Rescue Dog Revolution!

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Many dog shelters have an incredible amount of dogs siphon through their facilities each month.  A well-meaning army of volunteers try their best to help the dogs that come through the rescue route.  They do great heart work but many do not do great head work.  I see the other side of rescue in my daily work, the side where the rescue dog bites a neighbor’s dog or the new rescue dog bites their own owner or a child in the home!  Why does this happen?  How can we prevent it?

Let me answer the two questions above here and now.  1. It happens because most folks (even professional dog trainers – as I’ve said ad nauseam on this blog – do NOT know the dog language because they are consumed with trick training and obedience.  Keep in the forefront of your mind, Dear Reader, that what most dog owners consider solid obedience has little to nothing to do with canine social skills, language, and teamwork.  2. I’m going to answer the second question and describe precisely how we can prevent most rescue dog problems and help revolutionize the rescue dog industry with three easy solutions in the next paragraph!

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3 EXCELLENT MUST-HAVE SOLUTIONS THAT WOULD REVOLUTIONIZE DOG RESCUE FOR THE BETTER

  1.  In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility must have multiple TREADMILLS.  As new dogs come in they are put on a regular and rigorous exercise routine before being taken for a walk and socialized.  The impact would be incredible.  I know because I work with dangerous dogs every day and there’s an enormous difference working with them before versus working with them AFTER their Treadmill time.
  2. In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility or lead workers there would have to have/own incredibly Social “EXAMPLE DOGS.”  It would be ideal if each facility had continual access to two or three (small, medium, and large) wonderful, lead dogs that were highly skilled in dog language and communication to aid other dogs and to drastically help the rescue volunteers and the would be adopters.  I’m talking about dogs that are trustworthy and calm – excellent communicators.  It is so bizarre to me that more rescues and training companies don’t see and identify these dogs as a must have in order to help any and every problematic dog that comes through their doors.  Sociability is always the key when working with highly social animals.  Anything less is bordering on stupidity and/or abuse.  At our Dog Language Center we use my excellent example dogs to help other dogs every, single day with great success.  All dogs learn from other dogs.
  3. In order to have a non-profit animal shelter or dog rescue the facility would be required by law to Tell the TRUTH about the animal’s history (yes, tragically there’s loads of lying in the dog rescue industry…perhaps they never heard the old adage ‘Honesty is the best policy’?) And if we were to make just one more great suggestion, maybe a 3.5 option to revolutionizing the rescue dog industry then I’d suggest every adoption comes with a copy of my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! for the future owner in order to dispel the many harmful and often idiotic behavioral myths that reave and ravage the mind of most unwitting dog owners and the masses of inept dog professionals that abound in today’s world.

These 3.5 steps IF applied in dog shelters would do much towards paving the way of one of my grandest goals…to take the yearly American dog bite rate down from about 5 MILLION people each year to just 4 Million!  (And those are only the bites that are reported!)  If that rate could fall by a million that would mean dogs are doing much better and people are doing much better.  That’s a giant win-win!  But I’m not holding my breath.

If you truly care feel free to spread these ideas with your local rescues and shelters!

-G

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My Black Cane Corso/Pitbull: A Rescue Dog Story – Part 3

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We decided to give Cato the Corso a chance to join our family.  I made absolutely sure to purposely scare my wife and children about this powerful dog with the skittish tendencies before taking him into our home.  I am under no delusions when it comes to what nervous, powerful dogs can do to children, other dogs, neighbors, or their own owners after the honeymoon phase (the first couple of weeks when a dog finds him/herself in a new home) is over.  I wanted this strong dog to understand he would have to adapt and fit in with our tribe – not the other way round.  Cato would have to understand he was last place in our family.  By the way, that is such a good place for a new rescue to be in.  When you’re in last place in a family group/pack all you have to do is fit in and follow.  In this way I knew the cares of the world would soon melt away from Cato’s muscle-bound shoulders and he would have a real chance at a quality life with my family and because he’d be in last place that leaves zero room for classic dog manipulation and one-upmanship to gain a foothold in the relationship.

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You see, as I mentioned in Part 2, every single day in our custom behavioral work to save dogs on their last leg behaviorally speaking (we often bat clean up when shoddy mainstream dog training and behavior mod. methods fail) I see the other side of the shelter and rescue industry…the ugly side of rescue that has no delicate commercials with weepy singing.  Every day I see and experience the side where kids have been bitten in the face, the side where dogs escape their yard and then attack the hapless neighbor or the friendly dog passing by!  That’s why I gave you my Touch and Go technique and also why I gave you a strong admonishment in Part 2 of our story.  Please heed my warnings or the next child that’s bit in the face or the next dog that is attacked might be your own!

My family, pre-Cato, was made up of six humans and one faithful, old boxer.  We had recently lost Bosley, our first boxer, to old age a couple months prior.  We decided to take Cato for a few weeks and see if he’d be a good fit with our family.  We piled all four kids into the minivan and drove over to pick him up from the lady’s house.

Initially Cato would not jump into the back of our minivan.  This well-muscled pantheresque beast was afraid.  His fearful posture kept him so low to the ground he was almost scraping his belly!  So instead of just picking him up and placing him in the van (instead of doing what most people would do) I decided to walk him around for a little while and let him bond more with me and then with my wife while he was on leash.  I purposely chose to take extra moments with the dog instead of just doing what was convenient.  I also kept talking to a minimum.  I believe those two things are important to note for any dog owner living in 2019.  While walking him I would frequently walk us back to the open rear part of our minivan and gently but firmly tug him right up close to the entrance.  He’d attempt to face away from the van and I’d make sure his head was facing the right direction.  This was a step I’d make sure to accomplish because in a couple reps I wanted him to be able to hop into the back of the van without me lifting him in.  So I’d walk him up to the rear of the van and then I’d sit with my butt on the edge of the van and adjust his posture to a somewhat normal/relaxed posture.  I accomplished this by petting his neck and jaw area and as I did so I’d gently push/lift his head upward.  Occasionally I’d slip a hand underneath his chest and belly area and lift his body upward too making him stand comfortably.  Then, before Cato had a chance to go back into fearful postures and a flighty state, I’d take the initiative and we’d walk away leaving the back of the van for a short time only to return a few minutes later and repeat the entire sequence.  Each time I did this Cato made progress.  This was done almost entirely without human talking.  (I highly suggest less human talking when working with a dog.  It is fantastic.)  Cato soon hoped into our van with a slight tug from the leash.

Let’s fast forward to his introduction to our family home.

Before ever stepping foot inside our house we had gone to grab breakfast at a fast food place and as my wife ordered for everyone I worked on Cato’s leash manners and taught him to heel in the parking lot.  After breakfast it was back into the van and on to our house.

I kept him on leash and had him heel around our property.  Heeling drains energy and also puts a dog in a follower role.  (There is a video I’ve made available for purchase all about Heeling and Leash Manners)  Draining energy and putting a dog in a follower role are both great ideas for most dogs – especially any new rescue dog.  Then I let him sniff around the front of our property and then around our large fenced back yard.  At this time we lived in a place I had named Stepping Stone.  It was a great house on an acre and had everything a growing family needed.  It came with some very nice amenities too.

To intro our older dog, Rambo, to Cato I had my wife walk Rambo out on leash and we took a long walk around the neighborhood.  Each dog was made to heel and walk parallel with the other.  Even though I knew Cato would probably do well with Rambo I still took the time to cover all the bases behaviorally speaking. IMG_3684

WHEN TWO DOGS ARE INTRODUCED TO EACH OTHER FOR THE FIRST TIME…they should be walked in the heel position with the owners.  (Ideally they’d be exercised already to take the edge off the energy)  The goal is to go down the street side by side and NOT face to face.  They should NOT typically be given free access to meet and go eye-to-eye and head-to-head initially unless you trust both dogs!   After a few minutes of heeling the calmest dog should be given access to smell the other dog’s rear end and then go immediately back to heeling.  Then, after more walking, the other/new dog (if ready and looking to sniff and NOT stare) should smell the calm dog’s rear end and then be made to heel again the next moment.  After a block or three and a few “rear end repetitions” they should be given access to smell all over (face-to-face too) while the owners are acting in a smooth, calm manner and making sure the leashes are relaxed and NOT taut.  Is that how most folks intro a new dog to their other dog?  NO but it should be!  If every dog owner followed this instruction when introducing a new dog to their home there would be way less dog-dog problems!

I’ll pause here and ask you to stay tuned for the 4th and Final part of Cato’s story…

-G

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