfortably) towards whatever person, shrub, fire hydrant, or animal catches its fancy.

Should you use a choke chain then?  NO.  Should you use a prong collar because your dog is so powerful?  NO.  Prong collars (aside from being overkill in many situations) can and do burst apart leaving your dog loose at the most inconvenient of times!  They can also exacerbate an already worked up and aggressive dog.  Also…like with almost every training or walking tool or collar out there…they are too low on the dog’s neck.

Friends, ANY tool that isn’t near the top of your dog’s head or face isn’t that efficient of a tool!  You may say you saw some decent results from a harness, prong, or martingale, or even from your “no pull” harness, to which I would happily respond, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

Our handmade, custom calming collars will EASILY out perform the mainstream dog training and walking tools on the market!  They sit high up where they should (safeguarding the trachea and maintaining the dog in a confident posture), are lightweight, are crazy strong, are smooth flowing for little directional adjustments or large ones, are unobtrusive, and best of all…dogs take to them quickly!  (Dogs do NOT choke on them.  Dogs only do that choking sound, by the way, when the tool that the owner’s choose is low on their neck!  People remain amazed whenever they try one of our collars they end up invariably purchasing one or more for their household.)  I implore you – Pick the right tool for the job.  With our custom, calming training collar in almost no time at all pulling and lunging is a thing of the past!

Check them out at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  search under our Custom Products page!  Don’t underestimate the power of a simple and effective approach.  Our handmade, custom calming collars are strong enough for the strongest and largest of dog breeds (200lbs) and everything in between.  We use them daily in our work with incredible results – no harsh handling necessary.

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Skip all the crazy equipment…order one of our custom, hand-made, training collars! Love your dog: Lead your dog!

 

Next post we will focus on… Cato the Corso (pitbull mix) rescue dog and our tale of how he came to join our training team at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center.   Stay Tuned!

-G

 

Choosing a puppy or dog

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Let’s keep this short.

DON’TS:

Don’t choose a dog when you are feeling bad or sad or even excessively glad.  Basically beware making a highly emotional decision.  (I see these sorts of decisions literally come back to bite people years later with their rescue dogs or with the fearful pup that they wanted so desperately to love on).

Don’t choose the dog in the shelter or the pup at the breeders that just “chooses” you.  I know I’m going to get hate mail for this one but doing this is often a bad move unless you don’t mind dealing with rude and manipulative behavior from a dog that desires to lead or control the interaction between you.  This age old belief that “the dog chose me,” besides being emotionally-based anthropomorphism, often sets up the dog as leader in the relationship right off the bat.  If you truly desire to know more about why this is and/or the dog language and how many dogs truly will take a mile if given an inch I’d highly, highly recommend you read Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  The book will set you and your canine companion up for amazing success as you walk towards a healthy relationship together in a natural way.  (No food required with training and no harsh handling either!)

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Don’t pick the sickly pup.  I know I’m coming off a bit harsh here but unless you’ve already dealt with several dogs with health issues I’d simply advise steering clear of the weak or sickly puppy.  To be honest with you (as I always am on this fine blog) several dog owners living in these instant gratification days barely maintain the commitment to walk and feed and pick up after their dogs.  Many are not prepared to dole out daily medications and pay costly vet bills throughout the life of their pet.  If you truly are prepared for that then I believe that’s a special calling for a very unique individual but not perhaps the best fit for the majority of us.  This does not mean you care any less it simply means you are using your head as well as your heart – which I think is a marvelous idea to employ towards most situations in life.

Don’t, Don’t, Don’t let the breeder talk you into buying TWO puppies because they’ll “play together!”  This plagues many a household.  What the breeder (who is making a good chunk of change in the exchange) often fails to tell the buyer is that as the litter mates age – particularly if they are the same sex – they can get into serious squabbles and fights over who’s who in the family or what belongs to what in the household!  The breeder also fails to mention what naturally occurs as far as training goes with two pups of the exact same age and litter let me enlighten you here and now…they often ignore you so they can fool around with each other.  They will need to be trained together and also trained apart if you hope to have any form of decent training.  They will also need to be socialized together and socialized apart if you want to make sure they don’t suffer with separation anxiety or other bizarre behavior.

When you finally get one pup to do a down stay guess what happens with the other pup?  He runs over and distracts the one in the down stay and then that one is up and they are both chewing on each other.  Unless you have a farm – I never advise getting two from the same litter.  Double the vet costs, double the crap in the yard, double the trouble of training, double the socialization, double trouble!

(If you want to hear my take on the double puppy issue – get a pup and wait until that dog is either a year or two and already trained and socialized then get another pup.  Over the years I’ve found this a sensible approach that is a win-win for both dogs and the families involved.)

Don’t let your kids pressure you.  As stupid as it sounds this happens.  Be a good parent because, let’s be honest, you’re going to have to take care of the thing when it comes into your home.  Kids often will for the first couple weeks until or unless they are forced to because you made it a daily chore for them.  But don’t make a life changing decision because your kids think puppies are cute.

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Here are the Dos…

Do take your time and make a very informed and thoughtful decision.  Do your research on breed and longevity and temperament.  Do look around at other “good” dogs you know in your neighborhood and ponder what their owners did and why they act accordingly and then ask where they got them.

Do talk to different breeders and ask the right questions and don’t believe everything they tell you!  When picking a puppy Do see and interact with both sire and dam.  If they are aggressive or fearful or injured that’s a clear warning sign waving in your face.  Do heed it.

Do seek out the medium level energy pup or dog.  Energy is so important and folks often get a dog or pup that is terribly wrong for them and their household.  With that being said, all puppies have high energy at several points throughout their day.  Do not assume that because the first couple weeks were calm due to the growing pup’s sleep schedule that a whirling dervish isn’t just a month away from developing.  It is.

Do make doubly and triply and quadruply sure that you can TOUCH the dog or pup EVERYWHERE without a bad reaction from them.  This is critically important and almost always overlooked (of course, because, as mentioned before the dog training industry and vets and other professionals are lightyears behind where we should be on truly interpreting dog language which is incidentally based in touch and spatial movements)!  Do pay close attention to how the dog gives and received touch.  This reveals everything if you know what to look for!!!!

Do your due diligence and understand that any dog or pup is work.  Do the work.  Do.the.WORK!  It pays off in little ways in the present and in big ways in the long term.  Do invest in your future and your dogs and do the work of socialization.  That is probably the most important work one can do with a pup or new dog.  Do the work of training too.  Do the work and you’ll see the results.

Do click to follow this fine blog and do feel free to comment, question or cuss me out.

-G

 

Separation Anxiety or Hostage Situation!

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Have you ever been taken hostage?  Masses of kind and caring dog owners are literally living out each day in a horrific real life hostage situation because their pet suffers with terrible Separation Anxiety!  When our dogs are anxious we, in turn, can eventually become anxious too.

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Treating separation anxiety in dogs USED TO BE a difficult path to navigate for both industry professional and lay person alike but that, Friends, is about to change!  Some dog trainers and behaviorists would suggest food treats (peanut butter or bully sticks) be given in order to “occupy the anxious dog’s mind” while the owner is away.  Many vets would sadly just suggest drugging the anxious dog.

Why is it that we seldom if ever hear of a calming, natural, spatial solution for successfully treating separation anxiety?  

Why don’t we hear more about the spatial movements that all dogs employ when speaking their own specific canine language?

Why is separation anxiety prevalent in households across the globe today IF the majority of vets’ and dog trainers’ methods are truly sound and beneficial to/for our dogs?

Could it be possible that we (those of us involved in the dog behavioral and training industry) need to reevaluate our method of treatment for separation anxiety?

Shouldn’t we take a closer look at dog language and canine energy levels in order to find the answers and solutions that so many desperately seek?

Shouldn’t you and your dog be able to live anxiety free?

Are you sick of being a hostage to your dog’s separation anxiety?

If you answered those last few questions with a resounding, “YES!” then my new book, So Long Separation Anxiety will be just right for you and your anxious furry friend!

(So Long Separation Anxiety will only be an e-book so we are sorry but no paperback this time.  For paperbacks be sure and read my groundbreaking book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!)

From destructive chewing to whining and barking, from nervous drooling to anxious urination or defecation, from breaking out of the kennel to rudely jumping all over you when you arrive home, separation anxiety is a major problem for masses of dog owners!

This book is here to help you and your dog discover relaxation and balance through a healthier relationship and through practical proper spatial maneuvering!  Contained in this exciting new book are beneficial, real world techniques and methods that anyone can put to use!  Step by step we examine how dog’s interact and move with us, how separation anxiety subtly takes root, and how we can begin to smoothly reverse it.  So Long Separation Anxiety is chock full of real life, practical, hands-on, calming solutions!  And the best part…you will NOT need a bunch of peanut butter or food treats or bizarre contraptions, you will NOT need harsh or severe handling, and you will NOT need to repeatedly fill a prescription in order to drug your furry family member!!!

The successful treatment of separation anxiety in our dogs is possible if we can learn from the dogs themselves.  So Long Separation Anxiety is now available on Apple iBooks/iTunes or on Amazon kindle or most other platforms!

Let’s begin making our future better today!

-G

Are you playing the wrong way?

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edit 23I know it’s a wild question.  We figure that play is just a “free for all” helluva’ good time with our dogs and pups, right?  WRONG!

Let’s pause for a brief moment and try and think back to any of the educational nature programming you’ve watched on predators (in particular mammals).  Can you recall ever hearing how the wolf pups, or lion cubs, or cheetah cubs (etc) were playing to learn, to reinforce social bonds and positioning within the family group, and playing to practice critical hunting skills they’ll need when they are older?  If you cannot.  I certainly can.  In almost every one of those Nature, Discovery, or Nat Geo programs those lines would be mentioned when considering how the young predators played.  Play, as I’ve mentioned before in this fine blog, is critically important to intelligent creatures.  Let’s take a deeper look and see what we can apply to our dogs to enhance our relationship and their obedience.

Play is structured.  It is NOT a “free for all” where anything goes.  If it even begins to become out of control there will most assuredly be a “foul” called or a “flag” thrown in order to pause the game.  It is the same in wild or domesticated predators!  Your dog is a domesticated predator and not just a furry human toddler.  Dogs are predators even if you earnestly want to believe and buy into the fairy tale of the “fur baby”- it is simply NOT true.  (For healthy relationships honesty is a major key!  Let’s get real please.)

Continuing… Play reinforces social connection, provides exercise, energy escalation and de-escalation, mental stimulation, and can be a huge indicator of just where the relationship is at (I’m talking about the relationship between you and your dog/puppy now).

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Did you know that many dogs and puppies manipulate the heck out of their owners during a simple play session?  It’s true and I observe it everyday in my work with owners and their dogs.  I’ve detailed many dog manipulations that contribute to behavioral problems and that can be prevented or reversed in my HOT Listed book on dog training, language and behavior, DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  (please click on the link, buy it, read it, be shocked by it, be motivated and equipped by it, love it, and then review it so others can find it too!  The reviews have begun to come in about Dog Myths and people are Raving btw!)

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For great play which can help build a great relationship between you and your puppy or dog ……………

  1. Never Chase the dog!  – “But he loves it” you’ll say.  So what?  Drug addicts love their drugs, does that mean they have excellent and successful relationships with those around them?  Does that mean you want them living in your home?  Does that mean you become a drug dealer?  If you chase your puppy or dog ask yourself just what is being reinforced over time?  The average dog can run 32 miles per hour!  And some breeds get up near 40 miles per hour!  Greyhounds can reach 45mph!  I don’t know about you but I don’t want to begin my relationship with a puppy or new rescue dog or any dog teaching them that they can go high speed away from me, away from my space!  I don’t need them in on the fact that they can easily outpace me because rudeness could develop from there.  I say “could” to be gentle on you, Dear Reader, in truth it often does.  I’m guessing that you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you have to catch your dog or pup or have to lunge after them while they showcase their speed and agility in a masterfully manipulative social one-up?  Don’t chase them.

If you’ve read some of my stuff you’ll know that the most important things to our dogs when we are discussing language and communication and relationship are touch and space.  If we chase our dogs and they run and easily take their space away from us it paves the way to more behavioral issues.

2. Always play backwards or run from the dog!  -I have devoted a whole chapter in Dog Myths about playing backwards and drawing the dog or pup to you and to your space because it is vitally important in the relationship.  Our dogs are domesticated predators but they are NOT wild predators.  That means one should never have to catch their dog.  Catching or trapping is what one does with a wild creature and not a domesticated animal that lives in your stinkin’ home, correct?  There must be more respect and trust and clear communication than that.  If you do, in fact, have to catch your pup that is a clear sign that respect and or communication is missing (in most cases it is tragically both!).

Playing backwards helps draw the dog in to your space and it makes it look (physically) like you are the leader.  This is good.  Ask yourself would the mother or father dog have to use high pitched talking to call their pups to their space?  Would the parent dogs have to use a treat to bribe their young to come to them?  Or…would they use reverse psychology and naturally move away from their pups causing the pups to respond by following?  Life can be better than most people believe living with a dog.  Sadly, the majority don’t even know what they are missing.

We’ve gone over some of the spatial parts of play and that’s important but I’m going to continue this article for ya and get another one out probably within a couple weeks.  In that Part 2 we will look at how to touch while playing and when to call a foul or throw a flag as we explore dun-Dun-DUHHHHH…the intricate language of play in the domesticated dog!

To Be Continued…

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