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 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 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 dogs are excellent peace-keepers among the pack and many dog daycare owners love having them in their group to help with the rest of the dogs.)  Fun fact: Scientists have studied and proven that canines make spectacular parents and are usually better at parenting than most primates!

So, with dog leadership in mind you will have to be very firm at first when teaching 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 energy excitement levels.  As soon as the doorbell rings or you hear a knock and your dog starts speeding for the door…stay calm.

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 back them up at least a foot or two (enough to give yourself some room to open the door and to not let them dominate/claim the door or guest).  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, 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).  Be comfortable using the leash inside as you practice this greeting.  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 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 away.

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

About the Author

Garrett Stevens is owner of Alpha and Omega Dog Training

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

Tacoma based, Garrett trains, whispers, and rehabs dogs and pups while also working on his book and a series of dog training videos soon to be available to the public.

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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.  Keep a sharp eye out for my up coming book!  And above all, stay persistent yet calm.

-Garrett Stevens

Alpha and Omega Dog Training

Any Breed, Any Age, Any Problem

www.gstevensdogtrainer.com