Want the PERFECT dog?

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“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”  Antione De Saint-Expurey

Almost every method of dog behavior modification and dog training I’ve heard of, seen, or come across in my life has been the endless quest to ADD motivation and reinforcement onto the dog.  Obedience and work are the order of the day when it comes to 99% of professional dog trainers’ philosophy and methodology.  What a shame!  And, often, these mainstream training and behavior modification methods are a sham as well as a shame when considered and contrasted in the ever shining light of Nature and Nature’s way.

The true way of the dog is a path many behaviorists and dog trainers never tread upon because of their unending quest for great obedience.  Obedience (as it pertains to the dog training industry) is highly unnatural because what we all call obedience is never taught by the parent dogs to their pups.  Respect is taught and certainly trust is taught from older dog to those that are younger but “watch me, sit, down, stay,” et cetera – not so much.   Older dogs teach Respect and Trust in very clear canine language to their pups from an amazingly early age but what most folks consider to be good, solid dog training and sound dog behavior modification does, in reality, typically fall utterly short of what healthy, socially-skilled, older dogs teach their offspring!  

Most dog owners and professionals within the industry are missing the simple, direct beauty found already contained within the pup or dog instinctually.  Instead of looking to Add something to the dog – the wise individual would seek to Chip Away the rougher parts and Refine what is Already Naturally Present within the dog or pup.  Calmness not work is the way forward for the house dog or companion dog of today and of the future!  Nature and nature’s God has already provided everything one needs to communicate perfectly with our domestic dogs and to prevent, reverse, and or eliminate any and all problematic behaviors within the creature with which we are interacting (no food treats required).  There is usually ZERO need for the majority of what’s been taught to us as “dog training” and as “behavior modification!”

You and I have been brainwashed.  We have all been brainwashed through year after year after year of advertising and teaching from major conglomerates (seeking more profit) concerning what dog training is and what it should look like!  And the only way to change this conditioning and washing of the mind is to experience a change in perspective and by forming new thoughts and new neural pathways…perhaps like honestly considering the concept I’ve just written about here.

Please think on it.  Want the perfect dog…?  I’ve put info below for you!

 

Garrett Stevens is the creator of the Garrett Stevens Method of natural dog handling and behavioral rehab (no food treats required and no harsh handling either), Hot-Listed author of Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!, and So Long Separation Anxiety, and owner/operator of Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center and founder of the award-winning Alpha & Omega Dog Training in Puyallup/Tacoma WA.

http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

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German Shepherd behavior and training

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We handle a buttload of German Shepherds.  Almost every single day we work with at least one or two of them.  As an intelligent and sensitive guarding breed many, many owners screw things up with their GSDs.  (Yes, I’m giving it to you straight like I always do and like a dog would)  In my opinion many professional trainers screw it up too through “over training” (more on that later)!

Here are 4 Great Tips for the German Shepherd dog owner:

  1. Never coddle the weak.  All of nature teaches us this and yet a lot of dog owners refuse to learn it.  If you have a nervous pup or a skittish older Shepherd coddling it and talking softly to it at all the wrong times will only serve to grow the fearful state of mind and misbehavior.  GSDs come with extra nerves so they could potentially be alert watch dogs but way too many owners let this grow to out of control proportions.  Keep in mind the dog’s own birth mother and father would NEVER coddle!  GSDs give birth to too many pups to do it.  And they do not talk as much as humans – instead, they prefer action.  Do you think you’re a better canine communicator and dog leader than the pup’s own natural parents?  Do you have dog instincts?  Can you run 32-45 mph?  Do you have an incredible sense of touch, smell, and taste?  Et Cetera Et Cetera…NO – you don’t – so please don’t presume to know more than mom or dad dog and to then dramatically change how they (and almost all animal parents) would do things with their young.  INSTEAD of coddling place your German Shepherd into confident and peaceful postures familiar to all canines.
  2. Don’t over train.  If you have a GSD then you know a lot of training comes fairly easy when compared to many other breeds.  The GSD is definitely smart and highly observant.  Sometimes they are too observant and too smart!  Do not over train and over ritualize everything.  In fact, the only thing I really want to set a rigid schedule for is feeding and elimination.  Everything else I do with my German Shepherd should be about flexibility and sociability (with the caveat of raising and training a professional working dog – which most folks do not do).  Over training your GSD just leads them into manipulating your training and controlling the same tired, stupid routine that you set.  Maybe you were impressed at first because the dog knew precisely when you were going on your walk but now there’s rudeness involved because the dog is hyping everything up prior to your getting the leash out of the closet, spinning in circles, whining, etc.  He knows where the leash is kept and that initial hyperactivity and rudeness can easily lead to exploding out the front door, and that then leads to dragging you off the porch, which then leads into pulling on the leash while walking, and then maybe even going crazy at every dog or person your dog sees!  And all this trouble actually stems from your training and you having your GSD perform the same thing each day!  Change it up, buttercup. y9W6UhdYSg6AqgpdYoQYEA
  3. Socialize like crazy.  Socialization does not just mean taking a puppy class at the local Petsmart.  Socialization is the gradual desensitization of our dogs’ super senses.  Socialization is any and every new experience, new location, new touches, smells, tastes, sights, and sounds.  Think about the vehicles, the beaches, the mountains, the cities, the country, the children, the old folks, the other dogs, the neighborhood cats, the squirrels, the garbage trucks, the Home Depot, the Costco parking lot, being left behind, or loading up and coming with…genuine socialization is infinitely more important to raising a healthy dog than going to the vet, than attending formal training, than grooming…socialization is and must be King!  If you socialize your GSD enough with calm, firm, and sometimes playful leadership your Shepherd will absolutely have the best life and love you the more for it.  Your GSD should NOT only love your family – that’s great in a literal war zone but everywhere else it sucks.  Don’t let yourself, your family, your dog and all society down…socialize for success. IMG_3047
  4. Learn your dog’s language and use the 4 Pillars for great behavioral results.  All dogs share an authentic and universal language.  I’d highly recommend learning  it from the dogs themselves.  To aid you in this observational quest to learn real dog language my books are always available for purchase.  Dogs can be incredibly manipulative – my books are there to help you identify and then stop those manipulations which then can let the better parts of your German Shepherd’s nature (and none of the nasty) come to fruition and full maturity. IMG_3629  IMG_3515  IMG_3141  Enlight172   (All dogs featured belong to former clients)

Advice for puppy owners during COVID-19

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Ignore most of what you’re being told and socialize your pup as best as you can.

That’s always my advice to pup owners and rescue dog owners corona nonsense or not.  Ignoring at first glance may sound like it’s irresponsible but, in fact, it’s the exact opposite because it means you’re going to take real responsibility for yourself and for the pup that is depending on you to lead it for the remainder of its life.  Ignoring the status quo is a fine art that, in most instances, should be cultivated in order to attain further freedom, autonomy, self-education, success, and self reliance!  Please think about that and really consider whether you are a person that enjoys freedom, autonomy and the rest.

Enjoy your day.  Seize it.  Say no to fear mongering and manipulation.  Throw caution to the wind.  Go boldly forth!

And always remember…both mankind and dog-kind survived for thousands and thousands of years without any organizations (medical or otherwise) dictating to them in the name of safety or health.

In my line of work we see loads of unnecessarily terrified puppies and rescue dogs and usually people are to blame because they did NOT socialize enough.  They sacrificed the poor creature’s mental and emotional health by an overzealous overprotection of the same creature’s physical health by way of waiting to do anything before the pup was vaccinated!  HUGE MISTAKE behaviorally speaking!  

Both people and dogs survived for thousands of years before vaccines and before modern medicine.

Get out and about and have fun doing it!

Is your dog like Muhammad Ali?

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Perhaps your dog “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee?”

Maybe you are one of the multitude of dog owners that “can’t catch what they can’t see.”

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali had masterful footwork and incredible spatial strike and retreat/retreat and strike techniques on the canvas that won him the heavyweight championship title.  Known today simply as “The Greatest” he was a masterful tactician and a true artist of the sweet science.

I’m here to inform you that your puppy (or dog) also has these same incredible moves at their disposal just like Ali had.  Whenever he/she performs these keep away moves on you it is purposefully rude, manipulative, and a relationship killer which then leads to a host of other dog behavior problems!  Whenever your puppy slips your touch or evades you, the pup then grows steadily worse.

 

All normal canines can perfectly calculate (just like Muhammad Ali could) the length of your arms and hands in relation to where their body happens to be.  They are true masters of fight/flight distancing.  Dogs know and care about space as it concerns their body and the environment they find themselves in.  They can dance away just as skillfully as the champion pugilist did in his prime.  Ali used the “rope a dope” tactic successfully on many an opponent in the ring.  Dogs and puppies also do this to their owners all-the-stinking-time! This allows them to grow steadily ruder and, in their doggy mind, more and more in charge of the household, the yard, the couch, the dog daycare, and the neighborhood!

When a dog attempts to slip your touch and stay out of your personal space bubble when you’re reaching towards them or clearly asking them to come into your space in order to be touched or groomed or pet, or leashed up, we must be able to control that interaction.  When you approach your dog they should not back away.

Beneficial suggestions to stop a dog from slipping your touch:

As detailed in my first book, Dog Myths, you must learn to play while moving backwards – use the tug, rope, or ball to lure the dog into your personal space.  When playing tug of war be sure to add your second hand into the mix in a fun way.  You should be able to touch your dog with your second hand without your dog slipping the touch.  This is how you desensitize and slow the classic Muhammad Ali slip and rope a dope behavior.

Do NOT lunge after the dog or chase it!  (Chasing the dog is a bad game because it reinforces the fact that your dog can run way, way faster than you or any human can)

Have your puppy wear a flat buckle collar around the house so that when he/she decides to slip your touch and give you the rope a dope you can easily reach forward under the neck of the animal and hook the collar and (gently) drag them forward into your space – then perform your originally intended purpose (the reason why you attempted to touch the pup in the first place – petting, grooming, leashing etc) Then be sure and turn away and exit the space first (before your pup runs off).  This little paragraph is important and has the potential to greatly alter misbehavior and bring about healthy relationship!  (If you’re still struggling with this then go to the leash and have your pooch drag one around)

Call your dog less.  Our pets live in a world of human talking and man made noise.  Humans are incredibly loud a majority of the time.  It is not that way in the woods.  Most animals don’t like loud noises.  Many dog owners kill the “come” command by overuse.  They also destroy the dog’s name because of overuse.  Don’t be one of them.  Be creative.  Think like an older dog.  Older dogs do NOT sit there calling the pups to them.  What do they do?  (I’m not giving you the answer because I want you to up your observation skills).

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This is my favorite pair of boxing gloves and my favorite jump rope

Muhammad Ali was fun to watch in the ring – he was one of the best boxers ever – but when a dog or pup slips their owner’s touch that is blatantly disrespectful and will most certainly grow poor behavioral patterns if left unchecked.  It matters not if the dog is nervous or shy.  Please follow my suggestions and then let us know how quickly you saw the changes in behavior occur!  (This stuff works and not only does it work…it works better than many behavior modification methods out there.)  DO it and both you and your dog will certainly reap the benefits!

-G

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Puppy life skills vs. Puppy owner’s fear

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Many caring puppy owners are hurting their pups!  Parvo.  Giardia.  Corona.  Whatever you are afraid of and/or whatever you are afraid might harm your little puppy is largely a waste of mental and emotional energy and legitimately just may harm the very pup you are so desperately concerned about protecting.  How?  Why?  It’s because of a couple of reasons.

1. Because people have the power to create what they focus on  – be it good or bad.

2. Because people, especially scared people, tend to make poor decisions – particularly in regards to handling nature.

Let’s look at the second reason.  You love and care about your pup.  You ought to care, the thing was costly enough on the old bank account.  Gone are the days when dogs were “Free to a good home” as seen from the ad in your local newspaper.  Now pups are thousands and the vet bills add plenty to that, and so does training, and consistent grooming.  You care enough to shell out the cash and that puppy face is irresistible however irascible the pup’s behavior may be.  You care and so you want to protect your little pup from all the dangers of the outside world.

Frankly, I’d be more afraid of your handling skills as an owner and your potentially excessively unnatural attention that you most likely are showering upon the poor pup (most puppy owners fail miserably in this regard and it’s only by the grace of dog that more dogs don’t let it go to their heads and become monster brats that dominate everything within their environment).  Too much attention directed at a pup destroys any and all respect towards the owner.

I’d be concerned, socially and behaviorally speaking, if you are not taking full advantage of the first year of life the pup has with you and your family.  The first six months are of particular importance within the life of all rapidly growing canines.  Bear in mind that the incredible physical growth rate we all see during the first six months of life for every puppy is also a tremendous mental and emotional time of growth within the pup.  The future dog’s social skills, or lack thereof, are greatly influenced during these first six months of puppy life.  The first two months you can’t really do anything about because that was up to the breeder and whether they were a quality breeder or not.  The first two months behavior depends largely on whether the pups had a balanced, healthy mother and father that they were able to spend time with and learn from.  It also greatly depends on proper human handling and the ability to explore their surroundings.  But what happens when a person buys and brings home a new pup into their household?

What should happen is a steadily growing relationship built on the proper touch, space, movement and energy.  A relationship of mutual respect and trust that is demonstrated physically and spatially and as the younger member of the family mirrors the energy of the older members.  That is dog language.  That is how dogs build good relationships amongst each other.  (Notice there is nothing about food or treats or excessive human talking or obedience).  The relationship based on dog language and respect and trust is what helps a pup mature into a fantastic and easy life companion in any situation or circumstance.  Dogs don’t do obedience training with their young and yet their young certainly aren’t (if left to their own devices) growing up afraid of their surroundings!  (Only a human would raise a pup into a fearful and neurotic dog)

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Each month of a pup’s life is the human equivalent of a year or two!  Think of all the behaviors learned within the mind of a human child during a year or two…now apply that to the puppy in just a month’s time!

How do I know what this guy is telling me is a fact you may ask?  Well, I don’t know a lot of seven, eight or even nine year old human children that are naturally looking to breed with the opposite sex at those young ages (Thank God).  But…I do know that loads of non neutered and non spayed 1 year old dogs would want to get in on the mating action if they could even when they are just a year old.  My point – dogs grow and mature at a much, much faster rate than the previously believed “seven year average” to every one human year.  Basically, humans destroy pups and their behavior every single day and many times it’s done through letting a little FEAR creep in through the door of the mind!

Instead of keeping your pup under lock and stinking key because the vet said it’s unsafe to socialize or take your pup to the dog park unless and until he/she has had their last round of shots…maybe you use your brain and walk the pup around your neighborhood, or at a Costco parking lot, or near a local park (not a dog park but a people park).  In most cases you will be absolutely fine even though there is a slight risk.  Do NOT roll your puppy in another dog’s feces.  Do NOT pour contaminated urine into your pup’s water dish.  If you follow this advice chances are things’ll be fine.

When I fly on an airplane there’s a slight risk the plane may crash burning into the ground and killing everybody aboard – but I still fly.  When I get into my car there’s an even greater risk that I could die in a horrible car accident (it happens to people every day around the world) but we all still drive.  If you really care about your puppy you won’t deny months/years worth of mental and emotional stimulation that lead the pup into social success and future maturity and relaxation just in case he/she might catch parvo or corona virus or whatever else that may cause you fear or discomfort.

If you truly care about your puppy you must disagree with fear.  If you desire an excellent, calm, socially-adept pet and family member you must socialize the heck out of the pup and do it as early and as often as possible.  Do not let your fear win out over your pup’s sociability and intelligence.  Make the right choice.  Be a person of action…dogs love that!  Say no to fear by way of action.  End of story.

(Keep an eye out for my third book on dog behavior!  I plan to release it in 2020 (if the world is still functioning).  We will explore the 5 incredible senses of the dog and the 4 Pillars of dog language and behavior training.  In this book I will reveal more of the Garrett Stevens Method than ever before!  Stay tuned all you rabid dog lovers!

-G

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“Certified” dog training

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Let’s talk plainly about “Certified” and or “Accredited”dog training.  Over the years I’ve heard of way too many piss-poor, God-awful dog training and behavior modification methods coming directly from genuine “accredited” and “certified” trainers.  The wise dog or puppy owner would NOT let these buzz words fool them because they would understand that all animals don’t give a fig about human organizations and they don’t care whether a person has initials after their name.  The wise person would understand that not all trainers are created equal and that each have differing personalities, differing gifts and talents, differing strengths and weaknesses, and vastly differing levels of experience – which result in different results and experience for their clientele.

If you could glance at my business email inbox you’d see several emails from organizations like the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) or the CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainers) and others wherein they desire to “refer potential new clients” my way in exchange for my coming under/into their organization.  They do this so they can put their initials on my website and so they can grow their organization.  I could easily become “certified” under any number of these made-up “institutions.”

My question…who the heck are they?  What gives them, or almost any organization for that matter, any credence as far as proper animal husbandry and, more specifically, dog language and behavior training goes?  Just because a few people came together, did some paperwork, got a website and sent many emails to try and make money off of many people doesn’t mean in the slightest that they can deliver real world results for dogs and for people!  Did you know that Petsmart has “accredited” training?  People, Petsmart and Petco are the some of the lowest levels of dog training that exist on the earth.

The point of this post…Don’t be fooled by random initials when looking for help with your dog’s behavior instead look at family, friends, and neighbors and talk to them about their dog’s behaviorist or trainer.  Word of mouth is and always will be the absolute best.  Next look at the work the trainer has done.  Examine their website and really read the thing.  Check their philosophy.  After that look at the reviews online and read between the lines because not all reviews are the same either!  There is a massive difference between a raving review about an aggressive dog being transformed into a gentle pooch versus a review about how great the local puppy group class was.  The dog trainer or behaviorist should also have reviews from other professionals in the pet industry (dog daycare owners, vets, groomers, etc).  Pay attention to the details, Friends, or you’ll really pay with your money and your time if you end up hiring a bad trainer or another cookie-cutter behaviorist no matter their level of man-made “certification!”

Am I totally against certification?  No.  In fact, if the organization actually does real work (you know that thing that many folks shun these days) and if they have a great, hard-won reputation for success and for professionalism within the industry it may be something to check out but make no mistake…dogs don’t care about any of this.  They care about touch, space, movement, and energy.  And human clients care about results.  That’s it.

(Here at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we have actually begun certifying qualified individuals in the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior training.  Thus far it’s only been one guy that’s made the cut, my young apprentice, Jesse.  I’m not sending out mass emails and telling people they can become a “certified” or accredited” trainer for just twelve easy payments of $99.00 bucks a month.  Don’t cheapen my art you clowns!

Smiles,

-G

 

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This is a pic of me and my first dog, Bosley, working the bite sleeve many moons ago.

The Four Pillars of dog language – Part 2

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TOUCH: the most important and first sense of a pup.  Yes, that’s right, touch, NOT smell is the first sense and the most important in our dogs’ lives.  All canines, wild or domestic, are born blind and deaf.  The primary senses are touch, smell, and taste.  The secondary senses are vision (comes on day 15 after birth) and hearing (ears open fully around day 21).  Touch is the first Pillar of dog language (as defined in the Garrett Stevens Method) and it is the first of the five senses.

Now let me ask you, how important is touch for you throughout your day as a human?  Let’s go further and think about how important touch is for a blind person?  And if we go one step further we’ll be getting close…How important was touch for Helen Keller?  She was bereft of vision and hearing just like all our puppies began their lives.

If you want success with your dog’s behavior then forget everything you know or think you know about dog training and behavior.  Instead let me guide your imagination on a bizarre, fascinating, new journey.  Pause with me and really imagine having eyes and ear canals that are tightly closed to the world around you.  It’s hard to comprehend because if you close your eyes for a moment what happens?  Instantly our sense of hearing leaps to the forefront of our mind and we cannot simply shut our ears.  Maybe we need to run and grab the noise-cancelling head phones to fully experience the affect.

Imagining being born blind and deaf, being roughly licked and cleaned as you begin to breath your first breaths.  You stretch your stubby little legs, fight to lift your head, and basically just wiggle until you bump into, climb onto, or clamber under your mother and your many brothers and sisters.  What initially guides you?  What keeps you safe and warm from the start?  How do you first find the life-giving milk from mother dog?  Touch.  Touch is first.  Then, nipping at the heels is the next sense, Smell.  Smell and scent communication and scent memories develop but…touch communication and memories of touch come first.

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The olfactory and the gustatory system are indeed critically important in the language of dogs but why do so many dog trainers and dog owners (people who love their dogs) overlook touch.  Overlooking how dogs or pups touch us (or how they avoid our touch) is the Biggest Mistake in any and all manners concerning dog behavior!

In today’s world we’ve been conditioned to think that anytime a dog touches us if that touch isn’t an aggressive bite or a snap that the touch that is presented is somehow “affectionate.”  I say that’s preposterous!  That belief is literally hurting millions of dog’s and millions of people across the globe.  That belief gets human children and babies bit in the face.  The belief that most times when a dog touches a person that this behavior is just “displaying affection” is harmful and incredibly, and overwhelmingly narrow-minded.  As if dog’s don’t have a real language and clear communication.  As if touch isn’t one of their main ways of communicating.  As if there aren’t a plethora of polite touches and a host of rude ones within the scope of dog language.  As if dogs don’t manipulate their owners on the daily.  They do, Dear Reader, they most certainly do manipulate unwitting or unwilling dog owners or guests to the home and they almost always do it by way of rude touching.

Dogs will, every single one of them, test the physical boundaries of your personal space, or that of your child’s, or that of your guests, or they will watch just who claims their food dish, or the space on their bed, or on the couch! (Et cetera, et cetera)  And to their credit most dogs do not take all the unadulterated touching and unrivaled attention that they receive day in and day out and attempt to take over everything in the home or on the street.  Thank God only some dogs do this.  But the crazy thing is is that many do indeed attempt a full and eventually hostile take over! What typically passes for dog training and behavior modification sets up most dog owners for miserable failure in the long term!  And the hostile and violent take overs are usually brought on by the nervous, anxious, fearful dogs because everyone lets these type of dogs over-touch and out-touch them!  Too many dog owners are clueless about touch which is why there are 5 MILLION reported dog bites each year in the USA alone.  Many more go unreported.

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You must question touch because as you do it will open up more questions.  Did you ever wonder why we get our pups around 8 weeks of age?  Is that really the best time to get a puppy?  Is going to a group class where obedience is the focus the best way to help raise a puppy?  Is obedience training actually teaching your dog to be unsocial?  Why is the “sit” command typically the first thing everyone teaches their pup?  Is it even necessary or beneficial?  Does your style of training line up with how dogs naturally interact with each other?  Should it?  What touches does the mother dog allow on her body?  What touches does the mother dog give to her young?  How do older dogs interact with pups?  Is your rescue dog too needy in the area of touch?  (Hint, hint: the rescue dog is almost always imbalanced in the area of touch)  Do you have any boundaries about your body?  Do dogs have more or less boundaries about their bodies?  Are you building a healthy relationship based on respect, trust, and clear communication or have you downgraded the relationship to that of employer and employee?

-If you enjoyed this post keep an eye out for my upcoming book because it will go further into authentic dog language and how we can help our dogs and pups succeed socially in this modern world.  We will go into touch a good deal more and define just what is rude and what is not, what is going to lead to trouble and what can rapidly reverse trouble.  It should be groundbreaking in the pet industry as we discuss the ideal dog of the future…Stay Tuned!

-G

The many problems of treat training and positive reinforcement – Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enlight190

 

 

 

Stop your dog from being Mike Tyson!

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Many a professional pugilist in the 1980s and 90s entered the ring with apprehension (sometimes masked as bravado) because they were facing the living legend “Iron” Mike Tyson.  Sometimes known as “Kid Dynamite” due to his explosive power, Tyson holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title.  Mike was just 20 years old.  His first 19 professional fights were won by knockout.  12 of those fights ended in the very first round!  Mike Tyson was the first heavyweight to win the WBA, the WBC, and the IBF titles simultaneously.  He is the only heavyweight to successfully unify them.

Mike Tyson is well known for his ferocity in the ring.  His classic “peekaboo” style, taught to him by legendary manager and boxing trainer Cus D’Amato, left many opponents punching at the air and wide open for Iron Mike’s monstrous hooks and uppercuts.

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What does all this have to do with your dog or pup?  Everything.  This has everything to do with your dog or pup behaviorally speaking because every dog on the planet (unless they are at a feral level of fear) will get in close to their owner (like Tyson used to approach his opponents in the ring) and, over time, the dog will control who is touching who.  Tyson pressured his opponents, and frankly, he scared many of them.  They knew his reputation for aggression, speed, agility and knockout power was well-earned.

In the case of most dogs the loving pet owner is totally unaware that their dog is controlling touch in the relationship (which can and usually does lead to behavioral problems).  You see, many dog owners assume that if a dog will do some obedience for them or if they yell loud enough at their pet and the dog offers them a quick appeasement gesture (like lowering their head and leaving the area) that they (the dog owner) are in charge.  They assume that if the dog shows them it’s belly that the dog is “submissive.”  These false beliefs then allow the wayward puppy or dog to continue to manipulate touch and space within the relationship and often manipulate any item the dog may desire to claim (food, bed, couch, front door, yard, the leash, the owner’s body, the dog’s body, another dog or person in the home, et cetera).   Want to hear the most sinister thing about this ultra-common canine manipulation?

Most times when dogs are “Mike Tysoning” their owners or a guest they seem to be FRIENDLY about it!  Please pause and consider that last sentence.

When dogs are controlling touch and spatially pressuring a person they could be being friendly but still desire to be in charge of who touches who and where that touch is applied and they seek to control how that creature is moving in the space around the dog’s environment.  This is animal language, people…we’ve got to learn it if we want to see improvements.  Let me clarify with real-world examples.

EXAMPLES of dogs “Mike Tysoning” their owners or others in a friendly manner:

You walk in the door and the dog MUST touch you.

You go to sit down on the couch or chair and the dog quickly beats you there, hops up, and attempts to sit down in the very spot in which you were headed.

You reach to pet the dog and the dog instantly raises it’s energy to a much higher level then they cross the distance between your body and theirs and either jump up on you, paw at you, stick their head between your legs, nudge your private parts, or lean up on your legs in a sideways position.  

You try to stop petting the dog and the dog pushes back into your space to clearly let you know that the petting will NOT stop.

Dogs, of course, also can be a Mike Tyson in a myriad of unfriendly and downright aggressive ways.  Those gestures are usually identified by the general populace though.  In today’s post I’ve identified those more subtle yet equally rude maneuvers that many dogs pull on their owners or on a guest.

My Dear Readers, I hope you all understand that the mother or father dog or any socially skilled dog would NOT NOT NOT NOT tolerate this friendly/excited yet rude and pushy touching from another dog.  Why should we?  Are you no better than a puppy in your dog’s eyes?  Does your dog lack all respect for your physical body and the space around it?  Has the dog been happily claiming everything in sight and you’ve cluelessly sat by assuming it was just affectionate?  Don’t be chump.  Or you could be “knocked out” by the rapidly growing misbehaviors of the dog or pup in your care.  Some dogs take it only so far while others will claim the world and everything in it.  In many cases this is how aggression starts!  In many cases this over-touching by the dog on the human is how fear and skittishness not only continues within the dog but grows steadily worse!

TO DO: physically block your dog from Mike Tysoning you.  You have hands don’t you? Use them to gently but firmly block the animal’s entrance into your personal space!  In fact, move forward into the dog’s space and act like a real parent because you committed to take this animal away from his/her natural life with their birth parents!

Think differently.  Think like a dog.

-G

Enlight186

These are my favorite boxing gloves and jump rope

 

  For more info on dog language and behavior read Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety by Garrett Stevens

 

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photo courtesy of the internet

The many problems of treat training and positive reinforcement – Part 2

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The motivation level found within food treats is always SUBJECTIVE.  Meaning each individual dog (the subject) determines whether they are motivated by the food or not motivated by it.  This is a huge problem in the dog training industry and amongst trainers and behaviorists and for any dog owners that cling to this fragile form of external motivation!

 

Example:  Let’s look at 3 dogs and let’s say we only use food just positive reinforcement as it’s taught by a vast majority of professionals today to motivate them – The first dog is highly motivated by food (he gets very excited and will perform obedience in a hasty manner- many behaviorists and trainers adore these types of dogs because any layman with even rudimentary skill can easily make them perform tricks).  The second dog is only somewhat motivated by food (she will only perform obedience if you offer what trainers call “high value” or incredibly smelly dog treats or human food).  And the third dog is totally unmotivated by food (usually because this 3rd dog is living at a level of fear, anxiety, or aggression wherein he is NOT smelling and tasting the world the way he, and all healthy, socially normal dogs, naturally should be…instead this dog lives his life through his secondary senses – vision and hearing.  Vision and hearing, when overused, always lead to behavioral problems.  Too much vision and hearing lead to fight or flight behaviors and not to eating.  (If you have ever been in a physical altercation or fight you know that eating is the farthest thing from your mind and body at that moment)

So what does the unskilled trainer or behaviorist that only clings to one rigid method of training do for the second and third dogs in our example?  First, when normal treats fail, they come up with excuses and explain to the dog owner how they must find a “higher value” food motivator for their pet.  Then the shoddy pro trainer will typically talk about adding more and more motivation/excitement to the dog (which is really insane when the ultimate goal of the caring dog owner is to have a wonderfully adept, socially normal dog that is fit for the modern world in which we live – which is incidentally a world that is much calmer in many cities and towns than it used to be throughout ancient times and even a couple hundred years ago when dogs were actively employed as our workers.  All dog owners want trust but the way the majority of trainers and dog owners go about getting that trust doesn’t work well for them because they assume adding food and tricks means you can trust the animal).  The trainer who espouses the extremely rigid “positive only” method typically doesn’t know much about parenting in the human family or among the canine family group.  This is why they often have incredibly over emotionalized responses (just read the internet for proof) to anything and everything excepting their one rigid method.

(I will also note here that I’ve observed locally that a majority of these professional “treat-only” trainers are single people or are people without their own human children.  These folks don’t have kids.  (I have four terrific kids – fyi – and I don’t build my relationship with them based on paying them or treating them non-stop) I think that is interesting to consider because everyone knows it would be extremely poor parenting to shove candy down an already bratty child’s throat in place of the proper time, energy, conversation, exercise, discipline, socialization, and loving affection that goes into raising a socially healthy child.  It is a cliche when we think of the dead beat father or mother who tries to make up for a lacking relationship with their own children by way of extra “high value” presents given to the kids at Christmas and birthdays.  Tragically, this is what passes as “scientific” and “modern” dog training today and has over the past several decades.

(I don’t know how these trainers managed to persuade people into thinking these techniques are “scientific” or even “modern” because all external motivation, be it positive or punitive, was proven by teams of scientists in the 1970s (not modern) and then by different teams again in the 1980s (not modern) to be shallow external motivation with results that fade in the long term!  Please re-read.  I mean to say that if you rely on external positive reinforcement (food) or on external aversive/punitive reinforcement (pain) the subject/dog may alter their behavior in the short term (dogs 1 and 2 from our example) but the dog will quickly go back into their old ways in the long term which then elicits the unyielding and overemotional dog trainer or unwitting dog owner to have to consistently give their dog a “raise,” and go to a higher value food treat or, on the opposite end go with a rougher more painful technique as time keeps passing!

And this endless poor parenting (and poor training) procedure has been neatly packaged and sold to the masses, to you and I, by giant conglomerates that just so happen to sell a buttload of treats and bad training!  Isn’t that wild?  Follow the money, people.  I guess we have our answer as to how it became common vernacular to say that dropping a ton of treats on the floor to stop a dog from jumping up on a person is somehow “scientific” and “modern” instead of simply telling the truth and saying it’s “ridiculous” and “wasteful” (those are words I’d use for that specific training technique).  These massive conglomerates spent billions to get those key words (modern and science) into their fragile and unnatural system of failing/fading motivation (because business-wise their system is NOT failing for the massive companies bottom line financially…just like all drug dealers know…once a potential client gets a taste of their stuff it becomes difficult to detox the patient – many dogs, after being treated with tasty food excessively, will soon attempt to totally ignore their owners and not do anything unless you have a treat!  In many cases the dog owner devalues the natural relationship and ends up bribing the dog and they are completely void of trust and respect and instead have a fake relationship they assume is normal because it is status quo.

And we still have not addressed the third dog from our example…the dog that is too aggressive for treats, too fearful for food, too anxious to switch from hyper staring and hyper listening into relaxed smelling and tasting.  This is the dog only some owners and trainers interact with, meaning it is possible for a person to live a long and healthy life and to raise and adopt a few different dogs over their lifespan and still never experience what it’s like to live with or handle and train a dog that is like the third dog.  These folks may never understand unless and until they end up getting a dog like the third dog, a dog that in many instances food treats will simply be ignored because the adrenals functioning within this animal tell it to continually fight or flight and not relax and eat in the presence of their triggering stimuli.  Examine ANY creature on the planet and you’ll discover in the midst of high energy fight/flight excitement the last thing on the creature’s mind is eating!  This third dog is the shoddy dog trainer’s worst nightmare.  This is the unknowledgeable behaviorist’s greatest dilemma.  For all their rhetoric on science and modernity, for all their extreme emotions openly and often violently displayed ad nauseam on the internet towards other types of trainers, they have zero answers for their clients when it comes to helping the third dog because the dog is blatantly ignoring high value food treats!  Unethical, money-grubbing behaviorists may just tell their clients “Oh, your dog is over-threshold and we need to back up further away from the dog’s triggering stimuli (another dog, person, etc) until your dog is relaxed enough to actually take and eat the food treats in order to make a positive association with the trigger.”  Or they may take you into their facility and behind a partition or have your dog-aggressive dog work with a stuffed animal instead of a real dog (the methods get truly ridiculous the more we examine them).  I mentioned unethical and money-grubbing because this technique of theirs may take you, the paying client, a year or three for any sort of decent results to kick in!  (Special note: it is extremely common for us to hear from our clients that what we were able to do in our very first session with their dog and our calming, natural methods, they were NOT able to accomplish in 10 or 15 or 20 sessions with another company that was using this alleged modern positive approach!)

In Part 3 will we turn the corner and go over real world answers towards genuinely helping not only the third dog but greatly aid the human-dog bond with all three dogs in our example.  I’m hoping to end the series in Part 4.

Then, after I am finished with this series I will do one on The Many Problems of harsh dog handling and Punitive/Aversive reinforcement…………Stay tuned all you rabid dog lovers!

 

For more info simply read my Hot-Listed book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and grab a copy of my super practical and hands-on, second book, So Long Separation Anxiety to help you achieve the finest of relationships possible with your dog or pup.

-G