Raising a powerful breed puppy into calm, social maturity PART 1

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We have a new addition to our team at the Dog Language Center – it’s a bouncing Rottie pup! In this series I will delve into some rare yet wonderful puppy-raising hacks for all our rabid fans out there ūüėČ This post is lengthy but so worth it. Brace yourselves…its real talk from a genuine dog whisperer again.

If I could recommend one thing above all else it would be socializing the pup. In fact if I could only pick one thing to give to my new powerful breed puppy (or any pup for that matter) it would be ultra-socialization. What does this mean? It means that even above dog training or behavior modification and above visits to the vet or grooming shop, getting a puppy socialized makes all the difference in preparing the animal for success or failure, behaviorally speaking, for the rest of its life within our modern world. This ultra socialization means the gradual desensitization of our pup’s super senses each day/week/month that passes during the entire first year of life. The five senses of Touch, Smell, Taste, and Vision and Hearing develop quickly within young dogs and must be guided and influenced if one ever hopes to have a calm dog. The best way to help a dog truly mature and become calm is to get as many varied experiences and people and animals into the pup’s life as soon as possible. Many breeders do puppies and future dog owners a horrible disservice due to fixating on FEAR of parvo or other zoonosis as they fail the rapidly growing pups by coddling and keeping them away from normal life around the neighborhood. Friends, the health risk of socialization is so, so worth the behavioral reward. The law of the universe says we will most assuredly reap what we sow. No risk = No reward.

Let me point out now that authentic socialization is so much more than just attending a puppy group class somewhere or tossing your growing pup into high excitement environment dog daycare. While the puppy group class consists of one type of socializing please be aware that this “socialization” is usually nowhere near enough for most puppies to achieve social normalcy and it is certainly not enough for many powerful breed pups that tend to naturally guard and become more protective as they age. Also, there are many cons to be aware of in light of our desire to raise a puppy CALMLY and without the need for food treats and excessive shallow external reinforcement! When or if you do decide to place your pup in an excitable group class setting I’d ask you to reconsider. Believe it or not I DON’T typically recommend group classes filled with pups because older, balanced, calm, example dogs are usually absent and not on scene to help set the proper tone! Right off the bat this goes directly against nature’s ways and the way of all canines. So the group class is unnaturally wild with energy and overexcitement. The hapless dog trainer then often employees more excitement usually by way of a treat in attempts at competing with the already excitable pups that they are trying to make perform frivolous sits or downs. Rather than intelligently adding calmness, the professional trainer competes with the already highly excitable environment! Competing by raising more energy with an environment filled with foolish young pups is unwise and wasteful. As the trainer on hand encourages people to utilize high-pitched praise and “high value” treats in exchange for one second of the pup’s attention it often becomes a disgusting display of mismanaged energy and a total lack of natural leadership. It’s a bad scene and a noisy one to boot. Is it any wonder that most puppy “group” classes soon dwindle as the weeks pass to just one or two stalwart owners trying for perfect attendance as they drag their pups to the local Petsmart for the last couple weeks? I encourage any puppy owner to look deeper instead of just doing what’s typically done.

A similar conditioning of over-excitment and high energy can sadly yet easily develop in any pup that is at dog daycare all the time. Typically the workers in a dog daycare love dogs but many may not know much about real dog language or how or when to take action or adjust the pack’s energy. So day after day the rapidly growing and rapidly learning puppy is learning that whenever he lays eyes on his own species it’s supposedly instant play time and he (if he is a already a normally-functioning puppy) most certainly will raise his energy to heightened play levels…even if you’re just trying to smoothly walk down the street and past another dog and dog owner. You can see the problem with conditioning your puppy to be hyper from a young age.

When we compare and contrast the levels of energy found within a normal group class setting or dog daycare versus say of the energy while taking a wonderful hike through the mountains there are stark differences. That, Dear Reader, is not good. Excitement + Excitement = Calmness is a false equation, fuzzy math, that cannot work out mathematically and or scientifically within the animal no matter how badly many large pet training conglomerates might want it too. These conglomerates want to sell “high value” treats to dog owners in order to bribe their way into a pup’s life during an excitable round of obedience! A much more real world, beneficial equation that helps a puppy calm down and learn about real life around it would look like this… Excitement (the pup has this energy normally without being encouraged) + Calmness expressed through proper dog language (this is provided by the loving dog owner) = Calmness and steadily growing Maturity! Now that is a winning equation. Sadly, most dogs never achieve maturity because most dog owners have inadvertently downgraded their relationship to one of employer and employee (by “training” the dog according to typical dog training within the industry) even though the dog lives in the home and, in many cases is even babied and coddled at unnatural and often outrageous levels. Balance is nowhere to be found!

Society no longer requires work from 99% of our dogs. Instead these many dog owners that make up a good portion of our society desire calmness and trustworthiness. This is particularly important for young dogs and pups that will grow to be powerful, natural guardians. “Tapping the breaks” on growing guarding behavior is a must-do as it rears its head. The caring puppy owner must take action at the earliest possible evidences of any unsocial behavior (that is if you want a calm and trustworthy future dog that is fit for your children, your home, your neighborhood, the neighborhood children, and can be trusted in society at large. If you don’t want that then by all means continue “training” and “working” your dog as it is often tragically instructed almost everywhere.) Important Note: these unsocial signs or early signs of misbehavior are often overlooked in group obedience classes and they are overlooked in private sessions with professionals because of their horrible fixation on obedience and work!!! Then, typically at the year or year-and-a-half mark, as the young dog reaches sexual maturity, whatever unaddressed and underlying issues or problems the pup harbored come fully to fruition and suddenly it dawns on the dog owner that they have a serious problem on their hands. Then we get a call. We see this in almost every session we do with clients! What good are tricks and obedience when/if the original professional on hand cannot/did not identify and then take action and instruct you on the proper actions in order to prevent or reverse future issues with your dog? Too many people waste money on early piss-poor training instead of prepping their pups for real world success by way of extreme socialization.

Success Hacks for socializing your powerful puppy:

Because your pup is going to become a hulking beast or a dog that could intimidate some folks it is even more important to get people to TOUCH and pet your powerful puppy as early as possible!

This means week one of bringing the puppy home some visitors must come over and the pup should be starting right away to go out front of your house on mini walks to meet the neighbors. Yes, I know I might be going directly against some vets advice on keeping them “safe” and sound until the pup is damn near a teenage dog but I don’t care! I genuinely want what’s best for you and your pup behaviorally speaking and I’ve handled thousands and thousands and thousands of dogs with serious behavioral issues. Unlike many vets I don’t have the luxury of subscribing drugs and or just suggesting spaying or neutering or putting the dog down – if we’re being honest those are the three main approaches most vets take when dealing with dog aggression or extreme anxiety or other behavioral problems. Back to my point…Denying a young, rapidly growing puppy a couple months of socialization is most definitely Harmful to the dog’s psyche. I love the expression safety third. If life was always safety first no-one would ever do anything, or accomplish anything, or go anywhere. We’d all be paralyzed, unhealthy shut-ins. Socialize for success my friends. Sure, don’t roll your pup in dog crap and don’t bring your puppy to the busy dog park and let it drink from stagnant water while it’s 9 weeks old but other than those two things I would highly suggest the puppy meet as many people and social well behaved dogs as soon as possible in a majority of cases.

Make sure people and other dogs can touch your pup ANYWHERE on their body. This will inform you straightaway if your pup is fearful or dominant or overly hyper and then you’ll be able to devise a plan to help alleviate these issues if present (HINT: they are usually always present and need to be addressed or guided). Discover early on whether the pup refuses to let another dog sniff their rear end…if they’re nervous and they try to avoid being sniffed then you MUST jump in and make the nervous pup get it’s butt sniffed because that’s normal amongst canines. YOU dictate what’s normal to the dog just as older dogs in a large family pack would do. And forcing a nervous pup to get touched everywhere is one of the most important things a caring puppy owner can do for their pups. Yes I said force. You are forcing the pup to get out of your space and to be handled by a friendly person. You are forcing the nervous yet powerful pup to leave your space just like the mother dog weaned and forced her pups away from her body super early on. Hacking into the puppy’s sense of touch early on is INFINITELY More Important than any kind of obedience training!!!!!

Advice for puppy owners during COVID-19

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Ignore most of what you’re being told and socialize your pup as best as you can.

That’s always my advice to pup owners and rescue dog owners corona nonsense or not. ¬†Ignoring at first glance may sound like it’s irresponsible but, in fact, it’s the exact opposite because it means you’re going to take real responsibility for yourself and for the pup that is depending on you to lead it for the remainder of its life. ¬†Ignoring the status quo is a fine art that, in most instances, should be cultivated in order to attain further freedom, autonomy, self-education, success, and self reliance! ¬†Please think about that and really consider whether you are a person that enjoys freedom, autonomy and the rest.

Enjoy your day.  Seize it.  Say no to fear mongering and manipulation.  Throw caution to the wind.  Go boldly forth!

And always remember…both mankind and dog-kind survived for thousands and thousands of years without any organizations (medical or otherwise) dictating to them in the name of safety or health.

In my line of work we see loads of unnecessarily terrified puppies and rescue dogs and usually people are to blame because they did NOT socialize enough. ¬†They sacrificed the poor creature’s mental and emotional health by an overzealous overprotection of the same creature’s physical health by way of waiting to do anything before the pup was vaccinated! ¬†HUGE MISTAKE behaviorally speaking! ¬†

Both people and dogs survived for thousands of years before vaccines and before modern medicine.

Get out and about and have fun doing it!

Puppy life skills vs. Puppy owner’s fear

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Many caring puppy owners are hurting their pups! ¬†Parvo. ¬†Giardia. ¬†Corona. ¬†Whatever you are afraid of and/or whatever you are afraid might harm your little puppy is largely a waste of mental and emotional energy and legitimately just may harm the very pup you are so desperately concerned about protecting. ¬†How? ¬†Why? ¬†It’s because of a couple of reasons.

1. Because people have the power to create what they focus on  Рbe it good or bad.

2. Because people, especially scared people, tend to make poor decisions – particularly in regards to handling nature.

Let’s look at the second reason. ¬†You love and care about your pup. ¬†You ought to care, the thing was costly enough on the old bank account. ¬†Gone are the days when dogs were “Free to a good home” as seen from the ad in your local newspaper. ¬†Now pups are thousands and the vet bills add plenty to that, and so does training, and consistent grooming. ¬†You care enough to shell out the cash and that puppy face is irresistible however irascible the pup’s behavior may be. ¬†You care and so you want to protect your little pup from all the dangers of the outside world.

Frankly, I’d be more afraid of your handling skills as an owner and your potentially excessively unnatural attention that you most likely are showering upon the poor pup (most puppy owners fail miserably in this regard and it’s only by the grace of dog that more dogs don’t let it go to their heads and become monster brats that dominate everything within their environment). ¬†Too much attention directed at a pup destroys any and all respect towards the owner.

I’d be concerned, socially and behaviorally speaking, if you are not taking full advantage of the first year of life the pup has with you and your family. ¬†The first six months are of particular importance within the life of all rapidly growing canines. ¬†Bear in mind that the incredible physical growth rate we all see during the first six months of life for every puppy is also a tremendous mental and emotional time of growth within the pup. ¬†The future dog’s social skills, or lack thereof, are greatly influenced during these first six months of puppy life. ¬†The first two months you can’t really do anything about because that was up to the breeder and whether they were a quality breeder or not. ¬†The first two months behavior depends largely on whether the pups had a balanced, healthy mother and father that they were able to spend time with and learn from. ¬†It also greatly depends on proper human handling and the ability to explore their surroundings. ¬†But what happens when a person buys and brings home a new pup into their household?

What should happen is a steadily growing relationship built on the proper touch, space, movement and energy. ¬†A relationship of mutual respect and trust that is demonstrated physically and spatially and as the younger member of the family mirrors the energy of the older members. ¬†That is dog language. ¬†That is how dogs build good relationships amongst each other. ¬†(Notice there is nothing about food or treats or excessive human talking or obedience). ¬†The relationship based on dog language and respect and trust is what helps a pup mature into a fantastic and easy life companion in any situation or circumstance. ¬†Dogs don’t do obedience training with their young and yet their young certainly aren’t (if left to their own devices) growing up afraid of their surroundings! ¬†(Only a human would raise a pup into a fearful and neurotic dog)

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Each month of a pup’s life is the human equivalent of a year or two! ¬†Think of all the behaviors learned within the mind of a human child during a year or two…now apply that to the puppy in just a month’s time!

How do I know what this guy is telling me is a fact you may ask? ¬†Well, I don’t know a lot of seven, eight or even nine year old human children that are naturally looking to breed with the opposite sex at those young ages (Thank God). ¬†But…I do know that loads of non neutered and non spayed 1 year old dogs would want to get in on the mating action if they could even when they are just a year old. ¬†My point – dogs grow and mature at a much, much faster rate than the previously believed “seven year average” to every one human year. ¬†Basically, humans destroy pups and their behavior every single day and many times it’s done through letting a little FEAR creep in through the door of the mind!

Instead of keeping your pup under lock and stinking key because the vet said it’s unsafe to socialize or take your pup to the dog park unless and until he/she has had their last round of shots…maybe you use your brain and walk the pup around your neighborhood, or at a Costco parking lot, or near a local park (not a dog park but a people park). ¬†In most cases you will be absolutely fine even though there is a slight risk. ¬†Do NOT roll your puppy in another dog’s feces. ¬†Do NOT pour contaminated urine into your pup’s water dish. ¬†If you follow this advice chances are things’ll be fine.

When I fly on an airplane there’s a slight risk the plane may crash burning into the ground and killing everybody aboard – but I still fly. ¬†When I get into my car there’s an even greater risk that I could die in a horrible car accident (it happens to people every day around the world) but we all still drive. ¬†If you really care about your puppy you won’t deny months/years worth of mental and emotional stimulation that lead the pup into social success and future maturity and relaxation just in case he/she might catch parvo or corona virus or whatever else that may cause you fear or discomfort.

If you truly care about your puppy you must disagree with fear. ¬†If you desire an excellent, calm, socially-adept pet and family member you must socialize the heck out of the pup and do it as early and as often as possible. ¬†Do not let your fear win out over your pup’s sociability and intelligence. ¬†Make the right choice. ¬†Be a person of action…dogs love that! ¬†Say no to fear by way of action. ¬†End of story.

(Keep an eye out for my third book on dog behavior!  I plan to release it in 2020 (if the world is still functioning).  We will explore the 5 incredible senses of the dog and the 4 Pillars of dog language and behavior training.  In this book I will reveal more of the Garrett Stevens Method than ever before!  Stay tuned all you rabid dog lovers!

-G

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In praise of tangled leashes – Why dogs SHOULD meet ON LEASH: Part 1

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Are you one of those dog owners that typically avoids the meet and greet with other dogs on leash whenever you’re out and about? ¬†If you are then your dog probably has or soon might have behavioral problems!

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This image shows why people have trouble on leash…the owners seldom go slack! They don’t give the dogs enough freedom on leash so that the dogs can get to the rear end of the other dog in order to properly finish a typical, normal, social canine greeting! Do NOT be the type of owner that is so afraid that you do not let the leash become loose enough to be tangled with the other dog owner’s leash. Seek out the tangle! ¬†(More on this in Part 2)

Dogs are one of the most, if not the most, social species across the globe. ¬† A canine’s very survival depends on teaming up and working together, whether it’s wolves forming a pack in order to take down larger prey in Yellowstone or a Chihuahua living with an eighty year old woman on the 49th floor of a Seattle skyscraper – teamwork makes the dreamwork. ¬†And even though we know that all dogs are highly, highly social (it’s instinctual) there are thousands and thousands of well-meaning dog owners that will not allow their dog to meet another random dog walking by them on leash. ¬†And these days there is bad info out there even suggesting such. ¬†What gives? ¬†Why won’t more and more dog owners simply relax enough to let their dog meet another dog?

  1. ¬†Because they follow bad, status quo advice that sounds good but, upon further investigation or deeper thought, proves to be ridiculous. ¬†Want an example? ¬†(I was hoping you did!) ¬†Below is a perfect example of the “well-meaning yet stupid” advice that comes right from the mediocre, mainstream, status quo dog “lovers” and “trainers” direct to your phone or computer via Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. ¬†The below memes, while initially seeming to make sense, IF followed, would literally make thousands and eventually millions of dogs (and their owners) less and less social and more and more psychologically fragile and problematic! ¬†Which, if we’re being honest, is already happening at an alarming rate without the idiotic advice of skipping all on leash meetings! ¬†Please SAY NO to these memes and help your dog achieve greater levels of sociability.

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    Although I agree with all the listed reasons in this meme -the advice here is still asinine and should NOT be followed! Instead teach your dog to heel and then, when you’re close enough to the other dog owner, after asking to meet, make sure the leash is loose enough for your dog to move in and get to the back part of the other dog to smell it’s rear end! ¬†Leashes should usually get mixed up and tangled as evidence of a good, social smelling session between dogs!

  2. Reason numero dos why more and more dog owner’s will not relax and let their dog meet another dog…Because more and more people these days are fearful. ¬†We have been slowly conditioned over generations to think “Safety first.” ¬†We have been taught to helicopter parent. ¬†People are so afraid and have insane amounts of info telling us to continue to be afraid. ¬†We have been given so much information so fast due to the digital revolution that most of us are addicted to it. ¬†Many folks watch the “news” or receive updates moment by agonizing moment on the latest tragedy that happens anywhere and everywhere in the world. ¬†People, this is bad for your brain and bad for your body! ¬†Stop being wooed by the internet. ¬†Say NO to a high information diet! ¬†Say NO to letting the “news” consistently trigger your adrenals and your fight/flight responses because, as I’ve explained before, chances are high that you’re Not going to fly over to Timbuktu to actually aid in fixing the most recent famine, or pitch in for hurricane relief, or take up arms in some civil war effort half a world away. ¬†And because you’re Not going over and DOING anything about it then it is a sort of folly (a foolish mental gymnastic) to simply bog down your mind and emotions with this alarming info consistently throughout your day. ¬†Let it go. ¬†Safety, My Friends, is way, way over-rated. ¬†In fact, in the name of “safety” we in the USA, are watching as our rights and freedoms steadily erode and disappear as a Nanny State grows but that is perhaps a subject for a different post or blog altogether.
  3. The third reason we SHOULD let our dogs meet on leash – No Risk = No reward. ¬†Successful people in every walk of life know that if there’s No Risk then there’s little to No Reward. ¬†We should take it to heart for ourselves, for our children, and for our dogs. ¬†“Risking” your dog meeting another dog on leash is necessary in our society to keep dogs from going further off the deep end towards fear and aggression! ¬†How do you think dog daycares or dog parks even work? ¬†They rely on the inherently peaceful and social nature of our dogs and on their excellent language skills. ¬†The “risk” of having dogs meet on leash is so minor when compared to the upside and when compared to plenty of other risky things in the wide world I believe that it is only in pathetic 2019 dog owners that a meme like the one above and immediately below would ever be taken seriously. ¬†Is this how far we’ve fallen as a society and as dog owners – we can’t even talk to a neighbor/fellow dog owner on the sidewalk and ask if the dogs can meet? ¬†If so then we are truly Pathetic with a capital P.

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    Please DO NOT spread the word about this bad advice! The folks that designed these foolish memes must have never heard the truth that being uncomfortable often can lead to success. Pressure builds muscles and discomfort creates pearls and high tension transforms coal into diamonds…et cetera…et cetera. Dogs NEED to socialize any which way they can. They should be able to intelligently greet one another ON leash! ¬†Instead of skipping the greetings altogether (like a coward) WHY not learn to lead your dog or pup into a proper canine greeting?! ¬†JUST SAY YES TO ON LEASH GREETINGS IF YOU WANT A SOCIALLY “NORMAL” DOG! ¬†Stop and talk to your neighbor. ¬†“Risk” some real life sociability!

 

We really struck dog intelligence and sociability a nasty blow when random bureaucrats instituted leash laws in cities and towns across the country several years back. ¬†Am I against leash laws currently? ¬†No, because we can’t go back due to the fact that our dogs have now lost so much common sense, language skills, and because of the rampant rise of fear and aggression among dogs. ¬†When we forced the leash on them, stifling their freedom and natural movements, we took away two key factors in our relationship with dogs. ¬†We lost RESPECT for their natural intelligence and their ability to¬†navigate the world around them, and we obviously didn’t TRUST them, thus the institution of leash laws, and, sadly, that was the final nail in the coffin of TRUST. ¬†Dogs lost real world wisdom and experience and we now see and experience the fallout daily in society. ¬†(Example: Dogs that escape the front door, dogs that escape the yard, dogs that go crazy with territorial guarding, dogs that are hit by cars when they’re running loose, dogs that run up and just attack another dog unprovoked…these things didn’t happen as often when they were free to run the neighborhoods many years past.)

Think for a moment of cats. ¬†Many outdoor cats still have real world wisdom and do NOT get hit by cars even though they are loose out of doors. ¬†Many outdoor cats do not randomly attack each other. ¬†Many outdoor cats are savvy. ¬†These cats know when it’s proper to slip away quietly and when it’s proper to stand their ground and fight (yes, sometimes, in rare cases, fighting IS the best option).

Instead of taking the unsocial approach by not letting your pooch meet other dogs on leash (which causes horrific psychological damage and more fear and aggression) I would highly, highly suggest cultivating a great heel. ¬†Get those heeling and leash manners going so that you aren’t being dragged down the sidewalk and so that you can contain some of your dog’s energy levels as you approach another dog and owner. ¬†Have the on-leash skills and get the know how in order to efficiently move and guide and direct your dog’s head and eye contact. ¬†We have a great intro to Heeling and Leash Manners video available for anyone interested ¬†– go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com to order it!

Before just obeying some gormless meme offering facile solutions on the internet concerning dog behavior even if it’s from a dog training company, I encourage you, Dog Owners, to listen and follow instead what lines up with Mother Nature and what advice agrees with more peaceable, relaxed, playful socialization among all dogs and all canines. Does your dog need to meet all other dogs on leash – of course not. ¬†Should you keep your dog in a rigid heel and pass by every dog you see – of course not. ¬†Flexibility that leads to greater levels of Sociability is the name of the game! ¬†If you want a better dog then socializing is always, always, always the answer (and within that answer you must learn the hows and whats of doing that smoothly through proper movement and leash handling – Not just avoiding every dog on leash because your dog (or their dog) may be nervous).

Practically speaking:

When dogs meet each other they will attempt to rush forward.  This is very normal because dogs are a fast species and their primary senses (first senses of touch, smell, and taste) should be itching to engage with the other dog.  This, Friends, is where hosts of dog owners typically blow it.

In the next and final installment of this little series In Praise of Tangled Leashes we will go into the practical, physical specifics and how to make it go smoothly for both your dog, the other dog, yourself, and the other dog owner during your meet and greet.  I will also touch on why the fearful or aggressive dog desperately needs to learn how to meet on leash and how to get that started efficiently through proper handling!

Stay tuned and while you do please Follow/Subscribe to this fine blog and sample my books on Amazon, Apple iBooks, or at Barnes and Noble. ¬†Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety will greatly aid you in your quest to develop your dog into all he/she can be and so that you can prevent, reverse, or eliminate any and all behavioral issues instead of run from them like the above memes suggested! ¬†Don’t believe me? ¬†Read some of the marvelous reviews from other readers then try the samples of the books.

TO BE CONTINUED…