Group classes for dogs can make your dog’s behavior WORSE!!!

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Let’s say, for example, you just received a new, cuddly, bundle of furry energy.  Whether it’s an 8-week-old puppy or you welcomed a cute, scruffy-looking, rescue dog into your home the next logical step besides getting all the required vet bills out of the way would be throwing them into a group class, right?  That will stop your dog from become Cujo, correct?  Group sessions around other pups will mold your young pup into a wonderful, social, well-mannered dog, right?  That is what Socialization means, isn’t it?  WRONG!

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.”

When will we ever get this notion out of our minds?  This notion that Group classes are just standard operating procedure and that if we attend one our puppy will grow up to be happy, healthy, well trained and social.  We’ll get rid of the notion probably as soon as the giant dog supply chains (who also double as “trainers” and who happen to have all the treats in the world to sell to you in order to “train” your dog or pup) end up going out of business. Which will never happen because many of us (as humans) just may be mindless zombies who, instead of supporting local training, grooming, and local treat companies, have to take a walk into what is the equivalent of Walmart-quality dog training at your local super pet store and then have to sign up for group classes! Please understand me, I shop at Walmart occasionally but whenever I do so I know that there is a pretty high chance I’m not getting the greatest quality or service of whatever I’m shopping for.  And I’d like everyone to know that this analogy is strikingly similar to what is happening in the dog training world with these giant companies.  And currently it is happening with loads of private start ups too – some kid finds out they can make a quick buck because they can get a puppy to into the sit position while bribing it with a treat and suddenly they’re a “trainer!”  Please hear me…If you want the cheapest of everything than you’ll get the weakest of results behaviorally speaking.

In this post we will examine the pros and cons of putting your dog or puppy in group class training.

The one pro of dog obedience group classes is that occasionally the dog can learn some “typical” and “regular” training out of the class and get a bit more social at the same time.  You can use the distractions to strengthen your “sit” or “stay” or “down” or “come” and leash/heeling skills.

My question is, Can’t you do almost the same exact thing at a busy park nearby?  Can’t we do the same thing as we walk our pup through Home Depot or Mud Bay?  There are pros to the group class but please be aware there are several cons to the classic group class that the majority of people never even consider!

Socialization does NOT just mean getting your dog or pup into a group class.  Socialization is much more in depth than that.  In fact it is one of the most important thing in our dogs behaviorally speaking.  Socialization is the continual process of exposing our dogs to new touches, smells, tastes, sights, and sounds.  Socialization is the active quest to cram in as many different experiences as possible so our dogs learn how to follow our lead and how to handle new or stressful situations without triggering a fight/flight response.   Socialization is more than a small time frame that occurs during the first few weeks of a pup’s life. Socialization is all important.  The more social a dog is the less behavioral issues a dog will suffer.

The more “typical training” a dog has will NOT necessarily prevent or diminish behavioral issues!  Have you ever wondered why you have to take puppy class 1, then if they can sell you, you’ll be taking puppy class 2, then basic 1 or basic 2, then basic 8 then possibly graduate to advanced 1 or 2….et cetera…? It is because it has little or nothing to do with your education as far as canine language is concerned. It has everything to do with just selling you more classes!  Group class trainers usually don’t care that much about getting you the very best for your dog or pup because group training is not and can Never be the best form of training.  And it certainly cannot solve most behavioral issues!  Here is why it cannot be the best for puppy or dog:

1.  Group classes are extremely unnatural. Your dog or pup will be overexcited . And because your dog or pup is overexcited you will need to work extra hard just to get it’s attention. This means you will have to either increase food rewards (which almost always leads to excessive bribery) or, depending on the trainer and the owners, you will have to increase more discipline and corrections in order to gain the dog’s attention. Are you starting to see the problem?  Never mistake excitement for happiness -especially in an animal.  All of the creatures on earth teach their young that calmness and energy control lead to surviving and maintaining unity in the family.

As an intelligent human you shouldn’t actually need anymore reasons than this first one but I’ll give you a couple more…

2.  In a group setting you will have people and dogs at different levels of learning and handling skills.  Many times the group class will advance only as far as the weakest link is advancing.  Group training cannot be custom tailored to fit your specific needs or your dogs specific issues.

3.  Group classes have a set curriculum that always involves more “typical training.”  You go there and will do “sit” exercises for the first hour.  The next week you attend the group and you do the “down” exercise for that hour.  Are you following me? And the week after – if you’re still attending and haven’t died from boredom – you work on loose-leash walking.  Your time could be better spent. Most folks who attend group classes are under the common assumption that if their dog or pup would just listen to them enough to sit or down or go and stay on their bed or come when called their dog would then stop disobeying, stop being hyper, stop being destructive, stop being dominant, stop being over-touchy, and stop being aggressive or fearful.  This is simply not true.  Regular or typical training seldom prevents or fixes most behavioral issues!  

This is a good depiction of “typical” or “regular” training. Most folks would find this impressive or wish their dog could do this but this is exactly the problem facing our society and our dogs…it’s fake! The dogs are clearly Not relaxed. They are maintaining focus on their handlers. They are doing perfect down stays. But they are not relaxed and that in and of itself is the single most important thing for preventing or fixing ANY behavioral issue! What happens when they are not being told directly what to do by their owner? That is the most important question.

4.  There is an even more unnatural trend occurring in group classes where several companies use partitions/dividers/separations if a dog is too hyper or aggressive or fearful to continue within eye-shot of the other dogs or people in the class.  This is ridiculous and will never work to fix your dog or pup’s escalated energy.  It can, in fact, make it worse.

Another crazy technique that I’ve heard some training company’s are now using is to back tie or tether the dog or pup to a post or the wall so the dog simply can’t reach the trainer or handler or person and cannot jump on them.  This is insane and will definitely make your dog worse!  Any trainer or behaviorist who knows even the first thing about dogs knows that if they are pulling on a leash or tether they are escalating their energy.  Anyone who knows anything about protection dog work or Schutzhund training also knows that back tying a dog is a great way to make them more territorial and protective – not less jumpy and calm!  Please beware horrible trainers!

Pulling creates more pulling! Notice the taught leash. Notice how comfortable the dog is pulling in his harness. Shocking, I know, but harnesses were designed to enable dogs to pull.  Never tether your dog or pup unless you want to increase territorial behaviors.  Work to develop a great heel to prevent excessive pulling.

5.  Imagine you want to start learning to play the violin.  You have two options.  You can start with a beginner group class where the teacher is instructing a few students and making everyone go at a similar pace or you can hire the best private tutor you can find.  Now imagine the great difference in how you play the violin and how much further you would come in a shorter time period studying from the master musician.  It is the same with private training sessions vs the group class setting.

6.  Dog owners who think “training, training, training” are actually much harder to teach mother nature’s calm, firm, relaxing ways to.  And their dogs are harder to teach also.  The dogs who have had a lot of “training” will keep trying to do sits, downs, shakes, etc instead of just learning to self-soothe and calm down and be social.  They act like robots instead of a calm, social, animal that has good energy control, self control, and is not selfish or dominant.

Private sessions, on the other hand, are totally customized to meet your specific needs in and around your neighborhood with real-life scenarios.  Group classes can never match up.  Never mistake real socialization for a group class.  Socialization is much more in depth than any group class could ever be. Seek to duplicate real life situations in your training; that way you have real life results!  

I am not suggesting you don’t attend a group class with your dog or pup.  I am saying group classes are only one very, small part of your quest to socialize your dog and sometimes they are unnecessary and many times they even do more harm than good!  Don’t over do it with “training.”  Do not be fooled – group classes will not usually fix any serious behavioral or energy issues.

One item that can help anyone with any aged dog or pup would be my hot-listed book on dog and human behavior and language.  Hundreds of people are ordering and reporting back to us on the great success they are achieving by applying our very natural (yet shockingly different from the mainstream status quo) methods of behavioral rehabilitation and training.  Here is the link…do your dog and yourself a favor – order this bad boy!  It will definitely shock, then equip and inspire you to a wonderfully beneficial relationship which, in turn results in great social behavior!  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!

(PS – Sorry to keep breaking down so many major assumptions about dogs and puppies and how we as humans train them…but many training methods are simply not helping the owners and the dogs to achieve a natural calmness and a smooth functioning household. I feel it is my job as a professional to be as honest as possible in order to help as many people and dogs as possible.  Good luck in all your endeavors.  Everyday we see older dogs that have done oodles of training and group classes and they are still highly problematic because the classes don’t prep the owners or the pups for real world success!)

Get Dog Myths, or my second book, So Long Separation Anxiety, read it, love it, then tell everyone you know about it!

Thanks,

-G

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Has your child been bitten in the face yet?

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Almost 5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year!  Half or more of those bites are on children.  And many of those bites are on the child’s face!  Dog-bite related injuries are highest in kids who are 5-9 years old.

This article will help to safeguard your own children or any child you welcome into your home and around your dog.  Be sure to teach your children how to act correctly around dogs because each dog is different and each is equipped with serious weaponry.  But first you have to know how to act properly…

If you want to allow your kid to manhandle your own dogs that’s your business but be forewarned… dogs don’t usually like hugs and when we wrap our arms around them and put our face in their face it can be taken as a sign of dominance (like when a dog wraps their arms around another dog to hump them) (or when two dogs get too tense for too long at a face to face meeting).  Hugs and kissing can make a nervous dog totally uncomfortable because there is no escape route in sight…which can quickly escalate from flight to fight!

 

A dog is all about it’s body.  I know you may think you are too (especially you gals who try to line up with whichever new Hollywood buffoon is gracing the cover of the magazines near the checkout lines) but however self conscious or self obsessed you may be about your cankles, love handles, crooked nose, chicken wings, mole or other blemishes it is nothing compared to the amazingly body conscious, furry, companion you’ve got lying next to you.

At this age all the pups are blind and deaf so you can imagine the importance the sense of touch plays as they fumble around and find mom, dad, milk, and their siblings. Touch, taste, and smell are a dog’s first senses.

Dogs do not have a spoken language like we do but that in no way means they do not have an amazingly complex language based in movement and energy.  The movements of their body, their energy levels, and who is touching who and when, where, and how on their body a touch may or may not occur- all of these little details are actually words in dog speak or the canine way of communication.

A dogs intelligence is a masterful blend of ancient instincts mixed with empirical activity and social manipulation.  They form habits after discovering what works for them.  If your dog is out-touching you or over-touching you be it a lick, a mouth, a nip, jumping up, a bump, leaning on, stepping on, nosing you or any other touching I’ll tell you clearly you are being manipulated and dominated!  Your dog thinks it is in charge of the routines and habits that run your life.  And your dog is absolutely right in this thinking.  He/she is dominating you even if it appears friendly or if the dog is desperately “in need” of comfort.  (See our blog posts about Dealing with a Fearful dog and Introducing a Rescue dog)

This article should forever change how we view our dogs because, let me tell you, they can be more manipulative and socially brilliant than most people I see.  A dog, through touch and social spacing, can have a human trained within a few short weeks.  I see it every single day!

To safeguard children and yourself from dog bites be sure to truly observe how touch and social spacing are the number one top priority for determining leadership and developing habits of energy control in our dogs.  Think like a dog.  Get out of your distracted, human head and live in the moment for a second or three to see what your dog is doing and how they are talking.   Are they speaking rudely?  Are they dominant?  Are they scared and threatening other people, kids, or dogs?  Are they hyper and taking it out on you and your personal space or your guests?  Are they constantly licking you or on your lap or hiding behind you?  If you answered yes to any of these questions you need help and not just the typically lame sort of help that most behaviorists and trainers suggest because no amount of “sitting, downing, staying, or watch me” is going to help solve real behavioral manipulation and the social one-uping that your dog is exhibiting.

Now ask yourselves if you were so unaware about how important a dog’s sense of feeling and touch is and how important a dog’s physical body is when considering behavioral patterns and sociability how on earth would a child be privy to such information?  Kids are bulls in a dog’s personal China shop because they will get right in a dog’s face.  Kids will pull a dog’s ears.  Kids will often smack a dog with any large item if they see the dog jump back and find that to be humorous.  Kids will attempt to ride a dog or sit on them.  Kids will drag a dog or pup around on leash.  Kids will hug the heck out of a dog whether the dog is their calm and friendly, already desensitized, old, family dog or some new terrified and aggressive rescue dog that the neighbors just brought home…kids will treat almost every dog the same based on their former experiences.

Teach your kids to ask before touching.  Teach your kids simple canine communication.  Teach them silence can be a big warning.  Teach your kids to be gentle and stay out of the dog’s face.  Teach your kids never to corner or trap an animal.

This is an image of what I would call a calm, balanced, and relaxed dog that is not guarding or claiming its backside. Notice the relaxed open mouth. The confident yet calm posture. The dog is not attempting to move away from the touching going on back there or move towards the vet menacingly.  This means some wise dog owner made sure their puppy or dog received ample touching when and where the owner wanted to touch…not just when and where the dog wanted it!

For those adults who believe that dogs just snap one day and go crazy I’ve got news for you.  Unless the dog is rabid nothing is further from the truth.  Dogs never just go wild and give no warnings.  There are always subtle warnings. In fact, usually there are warnings for months!  This does not mean the dog will send you an email, text, or prepare a Power Point presentation to let you know they are feeling uncomfortable and are about to bite.  The dog will not stand up like a human and speak out loud to you.  It means YOU might need to take some time to learn to read and speak your dog’s language better since you were the one who decided to welcome a domesticated predator into your home.

If you currently have a puppy I suggest you start to manhandle and over-touch it how and whenever you want every single day.  Please note, I did not say whenever the pup wanted or wherever they want to be touched on their body.  Half of good, early, dog training is denying them the touch and attention they want when they want it to replace it with a more correct social touch or spacing that teaches calmness but doesn’t let the dog or pup manipulate us.  Social grooming, touching and spacing is everything when communicating with an animal.  This goes far, far beyond treating them for frivolous tricks.  This goes much deeper into a real and social language instead of just “finding what motivates your dog” like the majority of trainers and behaviorists go on and on about.

Handling and touching of your puppy or dog will have several great benefits.  It will prep them for vet and grooming visits.  It will teach them not to claim any part of their body so that in the future they do not guard it.  It will make you look more like the mother or father dog and establish a more real and meaningful relationship as opposed to just having the dog manipulate and use you.  Handling your dog the right way will make the dog much more comfortable socially as it will learn the proper way to receive human attention and touching.  Your learn kids are loud, climb on things, roll on the floor, move fast, and will sometimes get right in their face to give them a hug.  Most importantly the dog will learn there are more options than just fight or flight!  By touching your dog or pup correctly they will learn to access the appropriate social, calming signals.

Protect your kids and desensitize your puppy or dog to touching and you’ll be doing everyone a huge service.  Need help?  Order my HOT Listed book on dog and human behavior (because I can guarantee you’ve never read anything like this book and I can also guarantee you’ll learn a ton about the intricate details where dogs manipulate their owners, their trainers, their vets, and how to calmly reverse those manipulation!) Here’s the link.  You know what to do…

Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

 

 

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Introducing a Rescue dog to your home

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When introducing a Rescue dog or Shelter dog to your home it is important to remember not to listen to your instincts.  As a human being in today’s society your instincts are probably wrong, greatly dulled, or, from excessive TV watching and or drooling over your stupid phone, just plain non-existent! The common person’s instincts when it comes to dealing with nervous, anxious, aggressive, excitable, hyper, dominant, or an otherwise imbalanced dog are, in the main, dead wrong.  A plethora of rescue dogs have serious issues that come out a couple weeks after being in the new home!

And believe me, you may think your new rescue dog is a, “real lover” (meaning the dog constantly loves to receive attention and be patted or pet by you and gets up on your lap, or stays right by your side, or licks/kisses you often) but to me that’s a clear warning sign…Proceed with caution!

 

Most rescue dogs are on their very best behavior when they are put into a new home.  Keep this in mind and enjoy the short interlude (honeymoon phase) because after three or four weeks (sometimes sooner) of living and getting accustom to the home environment the poor owner is suddenly confounded and befuddled when their, “precious, lovable, new, furry, family member,” decides to growl at someone in order to claim something in the house, or suddenly develops housebreaking issues, or is acting more nervous and fearful by the day, or starts to bark or guard the front door from any and all visitors and loved ones, or starts to act insane on leash, or, perhaps the most sinister of all, just starts to slowly but deliberately dominate and manipulate any and all things to his/her doggy advantage! (How’s that for a run-on sentence?)  Many dogs do this before the human is even aware of what’s going on!  Soon the dog has out-touched, out-maneuvered, and in general just outdone the human being.  The dog has built a relationship that wasn’t based on respect with the new owner and a wise person would Not trust that dog.

You thought you had a, “real lover” on your hands and so you decided to keep up the constant petting, baby talk, and giving of treats to bribe your way into a cozy relationship with your new rescue dog… you didn’t realize you were feeding and reinforcing a state of mind probably dominated by Fear and manipulation.  You were unaware how intelligent and manipulative this furry creature could be.  This happens on a daily basis across the world and I see it everyday in my business with the dogs!  My third book on dog behavior (coming out 2019) is all about Shelter/Rescue dogs and the incredibly critical first few weeks they are brought into the new home!  Keep a sharp eye out for it and, in the meantime, read Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety (available on Amazon and everywhere else) they will truly help you understand the dog language and see where the dog training industry and the dog rescue industry has gone off the rails!

Emotional decision or Logical decision?

The human, after seeing a singing Sarah Mclachlan commercial and feeling awful (weak energy!) goes out and decides to make a difference in at least one animal’s life.  And then the downward spiral of manipulation begins.  The person didn’t even know the dog was that fearful until something in the environment finally triggers the fear.  Or, if the new owner did recognize the fear they do the one thing to make it infinitely worse and give the fearful mind what it wants…the ability to remain fearful!  They let the dog use them as a comfort blankey 24/7!  The rescue dog then continues and often increases the use of unsocial fight/flight habits mixed with escalated out of control energy levels.  Another common mistake that new rescue owners make is their fixation on frivolous dog training tricks like sit or stay.  While sit and stay are fine commands to teach the dog please do NOT be fooled, they are nothing in comparison to the value of healthy relationship based in respect, trust, clear communication, proper dog language – which entails correct energy levels, proper positioning of the physical body, and the ever important, who is touching who and how that touch is being applied!  Most dog training falls utterly short of what is really important to our dogs and to our bonding properly with them.

Here are some Don’t and Dos that will really help you…

Don’t label and keep the “rescue dog” as a victim for very long.  Let the dog move on…basically Don’t live in the past and use weak energy with your dog.  Almost any and every single rescue dog owner I’ve ever met with fails horribly in this regard and, if we’re being honest here, psychologically handicaps their new dog from having a healthy future (See my other post on, “Dealing with a fearful dog.”)

Don’t let the dog smell the whole house.  Why would I give the new rescue dog access to the whole house?  The dog should earn access to more rooms and levels of your home after a number of weeks.

Don’t let the dog constantly use you as a comfort blanket and Don’t let it always touch you or “love” on you.  This is probably the most important on the list!!!

Don’t let the new rescue sleep in your bed or any humans’ bed.  This can quickly lead to behavioral issues as many dogs may soon start to claim certain spots or the whole bed itself as their own.

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This is Cato our Pitbull/Cane Corso mix. He is a rescue and will be featured in my upcoming book on rescue dogs!

Do exercise the hell out of the dog.  This is a great time to show leadership (work the heel position), drain energy, release stress, bond as a pack, and explore and socialize with your new companion.  Take the dog everywhere and also have people over as guests in your home during the honeymoon phase.  Set the tone.

Do make the dog work for praise, affection and it’s breakfast sometimes.  I said sometimes because flexibility is what we are after.  Dogs can be fantastic adapters but only if you help them along the way.

Do make it clear that any and all humans are the owners of everything in the dog’s life including the dog’s own body!  This is a very important “do.”

Do follow this blog and please tell your family and friends to do so too for more excellent and enlightening info!

And above all else…DO DO DO DO drop what you’re doing and order my book(s) on dog and human behavior!  They are completely unique to what is being taught by the mainstream dog training industry and because of that – The info contained within my books will make you wildly successful with your dogs!  Here is the link to the first one

Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

This book will forever alter the way you look at dogs and pups (in a great way).  It will help anyone with any aged dog with a plethora of doggy problems.  Dog Myths is an absolute necessity for someone with a rescue dog.  Order two or three because after you read the first chapter you’ll want to give it and share it with others in your life!  While you’re at it grab my second book, SO LONG SEPARATION ANXIETY and in this way prevent or reverse anxiety in your new shelter dog!

Feel free to leave questions or comments.  If your rescue is fearful or aggressive read my other post entitled “Dealing with a fearful dog.”  Remember to go to my business website for some great products that can truly help you and your new pooch!  Our training collar will change your life.   http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

Thanks much

-G

 

If you’re taking your aggressive, fearful or growling dog to a “growly” class or a “reactive” dog class…you are Not getting good training

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“Growly dog classes” are for suckers.

All canines are creatures that survive in a pack.  A family group.  This means they can be influenced by peer pressure.  I am always shocked how foolish dog trainers and dog behaviorists will hold “growly dog” classes!

Why on earth would I want to bring an already unstable, aggressive, fearful, hyper, dominant or otherwise unsocial dog into a group of dogs suffering the same afflictions?  The idea is that we can all work on these issues together, right?  Wrong.  This only sets up your “growly” dog for failure and gives them no good example dogs to learn from.  Yes, socialization is key and one of the only things to really help our aggressive or fearful dogs but it needs to be done in the right way.  Naturally our pups and dogs want and need to learn by watching the older dog (in the wild the older canine is always balanced and a great social communicator).  “Growly dog classes” are a waste of time and money.

Now if you had a group of balanced, calm, social dogs and you brought your unbalanced, out of control, “growly” dog into that group…..Now you are talking!  Now there’s a solution!

Remember folks, all the greatest scientific and medical minds in society many years ago believed that the earth was flat!  Turns out they were dead wrong.  Just because society (or the majority) believes something it in no way means it is true!

Keep exploring and discovering your dog.

-Garrett

Dealing with a Fearful Dog

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Fear in a wild canine is a perfectly viable option for survival, and can be used to stay alive in dangerous situations, but fear in our domestic dogs becomes a horribly debilitating habit. Fear can dominate the animal’s outlook and daily experiences in life. The fearful dog’s social circle soon starts to implode, and eventually, the human owner’s social circle does as well. This is an all too common occurrence. Fear in a pup or dog blocks intelligent learning, playfulness, and sociability. Remember, sociability is the real key in an animal whose very life depends on living in a pack.  Once a dog starts to use a habit of fearfulness, he goes right into a fight or flight response instead of investigating the new stimulus (new place, person, dog, or random item) with its nose, you are bound for trouble.

A healthy, normal domesticated dog should be everyone’s friend. This does not mean they will stop their guardian barking if there is someone at the door or in the middle of the night. Dogs are very sensitive and should be able to distinguish between a guest or family member you’ve already invited in to the house from a burglar attempting to break in at night. They should run to meet people, and dogs, and then slow upon their approach as they switch from eye contact into sniffing and smelling with that wonderful nose of theirs. About 65% – 70% of the canine brain is dedicated to the olfactory system. If your puppy or dog isn’t smelling and sniffing it is Not using much of it’s brain! I always recommend people– and dogs– use their brain.

As owners of dogs we can learn to read our dog’s body language, and their body will reveal exactly what is going on in their brain. Dogs are brutally honest. A dog will never lie. If a dog is uncomfortable or nervous it will tell you with its body. This helps us decide what to do to help change the dog’s fearful state of mind. A dog’s movement is key in deciding how we are to move in response to their fear. Leaving a situation when a dog is fearful is seldom the answer. If you let a fearful dog just leave, or go into flight, how will it ever learn to conquer the fear and enter into relaxation?

The most important thing to remember is to never coddle or comfort a fearful dog. And never pick a nervous dog up or allow them to hide behind or under you. So many people think if we just work a bit harder to “win over” the nervous dog with more soft human talking or treats, or praise or petting to comfort the animal, it can help. If you talk softly, praise, treat, pet or coddle fear– it will only grow more fear in your dog and hurt it more psychologically! I see many owners in unhealthy relationships with their dogs where the dog is simply using them as a source of comfort in order to stay fearful and even aggressive!  Fear should be ignored most of the time. Sometimes it needs to be adamantly disagreed with first and then ignored (especially in the case of aggression or extreme flight.) Think of what a mother dog or wolf would do with a fearful pup…Nothing! She would not comfort or protect it more than all the other normal pups. In fact, we know that many times the fearful pup never even survives into adulthood. Fear is totally self consuming. As a pack predator who is supposed to play, run, groom, hunt, learn from, and eventually contribute to help the group, fear is a horribly selfish weight to have on your shoulders. Fear is anti-pack.

If you have a rescue dog, and it is now living with you, it is no longer a rescue dog! Do not keep your rescue dog as a victim! This is one offense most of humanity is guilty of. People also want to tell me the dog’s back story. Do you think the dog actually cares about it’s back story? One dominating part of the dog, wolf, or any other animal’s brain is that they live in the moment. This is how a dog can learn a habit faster than a human being (we’ll talk about habits in the next Pet Connection issue). Because all animals are survivalists, and have a constant need to be aware of their present surroundings and environment, they move on from the past extremely fast. We are not like that. The human brain is constantly imagining things, time traveling between the past, present and future. When we watch TV our brain takes us there. When we read a book our brain takes us on another speedy adventure, et cetera.

There is a huge difference between our traveling brain and the ever present brain of a dog. Here’s an example of how terrible it
is to keep a dog labeled a rescue:  If I introduced you to my wife, and then proceeded to tell you she was a victim, and then described every failure or mistake or weakness she had in the past would that be fair to her? Would she like that? Would that bias your opinion of her and how you decide to treat her? Of course, that would be atrocious. I’m telling you now it is even worse when we do that to an animal that is constantly ready to move on and is living fresh in the moment each day.  A dog is always ready to be rehabilitated back to a normal healthy social state of mind, and to keep it as a “rescue” or victim is doing your dog great harm.

This is also why many people have trouble after just a few weeks of living with their new rescue. The dog has had a chance to check out the environment, and is now deciding he’s no longer weak, and maybe he will start claiming and dominating things or even people in the home! The human keeps viewing the dog as a poor, pitiful rescue, meanwhile, the dog feels strong, is getting regular meals, is gaining weight and is constantly presented with weak human energy… so… it decides to take the lead.

Stop living in the past and take action in the present to help your dog. The fearful dog owner’s attitude should be one of calm assurance. You may have to fake it until you make it! You need to be a source of calmness for a dog who is being fearful, but do not attempt to soothe with human talk, treating or petting. Using treat training for fear will not help unless the fear is very minor. Cut off any unwanted fear behaviors early, before the dog raises its energy too high, and then calmly ignore the dog.

Remember, do what a normal older dog would do…either adamantly disagree with the behavior or totally ignore it, or both, depending on what the situation dictates.

As long as your dog is allowed to continue in fight/flight , and keep the energy escalated, the dog will never get over the fear. Whatever you do, do not let the dog run or leave the situation. I almost always recommend using a leash in the more severe cases, as this lets us stop the erratic and dramatic fight/flight movements. This gives us access to control the dog’s head and manipulate the body to help calm the animal.

Don’t get involved in dog drama! Slow the dog’s movements. Stay calm.

There is no reason for your dog to continue living in fear. If your dog is fearful in any way it can be taught to choose the appropriate calming social signals that are inherently inside every canine. If you work on overcoming the fear, instead of just accepting it, your dog will become more social, playful, intelligent, relaxed and happy.

If you need help I am just a phone call away.
Seize the day

Written by Garrett Stevens, owner/operator of Alpha and Omega Dog Training; this article first appeared in the July/August issue of Pet Connection Magazine.

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

If you really want your relationship to grow in a natural, healthy, and beneficial way and if you desire to shrink and eliminate the fear and anxiety in any dog or pup whilst simultaneously increasing confidence and social relaxation and obedience then look no further than my HOT listed book, Dog Myths!  It is the complete opposite of what most professionals are teaching and, because of this, it works so much more efficiently and naturally than the mainstream garbage.  Did you know that you don’t have to Bribe your dog or pup with food to motive it?  Did you know that you don’t have to smack it around and use harsh handling either?  Both of those shoddy methods are clear evidence that most professionals are woefully behind when it comes to the calming natural language of our dogs!  Order Dog Myths and watch the changes happen before your very eyes!

Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You! by Garrett Stevens

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Calm your dog’s Energy and behavioral problems disappear!

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One of the main issues I see that is tremendously lacking in thousands of homes, as I behaviorally rehab dogs and instruct their owners, is the simple understanding that dogs communicate constantly through their energy and body language.  Dogs are almost always talking!  Are we accurately reading them and honestly listening?  Dogs are constantly telling us what they need or want and this, in turn, tells us how to help them.  And the amazing thing about that is that dogs don’t lie.  They don’t deceive or fall prey to mankind’s greatest weaknesses, such as inflated ego, criticism, materialism, consumerism, or attempting to live a life that flows against Mother Nature.  When we can take our eyes off ourselves for a moment we can truly see, appreciate, and then help a dog or pup in need.

If you begin to think of a dog as furry energy, you will start to see how you can help calm that animal’s brain in that moment in time.  This is the answer to any dog behavioral issueProblems arise when most typical dog trainers, dog behaviorists, vets, vet techs, dog rescue groups, groomers and other dog professionals do not use enough natural calming techniques.  Many dog professionals seldom consider how dogs need to be calmed down in order to be social, and instead just forge ahead with the same typical training techniques no matter what the dog is communicating with its energy and body.

Typical training uses way too much excitement.  Please re-read that last sentence.  We have been sold the concept that an excited dog is a happy dog.  In many circumstances nothing could be further from the truth.  When we realize that the canine uses differing levels of excitement/energy like a human uses words to communicate, we start to understand that being excited does not always mean the dog is happy.  In fact, many dogs are overexcitement junkies.  They are stuck in horrible habits of overexcitement because they have not been shown how to stop the addiction, or shown they have crossed a social boundary in the household.  Remember, not all excitement is good.  Playing ball or wrestling with your dog is good excitement.  Pulling nonstop on leash or freaking out at another dog or person is not good.  As humans, we get excited to go on vacation and that’s great but we also become excited when in a warzone or if we were running from a dangerous murderer.  Not all excitement means we are happy.

Out of control much?

Most training also seldom considers what the animal may actually need and instead goes right into manipulating the dog, usually using something exciting (treats, toys, praise), into a sit, down or stay.  Behaviorist and trainers alike focus on the External motivation of the animal instead of the more natural and much more beneficial Internal motivation.  They focus too heavily on obedience as the end-all-be-all instead of relationship!

We as a society are hyper fixated for some very odd reason with making our dogs sit.  I see countless people every day making their dogs sit and sit and sit some more.  I ask you this simple question…Why?  Has it solved the dog’s behavioral issue? Has it made them calm their energy enough to change the undesirable behavior into something much better. or do they just end up, literally, placing their bottom on the ground for a moment and only to pop back up into whatever behavior they want?  Or, if the “sit, stay or wait,” works and is fairly strong and the person has practiced that with the dog and done prior training, the dog will then remain in the “sit, stay, wait” yet all the while building more energy and over-excitement.  Then, when the owner releases the dog, the dog ends up still exploding forward into the undesired behavior!  What has the sit (stay, wait) done for you?  What was gained?  In many cases the dogs use it to manipulate and raise their energy which is the OPPOSITE of what the owner wants and what the dog wants deep down inside.

Instinctually, no dog wants to be hyper or out of control.  They are just locked into a habit of raising their energy.  Many dogs I see yearn for more natural rules and boundaries so they can learn how to calm themselves down and exist more comfortably with their families at a more sociable level.  This leads to more pleasant outings and a larger social group.  And, as we know, instinctually for a pack predator (with amazing instincts right from the wolf) getting along in a large social group and operating like a well-oiled-machine is what being a healthy dog is all about.  Being social is the key.  But you have to be calm enough to get along socially!

Consider your dog’s energy levels while patiently existing in the moment with them, read their body language more effectively and then you will have an amazing foundation to prevent or cure any behavioral issue.  Think and then act to intercept rising energy and place your dog or pup into more patient postures.

“The more tranquil a man becomes the greater is his success, his influence, his power for good.  Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom.”  -James Allen

Hope you all enjoyed this article.

Check out my website at www.gstevensdogtrainer.com Stay tuned for other excellent dogformation from yours truly, thecaninecalmer.  Look for little dogortunities to work with your dogs or pups throughout the day.  Order my behavioral book, Dog Myths -it’ll rock your world and give you an amazing understanding of dog language and how the training industry is dropping the ball and how to prevent, reverse, and eliminate behavioral issues.  The link is below.  And, be different, use calmness instead of excitement when working with your dog or pup!

-Garrett Stevens

Author of Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!

Alpha and Omega Dog Training

Any Breed, Any Age, Any Problem