Once the honeymoon is over you may be in for serious trouble…

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Hello.  First off, congrats on your honeymoon.  Really, a full and hearty felicidades from me to you.  BUT…and it’s a big but (think Sir Mix-a-lot) are you ready to move on from the honeymoon and into this new phase of your real life?  Are you ready to get on with your day-to-day?  Are you prepared to get real?  I hate to break this to you but once the honeymoon is over you may be in for trouble…

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I’m writing very specifically about what I call “the honeymoon period” -whenever a new puppy, or a new dog, or rescue dog enters a new home.  So let’s take a quick look at exactly just what transpires between dog and new owner during and after the honeymoon.  Let’s get real.  Let’s be honest.

The honeymoon period is often a fantastic time (or seemingly so) between a dog owner and their new puppy or rescue dog.  The first week or three the dog is basically just feeling things out and exploring the terrain.  Most new dog or puppy owners are so thrilled with their new pets they are showering them with so much human affection and attention that they are blind to what is actually going on with the psyche of the new pup or dog in their family’s home.   So what exactly is going on as the new creature explores new relationships and new home environs?

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I would caption this pic, “Humans are insane”   This poor dog is probably just begging for a little bit of dignity

Many people are under the impression the first couple weeks that the new dog in the house is just going to work out great because everything is going swimmingly on the “honeymoon.”  The dog or pup is following them around.  Often times the dog is still unsure of where it stands and who is leading who, so, it will seem to the unwitting new owner as if it’s the sweetest and dearest creature on the planet.

As the days pass though the dog or puppy starts to (at least in the dog world and in the canine way of communicating) lead by controlling touch and manipulating the space around their own furry body and the space around their human’s body.  They soon can control and manipulate the space and items in and around the home.  (Ask yourself how do dogs naturally build relationships.  Think on that for a bit.)

People will often think their dog is a “real lover” because the animal is establishing a domineering form of over-touching.   Only a human would believe (in our incredible imagination) that our dog’s consistent touching of us is some form of dog love or affection…in reality it is simply a canine way to lead through social grooming.  A large portion of mammals establish relationships and leadership techniques through touching and social grooming rituals.

Do dogs make out with their mouths like people do?  Do dogs kiss?  NO- they don’t.  So please don’t fall victim to the “kiss” myth your own new dog or puppy may be attempting to sell you on!  When a new dog or pup is constantly licking or mouthing you this is most usually a canine way to one-up you and gain control.  Never let your dog or pup consistently lick you.  If left unchecked this will, of course, lead to the animal assuming too much command in most areas of it’s life (even though it should Not be in command of your personal space while living under your roof) and this will then lead to an onslaught of behavioral issues.

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Over the top much?

*Hint*  Be very aware of the honeymoon period and be sure to set clear boundaries about your own personal space and body and your new dog or pup’s body.

*Bigger Hint*  Do NOT let your dog or puppy constantly lick you.  Do NOT let them demand petting or touching.  Do NOT let them always invade or be in your personal space.  There is absolutely Zero reasons for a dog to consistently lick it’s owner unless the dog is seeking to gain social control by controlling touch.  And if you’ve got a fearful dog or pup this applies DOUBLE!!!  Do NOT let the dog live in your spatial bubble!!!

Most folks, while very well meaning, are doing almost Everything completely backwards when compared to how the mother, father, uncle, or aunt dog would behave and treat a new or younger pup in their environment.  Most people are showering the dog with over-attention during the honeymoon period and then wonder why weeks or months or years later they can’t relax because the dog has become an attention hound!

The honeymoon period presents a giant opportunity for the astute observer of nature and her glorious and calming ways.  Please take action during the honeymoon period so that when it comes time to get real it is an easy transition.  Lay the ground rules.  Set a firm but calm foundation.

Let your dog or pup EARN your attention and affection little by little.  You – the human, the one paying the mortgage, the one holding the keys to the house, the person who drives the car, the guy or gal who feeds the dog…YOU need to guide your dog or pup and have the relationship begin with Respect and then let the dog or pup EARN your valuable trust.

If your dog and you are already beyond the honeymoon period and you need help or for more info go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  and #getgarrett

Getting Buff

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Do you exercise?  If not, why not?  And if so, for how long?

If you own a dog the answer should always be a resounding YES, of course I exercise!  And if you own a dog make sure your dog gets physically drained of energy… many times to the point of real exhaustion and good hard panting.  Exercise them till they literally have to drop when they come home and just breath!  

Exercise cures and prevents a host of behavioral issues in our dogs and ourselves.  The positive effects of exercise are well known and documented.  I will not waste time going into all that evidence.

Here are a couple good quotes on exercise…

“The only bad workout is the one that didn’t happen.”

“You can have results or excuses – not both.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.”

Exercise is a proven reliever or of negative stress = subtraction.  You may find that interesting because what do we do when exercising but add beneficial stress = addition.  That is what exercise is!  The addition of beneficial stress to our body which challenges the right things to grow and removes and reduces the wrong things.  Exercise done properly always stretches the capacity.  I love that!  All of nature bears witness to balance that exists.  Addition and subtraction.

Behaviorally working with your dog is no different.  It should always stretch the capacity, and enlarge the zone you are targeting.  It should leave both you and your dog or puppy calmer, less stressed, and literally healthier… which will lead to strength and confidence in the future.

Always push the boundaries.  Always go past former plateaus.

 

 

-G

Fathom the insanity of a human being who teaches you that you can never disagree with your dog!

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People are nuts.  We are.  If you can’t agree with me that people are nuts please stop reading Now.

For those that can recognize that as humans we are a bit crazy I want to direct your thoughts towards this current crazy time in history.  This interesting time in our lives where we find we have several thousands of professional dog trainers and professional behaviorists that actual teach and want to keep teaching you (as the owner of your dog) that you shouldn’t ever disagree with your dog or pup!  Think about that for a second.

What have we come to?  How has it come to this babying, this coddling, this ridiculously imbalanced and greatly disconnected, poor-excuse for a relationship with our dogs?  How and why do so many pet pros talk dogmatically with 100% absolutism (and quite ferociously toward anyone who might disagree until they are shouted down) about the evil of corrections and that you should never “force” your dog to do anything?  I encourage you to take those questions ponder them honestly and then consider and ask why we also currently have a terrible dog bite record (dogs attacking humans and attacking other dogs) and it’s been steadily increasing for the worse!  I know the two are deeply connected!

 

Don’t just go with the majorities opinion on this topic of disagreeing with your dog vs positive-only and force-free methods.  Please THINK for Yourself and come to your own conclusions.  Examine history, examine the stats, examine the methods of different pro trainers and behaviorists (and especially note and examine their results) and most of all… examine your own dog and the history of dogs and how dogs think and how they experience the world and how dogs communicate and behave.

Then ask yourselves…would the mother dog or father dog constantly bribe their pups with food treats?  Would they constantly attempt to condition them or would they seek to build a healthy relationship based on the dog language and respect and trust and manners (not frivolous tricks and obedience commands)?  Would the parent dogs ever disagree with their young?  Have you as a parent ever had to disagree with your own children?  Was it beneficial in any way?  Did you overdo it or under-do it?

 

What is lacking in our current culture is the balanced approach to disagreeing and so the pathetic “positive-only” dogmatists (who aren’t really that positive in their own lives) scream and shout about how any correction, any disagreement, or forcing your dog or pup to do anything is totally wrong!  Let me tell you outright…this is hogwash and they are wrong!  It’s only wrong to correct or disagree if you are performing it wrong.

Dogs speak through movement, energy, smells, and touching. Most people I meet (and I do this non-stop) are woefully, dreadfully unaware of the intricate and marvelous language of our dogs.  They are woefully unaware because MOST pro behaviorist and trainers are horribly unaware!  The common pro trainer/behaviorist whole premise and approach to training is not beneficial and does NOT prevent behavioral issues from developing!!!

But let’s cut them some slack for a moment.  I don’t want to be too hasty.  Maybe these “professional dog trainers” and “scientific professional behaviorists” haven’t ever see older dogs and how they talk to and deal with younger dogs?  Maybe they haven’t seen the older, balanced dog correct and address the younger imbalanced one?  Maybe these so called “pros” haven’t ever visited a local dog park and observed the dog language?  Maybe they’ve been too long in the library reading about dogs or too long in the laboratory or in the classroom?  Maybe they haven’t had kids of their own or cultivated healthy relationships in their own personal lives?  I don’t know.  What I do know is that anyone who proclaims the “positive-only” approach or acts as a behaviorist and over-charges their clients because they used to work with dolphins is NOT keyed into the amazingly close and wonderfully easy and direct relationship available to us with our domesticated dogs and pups!

They say “Never force a dog to do anything.”  This is horribly bad advice!  I force dogs to do things all the time (and I do it incredibly gently and smoothly) and they end up thanking me for it!  And the owners are also able to soon witness their once terribly behaved aggressive or fearful dogs actually make good decisions.  They see it happen before their very eyes!

One example: I force the nervous dog into social situations and then ask it (in dogspeak) to behave itself (not just do frivolous tricks).  This is the only thing that will change the nervous dog into being social and normal and balanced.

I am a professional because I equip the owners and the dog and get them social extremely quickly all while expanding the dog’s capacity for more and more social situations and all without harsh corrections and without foolishly stuffing food treats down the dog’s throat non-stop and calling it science!  Yes, positive reinforcement is science…it’s OLD science and based on the external motivation of the dog and none of it’s internal drives and motivations!  I’m not even going to bring up the fact that bribing with food is also highly exciting and that over-excitement is the cause of every single behavioral issue any dog faces.  Food treats is not the natural way of parenting.  Bribing with food is how most trainers train WILD animals and that’s fine…but for our domesticated dogs…it’s crap!

Let’s all recognize that many humans are insane and let’s take measured steps to respect their beliefs and opinions, however crazy, but understand it is more than ok to adamantly disagree with their foolishness and to think for ourselves.  Your dogs and pups will thank you!

Seek out the natural ways.  You Can reward your dogs and pups but you Can also disagree with them too and sometimes “force” them into areas of their lives that their fears or aggression would never have taken them before your help!  Stretching the capacity and enlarging the relaxation is the name of the game!  Remember both rewards and corrections should not be the focus…A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP IS THE FOCUS!!!

Questions?  Call us!  And keep an eye out for my coming book…it’s gonna’ be epic!  And balanced with natural techniques and they will, of course, get you the best results you could imagine!  Forget positive or negative reinforcement and focus on being a dog parent.

-G

 

Garrett Stevens’ Four, FREE, Fantastic Tips to get your dog or puppy to “COME!”

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If your puppy or dog isn’t coming when called you may eventually discover that they won’t do other things you ask!  A dog who does not come is in need of what I call, “respect work.”

If your pup won’t come that means that he is already leading the relationship in his mind.  I hate to break this to you (who am I kidding…I love teaching)  but your dog’s disobedience of the “come” or “here” command is actually a much bigger deal than you originally thought!

And what with the accelerated growth rate of our pups you will probably discover (if you look into it) many accelerated manipulations of the personal space around your pup.  Once a pup has control over his own body and his own personal space there is nothing to stop him from expanding his territory to other things in his environment.

Example from the mind of your puppy:  “Since my owner lets me claim my paws and my tail maaaaaaaaaybe I’ll just start (little by little) to claim my whole back half and not let them pet me there.  And after that maybe I’ll begin to (ever so slightly) manipulate, claim, and control my own toys and how I play with my owners.  I will play only on my terms.  While I manipulate these things to my advantage I will actively be testing and attempting to out-touch, out-mouth, and outmaneuver my owners to see how good they are at communicating in my language (to see if they mean what they say and where the boundary lines are)!”

Do you see where this can lead? (Dominance, Hyperactivity, Fearfulness, Aggression, etc)  For those of you who don’t believe in “dominance” you can feel free to put whatever foolish human word you would prefer using to describe a dog that is out of control, wants to take over, doesn’t want to obey, and is basically rude and running the show!  Let’s continue…

The real answers lie in first identifying all the subtle manipulations that our pups get away with and then knowing how to stop them.  This is where I can help.  (On this note please keep an eye out for our training/whispering videos and my future book!!! I know they will really help many people)

I don’t have time in this short blog post to go into every subtle puppy manipulation that could be happening in your case because it would be like trying to learn an entire language from a simple blog article.  It cannot be done.  However, if you follow my four ways to strengthen your puppies recall this can greatly help stop your loving pup from acting like such a brat and prevent him from growing that bratty behavior into serious future behavioral issues.

  1.  Never call an unreliable dog.                                                     This means avoid the temptation to say, “Come” or, “Here” to your dog or pup!  Don’t do it.  Keep your mouth closed!  [Please read our post entitled Shut your mouth if you want to talk with Mother Nature]  This is an extremely hard rule to follow for us as humans!  Be aware you probably will fail at this from time to time.  That’s OK if it’s only happening a few times…it is totally unacceptable and foolhardy if it becomes a practice.  Sadly, it usually is practiced and it gives our pups the ability to simply, defiantly give us the doggy middle finger by clearly disagreeing with our recall command!

2.  Use the leash.                                                                            The leash should be your best friend if you’ve got a puppy or dog who will not come.  Have them wear it much more often.  Have them drag it around the house for hours at a time.  The leash will slow them down a bit (both mentally and physically).  If your pup is on leash and you want to say, “Come” or give a recall command by all means go ahead because now (on leash) you can easily disagree when he disagrees with you by not coming.

If your pup won’t come after you’ve given the command and he is on leash -Give a quick or short tug and then gesture into the recall position.  Remember, dogs prefer body language to verbal language.  He will begin to come toward you.  As soon as he starts towards you verbally praise a little and upon his finishing a clean “Come” command (meaning the pup’s head is almost touching your knees and he is directly in front of you) verbally praise more and be sure to pet and touch your pup.  You should be raising your energy and the tone of your voice…we are adding excitement and making coming to us worth it in the mind of the pup.  (This is rare because most other commands and just how we live our lives in general we always strive to lower the energy and we are typically looking for the animal to remain stationary -sit, down, stay or just calm depending on whether we are actively training or passively whispering).

3.  Use a toy and develop the pup’s prey drive

Using a toy should be when the dog is at his highest level of energy!  We want the pup really engaged and snapping at the tug or rope!  If you develop your pup’s natural prey drive you can quickly work a very reliable recall and you can get several repetitions in!

Imagine you have a dog who loves to play fetch and chase the ball or stick.  Now imagine how easy it could be if every time your dog (who loves to play fetch) learns that the second half of that game is the same exact body movement as performing the “come” or “here” command.  It can be extremely easy if we don’t allow all the social manipulations to creep in.

My dog Rambo jumps up high to catch the Frisbee. This is good prey drive on display!

The problem is most people aren’t even aware of what they are.  Do you know why?  Because most behaviorists and trainers can’t identify the manipulations either!!!  Shocking, I know, but it is the sad truth.  (Don’t worry though, I’ve got a book coming out that will help identify and prevent or reverse each and every manipulation that your dog or puppy may attempt!)

4.  Use a food treat.

Make sure you don’t bribe your puppy.  Reward.  Never bribe.  There is a difference!  And don’t overdo the treats.  Like the name implies they should be supplemental and occasional.  I always ask my clients, “When’s the last time you had cheesecake?”  Get the point?!  It’s a treat not a constant.

 

PS.  If your pup can’t fetch or doesn’t bring it back because he’s attempting to manipulate control of the game and his personal space then take my advice and start playing a close game of tug of war.  It will give you a chance to actually be a player in the game and it will keep the pup close and in your space.  And then you can teach the dog many other things like how to calm down and energy control, the “drop it” or “give” command and other vital spacial communication.

Me with my dogs Rambo and Bosley.

Questions?  Comments?  Testimonials?  YES, Please do respond we love your feedback.     -G

 

Teddy Roosevelt can improve your dog’s behavior!

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Teddy Roosevelt was The Most Interesting Man in the World long before the Dos Equis guy from the commercials was around!

Before people even knew how to speed-read TR would devour at least one book during his very busy day and many times up to three books a day. He also possessed a photographic memory or close to it and could recite passages years later and discuss topics from the books at length. Here he is reading with his dog. I love this picture.

Ornithologist, Taxidermist, Aristocrat, Explorer, Speed-Reader, Naturalist, Pugilist, Harvard Grad, Biologist, World Traveler, Historian, Martial Artist, Author (35 books), Husband, Cowboy, Big game Hunter, Father, Conservationist, Assemblyman, Police Commissioner, Naval Secretary, Soldier, Colonel, Governor, Nobel Peace Prize and Medal of Honor winner, Vice President, and President; TR was a super-energetic, charismatic, learned, and dynamic personality.

Anyone can learn a lot from studying and emulating Teddy.  I don’t really have the time to go into so many of the lessons that could be gleaned from the man’s life but I will just list a few and, of course, keep them dog specific (as in, our excellent blog will always help you concerning the topic of dog behavior).

Be a life-long learner

TR was an avid learner and obviously, as you read from his list of accomplishments above, his learning far surpassed the average individual  He was a voracious reader and could speed-read before people even knew that was a thing.  He also had a photographic memory.  This allowed him to discuss with confidence a broad range of topics and mix in with almost any individual person or crowd.  Roosevelt also learned physically from experiencing the earth and travelling, hunting, fishing, exploring, hiking, boxing, judo, camping, and ranch work.  He was a dandy man about town but also could easily fit in with the simple ranch-hand, cowpoke, or backwoods hunter.

The main point is to keep learning and discovering.  Teddy wasn’t just book smart he was physically smart as well.  When he took up the challenge from his father of transforming his sickly body as an asthmatic youth he persisted until he literally became a “bull moose” of a man!  His brain and body then could function as one well-oiled machine, bursting with personality and passionate energy.

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.”   -TR

Keep learning from your dog and not just jumping to conclusions or listening to the status quo about how to train.  Don’t just take whatever your vet or trainer says as gospel truth.  Learn from mother nature and remember to lead your dog with energy and physical vigor (like Teddy would).  Be open to experience the natural world.  Get outside and into the woods.  Slow down at certain times.  Speed up other times.  Your dog will find it irresistible.  Be the sort of leader your dog can follow.  Physically take the lead and be energetic about it when needed.

Develop toughness

TR had mental toughness.  TR had physical toughness.

Did you know in Teddy’s personal daily journals that he hardly ever recorded a negative thought?  He could have easily written down the wrongs someone may have done him while he was serving to clean up a very corrupt New York government as their Police Commissioner but he didn’t.  He could have written so much about the tragedy of losing his first love and wife (Alice) just after the birth of their first child.  His mother also died on the same day as his wife!  What a horrific tragedy!  TR kept everything under wraps if it had any discouragement or downside.  He had mental toughness.  He wrote his journals as if he was sure others would read them one day!  Of course he was crushed mentally and emotionally at the loss of his young, beautiful wife and his caring mother on the same day but I love the fact that he would prefer to focus his writing and his life on what could be done for the good of his family, his city, his state, and his country.  How mentally tough are you?

TR was also renowned for his physical toughness.  As he matured more he kept developing his body into a real vehicle for all his energies and passions.  His stamina is legendary.  Although he was a New York aristocrat he could physically keep up (and usually surpass) many rough and tumble athletic woodsmen, frontiersmen, ranchers, cowboys, soldiers, hunters, sportsmen, and martial artists.

As President TR lost the vision in his left eye when boxing with a military aid in the White House!  The punch had detached the retina, caused severe hemorrhaging, and eventual blindness.  Roosevelt was 50 years old at the time!

Roosevelt also was a skilled judo practitioner.  During his years in the White House he lined the basement with training mats and used to throw around anyone who was willing!  He became America’s first brown belt!

“It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute courage, that we move on to better things.”         -TR

Are you going at your dog’s behavioral issues like TR would?  Are you staying positive mentally?  Are you physically imposing in your presence if the dog is trying to dominant the space or do you just let the dog have his way?  Are you up for the challenge?  Do you look at the dog’s issues as an opportunity to teach your dog and to better understand your dog or are you just beaten down with the behavioral problem?

Fight for what you want

Teddy loved a good fight it mattered not whether it was a physical opponent, a political foe, or taking on the ultra-capitalists as the “Trust-buster.”  He is well known for never shying from an opponent and he subscribed to what he called the strenuous life.  He toiled on purpose to push his body and mind to greater achievements.  Boxing, polo, hiking, rowing, horseback riding, jujitsu, judo and winter skinny dipping in the Potomac River all against doctor’s orders!

Take the challenge of working with your dog!  Choose the strenuous life!  Take a moment and read The Man in The Arena.

“Speak softly and carry and big stick; you will go far.”  -TR

 

TR had an amazing wealth of knowledge when it came to animals and the natural world.

 

Control and focus your energy

Roosevelt had boundless energy.  I’m positive he would have scoffed at the Five Hour Energy commercials we see on TV.  Almost all successful folk know how to really direct and focus their energy on the task at hand.  TR was able to do this brilliantly.  It can be seen throughout his entire life’s story.  Teddy’s was a life defined by charismatic energy, a ready mind, toughness, and his fantastic adventures and accomplishments.  To achieve a life like this we must consider concentration, and direct focus and control of our own personal energy and then mix it with ACTION.

“Great thoughts speak only to the thoughtful mind, but great actions speak to all mankind.”  -TR

Focus and controlling your energy takes practice.  Practice makes perfect.  You want better control over your dog or puppy?  Seek out better control of your own energy.  Concentrated energy applied directly with laser like focus is a powerful thing.  As you learn to control and direct your own energies all the dog stuff will become simple!

Ted and his terriers.  Terriers are known for tenacity, energy, voracity, and a warrior spirit. Many terriers are small but extremely tough. They are bred for hunting, digging, and fighting and killing their quarry even if their prey is much larger than they are!

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-G