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

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A primer on the etiquette of butt-smelling

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In today’s complex world many of us forget to stop and smell the roses. However, “rose smelling” to a human, while important, is not nearly as important as butt smelling to a dog.  I’ve written this short primer on the art of smelling a butt.  I hope you enjoy it and that your dog can learn to perform this most vital of respectable, social, canine etiquette.

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Dogs are all born blind and deaf.  The primary senses are touch, smell and taste.  The unsocial dog over-uses vision and hearing and doesn’t enter the world of smell and taste enough!  This results in the unsocial touch or unsocial spatial manipulation.

If your dog has dog aggression or is fearful, skittish, anxious, nervous, or whatever other label you can come up with one of the main areas to focus on would be their butt.  I am dead serious.  The back half of a dog is what I like to call “the more social half,” or “the end without weapons.”  The astute observer of dogs and canine behavior can quickly see how important smelling a butt and getting your own butt smelled is as a greeting ritual in a canine’s social world and body language.  If your dog is not comfortable getting it’s rear smelled that’s a big problem!

For the aggressive or reactive dog be sure to have already started a great foundation of heeling and leash work before attempting to get your dog’s rear smelled.  This means the dog should be able to walk beside the owner or handler and NOT in front and the dog should be able to keep the leash relatively loose while doing so.  NO tense, tight, or taught leash!!!  If you and your dog cannot accomplish this heeling feat and your walks are terrible please go NOW and order my HEELING and LEASH MANNERS VIDEO!  (That video is everything you’ll need to get you going initially on a great walk with your dog or pup.)  www.gstevensdogtrainer.com 

If your dog already has a decent heel started and can, for the most part, walk beside you and the leash is loose when there are no other dogs around you are then ready to help him/her begin to advance to butt smelling (Even and Especially if they do not want their butt smelled!).

Forcing a nervous or aggressive dog to get their rear end smelled is critical to behaviorally rehabbing the animal into a future of relaxed, and social interaction!  The relaxed and social interaction has to start somewhere.  I start with the heel and quickly progress to getting the dog’s butt smelled…even if it’s forced (meaning I’ll turn the aggressive or fearful dog around exposing his backside to the calmer, social dog who is attempting to greet the unsocial dog by smelling it).  Forcing a nervous or aggressive dog to do something it doesn’t want to do is the name of the game!  If this is handled correctly and smoothly with proper timing and reading of the dog’s energy it will most assuredly stretch the dog’s capacity for sociability!

 

If it was up to the fearful or aggressive dog they would never choose to interact socially because they are probably quite comfortable with their tiny, shrinking social circle that includes manipulating and receiving unhealthy and non-beneficial human comfort or touching from the owner!  (yes, this is real talk for you)

At this point many dog lovers would freak out and say something to the tune of “Never force a dog to do anything.”  To that I would say “Rubbish!”  Of course you can lovingly and calmly force a dog to do something.  Example in the human world:  I force my three-year-old to learn the rules of the road, to look both ways before crossing the street, and I may even physically grab him, if necessary, to stop him from running into traffic!  This is done out of love and to teach him how the world works so he can function and successfully navigate the world without me one day.  The great reward for me as a parent will be a future filled with TRUST.  People don’t seem to understand they can have a similar relationship with their dogs if the methods are proper.

The skittish or dog aggressive dog will not go along with getting his/her rear smelled easily…so be prepared to turn your dog’s head away from the approaching social dog they are about to freak out on.  180 degrees is perfect when first starting.  Move as fast as you can to turn your dog’s head away and break the unsocial and aggressive eye contact your dog is giving to the approaching dog.

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Notice how comfortable this dog is in his harness!  Harnesses are terrible for helping a dog walk nicely and certainly don’t work to help control or calm a dog’s eye contact because there is no access to the head.  Don’t be fooled by the salesman trying to sell them!!!

 

(If this proves impossible for you or very difficult and the dog is still staring and presenting fight or flight at the approaching dog you may want to order our custom fit, strong, hand-made training collars…they work much better than any collar or harness on the market!  I highly recommend them for this sort of socializing and walking-work. To order go to my website below and click on the Custom Products page)

Control your dog’s eye contact – Do NOT let them re-engage and stare at the approaching dog.  Control the eyes and you control the animal.  Then KEEP THE DOG THERE in that position (facing away from the other dog).  They are forced to look away from the approaching dog and their butt is behind them where it should be and the owner has their head in the heel position looking away from the coming dog.  Now the butt is exposed and ready for smelling!

At this point your dog if skittish, or aggressive, hyper, or fearful, rude, or just young will flail about and do everything in his/her power to turn around and stare, lunge, bark or bite at the approaching dog.  They will do anything to get their weapons pointed and protect or hide their butt.  It’s wild because they will do almost anything to remain UNSOCIAL and UNSMELLED!  This is the nature of fear – it’s a harmful addiction.

Stay calm.  Move fast but stay calm. Try not to even enter into what I call “the dance”: when a dog has too much leverage on the leash and is taking advantage of their owner and creating more and more space and lunging about and barking and snapping and leaping every which way – et cetera.

Try your best to control the space in a firm but very calm and commanding way.  Keep the dog looking away and in the heel position.  If you can do that relaxation and much more freedom is right around the corner for you and for your dog.  Sociability is waiting to be had but in many cases will never be found because the fearful, skittish, or aggressive dog, like a drug addict, is addicted to fearful and unsocial habits and they quickly become masters of evading social greetings.  They hide their butt and never “shake hands” in the dog world.  And the majority of trainers try to bribe them with food.  And the majority of owners just let the dog control the interaction and continue to cater to fear.

This is why the caring human must take charge.  When we make a dog get it’s rear end smelled by another calmer dog we are in the very least introducing the nervous dog to what is, in dog culture, half a handshake.  We are helping them with their own canine manners and greeting rituals.

Imagine how psychotic a person would be in our society if they refused to shake hands when meeting people!  Imagine if that person wanted to be successful but would run, or fight, or simply hide anytime a friendly person, coworker, boss, or family member stuck out their hand to say hello.  This is exactly what a huge percentage of dogs and pups do and shockingly the owners do nothing about it!  The dog is certifiably INSANE and cannot even grasp the simplest of its own social beginnings like a dog handshake/butt smelling and yet there is hardly ever the attempt made at forcing them to have an inkling of manners (just get it over with) and helping the dog get their butt smelled.  This inaction on the part of humanity is just one reason why in America each year 5 million people get bit by dogs!

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The wild part is that after a few repetitions where the nervous or aggressive dog is getting spun around and if we are controlling their head and their hip and exposing their backside to smelling from other social dogs… they begin to relax!  They begin to calm down!  We begin to normalize what should have been (and would have been if their hadn’t been any humans involved from birth) normal social canine interaction.  The dog becomes less insane.  The human owner/handler becomes much more confident in their handling abilities and they learn to achieve calmness quicker and quicker with each repetition.  The formerly skittish dog soon only freaks out on other skittish or aggressive dogs and no longer has issue with the social dogs.  A few days or weeks after that if we keep the exposure up they usually don’t freak out on any dogs!

This is critically important information.  This is a key part in the Garrett Stevens Method.

It’s time we do things the dog’s way and get great results.  It’s time to get those unsocial dogs smelled!  It’s time for owners to have the courage to stay on the same side of the street they were originally walking on (not hide or flee when they see another dog coming).  Look at the approaching dog as a learning opportunity for your own crazy dog!  It’s time for action.  It’s time for speed.  It’s time for respect, and calmness…..then…..and only then can you finally have trust!

Imagine trusting your dog enough to walk by another dog.  Imagine trusting your dog off leash.  Imagine trusting your dog at the dog park.  You can get there.  I can help.  Start with “Heel” and then jump into the social adventure of getting your dog’s butt smelled!

If you enjoyed this Read my books, Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety (at least sample them on Amazon)  They’ll forever alter for the better your entire perception of dog language and training!

-G

more info at http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

 

253-653-4890

Any Breed, Any Age, Any Problem

Experience the difference Calmness can make!

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What to do if your dog is afraid of loud noises

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The fourth of July is right around the corner and I have been talking with many of my clients everyday concerning how to handle their dogs that suffer from ligyrophobia (fear of loud noises).  Most vets will suggest drugs (of course!… this is a growing problem in our medical community, in my opinion, whether it be human or canine the “quick fix” of drugging is seldom effective and typically an unhealthy habit.  But because it is a money maker why would the medical world ever stop it?)

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I will make this short so you can enjoy your holiday with family, friends, fireworks and stuffing your face with a spicy Italian sausage…

1.  EXERCISE the hell out of the dog.

2.  Start to desensitize the animal to more and more sounds and socialization.

3.  Be sure to NEVER CODDLE or touch or comfort the fearful dog (please see my post about Dealing with a fearful dog- it can change your life and save your dog from a life of misery!  You would be shocked to see how many dogs suffer with preventable fear and ridiculous phobias because of an enabling owner)

4. Intercept any start to the fearful behavior – meaning: as soon as the dog starts to whine, pace, freeze, bark, circle, run away…etc, etc you need to intercept or interrupt this behavior ASAP.  You only have two seconds to do this!  And be sure to interrupt the behavior with a clear countenance and energy that disagrees with what the dog is doing.  Be firm.  Stop excess movement if the dog tries to run or circle.  Stop whining by instantly standing up quickly, “get big” and head toward the dog as a warning (remember you have to match the dog’s energy in order to even break through to their attention level and then, if you do get the attention, Calm the dog! Be firm until you get eye contact.  Do not let the dog use you as a comfort blankey and constantly touch you.  Do Not say and this is a human classic….”It’s Ok.”  Fear is never “Ok.”

5. Remain calm and relaxed and actually enjoy the fireworks or whatever other loud noises are going on.  The dog should look to you for feedback on how to act not steal all the attention with doggie drama and insanity…remember always ask yourself what would the calm, social, unfearful older dog do?  Chances are the calm dog would simply ignore the fearful one.

6.  You can play some calming classical music if you want but don’t rely on unnatural solutions like this.  You can also try a “thundershirt” they can work for some dogs.  You can also try to actually bring them outside during the fireworks and let them see and understand what they are.  DO NOT CODDLE.

7. And possibly the most important thing to do…order my book (Dog Myths) on dog and human behavior!  Here is the link.  This book is outrageously different and will be amazingly beneficial for you and your dog!

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

Stay relaxed as you read, Dog Myths, after exercise, of course, and have a Happy Independence Day and a less fearful dog.

don’t forget to follow this blog and go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  for more info on Garrett

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