Do you have what it takes to be a record breaker?

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So, do you have what it takes?  I think with a little effort many of you most certainly could be – and that, my friends, is fantastic news!

A record breaker isn’t just one of those people that take the time to look up precisely how many powdered donuts were inhaled during a frantic 60 seconds in order to win a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records.  The people that research those records and then try to top feats like that by submitting a video of their own grotesque display to the good people at Guinness are not the sort of record breakers to which I am referring.  I’m talking about potential record breakers like you and me.  I’m talking about those of us that may not have enough time in the day to practice devouring insane amounts of donuts in very little time but about those of us that could break through a personal best at the end of the month.

Anyone can become a record breaker and (in my opinion) everyone should try because it means that you are growing. Personally, I reap great benefits (both mental, emotional and often financial) when I break records in my life, and records with my family, and in our two businesses (Alpha & Omega dog training and Stevens Family Kennels).  I love it.  So I just wanted to take a moment to encourage and challenge anyone reading this to at least consider the possibility that you may be an untapped record breaker!  We know there is a reason you are alive on the earth today.  We know that nobody out of the 7 Billion people on earth is just like you.  That’s spectacular!  So what are you gonna do about it?!

Step 1.  Take an honest look at your life.  There will be definite areas where growth is needed and there will be areas of strength where you could potentially ease off the gas pedal and let that coast for a little while.  Be forthright with yourself.  It’s okay to begin breaking records in an area of strength though because then, as you gain momentum from month to month, you might want to venture into areas of weakness and try to tidy those up with a new personal best.

Step 2.  Decide which area of your life you want to break a personal record in.  This is the exciting part.  It can be in ANY area!  It could be bettering a relationship with a spouse or a child (maybe you decide to keep track of quality time spent, or number of gifts or compliments given this month, or the number of phone calls).  You could break a record physically with your workout or your food choices (you’d be amazed how eating a large carrot every day can lead to weight loss – those disgusting, orange root tubers require a lot of chewing which then fools the mind and mouth into thinking you are full).  You could break your record financially as you decide to crush last months haul and earn more commission, or maybe because you boldly arranged a meeting with your boss to get that overdue raise.  Even the sky is not the limit if you can just believe that.

Step 3.  Get a vision and be your own cheerleader.  Vision questing is nothing new.  It usually takes time and sacrifice and open-mindedness.  Many great men and women from history have searched for a vision.  Many, upon finding theirs, followed it and changed the world. When’s the last time you set a goal or looked forward excitedly to the future while fully embracing the present?  Even if you’re not out to change the world I want to encourage you to try and cultivate the belief all the same.  Cultivate the belief that just maybe, if the circumstances were right, you could change the world!  I’ve heard it said that without a vision the people will perish.  Once you have a vision then guard it and stubbornly hold fast to it.  Once you have a proper vision learn to encourage and cheer for yourself (with relation to your vision) because many times throughout life you may be the only one doing that.

My grandmother’s family can trace their roots back to Scotland.  They were from the Highland clan Ross.  I want to share their motto with you now as an encouragement.  It reads, Spem Successus Alit.  That can be translated as “Success nourishes Hope.”

Friends, once you begin to break records (once you tap into some success) you’ll always have hope and a bright future in the area you’ve chosen to focus on.  Once you taste what it’s like to crush a personal best at the end of the month (set your records monthly) and then do that repeatedly as the year goes by – be careful – because you just may become addicted.  Forget the powdered donuts, baby, because if you follow the steps listed above you’re already on your way to authentic growth, better relationships, better vigor and physicality, and more finances, and… you’ll be a record breaker in no time at all.

-G

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The aggressive dog – three common mistakes owners initially make

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The aggressive dog is usually overcompensating for fear.  (It is often the same with people)  As discussed, fear in a wild canid is a perfectly normal and totally acceptable part of survival in the wild.  If the wild animal has triggering fear behavior it serves to keep the individual alive longer.  But fear presenting as aggression in our domesticated dogs, dogs that live with families in our modern world, is a serious and often misunderstood problem.  Most dog training tactics NEVER help aggression.  This is why aggression is so serious and why I say it’s almost always misunderstood.

Over the many years I’ve observed two tactics that clients employ when dealing with their dog’s aggression.

1.  They don’t do anything.  Believe it or not this happens quite a bit!  Let me clarify.  Obviously they do something because they’ve sought out our professional help (certainly the right call to make when encountering serious aggression issues).  So great job on that.  But, when they arrive for their first appointment they typically do NOT do anything (physical) during the exact moment that their dog needs it the most!  They don’t take action.  I mean to say that many clients (the first time they arrive at the Dog Language Center and take their dog out of the vehicle to begin the session) do NOT attempt to intercept or cut off the dog’s intense staring, barking, screaming, lunging, or snapping!  I have often observed them holding onto the end of the leash for dear life and that’s about it.  They let the crazy dog lead the way.  The aggressive dog is just doing what it’s been allowed to repeatedly do, and thus, seizes control of the space all around the owner.  The reactive dog hits the end of the leash and keeps the tension there in order to ramp up its energy and achieve even more anti-social behavior (directed right at me or at Jesse, my apprentice)

2.  They do the wrong thing.  Sometimes I’ll watch and see that the aggressive and fearful dog is usually being comforted by the owner (they say, “It’s OK” or “Your fine” repeatedly) and, as discussed many times on this fine blog, the dog is now being verbally reinforced by way of soft human talking for the wrong (fearful and aggressive) state of mind at the completely worst time to do so!  Often the aggressive dog will, with the unwitting aid of their owners, position their rear end (the exact body part that cannot bite or attack) near the centerline of the owner’s body.  The rear end of a dog is the part that is supposed to be available for smelling by other social members of their species. Please pause and reread that last sentence.  It is quite common for us to see the dog sit on or right near the owner’s feet.  The aggressive dog is, in simple terms, hiding it’s butt and simultaneously signaling that it is not at all social because it’s hiding its most social and smelly side – the butt!  A dog’s rear end contains a lot of scent – that is the natural gateway to gaining proper information that leads to greater levels of social relation.  Wise dog owners must Never let their dogs position the backside at the owner’s feet or position their body under the owner’s body by way of sticking the dog’s butt in between the owner’s legs.  In this dreadful position the fearful and aggressive dog can truly fight because they now have their socially open/vulnerable backside fully covered (anti-social position) and seemingly protected and reinforced (by the owner)!  In this position the dog has its weapons out in front of the owner and directed straight at the person or dog they intend to bite!  It is a horrible position to let the dog get into and about half of our clients (initially) allow their dog to get into this fighting position.  Remember, the aggressive dog is masterful at manipulating the touch, space, and movement of their owner.

3.  They attempt training at an improper time.  Most forms of dog training (however advanced the training may be) are excitement-based and externally-based and that’s NOT beneficial for excitable, anxious, aggressive, or fearful dogs!!! When the owner gets their dog to sit, or watch them, or stay right with them instead of allowing their dog to freak out on a stranger (or on a strange dog) or instead of allowing them freedom to sniff and explore and actually be social – the owner seldom realizes that all the obedience commands in the world (all the sits, downs, stays, et cetera) usually amount to niceties that have little or nothing to do with the real social work and experience we need to accomplish within the dog and within the owner’s psyche!  In fact, many caring dog owners rely on “training” as a crutch because they know that their dog is quite unsocial and cannot be trusted.  So, they often pile more obedience training upon more obedience training in hopes that if they just had TOTAL control their dog wouldn’t attack a person or bite another dog.  Friends, total control is and always has been an illusion.  Anyone who thinks total control is possible is living in a dream world.  Good leadership, however, just like good dog ownership, seeks to balance control with freedom.  At Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we teach people that too much attempted control results in eventual rebellion within the dog.  Just as too much wild freedom without some basic rules and boundaries will most certainly result in chaos.  Good dog owners, like good parents, or good government officials, must be aware of the locus of control/freedom and rebellion/chaos.  Balance is key – as all nature testifies.  Please think about that.

To sum up: do not comfort (with human talking) a fearful or aggressive dog during the exact moment that the dog is freaking out!  And be sure and do somethingdo ANYTHING – to physically change the bad or violent positioning your aggressive dog may be used to assuming in order to save his/her own hide and in order to simultaneously threaten any one who walks up to you!

Need more help?  Read my two books on dog behavior – Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety.  And keep an eye out for my third upcoming book (!!!!!!) that will be all about the 5 incredible senses of a dog and the 4 Pillars of dog language as it pertains to real world behavioral results and proper application of the Garrett Stevens Method!

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Aggressive dog in a harness…world’s WORST IDEA! If this owner only knew about our handmade training collars (they work wonders!)

 

I just wanted to Thank You

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I just wanted to pause for a moment and thank you all for reading my stuff.  I know I probably come off like an arrogant prick occasionally and please understand that’s not my intention it’s probably just who I am (hahaha- little joke – that’s partially true).

I am so blessed though whenever I think of my readers (readers of my books and of this blog) and those that are willing to look boldly and honestly at themselves and to look with a curious and open mind at their dogs as we imagine a brighter future together.  It is a very exciting time to be alive and active.

I also wanted to let you all know that I don’t get online and critique some random electrician’s wiring job on a new home, and I don’t write bad reviews of restaurants, and I don’t criticize how my mechanic could have done a better job.  I leave those professionals, and others like them, space to do their work as genuine professionals in their specific fields.  Unfortunately, this is hardly the case where dog trainers are concerned because every Tom, Dick, and Harry has had a dog of his own.  And the internet crowds obviously do not mind, even as lay people, critiquing (and or lying about) an expert that has bled and sweat for many years to build a successful business that has served thousands of dogs over the years and stimulated authentic and lasting change in both canine and human alike.  It’s strange to me that these lay folk, these non-professionals, these people that have never helped a dog with true human aggression or with severe dog-dog aggression (let alone handled thousands of them), would be so free with their criticisms.  Maybe it’s just the foolish trap of the inter webs?  Perhaps they’ve never read Roosevelt’s classic “Man In The Arena” speech about how “It is not the critic who counts…”  Friends, I have been a man in this specific arena for a long time and wanted to take a moment to thank you all for sticking with me.  Your comments and legitimate questions and shares on this blog cheer me on.

So if, at any time on this blog of mine, I seem a bit assertive it is because the dog training world and many a dog owner we encounter is filled with high emotions and with misinformation concerning nature and dogs.  I am trying daily to calm and clarify a portion of it for all our clients and for all our faithful followers.  If I seem a bit defensive occasionally or on the attack in my writing, it is because I see hosts of damaged dogs and hear stories from clients who tried other training (often with methods filled with ridiculous and unnatural training techniques) before those same clients happened upon our custom behavior mod. and finally began to see a difference within their pet.  I see these dogs and hear these true and sometimes harrowing stories over and over, day after day, month after month, and year after year.  And so, instead of mourning for a lost industry that cranks out neurotic dog after neurotic dog, personally, I get active and assertive and – I get to work.  I am assertive because I actually care!  Thank you for your understanding.

As many of you know, we train and rehab dogs around the clock – we don’t have the time or the luxury to give “free evaluations” like many dog training companies do because all our hours are filled to the brim with private session after private session, and with time spent helping those dogs fortunate enough to grab a spot in our behavioral board and train at Stevens Family Kennels.  A bulk of our life is spent serving dogs and clients and trying to fix problems.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read and to share our stories and my behavioral training or “anti-training” advice – each time you do you never really know just what dog owner and dog you could help.  And that’s exciting!  Thank you so much for reading my two books and please keep an eye out for the third – in it I will reveal even more of our instinctual methods.  I promise if you apply our stuff properly (using the 4 Pillars of dog language and the Garrett Stevens method) it truly works to calm dogs down and to help them align their senses, and it works to help you build a healthier relationship with the unique and fascinating species we all simply call…a dog!

Thanks again,

-G

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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

Wild news 2019 and our goals for 2020!!!

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We experienced an incredible amount of growth in 2019.  I’d just like to recap for those readers who may be interested.  (This post has exciting news)

2019 was the first year Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center opened and it was an education for us.  We were incredibly blessed/successful in the operation of the business and we were able to serve many dogs and people.  I’m sending out a huge thank you to all our staff members (all members of the Stevens family) for their amazing hard work, and dedication, and for getting down and dirty in our kennel.  You guys make our work on all fronts fun for me and terrific for those we serve.  You guys truly care about people and dogs and make life a joy for anyone that spends time with you.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for your professionalism, your work ethic, and your people skills, and for your excellent animal husbandry!IMG_3270

For a decade and a half I’ve been working with crazy dogs and their owners (sometimes the owners are equally or even more crazy than their pets 😉  it makes life fun.  In 2019 we accomplished several big goals.  Opening Stevens Family Kennels was one of my long time dreams.  It is always a joy to accomplish a big life goal.

BIG NEWS…We are edging ever closer to our own professionally produced TV show!  As some of you know, we were approached by an executive TV producer from Hollywood and Seattle about a year and a half ago that was interested in showcasing the Garrett Stevens Method of dog training in an episodic format on a major network.  The director had seen me work with his parent’s dogs two years prior to this and he became an instant fan of our techniques, our rhetoric, our business, and a fan of the results the dogs experienced during the session.  Over the past year or so he has been working on getting us a television show!  Recently we met with him (the director), the executive producer and his wife, and a PR professional in order to go over all the options.  Currently we are moving forward and the producer and director both agree that a show featuring our unique behavior mod. has the ability to reach and influence a very large audience and help many people and dogs in the process.  Exciting stuff to be sure.  We’ll see what 2020 and 2021 holds!

I am almost finished with my next book and it is NOT a book about dogs.  (Although I do weave some of my story throughout the book)  The next book I plan to release in 2020 is a book that goes into the personal development and leadership category in the bookstores.  My original idea for this book was sort of in reaction to the best selling book entitled “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”  You see, I don’t really like that title (it’s a bit crass and in today’s world we need less of that, because this crassness and these common callous and lazy attitudes that surround us on all sides (even in our vernacular) are already too prevalent and certainly do not contribute to a healthier society or an encouraged family group or individual).  To be clear, for all I know the book with the crass title is a decent book about not caring about the wrong things in life – which is good advice – but my book will be called something quite contrary to books like those.  I am undecided on the precise title but it’ll go something like “The highly noticeable art of truly Caring!” or maybe “The Not so Subtle Art of Actually CARING!”  The point of my upcoming book is that those who CARE More end up with great results in any endeavor and they also end up influencing more people.

Another exciting thing about this upcoming book is that each concise chapter is one that will greatly aid the reader in further personal development within his/her life and place them on the path of excellence and success.  Each chapter in my book on leadership and life is finely illustrated by a great person from history that we can all emulate.  From people like the founding father, Benjamin Franklin to the world’s best cartoonist, Bill Watterson, this upcoming book has stories about a shepherd turned warrior from the Middle East who lived thousands of years ago, to stories about a floppy-haired, sagging-socked basketball machine who revolutionized the game in the 1970s, this upcoming book will entertain and inspire you to believe more, achieve more, and to genuinely care about who you are, and what you are doing with the limited time you have left on the planet.  This book will help you care more about all those fine people that you come into contact with every day of your life.  I am thoroughly enjoying the writing process on most days and am looking forward to sharing more about this upcoming book with you all in the future!

Here’s to a marvelous 2020.  Semper Paratus and Carpe Diem

-G

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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!)

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“I have trained myself to notice what I see”

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Dog behavior and language can, like learning another language, be broken down in its simplest of components.  It can be elementary, my dear Watson, if you have the eye.  The title quote of this article I’ve taken from that most fantastic and fictional of all detectives, Mr. Sherlock Holmes.

Holmes was a masterful observer.  In The Adventure of the Blanched Soldier we see Sherlock easily identifying where Mr. Dodd has come from, what type of employment he has, what area he is from, and the beginnings of why Mr. Dodd came desperately looking for the super slueth’s help.

MR DODD:  “You see everything.”

SHERLOCK HOLMES:  “I see no more than you, but I have trained myself to notice what I see.”

In Sherlock’s next sentence calls his legendary skill the “science of observation.”  Whether this incredible observation of Holmes’ is science or art matters little.  What matters is that it is definitely valuable in every form of problem solving.

Problem solving is precisely what we do every day at our dog language center and whenever we are amongst dog loving families in their homes.  If you desire to be a better dog owner – and you should desire it because most people, frankly, are very poor owners when it comes to proper animal husbandry – if you desire improvement in dog behavior you must learn to observe then act!  (This poor animal husbandry is true especially between people and dogs because there are so many foolhardy behavioral myths dog owners cling to.  Can you imagine if I ranked and rated how great dog owners were or how terrible they were like people do with businesses on Google or Yelp or wherever else?  God forbid…because I’d be forced, if I was being honest, to hand out a host of 1 stars left and right due to an extreme disregard for nature’s ways, the value of calmness, and due to the piss poor relationships we consistently see between pet owners and their dogs!  We often observe that the owner adores their dog and the dog accepts that adoration readily and controls everything and acts as if they could care less about the bond with their owner or… on the opposite end the dog may be insanely unsocial towards everyone else in the world due to the extreme obsession allowed in the relational bond by the owner.

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If you want to judge a dog on behavior look at how it touches and interacts with its owner and examine how it accepts touch from a guest or a little child!  Touch is the first of the Four Pillars of Dog Language and the most critical for human-dog interaction.

If you were to work just one day in our kennel you’d see how insane dogs can act because people (their own owners) don’t know much or care much about animals and nature’s way.  Perhaps I should clarify and say that they care about all the wrong things when it comes to their dog and hardly ever care or even notice all the things that lead to problematic behavior!  That’s stating it more succinctly.

Friends, we MUST train ourselves to notice what we see!

Please pay attention to the details.  You have to if you desire any sort of change within your dog or pup behaviorally speaking.

I have loved and been fascinated by all animals and nature since my earliest memories.  Let’s not fail our dogs by believing status quo dog myths concerning their behavior or language.  Let’s all look deeper…let’s ask more questions…let’s notice what we see!

Garrett Stevens is author of the hot-listed book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and the super practical book to reverse or prevent anxiety in puppies or dogs, So Long Separation Anxiety.  Sample them today on/at Amazon, Apple iBooks, at Barnes and Noble, and at several other places and books reading platforms.

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