Stop your dog from being Mike Tyson!

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Many a professional pugilist in the 1980s and 90s entered the ring with apprehension (sometimes masked as bravado) because they were facing the living legend “Iron” Mike Tyson.  Sometimes known as “Kid Dynamite” due to his explosive power, Tyson holds the record as the youngest boxer to win the heavyweight title.  Mike was just 20 years old.  His first 19 professional fights were won by knockout.  12 of those fights ended in the very first round!  Mike Tyson was the first heavyweight to win the WBA, the WBC, and the IBF titles simultaneously.  He is the only heavyweight to successfully unify them.

Mike Tyson is well known for his ferocity in the ring.  His classic “peekaboo” style, taught to him by legendary manager and boxing trainer Cus D’Amato, left many opponents punching at the air and wide open for Iron Mike’s monstrous hooks and uppercuts.

What does all this have to do with your dog or pup?  Everything.  This has everything to do with your dog or pup behaviorally speaking because every dog on the planet (unless they are at a feral level of fear) will get in close to their owner (like Tyson used to approach his opponents in the ring) and, over time, the dog will control who is touching who.  Tyson pressured his opponents, and frankly, he scared many of them.  They knew his reputation for aggression, speed, agility and knockout power was well-earned.

In the case of most dogs the loving pet owner is totally unaware that their dog is controlling touch in the relationship (which can and usually does lead to behavioral problems).  You see, many dog owners assume that if a dog will do some obedience for them or if they yell loud enough at their pet and the dog offers them a quick appeasement gesture (like lowering their head and leaving the area) that they (the dog owner) are in charge.  They assume that if the dog shows them it’s belly that the dog is “submissive.”  These false beliefs then allow the wayward puppy or dog to continue to manipulate touch and space within the relationship and often manipulate any item the dog may desire to claim (food, bed, couch, front door, yard, the leash, the owner’s body, the dog’s body, another dog or person in the home, et cetera).   Want to hear the most sinister thing about this ultra-common canine manipulation?

Most times when dogs are “Mike Tysoning” their owners or a guest they seem to be FRIENDLY about it!  Please pause and consider that last sentence.

When dogs are controlling touch and spatially pressuring a person they could be being friendly but still desire to be in charge of who touches who and where that touch is applied and they seek to control how that creature is moving in the space around the dog’s environment.  This is animal language, people…we’ve got to learn it if we want to see improvements.  Let me clarify with real-world examples.

EXAMPLES of dogs “Mike Tysoning” their owners or others in a friendly manner:

You walk in the door and the dog MUST touch you.

You go to sit down on the couch or chair and the dog quickly beats you there, hops up, and attempts to sit down in the very spot in which you were headed.

You reach to pet the dog and the dog instantly raises it’s energy to a much higher level then they cross the distance between your body and theirs and either jump up on you, paw at you, stick their head between your legs, nudge your private parts, or lean up on your legs in a sideways position.  

You try to stop petting the dog and the dog pushes back into your space to clearly let you know that the petting will NOT stop.

Dogs, of course, also can be a Mike Tyson in a myriad of unfriendly and downright aggressive ways.  Those gestures are usually identified by the general populace though.  In today’s post I’ve identified those more subtle yet equally rude maneuvers that many dogs pull on their owners or on a guest.

My Dear Readers, I hope you all understand that the mother or father dog or any socially skilled dog would NOT NOT NOT NOT tolerate this friendly/excited yet rude and pushy touching from another dog.  Why should we?  Are you no better than a puppy in your dog’s eyes?  Does your dog lack all respect for your physical body and the space around it?  Has the dog been happily claiming everything in sight and you’ve cluelessly sat by assuming it was just affectionate?  Don’t be chump.  Or you could be “knocked out” by the rapidly growing misbehaviors of the dog or pup in your care.  Some dogs take it only so far while others will claim the world and everything in it.  In many cases this is how aggression starts!  In many cases this over-touching by the dog on the human is how fear and skittishness not only continues within the dog but grows steadily worse!

TO DO: physically block your dog from Mike Tysoning you.  You have hands don’t you? Use them to gently but firmly block the animal’s entrance into your personal space!  In fact, move forward into the dog’s space and act like a real parent because you committed to take this animal away from his/her natural life with their birth parents!

Think differently.  Think like a dog.

-G

Enlight186

These are my favorite boxing gloves and jump rope

 

  For more info on dog language and behavior read Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety by Garrett Stevens

Calm Doorway Greetings

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It seems the holidays are already knocking at our door and soon we will have, literally, many relatives, guests and holiday visitors knocking too.  There is no better time to start getting our rambunctious dogs under control at the front door.  Far too often I see dogs and pups bark, climb, jump, scratch, nip, mouth (and in many cases growl and attempt to bite) at the door.

The main thing we must help our dogs understand is how to calm and get right into the action of smelling the guests.  And, of course, the dogs can’t do that if they are put away or behind a gate, or held so far back that they never can smell the visitor.  If you have a dangerous dog obviously proceed with caution and get help(call me) but if not remember a pup or dog has a biological need to smell a new person entering the home environment.  Everything in the canine world is based on touching and smelling.  The dog or pup needs to learn to switch from an excitable habit of staring and constant movement near the entryway to actual thinking and investigating with their wonderful noses.  This can only be done through great leadership from the owner.

Dog leadership is very easy to define.  Dog leadership is also very easy to see.  If you truly wish to see dog leadership all you need to do is go to any dog daycare or dog park and watch for the calm, firm yet social dog in attendance.  You will soon discover that “Alpha” dog leadership is mostly like good human parenting.  It is not what many people imagine as domineering and over-controlling but instead is calm, patient, firm and exceptionally fair about the canine social rules (Alpha/parent or grandparent dogs are excellent peace-keepers among the group and many dog daycare owners love having them in their pack because they naturally help with the rest of the dogs.)  (FYI- you can argue about linguistics and labels all you want.  For my part I know for a fact that certain dogs with excellent language and social skills do exist and they act cool, calm, and collected, competent, confident, and with great self control.  I call them alpha dogs.  They do not over-police situations. They do not cause fights – they prevent fights in a fun and relaxing fashion.  They are just like great parents.)  Fun fact: Scientists have studied and proven that canines make spectacular parents and are often better at parenting than primates!

So, with dog leadership in mind you will have to be pretty firm at first (spatially speaking do NOT let the dog blow right past you or control any space near the doorway) as you teach your dog about the doorway and then very calm right after.  Remember, there are no bad or good dogs, there is only reaction and habit and differing energy levels.  As soon as the doorbell rings or you hear a knock and your dog starts speeding for the door…stay calm.  Be patient as you practice.

Next, move to the door in an assertive manner.  No need to run but walk with purpose.  Never open the door when a dog’s face is in front of your body and they are forcing their face in the crack of the door.  This is when you must claim the doorway and your own dog and back them up at least two to four feet (enough to give yourself some room to open the door and to not let them dominate/claim the door or guest or explode out the door).  Picture a basketball player playing defense.  The door is the hoop and you want to stop them from driving forward.  The main goal here is trying to get the dog to stop doing the overexcited habit of barking nonstop, or moving constantly, or jumping on the guest, or exploding out of the doorway, or trying to attack the visitor, etc.

 

You have to get your dog’s eye contact for a moment and they have to physically slow their movement way down (it’s best if they stop moving all together).  Do NOT pay your dog for eye contact by using a treat!  (If a dog does something in return for payment it certainly does not mean the relationship is healthy or respectful) Be comfortable using the leash inside as you practice this greeting initially.  If you get eye contact then you can turn around and answer the door.  Once you open the door, be prepared for a rise in the dog’s energy and movement again and repeat the above procedure!  Then (if they aren’t aggressive) let them go and get into smelling your visitors.

Smelling is an excellent way for a dog to gather information and also calm down quicker.  If you don’t get the eye contact or the calmness it means you need help and I’m a phone call or email away.

The holidays can be a ton of fun or they can be stressful…the choice, my friends, is up to you.  Good luck and may all your greetings be good ones.

 

Garrett Stevens is the author of the Hot-Listed book on dog and human behavior DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!

He is the owner of the multi-award winning, Alpha and Omega Dog Training in Tacoma WA  (unaffiliated with any other companies)

He excels in dog rehabilitation and is a specialist in canine energy and body language.

Tacoma based, Garrett trains, whispers, and rehabs many dogs and pups a day while also working on his other books and training videos soon to be available to the public.

For more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com and buy Dog Myths it will shock you, enlighten you and equip you and your pet to move forward together into the wonderfully calm future!

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