You can’t Sell confidence to a Skittish dog

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Are you a human?  I assume you answered yes to that first question.

Let’s move on.

Do you have a skittish dog?  Do you have a fearful dog?  Do you have a nervous or anxious dog?  Do you have an aggressive dog?  Most aggression I come across (and I work more than any other person I know so I see a lot of dogs on a daily basis) is based in fear.   The skittish dog or puppy lives with aggression and or phobias that it has grown into outrageously, ridiculous proportions and many times done so right under the loving and watchful eye of their owners!  What can be done?  Well, let’s look at what most people do…………………………………………..

Almost every person I’ve met attempts to “sell” their fearful dog confidence.  THIS DOES NOT WORK.  THIS WILL NEVER WORK.  And the funny and tragic thing is, is that we start by feeling bad for the skittish dog and then giving it even more attention and all while the dog is acting in a fearful manner!  Let’s take a deeper look at an all-too-common interaction.

THIS is YOU! Please don’t attempt to deny it. All people attempt to “sell” their dogs because they come at them from a human viewpoint. We seldom consider things from the dog’s point of view because we are not dogs…but it’s high time we started thinking like them and communicating in ways they understand!

You are walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood and one of your neighbors approaches you with their new rescue dog.  The dog is clearly skittish, nervous, fearful (however you want to describe it) and displays these phobias right away with poor posture, hiding, barking, sometimes even growling, lunging to snap, or lunging to get away from your touch.  So what do you do?………….you go into human salesman mode and start speaking in a higher tone (like some weird, flighty child) and getting down (actually getting in the nervous dog’s space without giving it a second) directly looking at and giving lots of attention to the nervous animal (something all older calm and social dogs would never do) and sometimes you spread your arms out wide or offer the back of your stupid hand for the nervous dog to smell.  You offer your hand not because it is wise but because that’s exactly what everyone does and that’s what you think works.

I ask you, Is that an accurate description of what you have done or most other folks you come across will attempt with a nervous dog?  If you are honest you should be shouting a resounding, “YES!” at your computer or phone right now.  Let’s continue…

(and before continuing this is a note to the more sensitive readers out there – Please understand it is my job {literally} to smash apart and dismantle many of the all-too-commonly accepted doggy beliefs (these pervasive and dangerous dog myths) that exist out there in order to raise awareness and consideration to how dog’s think and communicate.  The dismantling process is bound to be unpleasant or uncomfortable for us as humans particularly because few things in this universe are as sensitive and large as the human ego)  I have clearly and concisely done so in my HOT Listed book,  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!

I would highly, highly suggest picking up a copy (or two – they make great gifts for the dog-lovers in your life) of my book.  Hundreds have already preordered it and several folks have already reported back how just after reading a few chapters, and applying the unique info they are seeing it work to calm and help their dogs!  But let’s get back to this particular post…continuing…

Have you taken even one second to consider what an older, calmer dog would do in this situation?…..of course Not!  Have you thought about what the mother or father dog would do if this was one of their puppies?……No way!  You went right into relating to the dog backwards and you are totally wrong!  Yes, I’m sorry to break it to you.  And I know this might be an especially hard truth for you to face seeing as how you’re a “dog lover” but (in many cases) you just contributed to more fear and the further foolish human tradition of relating to the dog backwards and as an enabler of the dog or pup’s fears!  You just added more fear to the situation!  Let’s break this down nice and slow so our human brains can get it……………………………………………..

  1.  You acknowledged fear and tried to comfort a fearful state of mind!  That is something any animal in leadership would never, ever, ever do!  In fact, the only time you should “acknowledge” fear is when the dog is using the fear to manipulate it into aggression.  IF you have the know-how to acknowledge and intercept the dog’s fears then it is actually a direct confrontation you will be bringing in order to honestly, and adamantly disagree (while using expert timing) with the dog’s fearful/aggressive behavior at that exact moment in time…and it is never done to comfort or “sell” confidence to the dog.

2.  By giving the skittish dog a lot of attention and your eye contact you are adding fear to the already fearful dog and you are inadvertently making the nervous animal the leader in the short exchange!  If we look at it simply leaders are leaders because someone is watching them!  This is why the father or mother dog would take the opportunity to ignore a nervous puppy, particularly when there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

3.  In most interactions and meetings with a fearful dog the human salesman barges into it with what they think is a proven sales pitch.  A pitch that is designed to sell confidence, calm nerves, and make quick friends….but it’s a pitch that never, ever lands the sale if it’s pitched to a truly skittish or fearful dog!  You addressed the nervous puppy or dog by speaking.  Speaking addresses the animal’s ears.  And if you know even the first thing about dogs (sadly most people don’t because most trainers and behaviorist are uneducated themselves about the natural world) or how they communicate you would consider how their senses are developed and how the empirical, sensory world of the dog is a totally different experience from our own.  I mean, basically, that hearing is one of the last and least important senses to a dog and to canine communication!  But you just kept on with the attempted “comfort” and “kindness” all while never considering your audience.

4.  For the love of God please don’t put your hand in the dog’s face.  This to me is the epitome of misunderstanding our own dog’s language and a great example of human idiocy.  It also screams of indecision (indecision that is physically displayed with this lame gesture) and Who is going to lead?  I don’t know?  Do I come half way?  Do I go into the dog’s space with my outstretched hand?  Do they come to me?  Do they come halfway?  If you’re asking these questions just forget all you’ve been taught and you may eventually be on the start to a more natural understanding of your dog’s language!  Indecision let’s fear gain a manipulative foothold!  And dog’s read body language better than any human on the planet since dogs have no written and very little “spoken” language.

This image is what NOT to do! Shocking to many, I know, but still a ridiculous gesture and one that can be snapped at! And…like we talked about…way too much attention if the dog is nervous!

If you’re looking for the right answers and what to do always ask yourself what would the mother or father dog do in this situation?  This question will really help guide you through a plethora of different doggy interactions.  Any other questions feel free to ask your own dog…he’ll answer if you are observant enough.  Anything further that may need clarifying… ask me!

-SUBSCRIBE/FOLLOW us!!!!  Join our pack – you’re gonna love it!  (and please understand this post was purposefully honest and direct to elicit some emotion, some response, and some Change!)

-G

Can you control your own energy? Can you influence your dog’s energy?

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Energy is hard to define but vitally important.  Websters defines energy as “the ability to be active.  The physical and mental strength that allows you to do things.  Natural enthusiasm and effort.  Usable power that comes from heat, electricity, etc.” Other definitions of energy include “the strength or vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.  The capacity of power to do work.  The power derived from the utilization of physical or chemical resources, especially to provide light and heat,  or to work machines.”

Synonyms of energy include; vitality, vigor, life, animation, vivacity, spirit, enthusiasm, zest, spark, effervescence, exuberance, buoyancy, strength, stamina, power, drive, fire, passion, ardor, zeal, pep, pizzazz, moxie, mojo and go!

Energy is important.  Energy is real.  Energy is often misunderstood and overlooked particularly when we consider how much, or should I say how little, we know about personal energy and the energy of everything around us.

Today I want to encourage you to learn to read/interpret and then control your own energy and learn to read your dog’s energy.  Be a referee of your dog or pup’s energy!  You can accomplish this by taking charge of your own personal energy first.

Have you considered your own personal senses and all the things assaulting your brain?  I would start there.  Let’s slow down for a second and think about this…

Let’s pick one of your five senses and imagine all the energy in the environment that flows into your mind from that one sense.  Let’s start with hearing.  Please picture with me all the sound energy that your ears take in!  From airplanes passing overhead, to TVs and radios, from little children yelling, laughing, and working on their oratory skills, to birds chirping, traffic noises, neighborhood lawn mowers, ringtones, the quick buzzing of insects, garage doors opening and closing, the footfalls of folks in a hallway or on the steps, to the never ending drone of a computer running our two ears are constantly catching noises and sound energy.  Sometimes our brains block out the cacophony of energy and we barely notice the tidal wave of sounds.   At other times all it takes is an inconsiderate neighbor acting like a clown and blasting his music with extra bass to expose our last nerve!

(For a fun exercise close your eyes now for a minute or three and don’t say a word.  Just listen.  Listen and try to identify how many sounds are around you.)

Now think about how this is just one, only one of our many senses!  It’s amazing to think how much energy is constantly flowing around us, into us, and out of us!

A good ref always takes action before the energy rises to uncontrollable levels!  Note the physical expression and interception by the ref.

The mother and father dog instinctively understand that they have to conserve and save their energy.  Pups don’t know this; that’s one big reason they are more hyperactive than adults.  The mother and father dog also know that there is only so much energy allowed in any environment at one time.  This is critically important for you to understand if you want to be able to calm or control your dog or puppy’s energy levels.  There is only so much energy allowed in any one territory or pack at one time.  If it gets too high there will be an “explosion” or some form of fight or flight!

Here is a very human example I use when helping my clients…

Imagine you are at a party.  Things seem to be going swimmingly until you notice someone is going a bit too far.  Before you know it there’s a spilled drink or some sort of outburst coming from the culprit.  All heads turn toward the sound or sight of the extra energy coming from across the room.  Then everyone turns back so as not to be rude or commit a social faux pas.  You might be one of the ones to turn back a bit slower and even add a disapproving shake of your head or raise your eyes wide as you rejoin the conversation circle you were engaged in before the energy burst from the other side of the room interrupted you.  This is classic non-verbal communication we all know so well.  And an example of how too much of the wrong energy causes chaos in the environment.

If you look real closely…and I mean look really close, with a sharp eye you may be able to tell that the dog featured in this picture is exhibiting low energy.

We all move up and down the energy scale throughout our day.  We wake up and get moving and eat breakfast which then gets turned into fuel for our human “fire” and we have more energy.  If we eat too much lunch we then may find we have less energy to output because our insides are too busy converting the giant meal…our gut hasn’t finished converted the food fuel into usable energy yet and we are sluggish.

Our dogs move up and down the energy scale too. As wise dog owners we should seek to learn more about how to calm or intercept our dog’s energy.  Cultivating calm energy is the only thing that prevents behavioral issues!

“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” -Aristotle

Remember, any fool can pump a dog up and excite them; only someone with a deep understanding of body language and energy control can calm them down quickly and effectively.

Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and Persistence conquer all things.”  Isn’t that good?  I can’t get enough!

I leave you with a few great quotes from some notable folks who really influenced the world around them with an understanding and application of energy.  Now go boldly forward and influence your dog’s energy!

Don’t we ALL need to apply this great quote!

“If you want to define the secrets of the language of dogs think in terms of energy, touch, and how the senses experience the environment.” Garrett Stevens

 

PS.

Be on the lookout for our upcoming book!  It will be very applicable and different from what I’ve seen in dog training and behavioral modification books…it will actually work and work well!  -G

Action, Energy, and Honor in Ancient Rome

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“The whole praise of virtue lies in action.” – Cicero.

Let’s define action…

Action:  the process of doing something; typically to achieve an aim.

What are your actions today?  What is your chief aim?  What are your goals?  I can tell you with certainty that if you responded with a, “Not much” or some answer of that sort you will be bound to a life of “Not much” accomplishment!

Ancient Rome!

Let’s journey into the land of our imaginations for a moment and try and picture what life was like thousands of years ago in the city of Rome.  The ancient Romans were a people and a culture that loved and respected action.  They were always looking for a way to show kinetic energy.  The ancient Roman word for “soul” is directly linked to movement, energy, and action.  The word inertia in ancient Roman culture can be translated as “having no soul!”  What, I wonder, would many ancient Roman citizens think of our culture today?

Are you presenting yourself and your dog to society in the right way?  The question may seem a bit strange but manners, customs, and proper public conduct, or lack thereof, can cause the rise or downfall of great civilizations!  What do you think of your own personal energy?  Have you considered your personal energy and how and what it is spent on before?  Have you considered your energy levels in regard to communication with your dog or pup?  How is your dog’s energy in comparison with your own?  Can you raise or focus your energy or your puppies’ energy at will?  Can you calm and relax your energy and your pup’s energy?

Roman honor and their daily way of life was all about the actions one took.  They were extremely specific about how, when, and where they directed their energies.  In normal public life one went about showing strong energy which would in turn lead to many honorable feats and accomplishments.  Just imagine where the world would be without arches, aqueducts, concrete, battlefield surgery, newspapers, calendars, bound books, and roads and highways!  All were made possible due to Roman innovation through vigorous action!

If a Roman citizen lost their honor or were publicly shamed they had to work extremely hard and bring even more energy to every daily task.  Many even volunteered to be gladiators in an attempt to restore honor and showcase their extreme willingness to take real and tenacious action in gaining it back!

Here’s a little ancient Roman advertising for Alpha and Omega!

Gladiators that lost their match would actual expose their necks to the victor as a final sign of active courage and to show the iron will needed in order to gain back honor through their last action!  Wild stuff!

Are you taking extreme action to help prevent or fix your own dog or pup’s behavioral issues?  Are you feeling shame or public embarrassment when or if your dog freaks out and lunges or barks or snaps at another dog or person when you’re out and about?  Please remember…dogs are much more direct and honest than most humans you will ever meet!  Dogs don’t feel near the level of shame, humiliation, or embarrassment socially that you or I could feel.

If you haven’t seen this classic…please do so. This is a famous film about the story of a gladiator slave (Spartacus) who took Action in order to change his life and the lives of those around him!

Roman society also allowed for failure.  It was expected.  Failure and shame would happen to many and that is why they would work harder to redeem themselves through action and ferocious energy.  The cultural system as a whole was more flexible and honest than today’s careful, and cautious way to live.

We need to allow ourselves and our dogs to fail more often.  As you allow room for your dog or pup to fail you will find that mixing that failure by taking the right, natural, persistent actions to correct, calm or redirect the dogs will learn to be much more trustworthy in the long run.  Never forget that the mother and father dog allow a lot of room for growth and exploration and in this way they preserve their own precious energy.  In the long run you will have a much more relaxed control over your dog instead of the hyper (always be praising) constantly looking to reinforce behavior (typical training) sort of approach.  The typical training (always be praising) approach is waaaaaaaay more work on all involved and doesn’t ever pan out as well because it is not natural and it is wasting our energy!

If you double your rate of failure you will find success faster!  Think of how many times Thomas Edison failed when inventing the light bulb or how many shots Michael Jordan has missed etc etc…Never be afraid to fail.

There was always tension and then relaxation present in the ancient Roman’s life.  A natural cycle.  Like nighttime always comes at dusk tension and then calmness can be a very natural way to experience life.  Tension/pressure and then the calm releasing of said pressures are evident constantly in canine culture, energies, and body language! 

Predatory culture in the animal world focuses intense energy and takes direct action and then (usually after a kill) total relaxation.

Prey culture is different.  As a prey animal can be eaten they have to be constantly on alert in order to survive!

Roman culture was defined by tremendous activity and then relaxed passivity.  A society very much reminiscent of the dog that is sleeping the day away (passively) while you are at work until it is exploding with energy (actively) while sprinting across your yard after a ball!

Take action today.  Focus and direct your energy.  Live a life of honor.

Join the Alpha and Omega pack and “like” us on facebook!

 

Chubbs Peterson and Happy Gilmore

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Chubbs Peterson was a golf guru.  Happy Gilmore, a hockey player (I can’t recall which team he played for) turned golf icon known for his awe-inspiring long drives off the tee, began his golfing career under the tutelage of Chubbs Peterson.  Chubbs inspired and refined the way Happy played golf. A golf legend like Chubbs only comes around once in a while.  This post is about Chubbs, Happy, and how you can take Chubbs’ excellent advice and apply it to yourself and your dog or puppy for outstanding behavioral modification.

The legendary Chubbs Peterson gives Happy some sage advice.

If asked I think most golfers would tell us golf is more of a mental game than a physical one.  Dog whispering is the same.  Our dogs respond much better to mental strength and controlled energy rather than raw physicality.  Mental strength and energy control is how, in some cases, a tiny Chihuahua can control or dominate a Mastiff.  If you can learn to develop the right mental strength and to control your energy levels you will automatically start to understand and be able to influence your dog’s behaviors without the aid of constant treats and excitement or smacking them around!

Chubbs Peterson and Happy Gilmore

Mentors have a way of expanding their protege’s capacity.

During a tournament Happy was on the green and getting ready to putt.  Chubbs Peterson wrapped his arms around Happy and, swinging his hips from side to side, started saying, “It’s all in the hips.  It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the hips. It’s all in the hips.”  When Happy was understandably weirded-out by Chubbs he exclaimed, “Get off of me!”  To which the wise, old golf pro responded, “Just easin’ the tension, Baby!  Just easin’ the tension.”    Gilmore replied, “Yeah, well ease it on someone else.”

Here you can see the legendary Chubbs Peterson just easin’ the tension on Happy Gilmore.  An astute observer will notice Happy’s thin, curly-haired caddy in the left of the photo.

One more image of Chubbs “easin’ the tension” on Happy

Let’s review…………………………….. I know this isn’t the most serious post I’ve put up on this marvelous, educational, and inspirational blog but we can learn quite a lot from Chubbs’ advice here and apply it to our dog’s behaviors. 1.  Use your hips.  It really is, “All in the hips.” as the legendary golf master said. I literally use my hips all the time as I behaviorally rehab the toughest, roughest, wildest, and most aggressive or most fearful dogs in the business. 2.  Ease the tension.  If you have an aggressive or fearful dog or even just a hyper dog they are already living on a higher energy level and always have a bad amount of tension locked up inside them.  Many times they are ready to explode into fight or flight behaviors.  Ease it.  Ease that tension and you’ll be well on your way to not only a calmer, happier dog but a more peaceful and fulfilled household!

Like Chubbs, I also am behind you every step of the way – guiding, instructing, and hoping for your success.

If you don’t know how to use your hips properly or ease the tension in your dog (or the tension you are experiencing) call me directly and we can set up an appointment either in person or on the phone.  I’ve given so much away for free on this blog eventually you people should have to pay for my intellectual property and trade secrets, I mean, come on!  Jeez.  😉  (on a serious note…if you want more Free info than click on our many other blog posts)

Bob Barker lays into Happy with a punch to the gut. We all need gut checks every now and then.

Seriously though, call me with questions or if the dog truly is aggressive or fearful or hyper or otherwise out of control.  We transform aggression, fear, tension, and hyperactivity on a daily basis!  (and we don’t do it through most accepted training methods – that’s why it actually works!!!)  253-653-4890 -G

If all else fails just go to your Happy Place. In Memoriam of Chubbs Peterson.

(photo credit to Adam Sandler, AMC, whoever else…I did not take these photos if any of you were wondering.  I borrowed them off the internet.)

Teddy Roosevelt can improve your dog’s behavior!

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Teddy Roosevelt was The Most Interesting Man in the World long before the Dos Equis guy from the commercials was around!

Before people even knew how to speed-read TR would devour at least one book during his very busy day and many times up to three books a day. He also possessed a photographic memory or close to it and could recite passages years later and discuss topics from the books at length. Here he is reading with his dog. I love this picture.

Ornithologist, Taxidermist, Aristocrat, Explorer, Speed-Reader, Naturalist, Pugilist, Harvard Grad, Biologist, World Traveler, Historian, Martial Artist, Author (35 books), Husband, Cowboy, Big game Hunter, Father, Conservationist, Assemblyman, Police Commissioner, Naval Secretary, Soldier, Colonel, Governor, Nobel Peace Prize and Medal of Honor winner, Vice President, and President; TR was a super-energetic, charismatic, learned, and dynamic personality.

Anyone can learn a lot from studying and emulating Teddy.  I don’t really have the time to go into so many of the lessons that could be gleaned from the man’s life but I will just list a few and, of course, keep them dog specific (as in, our excellent blog will always help you concerning the topic of dog behavior).

Be a life-long learner

TR was an avid learner and obviously, as you read from his list of accomplishments above, his learning far surpassed the average individual  He was a voracious reader and could speed-read before people even knew that was a thing.  He also had a photographic memory.  This allowed him to discuss with confidence a broad range of topics and mix in with almost any individual person or crowd.  Roosevelt also learned physically from experiencing the earth and travelling, hunting, fishing, exploring, hiking, boxing, judo, camping, and ranch work.  He was a dandy man about town but also could easily fit in with the simple ranch-hand, cowpoke, or backwoods hunter.

The main point is to keep learning and discovering.  Teddy wasn’t just book smart he was physically smart as well.  When he took up the challenge from his father of transforming his sickly body as an asthmatic youth he persisted until he literally became a “bull moose” of a man!  His brain and body then could function as one well-oiled machine, bursting with personality and passionate energy.

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”   -TR

Keep learning from your dog and not just jumping to conclusions or listening to the status quo about how to train.  Don’t just take whatever your vet or trainer says as gospel truth.  Learn from mother nature and remember to lead your dog with energy and physical vigor (like Teddy would).  Be open to experience the natural world.  Get outside and into the woods.  Slow down at certain times.  Speed up other times.  Your dog will find it irresistible.  Be the sort of leader your dog can follow.  Physically take the lead and be energetic about it when needed.

Develop toughness

TR had mental toughness.  TR had physical toughness.

Did you know in Teddy’s personal daily journals that he hardly ever recorded a negative thought?  He could have easily written down the wrongs someone may have done him while he was serving to clean up a very corrupt New York government as their Police Commissioner but he didn’t.  He could have written so much about the tragedy of losing his first love and wife (Alice) just after the birth of their first child.  His mother also died on the same day as his wife!  What a horrific tragedy!  TR kept everything under wraps if it had any discouragement or downside.  He had mental toughness.  He wrote his journals as if he was sure others would read them one day!  Of course he was crushed mentally and emotionally at the loss of his young, beautiful wife and his caring mother on the same day but I love the fact that he would prefer to focus his writing and his life on what could be done for the good of his family, his city, his state, and his country.  How mentally tough are you?

TR was also renowned for his physical toughness.  As he matured more he kept developing his body into a real vehicle for all his energies and passions.  His stamina is legendary.  Although he was a New York aristocrat he could physically keep up (and usually surpass) many rough and tumble athletic woodsmen, frontiersmen, ranchers, cowboys, soldiers, hunters, sportsmen, and martial artists.

As President TR lost the vision in his left eye when boxing with a military aid in the White House!  The punch had detached the retina, caused severe hemorrhaging, and eventual blindness.  Roosevelt was 50 years old at the time!

Roosevelt also was a skilled judo practitioner.  During his years in the White House he lined the basement with training mats and used to throw around anyone who was willing!  He became America’s first brown belt!

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”         -TR

Are you going at your dog’s behavioral issues like TR would?  Are you staying positive mentally?  Are you physically imposing in your presence if the dog is trying to dominant the space or do you just let the dog have his way?  Are you up for the challenge?  Do you look at the dog’s issues as an opportunity to teach your dog and to better understand your dog or are you just beaten down with the behavioral problem?

Fight for what you want

Teddy loved a good fight it mattered not whether it was a physical opponent, a political foe, or taking on the ultra-capitalists as the “Trust-buster.”  He is well known for never shying from an opponent and he subscribed to what he called the strenuous life.  He toiled on purpose to push his body and mind to greater achievements.  Boxing, polo, hiking, rowing, horseback riding, jujitsu, judo and winter skinny dipping in the Potomac River all against doctor’s orders!

Take the challenge of working with your dog!  Choose the strenuous life!  Take a moment and read The Man in The Arena.

“Speak softly and carry and big stick; you will go far.”  -TR

 

TR had an amazing wealth of knowledge when it came to animals and the natural world.

 

Control and focus your energy

Roosevelt had boundless energy.  I’m positive he would have scoffed at the Five Hour Energy commercials we see on TV.  Almost all successful folk know how to really direct and focus their energy on the task at hand.  TR was able to do this brilliantly.  It can be seen throughout his entire life’s story.  Teddy’s was a life defined by charismatic energy, a ready mind, toughness, and his fantastic adventures and accomplishments.  To achieve a life like this we must consider concentration, and direct focus and control of our own personal energy and then mix it with ACTION.

“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.”  -TR

Focus and controlling your energy takes practice.  Practice makes perfect.  You want better control over your dog or puppy?  Seek out better control of your own energy.  Concentrated energy applied directly with laser like focus is a powerful thing.  As you learn to control and direct your own energies all the dog stuff will become simple!

Ted and his terriers.  Terriers are known for tenacity, energy, voracity, and a warrior spirit. Many terriers are small but extremely tough. They are bred for hunting, digging, and fighting and killing their quarry even if their prey is much larger than they are!

Need help?  Give us a call or comment on our blog.  Click to follow us!

-G

 

 

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

The original “Wolf man”

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To me the dog is the original “Wolf man.”

A dog is so much more than just a domesticated (neotonous) wolf.  Of all the domesticated animals on earth none lives more closely to mankind than the dog.   A dog is clearly “more” domesticated than our horses, our chickens, our cows, our goats, our pigs, even “more” domesticated than our cats.  No other creature lives as closely and is as adept at working with, communicating with, and reading us than our canine friends.

A successful hunt with man’s best friend.

Imagine for a moment being a creature in partnership with mankind for the past 10,000-20,000 years!  Dogs can even become what I call “ultra-domesticated.”  If we want this ultra-domestication all we have to do is “ultra-socialize” from a young age and add in some rules and boundaries.  It makes for amazingly well-behaved dogs.  If we do not socialize enough we pay for this later when our dog’s behaviors are inappropriate or out of control.  And, please, please, please understand that socialization does Not just mean sticking your pup into some random, highly-controlled, group class at a faceless training facility that offers dog training as one more stream of income (because they offer daycare, boarding, and selling you whatever else they can upsell you) and then later expect your puppy to be calm in any real life situation that you may encounter in your daily lives…Beware horrific training! Terrible training and behavior mod. runs rampant and usually falls into the “positive only” or “negative only” trap and has little to do with calm, social interactions between your pup and the whole world.

Are you shocked at my disdain for the dog training and dog behavior modification methods as a whole?! Please don’t be. The more we question the status quo the better results we get with dogs and their owners! Beware going the unnatural but extremely common method of bribery and babying with food treats and or the militant, over-board, harsh corrections method both are traps to be avoided!!!

Use your imagination for a moment and step into my laboratory (I’ll be the guy laughing maniacally with the white lab coat…you can be the hunchbacked assistant if you want.)  Please picture with me this new and interesting creature.  Canis Familiaris is wolf-like in appearance but not quite a wolf.  It’s behavior is wolf-like but somehow there is something distinctly human about it. This creature can read our own human body language, energy, fears and excitement like no other animal on earth.  The creature can mirror, reflect, or imitate our own actions, emotions, and energy.  The creature is equipped with super senses and some impressive weaponry.

It’s laying on the table bolted down in the laboratory and about to be released onto the unwitting populace!  The horror!  Sounds funny to you but this is actually my real life experience every day!  Some people will buy puppies because they look cute and in a few months to a year they turn them into real life monsters!  Or say you’re the kinder-hearted folks who decide to rescue a dog who initially acts shy and is sometimes called a “real lover” (the dog manipulates constant touching, claiming, and coddling because it is fearful or dominant- see my post on “Dealing with a fearful dog” and my post on “Introducing a Rescue dog into your home“) but turns out in a few short weeks to reveal he is a monster with little to no socialization or structure in his life!

Domestication has added familiarity which can have great benefits but being familiar in any relationship (a mother and her children, a husband and wife, a boss and an employee) can also have horrible social repercussions!  None of us want to be too familiar with each other because it breeds rudeness.  Many of the dogs that I see are acting downright rude and bratty and attempt to control/dominate everything or everyone in their social circle out of a fearful, aggressive, hyper, or dominant state of mind!

“It’s ALIVE! It’s ALIVE!”

Many people just assume they know everything about dogs because dogs have been around for so long (as I’ve mentioned above.) but to be a real scientist or learn any new thing you have to step outside the box.  You have to discover and observe and conduct experiments for yourself not just listen to every opinion from the dog park, internet, family member, or the random over-excited, treat-bribing trainer you meet in Petsmart or Petco.  Look closely at this truly unique creature.

In my experience, on a social level, dogs seem to function behaviorally almost as if some mad scientist, some type of Dr. Frankenstein, mixed a wolf right from the wild with a human toddler and mixed in some human teenager as well.  What a wild and enigmatic creature!  Sometimes so similar to us; other times our complete opposite.

Behaviorally speaking, I have seen dogs demonstrate almost identical tantrums as our own human toddlers.  I also see (every day) highly intelligent, socially manipulative “one-ups” and very specific language from dogs toward their human owners and the other people in their lives.  These social manipulations are so excellently performed that the dogs are soon outwitting their owners and getting their own way!  From fake apologies to sneaky misbehaviors dogs can act incredibly similar to our own teenagers who yearn (and whine) for freedom from our households but can only handle it in small doses (all depending upon their level of self control).  I sometimes wonder if our dogs learned some of these social “one-ups” from watching and mirroring us for many thousands of years.  I am constantly amazed at the complexity of the canine language and the wide range of intelligence in our furry companions.

A little grooming goes a long way. It is good for our dogs socially and, of course, good for their skin and coat.

When one considers intelligence you have to take into account the different types of intelligence (spacial, adaptive, instinctive, et cetera) and we shouldn’t just generalize and say (and I’ve heard or read this before in the past) dogs have the intelligence of say…a 3-4 year old human.  That is absurd.  There can be no comparison in regards to intelligence when totally different brains senses and bodies (different species) used for different environments are concerned.  Dogs and humans are uniquely specialized to function a certain specific way and process the world differently. Also…one should not average out the vastly different growth periods of our canine companions and just assume the dog is aged 7 years to our human 1.

My best advice: Try to stop thinking so much like a human all the time!  That will get you into trouble when you are trying to work with an animal.  And don’t you think if the roles were reversed and our dogs dominated the planet like we humans do they would be laughing at our “intelligence” or, lack thereof, as they mocked us about how we couldn’t even smell our way back to our house if we were lost, or how we have no idea where the magnetic north is except through the use of tools, or how flabby and slow we may be, or how we can’t seem to see the benefits of clear, honest, communication, or how loud and talking we all are, or how impatient we are as a species, or how we can’t live in the moment for very long, or how we don’t appreciate each moment and find pleasure in the little things or how we prefer a false sense of safety to real freedom?

Learn from the interesting creature that we often take for granted.  And be sure to teach the interesting creature that we often take for granted.  Develop a real relationship with Canis Familiaris… you won’t regret it.

-G

Formal education vs. Self-education

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Thomas Edison only went to three months of school.  During that time his teacher called him, “addled” due to Edison’s mind wandering.  That became the end of his formal education (his mother took over from there)!  This man revolutionized and modernized the entire world!  A prolific inventor, Edison held over 1,093 patents in the US and several others in the UK, France, and Germany.  The Wizard of Menlo Park is credited with almost too many inventions to mention.  “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

 

Henry Ford only had the equivalent of a sixth grade education.  He was known for being obstinate.  Ford helped usher in the creation of the middle class!  He used mass production and the assembly line so well that he lowered the cost of the automobile to make it affordable to the common man.  He literally gave us the weekend!  “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.”

 

Andrew Carnegie’s formal education ended after elementary school.  In those days many children would go to work to help support the family and Carnegie was no exception.  He revolutionized how the world developed through the use of steel in bridges, railroads, and skyscrapers.  He literally altered how the planet looks and how we all live our lives.  After selling Carnegie Steel he held the coveted title of world’s richest man.  “The older I get the less I listen to what people say and the more I look at what they do.”

 

I could go on and on about the countless amazingly successful, creative, innovative, free-thinking and hard-working individuals who left school or college early to pursue their own dreams and desires and ended up changing the entire world because they pressed on with tireless persistence even with all those doubting, petty, naysayers (many times close family, friends, teachers) blocking their way!  If you have time, it is a very interesting and enlightening study in Forbes -world’s most successful people -seeing how many of the world’s richest men and women forsook the common education of their time for their own bold exploration. I highly suggest checking into it.  I found it shocking how many found self-education through their own business ventures and experiments instead of in the box, run-of-the-mill, standard educations.

“Education will make you a living.  Self-education will make you a fortune.” -Jim Rohn

Today we find many educated idiots…especially in the dog training world!  We live in a world of over-information.  We all have fat heads.  Many of our brains are in desperate need of a good diet!

Did you know you can pay a few hundred bucks and many “pet associations” will happily assign you some reading materials and then give you a certification for dog training?  I even know other “trainers” who received all their training online!  While reading plenty of excellent books is important in studying canine behavior these associations mention volunteering and apprenticing with an established dog training company almost as an aside to getting their pathetic certification!  I think anyone can see they are casting a wide net in order to collect the most amount of cash from the most amount of people.  And as an entrepreneur myself I can see the benefits of casting a wide net but as an honest helper and calm rehabber of dogs it is a horrible method and largely why we have so many poorly trained dogs and even more poorly trained “trainers!”  In reality the apprenticing and the experience of handling several aggressive, fearful, dominant, hyper dogs are the ONLY things that truly matter in actually helping a budding trainer learn to modify a dog’s behavior.  The only certification or qualifications that truly count should be the amazing differences in the problematic dog’s behaviors.  The only thing that should really matter are the Results!

There also is the question of which reading materials these “associations” are suggesting?  Typically they are very biased in their selections and tend towards extremeness instead of more balanced methods.

And I hope everyone is aware that even if someone has years of experience in animal rescue if the rescue is largely run by volunteers (which they all are) then the experience one may receive is largely based on poor techniques and taught by folks who “love dogs” and who are trying their best but don’t really know how to calm, how to correct, how to train, how to rehab real fear or aggression or hyper behavior etc, etc!  Basically even if you have a hundred years of experience training dogs if it is all poor techniques it is a hundred years of helping to mistrain and hurt psychologically more dogs than you actually help!

I’m not trying to be mean here.  I say all this because I see it DAILY.  I hear from my clients constantly how they hired some company or another (or three or four different companies) to fix serious issues in their dogs and still these trainers come out with the same basic “sit, stay, down” for a treat method or occasionally strange new unnatural concepts (such as:  tethering your dog inside your home, or, when folks go for a group class and then -due to their dog’s behaviors- are placed in some cubicle separate and away from the class – just foolish and weird stuff) but clearly methods that do NOT line up with natural calming or with nature’s way or what the older social dog would teach and……. because they are so unnatural they don’t get good results.

No matter what I say, your vets say, your behaviorist says, your trainer says, your groomers say…seek your own answers within your own dog!  Look into nature.  Be super observant.  Always ask yourself…is this what the mother or father dog would do?  How do I calm this behavior out of my dog?  Keep thinking outside the box like Gates, Jobs, Zuckerberg, et cetera.  You will never regret listening to your own dog for what to do and then making a plan of action.

-G

Dog fight!!! What to do when your dog is in a dog fight…

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What should we do when our dog is attacked? What should we do when our dog attacks another dog? How do we safely intervene? How can we fix the situation?

Dear Reader, here are some guidelines to consider concerning when dogs fight.

1.Stay calm.

2. Please re-read and actually follow rule number 1!  

If everyone involved were to actually follow my first two rules the world would be a better place for people and our furry companions. I bring up calmness because it would imply that you are operating with a clear mind and not one exploding with fight/flight adrenaline and excessive human emotions. If you aren’t calm you aren’t in charge. End of story. If you aren’t calm how do you expect to handle conflict resolution? If you aren’t calm whatever actions you take will just INTENSIFY the situation.

Example: Imagine if you were stabbed or shot and then as you arrived at the hospital the doctors and nurses were shocked, and yelling, and totally flipping out; some crying, some severely angered, others simply stunned or stupified. Would they be of much help to you? Also keep in mind most fights (dog or human) last a very short time (many just seconds) Panic never helps in any situation.

If we back track we would discover that you were the one who thought it was a good idea to bring a domesticated predator into your home.  A domesticated predator whose mighty ancestors still roam the mountains and plains and hunt, kill, and feast on prey animals up to 2000 pounds!A wolf from the Canyon Pack stalks an ailing bison at Otter Creek in Yellowstone National Park. (©Meg Sommers - click to enlarge)

 

3. Be prepared to take action.  Semper Paratus.

Being prepared is great.  Besides serving as the motto for the Boy Scouts and what Simba’s plotting Uncle Scar gave for advice to his minions of hungry hyenas, being prepared is never a bad thing. Attempt to be as aware as you can of your environment.  Our dogs are usually more aware of the environment than we are.  Up your game.

4. Proceed with caution!

All dogs are very quick (certainly quicker than people). All dogs can see movement better than you or I (due to the ratio of rods to cones in the dog’s eye). All dogs come equipped with a host of amazingly powerful jaws and large pointed teeth (you know, their “canine” chompers). Dogs are well known for their bite force and are used around the world by police, military, and private training companies for just this purpose. No need to elaborate on the mouth and teeth. All dogs have sharp claws too. I’ve been bloodied up many times in my day to day just from an aggressive dog attempting to grab me with their paws/claws!  Almost all dogs have fur (armor) that can protect them to a degree.

And the most important part of point number four…they have the inherent nature to survive. They don’t want to get hurt and will often end disagreements quickly if they can.  This means they will fight or flight if necessary but would typically prefer not to.  Dogs are highly intelligent social creatures who will simply and honestly disagree with each other.  Sometimes they use fight to do it.  So do Not take it so personally if there is a fight.  Just because you’re a human living in today’s instant gratification, ultra-convenience and entertainment-based culture does not mean we cannot be understanding in the case of our dogs.  Fighting is a way of communicating.  Because dogs are so social it also means that they have a fantastically peaceful nature and that in most cases means a disagreement will only last a few seconds.  Thank God.

(An exception to this would be dogs that have been conditioned to fight or are constantly pulling on the leash.  Leash pulling will always escalate a dog’s energy levels. In protection work we want a taut leash. In calming a dog we do Not want any pulling.  Learn to develop a great “heel” command where your dog walks loosely at your side.)

 

Now please take a quick look at yourself and see if you are equipped as well naturally to jump on into the fray and break up a dog fight. Do you have an incredible bite force? Do you have claws and fur and powerful sharp pointy teeth? Do you have more rods than cones in your eyes and although you cannot see color as well, because of the muted color scheme, you can detect the slightest movements and zero in on them? Do you have an inherent nature to avoid confrontation and get along with the pack family? Do you see where I’m going with this? Or maybe I should ask… Do you value your fingers? Do you value your hands? Do you value your legs?  How about your face?

5. To yell or not to yell?

If you yell it should only be for a moment and even then it typically won’t really do anything (barring the exception that your dog is somewhat well behaved and is not in too immediate danger/ is already latched onto the other dog) and yelling and emotional screaming or crying could just exacerbate the problem due to your addition of more sound energy!

6. Evaluating the fight…

If your dog is on leash and they are not latched (from biting the other dog) you can pull back. And quickly turn the your dog away.  If they are latched onto each other with a firm bite Do Not pull back as this will only tear the flesh more and could cause real damage.

7. Leave in control of yourself and your dog and don’t inadvertently cause a behavioral problem!  (Pay attention to this one)

If your dog is around a large group of dogs (at the dog park) calmly leave the area – After exchanging personal info at the scene of course – I would assume this goes without saying!  Unless the wounds are so small that they really won’t need any vet assistance.  I mention leaving because you don’t want more dogs jumping in because of the over-excited fight energy in the atmosphere (see rules one and two!).  If it is only your dog and another dog I would NOT suggest you leave the area right away as this can almost instantly cause a behavioral issue in your dog! Your dog could form a new habit and think that it was such a traumatic experience (even if it wasn’t traumatic and most times it is not!) based on your raw and foolhardy emotional responses!  If it indeed was traumatic -meaning a real fight that lasted more than a couple seconds with real puncture wounds (you know the ones, they look like a vampire bit down on your dog and your dog has many lacerations) – you should literally pretend for your dog’s sake that it was no big deal.  This is when you need to be strong for your dog and in control of your thoughts and your emotions.  (They say he who has self control is more powerful than he who controls an entire army)

Let me explain. Dogs live in the moment and can form habits extremely fast. I believe many animals can form habits faster than humans (we typically form then in 21 – 30 days). If you are presenting weak, ineffective, over-excitable, angry, pathetic, or any other imbalanced types of energy you can imagine this will literally be hurting your own dog psychologically. Dogs feed on the energy around them.  Dogs are also watching our lead.  And, honestly, if you’re crying, screaming, swearing, dancing around ineffectively, you certainly won’t help anyone -least of all your own dog.  Take this to heart.  Remember it.

All lead dogs in mother nature are the calm, cool, and collected type.  Dogs will not follow a hysterical, sobbing, out-of-control human even if they’ve had years of the typical “sit, stay, down” et cetera training. Again please see rules 1 and 2.  I’ve handled thousands of dogs over the long years and the owners tell me they “used to be fine with other dogs UNTIL they were attacked or until they got into a fight with another dog.”

8. Develop resilience and a tough skin.

Do your self and your dog a favor and Pretend Everything is Fine and handle the situation like a real dog leader would. Because chances are (and I’ve seen this many times) there is minor or no damages in many cases and the humans are all worked up because their two dogs had a disagreement. This does not mean you cannot honestly disagree with the other human about their dog but this leads into my next point…

9. Be polite to the other dog owner as best you can.

You get more flies with honey than vinegar. This is hard for most people in today’s unnatural, technology-crazed, fast food, instant gratification, selfishly-driven society. Manners are at an all time low. Be upfront and honest but try not to be rude.

Please imagine two somewhat, normal people and now picture their dogs fight for a few moments and now ask yourself this question…Do you think anyone of the people actually wanted a fight to take place? If their dog was the initiator don’t you think the owner would be concerned about the behavior?  Yes, some folks are jackasses but that doesn’t mean you have to be.  Let’s elevate the situation.

10. Don’t be a victim!  (this is a major issue!)

If you are the victim don’t act like it. Acting like a victim has never helped anyone ever in the whole history of the world.  If you are incredibly worked up you have that right but, again, it won’t do you any favors when interacting with the other owner. And what’s more, you may be inadvertently hurting your dog with all the Human Drama. Please check rules 1 and 2 just one more time. Eliminate all Human drama. It is unnecessary and a foolish waste of energy. If you are wasting energy what are you teaching your dog?  Now is the time to Calmly Lead.  Now is the time to show how you handle adversity!

If you have the dog that started the fight – settle your dog down by controlling the eye contact (this means breaking it away from the other dog) and spinning them away if you can safely do so. Some experts suggest grabbing them by the back legs and spinning them in a circle away from the other dog. Others suggest cold water or spraying with a hose.  And others say use a blanket to cover the dog and in order to safely grab it.  (I say good luck with all that.) Make sure to go and see the other dog (if the owner is still there and if you can safely do so). Make sure you see if there is indeed damage and what sort. Offer to pay the vet bills as this is customary and the right thing to do. Unless, of course, the owner doesn’t want to see you or talk to you (some clients tell me this has happened to them and the other party just yelled at them and briskly walked off. This usually means there is little to no injury to their dog and they just want to get out of the situation. Let them.) Don’t cause more human drama. However, if you can stay on the scene a bit this can help most dogs settle down and not go right from Fight into Flight.  Remember, we don’t want any new unsocial habits forming.  Just being around (at a safe distance where they cannot get at each other) even with the dog they just had the disagreement with while the owners correct and calm them can shockingly be beneficial and hammer home that sociability is the only way.

11. Prevention.  Prevention.  Prevention.

The best option is to obviously not let your dog get into a fight in the first place.  You can usually prevent dog fighting drama if you develop an excellent relationship with your dog, socialize the heck out of them but make sure you maintain the lead (remember that “heel” I mentioned earlier?).  And in many cases where the dog already has dog aggression you need to continue to get them out and about (cautiously) but the risk is worth the reward if you know what you are doing because deep down dogs are always ready to learn to be social.  That being said, if it happened to you or ever does please learn from the wisdom of the dogs and shake off stress and care, live in the moment, keep moving forward, forgive and forget, remain in control of your energy and learn to control your dog’s energy through efficient movements and proper spatial manipulation!  

Learn to read their body language. Do not allow your dog to stare at other dogs!  Do not allow your dog to throw it’s head over other dogs shoulders or neck when meeting or playing.  Be a tension calmer.  Many misunderstandings can be prevented if the dog’s language is fluid and the human owner also understands canine communication. Sadly many, many dogs are aggressive, they do pull, lunge, snap on the leash and off the leash and have a horrible dog language and do not know how to get back to a calm, peaceful place! And what’s worse humans trainers and behaviorists mask the real problems with surface level tricks and obedience that gives little to no regard to the cultivation of a healthy and prosperous relationship between owner and dog!  Seek professional help and someone with an excellent reputation for rehabbing aggressive, fearful, or dangerous dogs (remember, while almost all dog training companies and behaviorists advertise that they handle aggression and “speak dog” – the sad truth is that many Mishandle it.

True dog aggression cannot be fixed with treats and “watch me” commands.  It will not usually be fixed from attending a “Growly Class” (think for a moment how foolish the human concept of a “Growly dog class” is.  Dogs are social creatures who learn from other people and from other example dogs so why would I place my dog into a large group of other dogs with the exact same issue?)  Instead, get your dog extra exercise, structure and calming discipline, a great “heel”, proper house manners, don’t let him over-touch you or others, don’t let him escape petting or not come to you, and eventually you have to “jump in the pool” and get your dog more social and around other calm “example” dogs.  Whatever the behavioral question is… the only answer is more sociability!

Need help? Read my first book or give me a call!  I behaviorally rehab fearful and aggressive dogs with great success on a daily basis – and all WITHOUT food treats and WITHOUT harsh handling!  Order my HOT-Listed book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!  Find out why it made the HOT List for so many weeks consecutive.  Find out why the dog training and behavior modification industry is largely crap, way behind in their methods, and honestly not that helpful when it comes to calmly rehabbing dogs with behavioral issues.  And then, after you are shocked, you will be educated, equipped and inspired in the beneficial ways of natural dog handling and I promise you…you will notice BIG changes once you begin applying even a few of the amazing yet subtle and simple techniques contained within the pages of Dog Myths!  In the very least read the free sampling on Amazon or Apple.

Here is the link.  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

Keep it peaceful,

-G

Post Script,

Also be sure to sample my second book too.  So Long Separation Anxiety, can easily prevent anxiety in a pup, new rescue, or help to reverse it (and reverse problematic chewing, drooling, barking, jumping, escaping, etc) in a dog of any age!  Try the free sample!

Bruce Lee and the dog

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Bruce Lee is a hero of mine.  He has been since my youth.

The guy was a work horse.  He was a philosopher.  He was a fighting machine.  Determined and focused, Lee was an expert at his craft, a true artist.

When Bruce Lee first began martial arts he was taught Wu Tai Chi Chuan by his father.  After joining a Hong Kong street gang and wanting to improve his fighting technique he studied Wing Chun Kung Fu under legendary grandmaster, Yip Man.  File:The age of 18 Bruce Lee and Ye Wen.jpg

Bruce also became an excellent dancer (a Cha-Cha dancing champ).  He added traditional Western boxing to his martial resume and sent a fair share of boxers home after knocking them out.  Lee also took up fencing; learning from his brother – a champion in the sport.  He went on to study Choy Li Fut, Judo, Praying mantis Kung Fu, Hsing-I, and Jujitsu.  This varied background led Bruce to personally modify his Wing Chun Kung Fu base and when he opened his first martial arts school in Seattle it was under the name Lee Jun Fan Gung Fu.

“Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own.”

Did he stop there?  Of course not.  This is the point of my post.  Bruce Lee was constantly improving and refining his techniques.   In a quest to become a better martial artist, teacher, philosopher, and human being and to attain a more realistic martial system he got away from certain forms and traditions and added more fluid and beneficial movements.  He created Jeet Kune Do (The way of the Intercepting Fist) a realistic and applicable martial art philosophy.  

Bruce’s emphasis was on, “practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.”

How I wish more dog trainers/behaviorists/vets would have the same emphasis and work the same way with their methods!  Instead, what I often find are “professionals” who use methods based in either way too much excitement (treats, treats, treats) which is not nature’s way or, on the other end of the spectrum, entirely too many leash-pop corrections, allegedly “alpha” rolls, and zapping with shock collars!

The majority of pros sadly do not take into account the individual personality, energy levels, and capacity of the dog or pup at the exact moment of time in training or in social settings!  They seem to seldom consider what is most important to Mother Nature and to dogs and instead just plow forward with what is popular or what has been taught them by another human being or what they claim is their method.  Bruce Lee had to deal with this stuff all the time because the major schools of martial arts in his day all claimed their style was the best.

A simple Google search will reveal the ridiculousness and arguments streaming in from differing trainers about “positive” or “negative” training methods.  BOTH sides have little to no flexibility in their dogmas!  How foolish to waste energy being concerned with either method particularly when our dogs are not concerned in the least about those categories.  Dogs, unlike humans, are not thinking on positive or negative terms.  They are free from that human garbage and are content with basic survival needs.  And, by the way, dogs do, in fact, correct each other but it is always for the benefit of the group AND for the benefit of the individual being corrected or addressed and in order to control the energy levels so fights don’t break out and their adjustment or correction is used only to calm the individual down.  It is parental and if done properly (which is rare among trainers) works wonderfully.

“Don’t waste yourself.” (is a quote from Enter the Dragon – I teach owners and dogs to save their energy not waste it!)

If one examines the dog training books and info we discover these are hardly better (many lacking in practicality, good results, and efficiency).  Most training or dog behavior books are either much too treat/bribery oriented and ultra simplistic or, on the other end, are way too many wasted words and filled with ridiculous mental gymnastics that lose most readers.  The methods and meaning in these mainstream dog training manuals then become lost to the general public and are usually devoid of direct solutions!  Don’t worry, folks, I am have my own books readily available wherever books are sold!  (Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety will help any reader on the path to healthy relationship and better behavior with their pooch.)

“Simplicity is the last step of art.  Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”  

Today Bruce Lee is considered by many to be the founder of modern mixed martial arts and the greatest martial artist of all time because of his combining of styles and his search to have no style except the one that works best for the individual practitioner and for the situation at hand.  Lee yearned to be free and to teach others to be free of the rigidity and countless parameters of the varying fighting styles.

Bruce Lee has changed the world.  I strive to follow Lee’s freeing footsteps and ideals in the dog whispering, training and behavioral modification world.  Bruce Lee was right.  We should all learn with an open and curious mind – it will sure help your dog!

“If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life.  It’ll spread over into your work, into your mortality, into your entire being.  There are no limits.  There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

Be like water my friends!

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

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