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!!!!!

Choosing your new puppy – advice from an award-winning behaviorist and hot-listed author

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  1. Don’t just buy from the cheapest back yard breeder.
  2. Don’t just buy from the most expensive (allegedly) quality breeder – even if they “import” impressive looking dogs from overseas or have the fanciest of websites.
  3. Do your research and ask the tough questions.
  4. When visiting in person ask questions about the sire and dam and look to interact with them.
  5. Don’t pick the pup that just jumps on you unless you want the future dog to jump on your kids and grandma when she visits for Christmas.
  6. Don’t just pick the cutest looking one. How vapid and shallow are you? Realize from the get go that the most important concern as far as quality of YOUR life and your pup’s life is temperament, aptitude, and behavior and energy…this will make or break your home life for as long as you have the dog!
  7. Don’t be talked into purchasing two pups at the same time so they can “play” that is normally a huge mistake.
  8. Don’t get carried away by your heartstrings and buy the sickly or weak or fearful puppy unless you’re genuinely prepared to do the hard and continual work of extreme socialization, forcing the pup into uncomfortable situations steadily increasing the pressure as you combat fear and future behavioral issues.
  9. Ask the breeder about the ideal pup for a house with kids and cats and chickens etc. You’re trying to do what’s best for YOUR household not just what’s best for the breeder’s bank account.
  10. Beware of breeders with too many sires and dams…they may not have enough time to socialize their pups during critical socialization periods that no one can ever get back unless perhaps you have access to a time machine or Dr Emmett Brown or Marty McFly.
  11. Don’t sign any overbearing or over controlling contracts.
  12. Beware of breeders that are keeping their pup’s TOO SAFE due to Extremely common yet a mostly irrational Fear of Parvo! To cultivate a healthy immune system very young pups need to be outside, on grass, putting things in their mouths, and exploring the earth. Most dirt is good for a pup (the homeostatic organism greatly aid in gut health which, in turn effects the whole body’s health). The modern medical industry did NOT create the creatures we all know and love commonly referred to as dogs…ancient peoples did! And they did it a long, long, long time before vaccines were ever around. Somehow pups survived. The immune system (like a pup’s growing mental and emotional state) must be exposed to plenty of varied situations and normal environments if you desire future success.
  13. In almost all cases you should drive to pick up the pup because the pup might be terrified during a plane ride at a young age and cause fear and anxiety that is usually very hard for most dog owners to reverse.
  14. Be sure that the sire, dam, and littermates do not have any sort of food reactivity, possession or aggression issues. Most resource guarding is taught by the parent dogs or occurs when too little food is placed in the puppies communal bowl during their time at the breeders. Resource guarding is easily spread to an attitude of total domination possibly with aggression in pup’s that are rapidly growing during the first year unless the pup owner bends over backwards to correct it!
  15. Check the pup’s environment and be sure it’s pretty tidy. If the breeder’s been up on the chores and kept it clean this makes future housebreaking so much easier.
  16. Check the pup’s eyes, ears, skin, coat, nails, mouth, and rear end. Check their gait and how athletic they are. Compare the pup you’re considering with the other pup’s shape and energy. Go for the best health and usually the mid-level energy puppy.

Hope these little tips help ya!

Is your dog like Muhammad Ali?

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Perhaps your dog “floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee?”

Maybe you are one of the multitude of dog owners that “can’t catch what they can’t see.”

Boxing legend Muhammad Ali had masterful footwork and incredible spatial strike and retreat/retreat and strike techniques on the canvas that won him the heavyweight championship title. ¬†Known today simply as “The Greatest” he was a masterful tactician and a true artist of the sweet science.

I’m here to inform you that your puppy (or dog) also has these same incredible moves at their disposal just like Ali had. ¬†Whenever he/she performs these keep away moves on you it is purposefully rude, manipulative, and a relationship killer which then leads to a host of other dog behavior problems! ¬†Whenever your puppy¬†slips your touch or evades you, the pup then grows steadily worse.

 

All normal canines can perfectly calculate (just like Muhammad Ali could) the length of your arms and hands in relation to where their body happens to be. ¬†They are true masters of fight/flight distancing. ¬†Dogs know and care about space as it concerns their body and the environment they find themselves in. ¬†They can dance away just as skillfully as the champion pugilist did in his prime. ¬†Ali used the “rope a dope” tactic successfully on many an opponent in the ring. ¬†Dogs and puppies also do this to their owners all-the-stinking-time! This allows them to grow steadily ruder and, in their doggy mind, more and more in charge of the household, the yard, the couch, the dog daycare, and the neighborhood!

When a dog attempts to slip your touch and stay out of your personal space bubble when you’re reaching towards them or clearly asking them to come into your space in order to be touched or groomed or pet, or leashed up, we must be able to control that interaction. ¬†When you approach your dog they should not back away.

Beneficial suggestions to stop a dog from slipping your touch:

As detailed in my first book, Dog Myths, you must learn to play while moving backwards Рuse the tug, rope, or ball to lure the dog into your personal space.  When playing tug of war be sure to add your second hand into the mix in a fun way.  You should be able to touch your dog with your second hand without your dog slipping the touch.  This is how you desensitize and slow the classic Muhammad Ali slip and rope a dope behavior.

Do NOT lunge after the dog or chase it!  (Chasing the dog is a bad game because it reinforces the fact that your dog can run way, way faster than you or any human can)

Have your puppy wear a flat buckle collar around the house so that when he/she decides to slip your touch and give you the rope a dope you can easily reach forward under the neck of the animal and hook the collar and (gently) drag them forward into your space – then perform your originally intended purpose (the reason why you attempted to touch the pup in the first place – petting, grooming, leashing etc) Then be sure and turn away and exit the space first (before your pup runs off). ¬†This little paragraph is important and has the potential to greatly alter misbehavior and bring about healthy relationship! ¬†(If you’re still struggling with this then go to the leash and have your pooch drag one around)

Call your dog less. ¬†Our pets live in a world of human talking and man made noise. ¬†Humans are incredibly loud a majority of the time. ¬†It is not that way in the woods. ¬†Most animals don’t like loud noises. ¬†Many dog owners kill the “come” command by overuse. ¬†They also destroy the dog’s name because of overuse. ¬†Don’t be one of them. ¬†Be creative. ¬†Think like an older dog. ¬†Older dogs do NOT sit there calling the pups to them. ¬†What do they do? ¬†(I’m not giving you the answer because I want you to up your observation skills).

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This is my favorite pair of boxing gloves and my favorite jump rope

Muhammad Ali was fun to watch in the ring – he was one of the best boxers ever – but when a dog or pup slips their owner’s touch that is blatantly disrespectful and will most certainly grow poor behavioral patterns if left unchecked. ¬†It matters not if the dog is nervous or shy. ¬†Please follow my suggestions and then let us know how quickly you saw the changes in behavior occur! ¬†(This stuff works and not only does it work…it works better than many behavior modification methods out there.) ¬†DO it and both you and your dog will certainly reap the benefits!

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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!

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Strong Dog Program

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Is your dog mentally, emotionally, and physically strong? ¬†Many dogs out there are strong bodily and yet if we examine the psychological side of things they are wanting. ¬†My question…what are caring dog owners doing about this?

Some owners do nothing. ¬†Others mask the dog’s psychological issues by way of obedience training and (frivolous) trick training! ¬†Other dog owners use agility, flyball, or herding, or some other canine sport in attempts at correcting the mental or emotional deficiency within their dog. ¬†The truth is many of these things do NOT work well because the methods are all based in excitement and energy escalation. ¬†The dog owner is encouraged by the on site trainer to raise the dog’s energy in order to get a higher level of performance. ¬†And while exercise in any form is better than nothing many times tricks and training and these dog sports condition the dog to get pumped up more and more when they arrive at the field or at the agility facility just like pups do at their daycare. ¬†This doesn’t typically help in balancing the mental and emotional state of the dog in its day to day life. ¬† IMG_3544

But we’ve got great news! ¬†Our Dog Language Center in Puyallup, Washington offers the perfect solution to this common dog and dog owner dilemma. ¬†Our Strong Dog Program is a great option that we offer to our boarding clients. ¬†Depending on the age, health, and size of the dog boarding at Stevens Family Kennels, if they are enrolled in our Strong Dog Program, they get 25 to 30 minutes on our dog treadmill or that time spent in our play field with our two, resident, calm, example dogs (my twelve and a half year old Boxer and my two and a half year old Cane Corso/Pit mix – both dogs are highly skilled communicators, teach other dogs the proper language, and also love to have fun)!

Both options in our Strong Dog Program yield amazing results because they both equip dogs to be physically strong AND yet they help them CALM down emotionally and achieve balance mentally. ¬†Our Dog Language Center is quite unique from most kennels and dog daycares because we offer something very valuable…calmness. ¬†Calmness is highly prized among all animals on the planet. ¬†Calmness and energy control is key to survival. ¬†Calmness is also key to clear thinking and a healthy emotional state of being for our dogs. ¬†While many places have fanciful couches for dogs, loads of food treats, play times and high pitched trick training, and all manner of doggy clothing…we offer something better…dog health, dignity, and relaxation. ¬†We offer maturity to the dogs and they love it!

You know those billionaires and millionaires that shell out gobs of money to go away to spartan-like settings to attend silent retreats in order to practice calm, meditative time?  These people know these quiet, restorative times are excellent for the soul.  At Stevens Family Kennels we offer your dog a chance to get strong and flexible emotionally, mentally, and physically in a similar calm, safe, environment.

If a dog has behavioral problems then a pattern interrupt is necessary in order to give the brain a chance to get out of the old pathway and in order to create new synapsis within the mind so the dog can forge a new, healthy, social, neural habit. ¬†The massive pattern interrupt that occurs during your dogs stay with us simply cannot be achieved by you (the owner). ¬†It cannot be achieved in a high excitement facility. ¬†It cannot be achieved lounging on a comfy couch with seven other dogs. ¬†It cannot be achieved on the agility field or while herding and shepherding sheep or goats. ¬†But…it most definitely can be achieved while boarding with us at the Dog Language Center and taking advantage of our custom Behavioral Board and Train which always automatically includes enrollment into our Strong Dog Program!

Go too http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com for more details

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Is your dog Flexible or Fragile?

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Is your dog psychologically flexible or fragile?  Is your method of dog or puppy training and dog handling unbending and, therefore, rigid and fragile?  Is the daily routine you keep with your pet, perhaps, too rigid and too regimented or is it pliable and relaxed?

These questions, I think, are worth EVERYONE’S consideration.¬† Whether you have a dog or not, the subject matter we will go over today is the real stuff that often makes or breaks one’s quality of life.¬† It can Make you or, as the fragile tree, the poorly heat-treated sword, the overly-emotional person, or many dogs often experience, it can Break you!

So many dog owners lack flexibility.¬† Thus, their dogs lack flexibility too.¬† This is due, in large part, to so many professional dog behaviorists and dog trainers and vets clinging to their unyielding philosophy and close-minded dog training methodology. ¬†If you follow this fine blog you know I’ve been extremely honest about the mainstream dog training industry (much to some trainers’, behaviorists’, and vets’ chagrin and much to many others joy, education, and puppy prosperity) You, Dear Reader, and your dog or pup bear the brunt of this unyielding philosophy and extreme dogmatism that mainstream trainers hold so dear and continuously propagate on an unwitting society.

Real World Example:¬† Some dog trainers proudly exclaim “We are a “positive only” training company.” ¬†(They even think it’s modern! ¬†That shows even less research on their parts) I hope everyone understands that those that confess and practice this singular¬†and rigid method of dog bribery are immediately eliminating one entire half of possible external motivation for the dog they are working with! ¬†And what’s worse is that they are also starting off the human-dog bond with a bizarre and unnatural set of limitations. ¬†I’ll also mention that good human parents and certainly good dog parents would seldom if ever load up their children, or pups, with gobs of sweets or consistent bribes in exchange for decent behavior. ¬†That builds a relationship devoid of respect and trust. ¬†My question is, When the “positive” approach doesn’t work (which is quite often) because they never calmly address any misbehavior and because they are Not Free to calmly disagree with the dog, are they flexible enough to learn from nature and take a page out of every older dog’s playbook and spatially address the situation to enhance calmness and peacefulness??? ¬†OR do they remain stubborn, rigidly clinging to their food bribes, and thus blindly continuing on the fragile and foolish path all the while collecting money from their customers in exchange for weak results?

(Now if you know even the smallest thing about us and our award-winning company or if you’ve read my two books you would know we do NOT cling to or preach either “positive” or “punitive” reinforcement because they are BOTH just shallow External motivators and lack long-term relational staying power – especially when compared with the relatively untapped yet naturally stronger Internal, relational motivation found within ALL dogs and pups on the earth!¬† Please re-read that sentence. ¬†The ways of the mother and father dog will always trump the ways of the human scientist in the lab or the one-sided, strangely dogmatic behaviorist, vet, or dog trainer! ¬†If we are going to be dogmatic, friends, it should be dogmatically for excellent and humane results for the dogs we work with and dogmatically for daily improvement (a concept the Japanese Samurai called “kaizen”). ¬†We could be dogmatically for doing things the dog way: cultivating techniques that echo and reflect Mother Nature’s way. ¬†Now let’s continue with the other side of the fragile and inflexible example seen readily in most dog training and behavior mod…)

Several other kinds of dog training companies (these sorts often attract GSD owners or Belgian Mal owners) will hyper focus on negative reinforcement and rely on the classic yet foolhardy “rolling” of the dog, hanging, zapping, or choking it, or other too-harsh tactics employed carelessly in order to show the dog “who is boss” or “who is the Alpha” (FYI, when and if a dog rolls over and exposes its belly – this gesture does NOT usually indicate a submissive gesture when it is presented towards humans – even though everyone on the planet has been conditioned by the dog training industry to believe that it is a submissive gesture! ¬†That, My Friends, is a myth! ¬†For more on this clarification of dog language and behavior – much more – read my hot-listed book,¬†Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!¬† You’ll get alooooooooooooot out of it if you have an open mind!)

The point of the examples is that Both sides, Both of these unflinching methods generally lack flexibility and cannot truly help bring the relationship between you and your dog into MATURITY because of it!  

The great news is that YOU don’t have to join or cling to either restrictive side! ¬†You can free yourself from the classic dog training debates and seek out, what we have discovered is a third more natural, beneficial, method of training and modification that doesn’t desperately rely on shoddy external motivation and foolish excitement but is based, instead, on internal motivation, the natural world, and specifically how the human body moves with the dog body, how touch is happening between owner and dog, and how peaceful postures enhance relationship in every dog on the planet. ¬†The Garrett Stevens Method utilizes touch, space, energy influence, proper postures, and actual dog language in order to guide dogs into better behavior and relaxed freedom within the relationship. ¬†It far surpasses what counts as dog training and canine behavior modification. ¬†Our dogs are looking for leadership that guides them into maturity. ¬† We should stop being impressed with stupid tricks and often frivolous obedience. ¬†It’s 2019 for crying out loud – YOUR DOG IS SEMI-RETIRED and Does NOT always need a job to do (which would require higher levels of energy to accomplish) because that often just adds more tricks to his/her repertoire and does NOT remove problematic behavior in a natural way familiar to all canines. ¬†Can I get an amen?

Real life example for you:¬† Ron takes his dog Winston (a French Bulldog) out for a walk.¬† Winston always gets over-excited when putting the leash on, and Ron always asks him to perform an excitable “wait” command at the door because that’s what Ron has taught him to do from puppyhood. ¬†That’s dog training. ¬†Ron is doing that because that’s his limited concept of training and he’s supposed to do that to gain respect from his dog. ¬†Ron never considered that when we have a dog perform a “stay” or “wait” command at the door when the dog is already presenting escalated energy it can, and usually does, make matters worse internally. ¬†Meaning Winston’s energy goes up because he is now frozen and many predators freeze just before exploding after prey. ¬†So Ron’s little “wait” routine, his training is actually creating more of a problem than he had at the get go!!!

When a dog is locked into a routine – it is NOT flexible.¬† This is because dogs are intelligent and they know what is going to happen next and thus, often try to speed us up.¬† They jump the gun.¬† The truth of the matter is that Winston has learned to wait or stay physically all while ramping up unnecessary energy psychologically!¬† And, like almost any command performed in typical dog training and “modern” behavioral modification style…the dog remains excited mentally or, even worse, escalates his energy more!¬† So even when or if the “wait” or “stay” is accomplished… as soon as the release term comes at Winston he is exploding forward again out of the doorway and pulling and straining on the leash.¬† So little to¬†nothing was actually gained by asking him to “wait” in the first place! ¬†Inadvertently Ron’s “dog training” has made the situation worse!

Friends, the mother and father dog would probably never keep their pups in a frozen position if they knew that the pup’s energy was skyrocketing.¬† Escalated levels of energy often lead to fight or flight behavior and, in the very least, lead to the rude and manipulative habits in our dogs. ¬†(please ponder that FACT)

Ron, in his search to train and raise his bulldog properly, has inadvertently squashed Winston’s natural autonomy and freedom near the doorway.¬† Everyday is the same in Winston and Ron’s life.¬† Every time they go for a walk it is the same.¬† The direction and route they take on their walk is usually the same.¬† And Ron is setting Winston, his French bulldog, up for failure if any subtle difference, any slight chaos ever happens to occur in their life or routine. ¬†He’s training his dog to be fragile! ¬†And if there’s one rule that is truly constant in our lives it is that successful folks embrace change while the unsuccessful fear it.

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Every single dog-lover I know that has been interested in training their dogs has over-trained and over-conditioned them at the doorway or, and this example occurs in almost every home I’ve ever been in (at the time of writing in 14 years as a pro behaviorist), before their feeding ritual each morning/evening with this mind-dulling “stay” or “wait” command.¬† Now, please understand me, I am 100% for teaching a puppy this initially.¬† My caveat comes into play when it is continuously used and the energy of the animal is seldom if ever considered.¬† We must consider the ENERGY if we want a wonderful house dog.¬† End of story.¬† Tricks and even OBEDIENCE are SECONDARY to cultivating great RELATIONSHIP and HEALTHY ENERGY LEVELS! ¬†Please quote me on that! Tell everyone you know because they need it. ¬†Believe me, I see this played out daily in our successful behavior modification processes while I continuously ad nauseum here over and again real life stories of miserable and rigid failings on the dog training industries part. ¬†Inflexible dog training methods are a genuine nightmare on very well-intentioned dog owners and their families and their neighbors.

One of my heroes, Bruce Lee, has a quote that I love. ¬†I’ll share it with you now. ¬†“Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, add what is uniquely your own.” ¬†That is what I try to do every day when I work with people and dogs. ¬†It is a winning philosophy because it takes in all sides of a story, and then gets rid of the crap, and finally, it encourages creative solutions and actions on our part. ¬†I hope in the future more dog trainers and behaviorists and more vets and dog owners will be open to thinking like Bruce Lee did. ¬†The palm tree survives the hurricane because it bends in the wind.

For flexibility…mix things up. ¬†Shake things up. ¬†Do something novel or different. ¬†If your dog always pees on a certain tree or hydrant during your walk – skip it next time and form a new neural pathway in the moldy, dusty, old mind. ¬†If your dog always performs a “sit – stay” or “wait” for his food in the morning, next time skip that incredibly boring routine and let him simply have the stinking food, or use that minute to train a different and fresh command – for instance – work the “come/here” command or the “catch.” ¬†If your dog always barks at a certain guest put the leash on him and stop him from doing it.

Let’s refresh and renew ourselves and our dogs as we add new experiences into our lives. ¬†Let’s look beyond the shoddy external motivation (positive or punitive reinforcement) and all the fragility that’s continuously shoved upon us all from all the “dog people” in the industry. ¬†Let’s shake up our daily routines. ¬†Routine can truly destroy the mind when it is overdone.

Think Flexibility and your dog or pup will not be psychologically Fragile!  As always, socialize for success.

For more info of this nature read my books, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! and So Long Separation Anxiety  

The books are available almost everywhere.  Thank you so much to those who have left me thoughtful reviews on Amazon or Apple iBooks.  It means quite a lot to me.  And thank you so much to those clients who read and re-read the books on their quest for greater relationship and better behavior with and among their dogs.  I am humbled that you would re-read again and again Dog Myths in order to grasp the principles of dog language.

-G

 

 

Maturity is better than Motivation for you and your dog.

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I will unpack this whole thing for you here and now in three short, precise paragraphs (not counting this one). ¬†I hope you all understand that the vast majority of dogs and their owners never move past the first phase (external motivation) due to their unyielding belief in the many dog myths about canine behavior and “science” that are rampant in the pet industry. ¬†But here you are anyway…

EXTERNAL MOTIVATION = positive reinforcement and/or punitive reinforcement. ¬†These are the very lowest levels of relating and, as science reveals over and over, those employing this sort of base motivation see an initial and temporary upward bump in performance and, then, in the long term, the motivation and the individual’s performance takes a steady and serious dive unless consistently given stronger and stronger reinforcement. ¬†(examples of externally motivating your dog – training with food treats or with shock collars)

INTERNAL MOTIVATION = tapping into the individual’s nature, drives, instincts, and personal desires. ¬†This form of motivation is stronger than most forms of external motivation and it stands the test of time due to the individual remaining engaged because of their own inherent interests. ¬†(examples of internally motivating your dog ¬†– ¬†tapping into curiosity, autonomy, freedom of choice, play, and loyalty within a relationship)

TRUE MATURITY or MASTERY = little to no motivation is necessary because the individual has moved beyond the realm of immature reactivity towards stimuli and into the realm of genuine understanding. ¬†A realm wherein liberty and freedom are expressed within a healthy relationship with and among others and is valued above self and selfish drives and natural instincts and responses. ¬†(This should be the goal for both human and dog! ¬†You’ll see examples of it in your dog when they do something to help out instead of help themselves. ¬†However, as I’ve said dozens of times…tragically most people and dogs never move past the lowest level/external motivation!!!)

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For more info on the sort of stuff I’ve just gone over please read my books, Dog Myths and So Long Separation Anxiety – they can be found on Amazon and they will help you and your dog on the path towards mastery. ¬†(Superman is holding onto them in the pic at the top of this article)

-G

Crushing 2018

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Dear Friends and Followers,

2018 was such an insane year for me personally and for our family, our business, and our lives.  I wanted to take the time to look back and go over just some of what took place.

  1. ¬†We added a fourth child to the mix!¬† Now I have two strong sons and two beautiful daughters.¬† The bride and I must be out of our ever lovin’.¬† My wife, as always, remained the quintessential image of gorgeousness and grace through it all.¬† We named number four after my two grandfathers.¬† He is such a blessing.
  2. ¬†We released my first book, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!¬† Dog Myths, made the Hot list for six weeks consecutive due to the amount of online sales!¬† This book contains our award-winning philosophy and my personal tips at the end of each chapter.¬† Basically, Dog Myths, will blow your mind as to what dog’s truly mean when they make a specific movement or touch you a certain way.¬† The majority of dog training professionals and vets misinterpret dog language or simply fail to delve deep enough thus most dog owners remain fooled by canine manipulation – Dog Myths is a remedy for that!¬† Readers experience a much deeper revelation of dog communication than what has previously been offered on the subject.¬† With each page enjoyed the preventing or reversing of problematic pet behavior becomes easy.¬† Dog Myths has the potential to revolutionize the ancient and often misguided dog training industry so long as you all keep spreading the word and gifting or donating it to others! ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†DogMyths-BookCover-2000px¬†
  3. ¬†We lost Bosley.¬† Bosley the boxer was our first dog and a huge helper for me in all my canine behavioral work.¬† I learned so much from him, through him, and with him.¬† We did Schutzhund together.¬† He also used to carry in groceries for us, throw away trash when I’d said to “trash it,” and help me carry around and hand out business cards and flyers many moons ago when I was just starting out.¬† Old Bosley helped thousands of dogs with their dog reactivity and aggression.¬† We are so fortunate and thankful he was strong and stoic and went naturally and quickly in the end.¬† He will always have a special place in our hearts.Tacoma.Tampa 2007 038
  4. We had three successful meetings with an executive TV producer that is interested in moving forward to do a show about our specific training due to it’s uniqueness and the great results we bring to dogs and people.¬† (This guy helped put together shows like Ice Road Truckers, The Last Alaskans, and several others.¬† Their most recent hit show was a summer series on Animal Planet working with a company called The Dodo – check it out if you have a chance.¬† He is legit and we are excited to see what the future holds.)¬† If we end up getting a TV show this could really help loads more dogs and their families.¬† He said he would start by pitching the idea to Animal Planet, Nat Geo, and Netflix.
  5. We got another dog.  Cato the cane corso/pitbull has been a spectacular addition to our home and our behavioral rehabbing team.  His dog language is spot on.  He is a two year old, jet black, musclebound, sweet heart.  He has been great with every guest and client and dog we intro him with and has still been able to intelligently guard our home and hearth whenever a strange new person happens to pop up on the property.  I look forward to continuing to build a great relationship and many memories with him.  (In fact I plan on using him for a new series on this blog about shelter/rescue dogs and their handling and training.  Cato was rescued out of Texas)IMG_2335
  6.  We sold our home, Stepping Stone, which was hard to part with because we loved that well established property, our home, pool, sport court, and all the great trees and other features.
  7. We started another business and bought a new home and property on five cozy acres with a 4000 square foot dog kennel and training building beside the home!¬† STEVENS FAMILY KENNELS & Dog Language Center is now open for business!¬† Formerly named Hearthside Kennels, the building came fully equipped and ready to rock.¬† Two of the acres are wooded and we’ve seen several bucks, some bald eagles, and an occasional coyote on the property.¬† We have already had several intelligent and enterprising pet owners take advantage of our unique board and train options!¬† Our board and train, by the way, is the creme de la creme.¬† Unlike most places it has little to do with dog “obedience.”¬† You may want to look into it!¬† (We also offer standard boarding and kenneling) ¬†We also offer our Strong Dog Program wherein dogs that board with us can gain plenty of beneficial exercise on our brand new dog treadmills. ¬†(The¬†Stevens family kennels website should be up very soon)
  8. ¬†We released my second book,¬†So Long Separation Anxiety!¬†¬†Yes, you read that right, folks.¬† We released two books in one year!¬† This is a little book but a dynamo to be sure.¬† I like to say it’s 95% hands-on and super practical for any reader.¬† Great for anxious dogs, dogs struggling with crate or kenneling issues, destructive chewing, attention hounds, or almost any and all rescue dogs!¬† If you have a puppy read So Long Separation Anxiety in order to prevent it.¬† ¬†We set the price on this book incredibly low as a thank you to our Dog Myths readers.¬† Please take a moment and and check out the incredible Reviews both books have received on Amazon! UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1605¬†
  9. ¬†We started another business!¬† I hesitate to reveal the details to you yet but rest assured you’ll hear of it when the timing is proper.

 

Well I think that’s quite enough of that, eh?¬† If we can accomplish even half of the sort of creativity and productivity in 2019 that we did in 2018 then I’ll die a happy man.¬† Who am I kidding?¬† I relish this sort of accomplishment and achievement and personally believe that if one desires more energy in life then one must work hard at their purpose and trek steadily after the vision and, in this way, one will always find renewed energy in plentiful supplies.¬† You, Dear Readers, have my promise to try and crush 2018 with even more outrageous and fantastic plans and productivity in 2019.¬† Stay tuned! ¬†And a big thank you to all our readers and those who share this info by word, or by mouth, computer or phone…Thanks again and please keep telling your friends, fam, and the pet professionals in your areas about us and the differences calmness makes.

Here’s to fomenting the spirit of innovation and hard work in 2019!¬† Let’s help some dogs and people.

Cheers,

G

Separation Anxiety or Hostage Situation!

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Have you ever been taken hostage?  Masses of kind and caring dog owners are literally living out each day in a horrific real life hostage situation because their pet suffers with terrible Separation Anxiety!  When our dogs are anxious we, in turn, can eventually become anxious too.

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Treating separation anxiety in dogs USED TO BE a difficult path to navigate for both industry professional and lay person alike but that, Friends, is about to change! ¬†Some dog trainers and behaviorists would suggest food treats (peanut butter or bully sticks) be given in order to “occupy the anxious dog’s mind” while the owner is away. ¬†Many vets would sadly just suggest drugging the anxious dog.

Why is it that we seldom if ever hear of a calming, natural, spatial solution for successfully treating separation anxiety?  

Why don’t we hear more about the spatial movements that all dogs employ when speaking their own specific canine language?

Why is separation anxiety prevalent in households across the globe today IF the majority of vets’ and dog trainers’ methods are truly sound and beneficial to/for our dogs?

Could it be possible that we (those of us involved in the dog behavioral and training industry) need to reevaluate our method of treatment for separation anxiety?

Shouldn’t we take a closer look at dog language and canine energy levels in order to find the answers and solutions that so many desperately seek?

Shouldn’t you and your dog be able to live anxiety free?

Are you sick of being a hostage to your dog’s separation anxiety?

If you answered those last few questions with a resounding, “YES!” then my new book, So Long Separation Anxiety¬†will be just right for you and your anxious furry friend!

(So Long Separation Anxiety will only be an e-book so we are sorry but no paperback this time.  For paperbacks be sure and read my groundbreaking book on dog and human behavior, Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!)

From destructive chewing to whining and barking, from nervous drooling to anxious urination or defecation, from breaking out of the kennel to rudely jumping all over you when you arrive home, separation anxiety is a major problem for masses of dog owners!

This book is here to help you and your dog discover relaxation and balance through a healthier relationship and through practical proper spatial maneuvering! ¬†Contained in this exciting new book are beneficial, real world techniques and methods that anyone can put to use! ¬†Step by step we examine how dog’s interact and move with us, how separation anxiety subtly takes root, and how we can begin to smoothly reverse it. ¬†So Long Separation Anxiety is chock full of real life, practical, hands-on, calming solutions! ¬†And the best part…you will NOT need a bunch of peanut butter or food treats or bizarre contraptions, you will NOT need harsh or severe handling, and you will NOT need to repeatedly fill a prescription in order to drug your furry family member!!!

The successful treatment of separation anxiety in our dogs is possible if we can learn from the dogs themselves.  So Long Separation Anxiety is now available on Apple iBooks/iTunes or on Amazon kindle or most other platforms!

Let’s begin making our future better today!

-G

Are you playing the wrong way?

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edit 23I know it’s a wild question.¬† We figure that play is just a “free for all” helluva’ good time with our dogs and pups, right?¬† WRONG!

Let’s pause for a brief moment and try and think back to any of the educational nature programming you’ve watched on predators (in particular mammals).¬† Can you recall ever hearing how the wolf pups, or lion cubs, or cheetah cubs (etc) were playing to learn, to reinforce social bonds and positioning within the family group, and playing to practice critical hunting skills they’ll need when they are older?¬† If you cannot.¬† I certainly can.¬† In almost every one of those Nature, Discovery, or Nat Geo programs those lines would be mentioned when considering how the young predators played.¬† Play, as I’ve mentioned before in this fine blog, is critically important to intelligent creatures.¬† Let’s take a deeper look and see what we can apply to our dogs to enhance our relationship and their obedience.

Play is structured.¬† It is NOT a “free for all” where anything goes.¬† If it even begins to become out of control there will most assuredly be a “foul” called or a “flag” thrown in order to pause the game.¬† It is the same in wild or domesticated predators!¬† Your dog is a domesticated predator and not just a furry human toddler.¬† Dogs are predators even if you earnestly want to believe and buy into the fairy tale of the “fur baby”- it is simply NOT true.¬† (For healthy relationships honesty is a major key!¬† Let’s get real please.)

Continuing… Play reinforces social connection, provides exercise, energy escalation and de-escalation, mental stimulation, and can be a huge indicator of just where the relationship is at (I’m talking about the relationship between you and your dog/puppy now).

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Did you know that many dogs and puppies manipulate the heck out of their owners during a simple play session?¬† It’s true and I observe it everyday in my work with owners and their dogs.¬† I’ve detailed many dog manipulations that contribute to behavioral problems and that can be prevented or reversed in my HOT Listed book on dog training, language and behavior,¬†DOG MYTHS: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!¬† (please click on the link, buy it, read it, be shocked by it, be motivated and equipped by it, love it, and then review it so others can find it too!¬† The reviews have begun to come in about Dog Myths and people are Raving btw!)

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For great play which can help build a great relationship between you and your puppy or dog ……………

  1. Never Chase the dog!¬† – “But he loves it” you’ll say.¬† So what?¬† Drug addicts love their drugs, does that mean they have excellent and successful relationships with those around them?¬† Does that mean you want them living in your home?¬† Does that mean you become a drug dealer?¬† If you chase your puppy or dog ask yourself just what is being reinforced over time?¬† The average dog can run 32 miles per hour!¬† And some breeds get up near 40 miles per hour!¬† Greyhounds can reach 45mph!¬† I don’t know about you but I don’t want to begin my relationship with a puppy or new rescue dog or any dog teaching them that they can go high speed away from me, away from my space!¬† I don’t need them in on the fact that they can easily outpace me because rudeness could develop from there.¬† I say “could” to be gentle on you, Dear Reader, in truth it often does.¬† I’m guessing that you don’t want to find yourself in a place where you have to catch your dog or pup or have to lunge after them while they showcase their speed and agility in a masterfully manipulative social one-up?¬† Don’t chase them.

If you’ve read some of my stuff you’ll know that the most important things to our dogs when we are discussing language and communication and relationship are touch and space.¬† If we chase our dogs and they run and easily take their space away from us it paves the way to more behavioral issues.

2. Always play backwards or run from the dog!¬†¬†-I have devoted a whole chapter in Dog Myths¬†about playing backwards and drawing the dog or pup to you and to your space because it is vitally important in the relationship.¬† Our dogs are domesticated predators but they are NOT wild predators.¬† That means one should never have to catch their dog.¬† Catching or trapping is what one does with a wild creature and not a domesticated animal that lives in your stinkin’ home, correct?¬† There must be more respect and trust and clear communication than that.¬† If you do, in fact, have to catch your pup that is a clear sign that respect and or communication is missing (in most cases it is tragically both!).

Playing backwards helps draw the dog in to your space and it makes it look (physically) like you are the leader.¬† This is good.¬† Ask yourself would the mother or father dog have to use high pitched talking to call their pups to their space?¬† Would the parent dogs have to use a treat to bribe their young to come to them?¬† Or…would they use reverse psychology and naturally move away from their pups causing the pups to respond by following?¬† Life can be better than most people believe living with a dog.¬† Sadly, the majority don’t even know what they are missing.

We’ve gone over some of the spatial parts of play and that’s important but I’m going to continue this article for ya and get another one out probably within a couple weeks.¬† In that Part 2 we will look at how to touch while playing and when to call a foul or throw a flag as we explore dun-Dun-DUHHHHH…the intricate language of play in the domesticated dog!

To Be Continued…

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