When dogs fight! Reversing aggression

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Fight and flight behavior in our dogs is tragically becoming more and more common according to the facts and figures.  You, Dear Reader, and I are the ones responsible for this.  We cannot spell the word responsibility without including the letter I.

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Friends, it lies with all of us to plant seeds of success now in the present day in order to prevent, reverse, and eliminate aggression in our dogs as we move towards the future together.  In this exciting installment from thecaninecalmer I’m going to give all you handsome and beautiful readers two straightforward techniques to help prevent aggression in your dogs.

  1.  Cultivate a killer Heel.                                                                                                                 Heeling means the dog walks beside (or slightly behind) the handler.  Many dogs are complete freaks and blatantly rude to their owners as soon as they set paw outside.  We must not allow our relationship to go out the window the second our dog is on leash.  Make your dog mirror you.  Be cognizant of your center line (the line running down the middle of your body from your nose to navel).  I often encourage clients to play “hard to get” with their center line and their dog when walking in a heel.  This means we should utilize turns and sudden movements in odd directions.  This should stand out in stark contrast when compared to our boring, ol’ straight sidewalks on human designed streets.  Work your dog with turns and quick stops and varying paces.  Maintain a little rhythm and then, try to catch your dog or pup and switch it up and use broken rhythm.  (Good martial artists and boxers do this when sparring).  Keep your dog on it’s toes as you work the heel.  Your line influences his line ideally in perfect team work.                                                  (For help with your heeling we have a video available for purchase and our amazing custom-fit, handmade, training collar!  I highly suggest you take advantage of them because most dog training tools on the market are simply crap.  Put our collars to the test, I dare you)

 

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2.  Control Eye contact.                                                                                                                             The majority of owners with aggressive dogs typically fail miserably at this.  My suggestion.  DON’T.  But…if you do then try, try, again.  After a week of practicing your heeling and as you steadily progress with the heel work controlling the eye contact whenever your dog wants to fight or bark, lunge, or scream at another dog (or person) it should now be easier to turn your dog.  Turning is critically important to your success and the behavioral rehab the dog desperately needs.  Do NOT turn too late.  Turn early and turn often.  Maintain the heel but don’t let your dog face the other dog.  Here is where you’ll have the opportunity to glean the ultra-important life lesson we call persistence.  I’ve learned my persistence from Pit Bulls!  Seize the day and don’t give up.

It is important to note here that when using the Garrett Stevens method or any beneficial naturally calming way of dog handling/training we do NOT pay the dog with food or even with high-pitched praise.  Please remember, external motivation (positive or punitive reinforcement) is never as powerful as internal.  IF your dog does indeed respond to a treat stuffed into his face right before he’s about to stare down another dog and then explode into a furry fiasco of fury and fangs I still would NOT suggest using a food treat.  Please pause and re-read that last sentence.  Whenever we pay a dog for a rigid obedience posture or trick…

1. It is Not calming.   2. It has little to no reflection on your relationship. (if the dog performs the command in exchange for payment it doesn’t mean your relationship is good)  3. The mother and father dog would NEVER do it.  4. It can eventually turn your dog into a very bratty Al Capone type creature.  5. For many people it can be difficult juggling an aggressive, lunging dog on a leash and the food treats and proper timing.  6.  It has zero to do with a dog’s natural social patterns and canine communication.  The main point being that if we have to pay a dog to focus on us instead of another dog even IF it works (and it usually does NOT with a dog with serious aggression or fear because the dog has shut off his smelling/tasting in order to turn up his vision and hearing – precisely because those senses (vision and hearing) are associated and utilized during fight and flight) then you gain an untrustworthy robot that performs “Watch me”s and “Stays” but still may not respect you and certainly cannot be trusted off leash with another dog.

Imagine for a moment, Dear Reader, if you were getting ready for the fight of your life.  You’ve paid your dues and have worked hard.  You’ve got a shot at the title.  Can you picture the moment before your fight?  Listen to the thousands of fans roaring in the arena awaiting your arrival.  Now let me ask you, Are you in the locker room warming up, stretching, and throwing punches as you shadow box and dance around or……….would you be sitting down to a massive Thanksgiving dinner and loading your fat face full of gravy-drenched turkey, your mother’s mashed potatoes, jellied cranberry sauce, and Stouffer’s stuffing?

When any creature is ready to fight they do NOT take food into considerationAggressive dogs “turn down or turn off” their nose.  They turn off their smelling and tasting in order to ramp up their vision and then get ready to bite.  THIS here, folks.  THIS is what many dog behaviorists/trainers/vets CANNOT SEEM TO GRASP.  And so, those intelligent few of us that employ the Garrett Stevens method, those of us who are disciples of the way of the dog and have read Dog Myths well, to put it bluntly, we simply get much greater results than the behaviorist or trainer that clings to only one very limited answer to aggression, to fear, to anxiety, to hyperactivity, their answer is unnatural and non-calming, their answer of course, is food.  And food ad nauseam.  To consistently attempt to bribe a dog with food in order to get it to look at you is, when closely examined, ridiculous.  When fight or flight is presenting food is, naturally, the last thing on the aggressive dog’s mind.  (Only a horrible teacher would attempt to keep addressing the pupil using a sense that has been shut off)

Does this automatically mean if you’re not using “positive only” that you are now a low-born villain that ax murders old ladies after midnight every Wednesday?  Certainly not, although any behaviorist/trainer that limits themselves to the unnatural and non-calming and often ineffective methods of “positive only” (and many do) will readily label you as such.  However, all good human parents know that bribing a child is not a sustainable or healthy method for child rearing.  It is not good for the amazingly social and intelligent dog by your side either!

Typically people employing the “treats non-stop approach” see a quick and temporary bump in results (and by results I mean surface level obedience only NOT healthy social normalcy and wonderful canine communication and certainly NOT a mature relationship between owner and dog) but then, of course, it is accompanied by the all-too familiar steady, easily predictable frustrating failure in the long run for both owner and dog.  It is truly a viscous cycle that 99% of our clients will tell you happened to them before they found us and employed the naturally successful way of the dog.  Remember, BOTH positive reinforcement And punitive reinforcement were scientifically proven ( by teams of scientists in the 1970s and different teams again in the 1980s – turns out positive reinforcement isn’t modern at all) to fade in the long run and were BOTH not nearly as powerful and effective as Intrinsic motivation!  Remember, we should seldom if ever need to use treats or harsh handling when dealing with our dogs.

The RELATIONSHIP should be the REWARD!  Please re-read that and then tell your friends and family.  Tell your vet, and groomer, daycare and kennel owners.  Tell Everyone.  The relationship should be your dogs reward and your reward!  Intrinsically motivated dogs that learn to focus on the relationship, based in respect and trust and clear canine communication with healthy energy levels, will always achieve social normalcy before the extrinsically “motivated” food-bribed dog.

So work your heel and work on turning or angling to the right or left so your aggressive dog doesn’t go right into dropping doggy F-bombs (cursing and cussing by staring and mean-mugging every dog or person he sees) with every conceivable step he takes throughout your neighborhood.  Control his head and eye contact.  It should be nose before eyes because that’s how all canines are born.  Olfactory and gustatory must take precedence over the dog’s vision and hearing if one desires a calm and socially adept dog.

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For more info please read my HOT-Listed book on dog and human behavior  Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!  and keep a sharp eye out for my next books.  (I’ve got two more coming down the pike for ya, hopefully available soon!)

Go here:  http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  -For our handmade, custom fit, training collars to help revolutionize your heel, or for our training video on Heeling and Leash Manners or, to schedule an appointment with me.

Have a marvelous day and keep socializing for success. PLEASE SHARE THIS so other dogs can be helped as more of us learn the dog way!!!

-G

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Dog Myths, my HOT Listed book

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Dog Myths has made it on the HOT List for six weeks consecutive!  So I have one question for you –HAVE YOU ORDERED YOUR OWN COPY? 

Dog Myths (the false beliefs propagated by countless professionals in the pet industry and by billions of dog owners) can and will literally come back to BITE You!  Find the information you need (most of which goes directly against everything that is being taught by professional dog trainers/behaviorists) and discover the truth!  The truth will set you and your problematic dog or brand new puppy Free!

 

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The preorder sale pricing for my dog and human behavioral book will not last forever.  If you have Apple products order Dog Myths by Garrett Stevens on Apple iBooks/iTunes because right now it is on sale for just five measly bucks!  (It is also available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, etc, paperback versionsor online version)

This book is incredibly different from the majority of what folks believe and it is written by someone that people now drive hours and hours to see.  Yes, many of our clients are now skipping all the dog trainers and dog behaviorists in Seattle (you know, that small city) to drive down to Tacoma (the city of destiny) to experience the difference the natural dog language makes in the treatment of and removal of serious behavioral issues.  We have had clients come from Seattle and beyond.  They come up from Olympia.  They’ve even come three hours one way from Forks!  Curious to know why?  It’s because we are the anti-trainers!  Curious as to why it keeps making the HOT List?

Most training goes against Mother Nature’s calming ways.  Mainstream dog training and behavior mod is based in constant (immature) reinforcement.  I teach people that dogs are smarter and much more intelligent than all that.  If you have to constantly reinforce your children or your employees doesn’t that show a lack to maturity somewhere?  I’m hear to tell you it’s no different in dogs!

Most folks don’t know there are MORE than just two ways to work with an animal.  Most folks are also buying into whatever doggy manipulation their dog is rudely selling them.  In, Dog Myths, we detail concise chapter by concise chapter how sneaky our dogs and pups can be and how foolish the generally accepted training and behavioral modification methods are in comparison.  Then we go over honest, real-world solutions.   As I always say, No need to BRIBE the dog with Food, and No need to use harsh handling.  

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Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to BITE You!, is so different.  Please drop what you are doing and order it.  Your dog or pup will thank you as you build a richer bond based on movement, energy, space, and the wonderful senses we all have access to.  This book contains a full rendering of our proven and super successful training philosophy (and shocking to many people “giving a dog a job” isn’t part of it!) Please do yourself a major favor and order this bad boy!

#dogmyths #gotcalm #getgarrett #tacomaauthor

Pick up a paperback or two (they make amazing gifts for the dog-lovers in your life) and discover why hundreds of others are discovering the dog language and how our human behavior relates back to our dogs in a brand new way.  Order Dog Myths by Garrett Stevens and welcome to the future!

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

 

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

Quick QUESTIONS for you

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Quick questions may require long consideration and critical contemplation.  If we ask the right questions we get the right answers.  Here are some questions to really mull over.

 

Do we as the human race really have our dogs best interests at heart?

Do we as human beings value our dogs over and above what or how they should be valued or do we undervalue them?

Did you know we have never attempted to rescue as many dogs in the USA as we are currently?

Did you know dog bites (and dog attacks on people) are on the rise?

Have you ever been bitten?

Are our dogs giving back to us as much as we are giving to them and vice-versa?

Do you take a realistic viewpoint of the dog and their many behaviors do you have an over-simplistic, anthropomorphized viewpoint?

Are treats exciting for our dogs?

Is excitement actually good and beneficial to our dogs?

Do parent dogs exhibit a lot of excitement around their pups and vice-versa?

How does excitement and high energy play a role in most of mother nature?

Is calmness valued by the mother or father dog?

Who is calmer the older dogs or the younger ones?

Are we all applying calmness when interacting with our dogs and pups?

Are professional trainers and behaviorists using calmness or excitement in their training methods?

Does your dog come with a laundry list of rules (don’t poke the bear!)…things you can’t touch on his/her body, things you can’t do around the dog, things guests can’t do?

Is your dog rude or polite?

Do dogs think positively or negatively or not at all like that?

What is your favorite sense (out of the five senses)?

What is our dogs favored sense or senses?

If you were to lose a sense which would you chose and why?

If your dog was to lose a sense which would he/she choose and why?

 

These are just a couple of the quick questions I wanted to share with the masses out there in internet land.  I have several others for another time.

Please feel free to comment or answer some of them in the comments section.  These are not to trick or insult or manipulate you in any way.  I just want to hopefully broaden people’s minds and delve a bit deeper into the fascinating creatures we all have such familiarity with.

Keep an eye out for my coming book!  In it we ask and answer many of the above questions and of course the book will greatly help prevent or reverse behavioral issues you may be facing with your dog or pup.  There are great chapters on Touch, Spacial control, Energy control, Calmness, Heeling and Leash work, Dog manipulations, Myths, and much, much more!  There are illustrations.  There are motivations.  There are challenges.  There is a call to action.  The book should broaden anyone’s mind on the subject of our dogs, their behavior, and our behaviors with them.  It broadens my mind every time I add to or examine it.

-G

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dog Speak (Hiring a pro trainer or behaviorist)

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In this rapidly growing world of animal communicators, behaviorists, trainers, and whisperers -Please Beware!  Let me tell you that the labels only matter to humans.  Proceed with Caution!  You may be getting royally ripped off – both financially, informationally, educationally, and with the end result being little to no behavioral changes in your dog or pup!

“I need help again. My owner hired another dog behaviorist, and wasted more money.  They tried positive and negative reinforcement and I still act aggressively on leash towards other dogs and jump up on the guests when they come over!”

The dogs can see right through any human salesmanship, circus acts, human certifications and credentials, parlor tricks, or other tomfoolery.  The dogs don’t care whether you’ve trained tigers for Barnum Bailey’s during the past five years or worked with dolphins for over nine decades.  Dogs also don’t give a rip whether you’ve got several initials behind your name and have taken zillions of years of human schooling or have just crawled out from under a  nearby rock.

Dogs care about real communication, real relationships, energy control, and how their amazing senses are functioning in the wide world.

The dogs will know whether a person is calm or pretending to be calm!  The dogs will quickly identify who is a natural leader and who is not!  The dogs don’t care whether a human communicates well with other humans if they cannot communicate what they want clearly to the dogs.  The dogs will know whether a human is afraid of them.  The dogs will know whether a human is being mean or coming at them from a place of frustration.

Rule one when looking to hire a behaviorist, trainer, whisperer, etc…Make sure they excel and are leaders in the field!

Dogs will easily manipulate control of their own bodies, the space around them, and many other items if the trainer, communicator, or behaviorist doesn’t know what they are doing.

My clients are always amazed at how fast the dogs can calm down, or how I’m able to not get bit, and they wonder at the extremely quick changes that occur.  I jokingly bring up the possibility that maybe their dogs read my testimonials and reviews online and knew they better behave!  Dogs will listen and obey or disobey and disrespect depending on our energy and body language…even though they’ve never read the trainer’s website or googled the behaviorist’s testimonials.   Dogs don’t care if the trainer comes and works for free or if they charge $500 an hour.  They only care about real leadership, energy control, and who is controlling what I call the touch and spatial game (which is real canine communication).  THIS is dogspeak.  Real communication.  The ability to really understand and speak dog.

I see and read and know of countless companies who claim they “speak dog” yet their results are poor.  Folks, this is a huge indicator that they actually do NOT speak dog or know dogspeak.

I hear horror stories every single day (and I’m not exaggerating) from my clients concerning their past experiences with other companies.  The stories range from terrible tales of overcharging behaviorists who throw treats at the dog to solve real issues (aggression, fear, anxieties) to laughable yarns about cheaper trainers who throw treats at the dog to solve real issues and the classic sort where the former police or military K-9 handler uses all harsh and overboard corrections to “help” their house dog obey.  They do not get great results and then they keep suggesting further training for the owners or “If you just take this class…”  A majority of my poor clients have been upsold so many times it is ridiculous and makes me quite angry for them.  Many of my clients share with me how their prior trainer/behaviorist then proceeds to blame them (the client) at the end for the dog’s problems when the trainer/behaviorist could not get good results!  The behaviorist and trainer suddenly has millions of excuses why it’s everyone’s fault but their own shoddy methods!  “The pup may outgrow it.”  “It’s just a teenage phase.”  “What have you done to this dog?!”  “You really need to take our leadership class…our growly dog class…our reactive dog class…”  Or…”You need to take private sessions with us.”  Then during the private sessions the trainer/behaviorist treats the dog exactly like they would in group class settings either throwing treats at them non-stop or giving leash-pop hanging corrections non-stop!  What a fiasco.

It’s a horrific cycle.  So many good people are getting burned by people who claim to fix everything and have alleged solutions for dog behavioral issues but in reality are cookie-cutter morons who are robbing unknowing dog owners!  They don’t know dogspeak.  They don’t really speak dog.  And they typically end up mistreating their own clients – which then leads their client to me!  I then spend a good chunk of my time initially convincing them I’m different from the majority because the majority, the status quo, is largely in the wrong when it comes to real answers for real life situations with real life dogs!   How much time, energy, and money could have been saved if the dog owners had known just a bit more about dog psychology and dogspeak and the peaceful canine language?

Looking to hire someone to help your dog or puppy?

Make sure the trainer/behaviorist/whisperer you are considering has fantastic, real reviews.  Compare the reviews and testimonials with other training companies!  See if the reviews are about solving difficult behavioral issues or if they are more simple, group class, puppy-type stuff.  After doing this see how many other pet professionals recommend them!  (And, sadly, even then you cannot fully be sure because anyone can put anything online nowadays)  I then would highly, highly suggest you read as much about them and their personal philosophy as you can.  If it doesn’t line up with common sense and with what you know of mother nature’s ways beware!   If the trainer or behaviorist is imbalanced toward one training extreme or the other (“positive-ONLY” or punitive-mostly due to over-fixation on obedience) beware!  Seek out balance and calmness!  Stay clear of trainers who over-excite dogs and pups!  Stay away from external motivators only!

**Even if you have a puppy and think you just want a typical group class contact the trainer/behaviorist who can actually solve or prevent behavioral issues instead of going with status quo group class (believe me – we are few and far between) It will save you big money in the future!**

Then call the trainers and behaviorists and be ready with your questions.

Don’t be a cheapskate. Many times you get what you pay for. Try to make a good investment in your dog trainer/behaviorist but the key would be to make sure you are getting good, real, measurable results for the money!

Good questions would include, What do you typically do to treat aggression?  Or maybe How would you deal with a fearful dog?  Do you use positive or negative reinforcement?> (This last question is sort of a trick because an excellent trainer or behaviorist or whisperer will know that the relationship, the communication, the respect, the trust, the energy level of the dog and the owner all are much more important than positive and negative reinforcement!)  (“Positive-only” trainers are extremely limited and short-sighted in their approaches and often lack the great results you are looking for.)

The trainer should understand dogspeak.  They should be a fountain overflowing with knowledge about dog body language and what it means.  They should also be skilled in human communication because 95% of what I do on a daily basis is teaching the human how to speak dog.  Dogspeak is complex as any human language but learning the basics (and starting to get great results in your puppy or dog) can be as simple as A, B, C!

Need help?  Call us, we have the best testimonials and reviews of any dog training or behavioral rehab company!!!!!   Don’t believe me?  Go to http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com  for more info

Dealing with a Fearful Dog

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Fear in a wild canine is a perfectly viable option for survival, and can be used to stay alive in dangerous situations, but fear in our domestic dogs becomes a horribly debilitating habit. Fear can dominate the animal’s outlook and daily experiences in life. The fearful dog’s social circle soon starts to implode, and eventually, the human owner’s social circle does as well. This is an all too common occurrence. Fear in a pup or dog blocks intelligent learning, playfulness, and sociability. Remember, sociability is the real key in an animal whose very life depends on living in a pack.  Once a dog starts to use a habit of fearfulness, he goes right into a fight or flight response instead of investigating the new stimulus (new place, person, dog, or random item) with its nose, you are bound for trouble.

A healthy, normal domesticated dog should be everyone’s friend. This does not mean they will stop their guardian barking if there is someone at the door or in the middle of the night. Dogs are very sensitive and should be able to distinguish between a guest or family member you’ve already invited in to the house from a burglar attempting to break in at night. They should run to meet people, and dogs, and then slow upon their approach as they switch from eye contact into sniffing and smelling with that wonderful nose of theirs. About 65% – 70% of the canine brain is dedicated to the olfactory system. If your puppy or dog isn’t smelling and sniffing it is Not using much of it’s brain! I always recommend people– and dogs– use their brain.

As owners of dogs we can learn to read our dog’s body language, and their body will reveal exactly what is going on in their brain. Dogs are brutally honest. A dog will never lie. If a dog is uncomfortable or nervous it will tell you with its body. This helps us decide what to do to help change the dog’s fearful state of mind. A dog’s movement is key in deciding how we are to move in response to their fear. Leaving a situation when a dog is fearful is seldom the answer. If you let a fearful dog just leave, or go into flight, how will it ever learn to conquer the fear and enter into relaxation?

The most important thing to remember is to never coddle or comfort a fearful dog. And never pick a nervous dog up or allow them to hide behind or under you. So many people think if we just work a bit harder to “win over” the nervous dog with more soft human talking or treats, or praise or petting to comfort the animal, it can help. If you talk softly, praise, treat, pet or coddle fear– it will only grow more fear in your dog and hurt it more psychologically! I see many owners in unhealthy relationships with their dogs where the dog is simply using them as a source of comfort in order to stay fearful and even aggressive!  Fear should be ignored most of the time. Sometimes it needs to be adamantly disagreed with first and then ignored (especially in the case of aggression or extreme flight.) Think of what a mother dog or wolf would do with a fearful pup…Nothing! She would not comfort or protect it more than all the other normal pups. In fact, we know that many times the fearful pup never even survives into adulthood. Fear is totally self consuming. As a pack predator who is supposed to play, run, groom, hunt, learn from, and eventually contribute to help the group, fear is a horribly selfish weight to have on your shoulders. Fear is anti-pack.

If you have a rescue dog, and it is now living with you, it is no longer a rescue dog! Do not keep your rescue dog as a victim! This is one offense most of humanity is guilty of. People also want to tell me the dog’s back story. Do you think the dog actually cares about it’s back story? One dominating part of the dog, wolf, or any other animal’s brain is that they live in the moment. This is how a dog can learn a habit faster than a human being (we’ll talk about habits in the next Pet Connection issue). Because all animals are survivalists, and have a constant need to be aware of their present surroundings and environment, they move on from the past extremely fast. We are not like that. The human brain is constantly imagining things, time traveling between the past, present and future. When we watch TV our brain takes us there. When we read a book our brain takes us on another speedy adventure, et cetera.

There is a huge difference between our traveling brain and the ever present brain of a dog. Here’s an example of how terrible it
is to keep a dog labeled a rescue:  If I introduced you to my wife, and then proceeded to tell you she was a victim, and then described every failure or mistake or weakness she had in the past would that be fair to her? Would she like that? Would that bias your opinion of her and how you decide to treat her? Of course, that would be atrocious. I’m telling you now it is even worse when we do that to an animal that is constantly ready to move on and is living fresh in the moment each day.  A dog is always ready to be rehabilitated back to a normal healthy social state of mind, and to keep it as a “rescue” or victim is doing your dog great harm.

This is also why many people have trouble after just a few weeks of living with their new rescue. The dog has had a chance to check out the environment, and is now deciding he’s no longer weak, and maybe he will start claiming and dominating things or even people in the home! The human keeps viewing the dog as a poor, pitiful rescue, meanwhile, the dog feels strong, is getting regular meals, is gaining weight and is constantly presented with weak human energy… so… it decides to take the lead.

Stop living in the past and take action in the present to help your dog. The fearful dog owner’s attitude should be one of calm assurance. You may have to fake it until you make it! You need to be a source of calmness for a dog who is being fearful, but do not attempt to soothe with human talk, treating or petting. Using treat training for fear will not help unless the fear is very minor. Cut off any unwanted fear behaviors early, before the dog raises its energy too high, and then calmly ignore the dog.

Remember, do what a normal older dog would do…either adamantly disagree with the behavior or totally ignore it, or both, depending on what the situation dictates.

As long as your dog is allowed to continue in fight/flight , and keep the energy escalated, the dog will never get over the fear. Whatever you do, do not let the dog run or leave the situation. I almost always recommend using a leash in the more severe cases, as this lets us stop the erratic and dramatic fight/flight movements. This gives us access to control the dog’s head and manipulate the body to help calm the animal.

Don’t get involved in dog drama! Slow the dog’s movements. Stay calm.

There is no reason for your dog to continue living in fear. If your dog is fearful in any way it can be taught to choose the appropriate calming social signals that are inherently inside every canine. If you work on overcoming the fear, instead of just accepting it, your dog will become more social, playful, intelligent, relaxed and happy.

If you need help I am just a phone call away.
Seize the day

Written by Garrett Stevens, owner/operator of Alpha and Omega Dog Training; this article first appeared in the July/August issue of Pet Connection Magazine.

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

If you really want your relationship to grow in a natural, healthy, and beneficial way and if you desire to shrink and eliminate the fear and anxiety in any dog or pup whilst simultaneously increasing confidence and social relaxation and obedience then look no further than my HOT listed book, Dog Myths!  It is the complete opposite of what most professionals are teaching and, because of this, it works so much more efficiently and naturally than the mainstream garbage.  Did you know that you don’t have to Bribe your dog or pup with food to motive it?  Did you know that you don’t have to smack it around and use harsh handling either?  Both of those shoddy methods are clear evidence that most professionals are woefully behind when it comes to the calming natural language of our dogs!  Order Dog Myths and watch the changes happen before your very eyes!

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

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