How to avoid the plague

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There is a plague spreading!  This atrocious affliction is assailing families across the country at a truly alarming rate.  If, and only if, you can identify the symptoms you may have a chance for survival.

Thankfully the symptoms of this torment are fairly easy to recognize.  They are listed below in story form…

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Alice Jones arrives home after an uneventful day of work.   Alice has developed a strong and recent loathing for her boss but that’s a story for a different time.  She walks through the door and is greeted by Jethro.  Jethro jumps up on her and wags his tail; a happy tan furball in the lamplight.  After tossing her work outfit in the hamper and replacing it with a pink sweat suit Miss Jones trots down the stairs and heads towards the bench near the door.  Under the bench her shoe pile awaits.  Jethro is beside himself; the ritual of the evening constitutional almost more than he can bear.  Alice plops down on the bench.  She grabs her favorite jogging sneakers.  The stitching in them just beginning to open up in places.  The sneakers will need to be replaced within a few short weeks.  Jethro, a large brown beast, snorts his excitement and continues his dancing.  Alice grabs the treat pouch affixing it to her sweatpants.  Jethro is finally able to sit after being told six or seven times as she puts the leash on him.  They go out the door and into the cool evening air.

Alice and her dog keep a brisk pace as they pass the first block.  They pause to look both ways before crossing.  Alice’s eyes darting here and there scanning the lonely intersection before continuing onward.  Jethro strains – keeping the leash taut and panting all the while.  Alice increases her speed to attempt to match her four-footed friend’s.

Then it happens.  Alice inadvertently tenses.  It was a bark.  Turning quickly to her left she hears the bark again before she sees the rushing dog’s form through the fencing.  Jethro goes buck wild.

Jethro is dog aggressive.  Alice spits out a curse attempting to restrain seventy pounds of muscle, teeth, and fur.  What was it the behaviorist had taught her?  She reaches into her treat pouch and grasps for the food.  Rifling through the little bag at her hip, she is just able to pull out a small treat.  As Alice struggles to maintain her footing in the dark night, keep her shoulder in it’s socket, and keep Jethro from climbing the neighbor’s fence and biting the barking dog she wonders why her dog has made so little progress.  So little progress even after hiring a professional behaviorist?  Anger, frustration and desperation all begin fighting for the throne of her emotions.

Jethro lunges again and again, straining at the leash; fighting for leverage.  His brown eyes like laser beams of concentrated fury.  The dog’s energy rises with each passing second.  Alice speedily shoves the treat almost into one of his nostril’s and as instructed yells, “Watch me!”  She brings the treat back up toward her own face.  No change.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  Jethro has now almost reached the fence several times and has almost spilled Alice onto the sidewalk below them.  This exasperating spectacle continues on for another minute.  Alice finally resorts to straining her damnedest and eventually is able to yank Jethro past the end of the neighbor’s fencing.  They escape the barking dog and continue into the night.

Later Alice and Jethro arrive home.  The dog – wagging happily from the walk.  The person – defeated and vexed from the battle.

This phenomenon is happening now and occurs all over the world.  The plague we forewarned you about, good reader, was not the dog-dog aggression. The terrible epidemic we are specifically talking about is the weak and inefficient method commonly used to fix the aggression.   This is the same bad method used in countless situations across the globe.  The same method that brings about little to no change and IS the bane of unsuspecting dog owners…and it is so sinister because it is consistently sold as the cure!  The method described in the story above is constantly sold as the solution!  And caring dog owners buy it hook, line, and sinker.  And what a “sinker” it is.

It causes hope to sink.  It causes confidence to sink.  It causes human emotion to sink down into the mire and muck until the poor dog owner is so beaten down by the continual losses, so very distressed and afflicted by this plague they soon give up.  They give up because they have already tried dog training and it did little to no good.  Maybe they already paid top dollar for a dog behaviorist and the method may have worked on their dog at a far distance from another dog, or it may have worked just slightly when the dog was less distracted, or in a controlled setting, but not in the real world and certainly not for lasting results the owner was anticipating!

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“Bring out your dead!”

 

Folks, this goes far beyond obedience training for dogs.  This sad and pathetic yet all-too-common story is a perfect illustration showcasing the piss-poor methodology of a humongous majority of dog behaviorists and dog trainers.  Attempting to perform a “watch me” command or a “look” command using a food bribe while a dog is beginning to freak out on another dog (or person, or cat, or squirrel, or mail carrier, etc) is the scourge that we fight daily.  This is a Plague!

 

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You would probably not believe how often I hear my new clients recount (like Alice’s dreadful tale) their similar poor experiences with professional dog behaviorists and dog trainers.  My question…When, When, When will we realize that bribing anyone at any time INSTANTLY makes for a less healthy relationship.  

Any and all close relationships have several ingredients included in order to be successful and close.  Respect would be the glaring one in a case like Alice’s.  Jethro had zero respect for her and he showed it in dog speak.  He showed how important he viewed their relationship as he practically abandoned it in an instant to give direct attention to something else.  This was terribly rude to Alice.  And totally unacceptable behavior if Jethro was a human being.  This behavior however is tolerated many times in our relationships with our dogs.

Imagine the human equivalent of the Alice/Jethro relationship with me for a moment.

Let’s say you are having a conversation with someone and you are in mid-sentence and out of nowhere they just totally start ignoring you.  Not only that but they start jumping around, staring at something, and begin screaming out their over-excitement.  Puzzled you turn around to see what they are going on about and see your neighbor casually mowing his lawn.  The person you were just talking to is going bonkers now…dropping F-bombs, needing to be physically restrained while they bodily threaten the neighbor; all the while screaming their head off.  The troubling thing is that this is extremely common because your neighbor is out there typically every couple weeks to trim up his lawn.

Now, as a concerned individual, you ask them to stop.  You are totally ignored; blown off as if you did not even exist.  The sort of extreme ignoring that would impress even the most snobbish of royalty the world over.  The person you used to be talking to, maintaining directed intense eye-contact and the continued onslaught of monstrous insults at the hapless neighbor is becoming quickly uncontrollable.  You take it a step further and decide to step in front of them.  This individual, like a professional athlete, slips left and continues the disgusting yet powerful display of raw energy and physicality-curse words flowing toward the neighbor.  What is a caring person to do with this Tyrannosaurus-type-terror?  Bribe them?  Beat them?  WHAT???

Let’s pause for a moment and then honestly ask ourselves would bribing them at this point be prudent?  Would bribing them at any point over the years of your relationship be prudent?  And does the bribe, if it indeed works, guarantee no future outbreaks of alarmingly aggressive behavior?  (Just to let you know Beating them is NOT the solution either!) 

Should they always look to us for reinforcement?  Should our friends, coworkers, or children (or dog for that matter) as intelligent creatures ALWAYS look to us for reinforcement?

This last question is a critical question because it is where my beliefs on dogs and their training and behavior differ from almost all other dog trainers and dog behaviorists I’ve ever met, read of, seen on TV, or even heard of!

I believe we should NOT always be the answer for our dogs.  Just as our human children grow we should NOT always be the answer for them.  ALL GOOD LEADERSHIP IS ABOUT DUPLICATION, DELEGATION, and DECISION MAKING.  As a father of three great kids one day I may not be there when they have a tough decision to make.  I may not be there when they are pressured to try drugs.  I may not be able to be there holding their hand as they apply for their first job.  But I do my best to be the best leader I can be and equip them as much as possible so that when I am not there they can make an intelligent decision on their own.  

Good leadership is the key on the parent’s part.  Maturity is the goal for the growing child’s part.  For a healthy relationship we need both respect and trust.  How can we trust the child if they don’t respect us?  How can the child trust us if we don’t respect them?  It is a two-way street.

^^^^^^                      It is the same two-way street with dogs.           ^^^^^^

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I find it fascinating that Bribery is a crime in our society but yet highly, highly encouraged by dog behaviorists and trainers when it comes to our close relationship with dogs.

 

Bribery is actually a CRIME in our society!!!  Why is it sold to us as the most “positive” way?  This is amazingly bizarre.  And this is foolish!   Bribery needs to stop if we want calmer, healthier, more social interactions from our dogs and pups.

 

TO BE CONCLUDED…

PS.  Please keep an eye out for the exciting conclusion to this post as we will examine what happens if the food treat/bribe does actually work and the effects on our relations with dun, dun, duuuuu….(exciting musical crescendo here)…..our dogs!

-G

 

 

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Fathom the insanity of a human being who teaches you that you can never disagree with your dog!

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People are nuts.  We are.  If you can’t agree with me that people are nuts please stop reading Now.

For those that can recognize that as humans we are a bit crazy I want to direct your thoughts towards this current crazy time in history.  This interesting time in our lives where we find we have several thousands of professional dog trainers and professional behaviorists that actual teach and want to keep teaching you (as the owner of your dog) that you shouldn’t ever disagree with your dog or pup!  Think about that for a second.

What have we come to?  How has it come to this babying, this coddling, this ridiculously imbalanced and greatly disconnected, poor-excuse for a relationship with our dogs?  How and why do so many pet pros talk dogmatically with 100% absolutism (and quite ferociously toward anyone who might disagree until they are shouted down) about the evil of corrections and that you should never “force” your dog to do anything?  I encourage you to take those questions ponder them honestly and then consider and ask why we also currently have a terrible dog bite record (dogs attacking humans and attacking other dogs) and it’s been steadily increasing for the worse!  I know the two are deeply connected!

 

Don’t just go with the majorities opinion on this topic of disagreeing with your dog vs positive-only and force-free methods.  Please THINK for Yourself and come to your own conclusions.  Examine history, examine the stats, examine the methods of different pro trainers and behaviorists (and especially note and examine their results) and most of all… examine your own dog and the history of dogs and how dogs think and how they experience the world and how dogs communicate and behave.

Then ask yourselves…would the mother dog or father dog constantly bribe their pups with food treats?  Would they constantly attempt to condition them or would they seek to build a healthy relationship based on the dog language and respect and trust and manners (not frivolous tricks and obedience commands)?  Would the parent dogs ever disagree with their young?  Have you as a parent ever had to disagree with your own children?  Was it beneficial in any way?  Did you overdo it or under-do it?

 

What is lacking in our current culture is the balanced approach to disagreeing and so the pathetic “positive-only” dogmatists (who aren’t really that positive in their own lives) scream and shout about how any correction, any disagreement, or forcing your dog or pup to do anything is totally wrong!  Let me tell you outright…this is hogwash and they are wrong!  It’s only wrong to correct or disagree if you are performing it wrong.

Dogs speak through movement, energy, smells, and touching. Most people I meet (and I do this non-stop) are woefully, dreadfully unaware of the intricate and marvelous language of our dogs.  They are woefully unaware because MOST pro behaviorist and trainers are horribly unaware!  The common pro trainer/behaviorist whole premise and approach to training is not beneficial and does NOT prevent behavioral issues from developing!!!

But let’s cut them some slack for a moment.  I don’t want to be too hasty.  Maybe these “professional dog trainers” and “scientific professional behaviorists” haven’t ever see older dogs and how they talk to and deal with younger dogs?  Maybe they haven’t seen the older, balanced dog correct and address the younger imbalanced one?  Maybe these so called “pros” haven’t ever visited a local dog park and observed the dog language?  Maybe they’ve been too long in the library reading about dogs or too long in the laboratory or in the classroom?  Maybe they haven’t had kids of their own or cultivated healthy relationships in their own personal lives?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that anyone who proclaims the “positive-only” approach or acts as a behaviorist and over-charges their clients because they used to work with dolphins is NOT keyed into the amazingly close and wonderfully easy and direct relationship available to us with our domesticated dogs and pups!

They say “Never force a dog to do anything.”  This is horribly bad advice!  I force dogs to do things all the time (and I do it incredibly gently and smoothly) and they end up thanking me for it!  And the owners are also able to soon witness their once terribly behaved aggressive or fearful dogs actually make good decisions.  They see it happen before their very eyes!

One example: I force the nervous dog into social situations and then ask it (in dogspeak) to behave itself (not just do frivolous tricks).  This is the only thing that will change the nervous dog into being social and normal and balanced.

I am a professional because I equip the owners and the dog and get them social extremely quickly all while expanding the dog’s capacity for more and more social situations and all without harsh corrections and without foolishly stuffing food treats down the dog’s throat non-stop and calling it science!  Yes, positive reinforcement is science…it’s OLD science and based on the external motivation of the dog and none of it’s internal drives and motivations!  I’m not even going to bring up the fact that bribing with food is also highly exciting and that over-excitement is the cause of every single behavioral issue any dog faces.  Food treats is not the natural way of parenting.  Bribing with food is how most trainers train WILD animals and that’s fine…but for our domesticated dogs…it’s crap!

Let’s all recognize that many humans are insane and let’s take measured steps to respect their beliefs and opinions, however crazy, but understand it is more than ok to adamantly disagree with their foolishness and to think for ourselves.  Your dogs and pups will thank you!

Seek out the natural ways.  You Can reward your dogs and pups but you Can also disagree with them too and sometimes “force” them into areas of their lives that their fears or aggression would never have taken them before your help!  Stretching the capacity and enlarging the relaxation is the name of the game!  Remember both rewards and corrections should not be the focus…A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP IS THE FOCUS!!!

Questions?  Call us!  And keep an eye out for my coming book…it’s gonna’ be epic!  And balanced with natural techniques and they will, of course, get you the best results you could imagine!  Forget positive or negative reinforcement and focus on being a dog parent.

-G