A primer on Persistence: Tortoise style

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“Energy and Persistence conquer all things.”  -Benjamin Franklin

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It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop  -Confucius

Websters defines persistence as the quality that allows someone to continue doing something or trying to do something even though it is difficult or opposed by other people; the state of occurring or existing beyond the usual, expected, or normal time.  

Consider persistence and our prime example the tortoise.  Imagine for a moment being born as a tortoise.  The moments passing by as you rip and tear your way through your leathery egg shell.   Using neck muscles, head movement, the egg tooth on top of your snout, and perhaps the most important quality, persistence, you steadily break free to the beckoning light of day.  Is it over then?  Are you rewarded for your Herculean effort?  Naw!  As you blink your round baby tortoise eyes, clearing the slime from them, pupils adjusting to the powerful light, you attempt an awkward step forward.

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You are shocked to discover there is something large and quite cumbersome encompassing the majority of your body!  What strange curse is this?  What is weighing you down?  Whatever it is, it seems an unfortunate and truly besetting plight.  You take a few more steps, half walking-half dragging your rounded shell across the sand.   Maybe the heavy apparatus will fall off if you move around enough?  You keep moving- step by step; quite slowly at first.  What trick of nature is this?  Born with an outrageous and bulbous weight to bear you down to the earth.  You walk on pausing momentairly to sniff the ground.

To the outside observer though there begins to appear a certain cadence, a slow and hampered rhythm to your plodding.  Step by scaled step, claw by claw, one sturdy leg after another, you start putting distance between yourself and the crumpled remains of your egg.  Hunger pangs begin to awaken primal feeding instincts deep inside you and, naturally, you actively start the search for a bite to eat letting your nose guide you.

The astute observer might notice that, as you lumber forward with each and every step, you now appear fairly steady for one so young.  Remarkable.  Inch after inch your persistent plodding continues.  Like a soldier marching with his platoon, your strong legs keep a forward beat.   As you continue on your journey you are happy indeed to find that your shell is now easily held aloft, plastron no more touching the ground.  You sniff and read the wide world around.

Entering a deeper part of the forest you are confronted with bumps from jutting rocks and fallen logs.  Does this slow your forward progress?  Hardly.  Because slow and steady are your credo.  Patience, endurance, and persistence are your bywords.  You simply advance.  Advancing over, under, or around matters not.  But you must advance.  You must eat.  Like a tank you press on.  After smelling and walking, sniffing and tramping around steadily your sharp nostrils finally detect an item good to eat.  After sniffing it several times you tear into the plant heartily, sharp beak snipping chunks off.  As hungry as you are you quickly find that you cannot devour the food as fast as you’d hoped.  Your small beak doesn’t allow for that.  As you attempt to choke down as much as possible it takes quite a while before you have finished with just one leaf.  More time is dedicated to what other creatures do easily.  You endure.

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As the days pass into years your experiences, like your shell, grow much larger.  Your carapace and plastron are hard now and you are thankful for the clever protection and the steady lifestyle your secure, yet mobile home affords you.  You enjoy your daily excursions around the forest floor even though it is inevitably tough going.  Your fears are few because your shell protects you from the larger dangers and your fortitude and patience guide you consistently forward.  You have learned that even when something in your path is difficult there is always, always, always a way through, over, under, or around it.  You are tough.  You are wise.  And you will live much longer than the creatures around you.  You are the embodiment of persistence.

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Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  -Calvin Coolidge

 

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Dealing with Aggession and hiring a Professional!

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Are you dealing with dog aggression?  Whether it’s dog-dog aggression or dog-human aggression have you contemplated the possibility that maybe you should hire a pro?  In this article I am being brutally honest to protect your family, your dog or pup and your finances.  Let’s jump into it, shall we?

 

Many folks hire a professional when their dogs are becoming (or already are) aggressive.  As a professional dog trainer who deals extensively and literally on a daily basis (or almost daily…I recently stopped working seven days a week!  Yay!!) with dog’s manifesting aggression I do recommend hiring a professional to help.  However, and this is a huuuuuuuuuuuge however, big problems occur when good people hire professionals who are more than willing to take their money yet the “professional” only knows how to add more, “sit, down, stay, come, watch me, heel,” etc, etc to the situation!  Please think about this.  Please consider this all-too-common problem!  And, again, let me quote myself here and say that most training and behavior modification is based in Excitement and that is NOT beneficial when dealing with Aggression!

Let me give you a few real life examples/horror stories I’ve heard from my clients who spent thousands of dollars with other companies only to receive little to no help with the real and serious issues of aggression their dog’s were dealing with…

  1.  The professional behaviorist uses fancy talk.  They throw around “science” and “proven scientific methods” like it’s going out of style.  They will convince you that all animals can be trained using “positive reinforcement” (meanwhile they are dogmatically Negative against any and all facts, studies, opinions, contrary to their own dogmatic belief system)!  (I always say that when it comes to working with an animal the only thing a trainer or behaviorist should be dogmatic about is tailoring their custom responses and methods to each individual dog and owner and to be dogmatic about the natural way…ask yourselves What would a balanced mother dog do in the situation!)       While these “scientific,” “positive only” types adamantly disagree with any other methodology; they personally are getting horrible results with the method they keep pushing!!!   I personally agree with them that all animals can be “trained” using “positive only” or “scientific” methods of conditioning.  My point is WHO WANTS TO SETTLE FOR TRAINING when So MUCH MORE IS AVAILABLE!!!!  (Sadly, most professionals are unaware or unwilling to realize that so much more truly IS available to them and their clients!)

2.  The professional will sign clients up for as many sessions or classes as possible!  They want to keep you on the hook.  They want to keep you as a lifetime client.  Great money-making strategy!  Horrible ethics and morals!  I always help equip my clients with the motivation, education, tools and skills needed to work with their dogs themselves!  If more dog professionals were honest and open instead of conniving, thieving, con artists I know they would find greater results both morally, ethically, and monetarily.  In my company we always only start with one session even if clients call and tell me on the phone they want a package deal…I always advise just starting with one!

The goal for the professional trainer or behaviorist should be to sign the client up for the least amount of sessions and do the best job possible in the shortest amount of time (with the caveat of following mother nature’s timing).  Remember if you aren’t more than happy, impressed, and starting to see real results during and after the first session with your professional behaviorists or trainer really consider trying someone else!  (keep in mind, results always start with the owner changing and learning and then, naturally, the results flow to your dogs!)  

I would Never sign my dog up for more than 10 sessions at a time.  After 10 if you need more (some extreme cases may) you can reevaluate.  If someone tried to sell me 6 months worth of classes I’d have to ask why it would take so long…are they really that horrible at training and modifying behaviors?  (Remember, dogs live in the moment and are ready to move on from the past faster than us humans)  If they attempted to sell me a year’s worth of lessons I’d politely just walk away shaking my head!

3.  The professional needs several classes (and more money from you) because they don’t just take action and start disagreeing with the unsocial behaviors while building a healthy relationship and getting to the heart of the issue.  (Example:  Your dog is aggressive with other dogs so instead of equipping you the owners first and then jumping in the pool, so to speak and getting to work on the problem (real life stuff).  Instead they bring you to the edge of a park…I’m talking about the farthest edge possible and when your dog notices another dog a mile away they’re going to try and bribe the dog with food so it has a “positive” experience and begins to associate something pleasant = food with something it usually wants to bite and lunge for = the dog.  Sounds great, right?  Makes sense, right?  Wrong!  The problem is that if you have real aggression your dog will not be smelling once he sees the dog!  He will not be interested in eating a treat because he is not tasting at that exact moment in time.  He is staring and raising his energy and trying to fixate.  He is using his secondary senses (vision and hearing) and ignoring his primary senses to the detriment of his own sociability and to the detriment of your peaceful walk and straining shoulder muscles!  The professional who stays on the edge and bribes will never amount to much.  And, tragically, the client who hires them will think that there isn’t much help for their aggressive dog!  This can lead to the dog being put down unnecessarily!  Or the dog biting another dog or person unnecessarily!  And all due to poor training and behavior mod. methods.)

4.  The professional claims to know about aggression but they seem nervous around your dog.  You would not believe the amount of times I have heard over the years that the clients have seen and sensed that the professional they hired in the past was actual afraid of their dog!  (**note to professionals who are afraid of getting bit…please get another job!**)

5.  The professional enters your home (or you enter their facility) and they start the relationship with your aggressive dog totally the wrong way...either with excitement and bribery with treats and high-pitched human talking (trying to gain trust through the external bribe of food) or by taking an over-board, dominant approach to the point of excessive harshness and smashing the dog down in a roll or lifting a dog they just met up into a hanging.  Both methods are based in excitement and should be super familiar to you but, and here’s the kicker, both are foolish, unnatural, and applied at the wrong time so both are the WRONG way to meet an aggressive dog.  (If I had a penny every time someone greeted a dog the wrong way I’d be a multi-billionaire 10 years ago!)

6.  The professional uses his former military or police experience.  While this, of course, can be beneficial (in protection work, obedience, the sport of Schutzhund, and elsewhere) it can also be a hindrance and backfire, particularly when we are dealing with house dogs!  I see this all the time!!!  The number one requirement for a great house dog is surprisingly NOT obedience!  The number one requirement for a great house dog is calmness!  Again, almost all training and behavior mod. is rooted and based in excitement and over-excitement.  Please don’t confuse a dog performing a “Platz” or a “Sitz” as a calm animal that is learning to self-soothe, lower their own energy and eliminate their aggression.  Police and Military dogs are bred and trained for high intensity work and not as house dogs.  (I am extremely thankful and respectful of our brave veterans and LEOs who have served honorably.  I do feel I  must still warn good folks about the common traps of applying military-style dog handling and training on house dogs.)

7.  The professional makes ridiculous statements like, “Maybe your dog should Not be around people.” Or possibly “Perhaps your dog should Not have other dog friends and you can just be his friend.”  They come up with excuses instead of real solutions.  They should fully understand that a social, pack creature that was once a wolf surviving in a group and then has lived with humans and our other animals for several millenia that sociability is the heart of the matter!  (Remember these are real life stories that my clients have told me about things their previous “pros” have told them!)

Some professionals also quickly turn to the blame game and start to lay guilt trips or threaten the owners into signing up with more classes or sessions, blaming or intimidating the owner all the while.  There is a company out our way with a woman who is infamous for her intimidation and threatening tactics.  Claiming to have a Buddhist-like balance this company is run by a tyrant!  This is a horrible reputation to have.  Almost nothing is worse in business, training and in life!    Other professionals blame the dog, or the owner, or the dog’s past, or whatever else pops into their mind…anything except their own methods!

8.  The professional suggests the use of drugs before attempting natural methods first.  Talk about a current problem, this is it!  As humans many of us are sold Hook, line, and sinker on the quick fix, the new drug, the special technology or formula that can tame the beast.  Instant gratification is a curse.  Proceed with caution when they talk prozac or whatever other drug they are comfortable pumping your dog or pup full of! (Some drugs can and do work, of course, but many do NOT and can be costly in the long run.)  (*I am not a vet – I don’t claim to be)  Many dogs I have behaviorally rehabbed over the years were on drugs and the drugs were not working.  Again, just proceed with caution.

9.  The professional is part of some large, faceless daycare, pet store, grooming, or all inclusive training facility.  These places are very common.  And you may be able to find decent training but remember not all trainers and behaviorists are equipped for aggression (even if they advertise that they are!)  These places founded their business on selling food, treats, pet supplies, grooming, vet visits, dog daycare and then found out they could make more money adding dog training.  They wouldn’t be successful if they only did training and behavior modification. They also will, of course, upsell you and get you to buy all of their supplies (from clickers and treats, to ridiculous potty pads, you’ll have everything you need and many more things you don’t need in your shopping cart before you leave!)

These sort of places will offer to train you as a trainer too and it typically only costs 600-1000 bucks!  Imagine that!  Meanwhile they have training programs for your dog or pup that cost more.  Meaning they must be offering shoddy training methods to you if it cost as much or more for them to train your new puppy than for them to educate, inspire, equip, train and support you in becoming a pro trainer at their facility!   Many of these places push agility training or preparing your pup for the show ring.  The professionals there usually don’t know much of the natural, dog way.  They don’t handle aggression well.

This dog doesn’t need more training.  He doesn’t need to eat more treats or get hanged by the neck!  He does Not need to build a relationship based on anything external.  He Needs To Calm Down!  He Needs Real Leadership!

 

Now where, I wonder, does that leave us?  Who can you hire and trust to provide the best possible services for our own unique dogs and their aggressive issues?  Didn’t I just eliminate almost every form of professional behaviorist and animal trainer?  Do we then seek out some bizarre, incense-sniffing, hippie animal communicator?   (No, we don’t!)

We search around, do our research, make our calls, talk to people, read testimonials and pick through them and look at the types of issues the dog’s faced on the reviews/testimonials (almost any clown posing as a trainer can get some great reviews for a simple group class…but have they fixed aggression in several large and powerful breeds?  Are they recommended by laypeople and several professionals alike?)

My main questions if I was looking to hire someone to help with aggression… Is the professional doing things the natural (dog) way?  Or are they performing some cookie-cutter system?  Do they maintain an excellent reputation with their clients and other pet professionals? (Be careful about the question of reputation, especially in a digital age where any fool can post/snap/tweet/share/review/yelp about almost anything or anyone from the safety and security of their computer or phone…a few bad reviews may not necessarily mean they aren’t a top notch professional.  But the overwhelming majority of reviews and testimonials should be fantastic or great.)  Have they fixed, reversed, or cured aggression before?  Do they have a track record of success?  

Results speak for themselves…“Success requires no apologies; failure permits no alibis.”

Calmness and Sociability are what cure aggression.  The pro has to really have a deep understanding of and be able to apply the dog language.  If the professional you’ve hired isn’t calming you and your dog then your dog won’t be able to go into a social, everyday situation.  If they can’t get your dog to be social you are wasting your time, energy, and money!

Good luck and happy hunting!  I told you I’d be frank and totally honest with ya…remember it’s for YOUR benefit! (These sort of articles don’t usually win us more fans…they are risky to write – especially with today’s victimhood culture but I’ve got to be honest for my clients, my future clients, and of course, the dogs!)

-G

And please keep an eye out for my book!!!!  When this baby comes out we will win a lot of new fans and a lot of new hate mail from trainers and behaviorists who are not open to all nature has to teach.  It will be extremely practical and beneficial to anyone who wants to build a healthy, real relationship with their dogs or pups based on respect, trust, energy control, and actual dog communication through spacial manipulation, touch, and how dogs think and speak.  It will be even more beneficial to those who have a dog suffering with aggression, fear, hyperactivity, separation anxiety, etc etc.

Star Wars, the Force, and Dog Aggression

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“Do or do not.  There is no try.”

Yoda the Jedi Master

I believe in the force.  You may think I’m joking but if you had the privilege to study, learn from or hang out with any of the world’s most successful people you would find (like Napoleon Hill did- author of Think and Grow Rich) almost all of them use the force and use it often.

One example is George Lucas; net worth around 5 Billion dollars!  Who would have thought a story about space aliens could yield that sort of amazing fortune?  If one of our friends told us they had come up with that exact story we would probably respond with a complacent, “Yeah, that’s a cool story, man.” and leave it at that.

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” -Johnathan Swift

Our thoughts often determine our reality.  Because thoughts are real things.  And thoughts lead to attitudes and words and those in turn lead to actions which then become habits which direct our character and character becomes our destiny.

I think we can all relate to Star Wars because we recognize that there is good and evil in our world.  And that there is always a choice in our lives.  We get to choose what type of person we become.  The Jedi are on the good side – selfless, caring, protecting, patient, peaceful.  The Sith are on the dark side – selfish, jealous, plotting, angry, evil.

When we work with our dogs we should always check our own energy and, “act like a Jedi,” if you will.  Stay calm.  Stay patient.  You can use force (physically) because dogs are very physical but it is always better to “use the force” mentally rather than physically as dogs can easily cue in on that.  Attempt to “be at one” with your pooch and your surroundings.

A warning to the idiots out there: please don’t take this too far.  Don’t hit your dog with any flying Jedi kicks or fashion your own light saber in order to beat your confused puppy over the head.  And for God’s sake don’t video yourself acting like a Jedi or Sith.  I would hate for any of my clients or the followers of this fine blog to have an embarrassing video surface of you attempting to twirl your light saber and attack the invisible minions of the Dark Side like that poor, nerdy kid a few years back (Search on Youtube for “Star Wars kid” if you want to see the videos I’m referencing).

Live in the moment with your dog when training and especially when you need to correct/alter a behavior.  Develop a great heel = your dog walks beside you (not in front).  If you need to correct a behavior attempt block out the whole world and focus on only your dog.  Look at their body.  What is it doing?  Look at their energy level.  Try to match it and then calm it.

Concentrate like only a predator can (your dog is a domesticated predator- remember that)  Use tunnel vision to your advantage as dogs and practitioners of “the force” do.  Breathe.  Use intense focus but be ready to switch back to instant relaxation and the rest of the world around you= switch back to “normal” (this is tough for most people but keep practicing).

Luke Skywalker learned to live in the moment, preserve his energy, be ready but not tense, and out maneuver his opponent. We should follow these steps too when dealing with dog aggression.

Out maneuver your dog (physically).  Any good Jedi knight or Sith lord knows that to win a fight or battle it is always critical to out maneuver or gain the better ground.  This means cutting off any unsocial eye contact with whatever or whoever your dog wants to threaten!   Control the eyes and you control the animal!  Be prepared to switch back to total relaxation instantly when and if you achieve the desired results – usually the dog should make some form of eye contact with you out of respect for what you are telling it and the dog should stop threatening the other dog or person.  Do Not attempt to bribe the dog into the eye contact with a treat or “watch me” command like most training companies teach!

Beware the trainers trap:  over-treating and over-excitement!  Those can (if misused) lead to the Dark Side of the force!  Too much excitement will not really work if the dog is very fearful or truly aggressive and it leads to a dog who acts like a brat and still usually manages to stay aggressive towards people or dogs!  If you are always attempting to bribe and get the dog to “watch” you when the dog is flipping out with escalated energy and wants to attack another dog or person soon your dog won’t even give a rip about your dumb treat or your lame attempted “re-directing.”  You have to calm the energy first!

When I mention the “quick calming and back to normal” that falls into the all important category of Trust.  You need to cultivate a real relationship with your dog (whether they are aggressive or not) and it needs to be based on Respect and Trust.  Without either of those ingredients your efforts are doomed to fail and “the Emperor will have already won.”  Don’t let your dog continue his/her life in fear.  Fear leads to the Dark Side of the force.

Yoda is right. Don’t let your dog continue living a life of fear and suffering. Take Action!!!

I would say 95% of the aggressive dogs I behaviorally rehab are coming from a place of fear.  Their aggression is fear-based.  The only answer then is to conquer such fears.  Action helps conquer fear in our dogs and in our own lives.  Sociability is the only answer.  I can hear Princess Leah saying “Help us Sociability…you’re our only hope!”  She is right!  But your dog has to be Calm enough to be social.

Sound Advice…please take it and use it.

Always ask yourself what would the mother dog do?  WWTMDD?  Nature’s way will ALWAYS trump our foolish human ways when it comes to dealing with an animal.  You should see all the ridiculous ways mankind has come up with to “train” our dogs…from unnatural tethering of a dog inside your home that will allegedly help it not jump on guests (but in reality makes a dog More aggressive and energetic and territorial) to idiotic partitions/cubicle devices that separate dogs and pups in group classes to allegedly help calm them (but in reality raise the dog’s energy because they can still hear don’t understand why they can’t just be near the dogs a few feet away behind the mysterious curtain/partition) these foolish gimmicks will work poorly at best.  The path to the Dark Side is a path most unnatural!

In regards to constant bribery with treats and over-excited methods of typical training Obi- Wan says “These aren’t the methods you’re looking for. You can go about your business.  Move Along!”

Heed Obi-Wan Kenobi’s sage advice and look for different methods than what is sadly standard methodology in the majority of the dog training and behaviorist world.  Over-excitement and escalated energy is the enemy of calmness.  The only answers for fixing dog aggression are calmness and sociability.  Don’t be fooled into mistaking escalated energy or over-excitement for dog happiness.  A calm dog is a happy dog.  It is nature’s way.

Don’t settle for just another clone trainer or training company out there using their same tired methods and getting their same poor results with your dog!

When looking for a training company make sure they aren’t clones!  You don’t want just run-of-the-mill “treat and praise the dog every two-seconds” type-trainers.  This is not a healthy relationship and often the training backfires later as the puppy matures and is now a colossal brat who won’t do a thing unless you have a treat!  Also be sure the trainers are not just “dominate and beat the heck out of your dog” type-trainers.  Both camps are to be avoided as they are too extreme and both unnatural methods!!!!  Both sides will not cure real aggression or fear in your dog.

Work with your dog (or wookie) often. Build a relationship based on respect and trust and you two will be a smooth functioning team in no time.

Be sure to socialize and work with your pup or dog often.  Give them loads of exercise.  And remember, dogs are individuals and should not be treated in a cookie-cutter training manner.  We have a vast galaxy with many diverse and wonderful dogs please give them credit for the amazing social intelligence they possess and build a healthy relationship.  In the future you can ask more from them.

Be sure to follow this excellent blog so you can stay tuned for any new, exciting, humorous, strange, educational, or inspiring future blog posts for yours truly!   If you do I’m sure you’ll be light years ahead in your dog whispering and training methods!

Click to “Follow” our blog and you’ll soon be Light years ahead of the crowd!

Remember, the Force will be with you, always…

-G

for more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com