Want the PERFECT dog?

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“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”  Antione De Saint-Expurey

Almost every method of dog behavior modification and dog training I’ve heard of, seen, or come across in my life has been the endless quest to ADD motivation and reinforcement onto the dog.  Obedience and work are the order of the day when it comes to 99% of professional dog trainers’ philosophy and methodology.  What a shame!  And, often, these mainstream training and behavior modification methods are a sham as well as a shame when considered and contrasted in the ever shining light of Nature and Nature’s way.

The true way of the dog is a path many behaviorists and dog trainers never tread upon because of their unending quest for great obedience.  Obedience (as it pertains to the dog training industry) is highly unnatural because what we all call obedience is never taught by the parent dogs to their pups.  Respect is taught and certainly trust is taught from older dog to those that are younger but “watch me, sit, down, stay,” et cetera – not so much.   Older dogs teach Respect and Trust in very clear canine language to their pups from an amazingly early age but what most folks consider to be good, solid dog training and sound dog behavior modification does, in reality, typically fall utterly short of what healthy, socially-skilled, older dogs teach their offspring!  

Most dog owners and professionals within the industry are missing the simple, direct beauty found already contained within the pup or dog instinctually.  Instead of looking to Add something to the dog – the wise individual would seek to Chip Away the rougher parts and Refine what is Already Naturally Present within the dog or pup.  Calmness not work is the way forward for the house dog or companion dog of today and of the future!  Nature and nature’s God has already provided everything one needs to communicate perfectly with our domestic dogs and to prevent, reverse, and or eliminate any and all problematic behaviors within the creature with which we are interacting (no food treats required).  There is usually ZERO need for the majority of what’s been taught to us as “dog training” and as “behavior modification!”

You and I have been brainwashed.  We have all been brainwashed through year after year after year of advertising and teaching from major conglomerates (seeking more profit) concerning what dog training is and what it should look like!  And the only way to change this conditioning and washing of the mind is to experience a change in perspective and by forming new thoughts and new neural pathways…perhaps like honestly considering the concept I’ve just written about here.

Please think on it.  Want the perfect dog…?  I’ve put info below for you!

 

Garrett Stevens is the creator of the Garrett Stevens Method of natural dog handling and behavioral rehab (no food treats required and no harsh handling either), Hot-Listed author of Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You!, and So Long Separation Anxiety, and owner/operator of Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center and founder of the award-winning Alpha & Omega Dog Training in Puyallup/Tacoma WA.

http://www.stevensfamilykennels.com

http://www.gstevensdogtrainer.com

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The neurotic Doberman that had excellent training!

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The big Dobie lunged forward snapping and barking at the 190 some odd pounds of Saint Bernard standing nearby!   Straining with all of his might, the Doberman kept the leash taught as his owner, situated about four feet behind his wild dog, struggled to maintain his grip!  Just another day in the life.

I suppose the most bizarre thing about this scene to most folks would be that only moments before (this total behavioral freak out) the Doberman Pinscher was heeling beautifully, sitting admirably beside his owner, and performing “watch me” commands like a professional working dog.  The owner was giving praise and the occasional treat at all the proper times.  It was almost beautiful to watch.  The dog looked like all working dogs do on Youtube – heeling briskly and looking at his handler – whenever the man stopped the dog sat perfectly.  The doberman had excellent training.  And nobody from our company trained it.  In fact, during the entire time the owner was training his dog (this took place at the very beginning of our first session) I was gently but repeatedly attempting to explain that all that fancy obedience that the dog was performing masterfully DID NOT HELP AT ALL when it came to the dog’s Horrible psychosis!  The obedience training did NOT help the Doberman to experience the world they way he naturally could or should through proper utilization of the right senses at the right time.  You see, unlike most folks, I was 100% unimpressed with the Dobie’s quick heeling and fast sitting because nature and all calm, social canines would also be 100% unimpressed with that excitable performance!

The Dobie was dog aggressive and human reactive and the great obedience that the owner had taught his dog to do was NOT working to help calm his dog down enough to think and operate clearly in normal social settings.  His great training FAILED in REAL LIFE.  Here is a fact that I’m hoping the readers of this article can and will spread far and wide to anyone willing to listen (Share this article for the love of dogs)…Dogs can perform incredible feats of obedience and simultaneously be neurotic and out of control dangers to society.

The giant Saint Bernard (who was having his third session at our Dog Language Center) was able to walk very close to the lunging, frantic Dobie and maintain his cool.  The Dobie, for all his prior work and prior tricks and obedience at the hands of his owner, was having an utter meltdown.  But wait…there’s hope…Enter the Garrett Stevens Method!

Over the course of the session we taught the owner how to SLOW DOWN and TURN DOWN his typical training and, in turn, SLOW down his Dobie’s outrageous and unsocial behavior.  Here’s another fact for any dog owner wise enough to consider it – Dogs are faster than humans and will certainly manipulate us by speeding up the action and speeding up their movement and ours.  A skilled dog trainer or whisperer (or owner) knows how to SLOW the movement of the neurotic dog and influence the energy that way.

By the second half of our session the Dobie was walking calmly beside my own example dog.  The Doberman was able to be smelled repeatedly and calmly led around the property.  The owner was blown away at the differences and said so repeatedly.  We are so excited to continue teaching the owner the way of the dog and the Garrett Stevens Method as we work with his Doberman.

Please remember:  Excellent training and wonderful, trustworthy social behavior are two very different things!

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Speed hides mistakes. SLOW DOWN and you’ll make less mistakes with your dog.

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Sifu Hill, my Wing Chun Kung Fu instructor, always tells his students that “Speed hides mistakes.”  As a martial artist master with 50 years experience in differing martial arts (40 years studying Wing Chun) my Sifu knows what he’s talking about.  He often exhorts the individual that is going too fast to slow down in order to get the technique down properly.  Speed may look flashy to the beginner but the master knows that a good Wing Chun practitioner should be able to work the method both slowly and quickly and that doing it slowly and smoothly is the best way forward for the beginner.  It is the same with the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavioral rehab and natural dog handling.

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This is my Mook Yan Jong, my “wooden man dummy.” It is a necessity for the serious Wing Chun disciple. I begin by SLOWLY working the forms around the imaginary human arms and legs while simultaneously striking the hard wood of the dummy sometimes causing tiny micro fractures in my arms which toughen the bones upon repair. I am loving it!                                     For more info check out Hill’s Wing Chun

Mainstream dog training techniques also hide many mistakes behaviorally speaking.  Many dog trainers go fast because A. They’ve been taught to go fast and to continually motivate. and B. They know (in some cases) they can hide a dog’s mistakes and make themselves and the dog they are working with look better momentarily.  They encourage their students to “work the dog” and take fast turns.  These turns do a full circle when heeling (which, incidentally, is what overexcited or neurotic dogs do – they circle and pace and stare).  The Garrett Stevens Method is different because we also encourage a quick turn to interrupt problematic eye contact when a dog is about to stare at an energy-escalating stimuli BUT (and this is huge) then we have the owner slow down immediately and many times even instruct them to stop moving for a moment.  We do NOT have them do a full circle like so many trainers and behaviorists do – instead we have our clients turn 180 degrees then greatly slow down their movement and the dog’s.  This way the dog’s body and the dog’s energy is not allowed to complete the turn and hype the dog back up again by way of letting him/her continue to stare and in many cases continue to threaten the stimuli.  The Garrett Stevens Method is 180 degrees different from what most trainers are teaching – that is why it works so well!  We do NOT attempt to hide mistakes.  We point them out and then move on towards success.  By tapping into the 4 Pillars of dog language one will find it is much, much easier to influence a dog’s energy and behavior – especially when compared and contrasted with other dog training and behavior mod methods.

Your dog, as the member of a fast living, fast dying, fast moving species, may seek to control the situation through speed and by speeding your movements up.  Don’t let that happen!  Stay as calm as possible.  Don’t talk a lot while attempting to slow the dog down.  Take action quickly then take action smoothly and very slowly.  Now pause and take action even slower.  We desire DE-escalation.  We need to keep experiencing the energy drop and guide the dog to do the same.  (For more info look for my third book on all things dog and human behavior about the 5 incredible senses of our dogs and the 4 Pillars of dog language!)

Please don’t be one of the millions and millions that are impressed by watching some Belgian or German Shepherd briskly heeling like a robot, doing circles and trotting beside the handler on Youtube.  If we could ask more questions of that same exact dog behaviorally in many cases it may be found wanting.  Is that same dog that was excitably performing the heel on Youtube trustworthy and calm near human babies?  Is that same dog calm around other members of his/her own species?  Can they play with other dogs?  Can they be off leash and calm at a buddy’s barbecue?  Is the dog going to destroy the home when the owner/handler leaves or is it calm enough to manage itself maturely?  Speed hides mistakes.

There’s a saying that came to us all from the Military.  It goes “Slow is smooth – smooth is fast.”  Take it to heart when handling your dog or pup.  Take it especially to heart when handling the out of control, or fearful, or aggressive dog.  If I had a saying it would be something like “Speed up socialization (because we can never socialize enough) and Slow down the dog or pup’s movement in the midst of that socialization.”

Happy Handling and keep Slowing Down and getting it right,

-G

the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and canine linguistics

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The Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior rehab and training is unique within the dog training and behavior modification industry.  This is why.

  1.  We begin by ASKING tough questions about dog training in general and the behavior industry and by thoughtfully considering many tactics and methods we can then streamline efficiency and get better results.  Here are some of the terrific questions that one could/should ask when looking for a professional dog trainer or behaviorist or when examining ANY dog training method in the world.  Do the methods used line up with what we know about how dogs naturally raise their young?  Does the method take into account the dog’s point of view and how all dog’s think and respond within their environment?  Are the methods of training CALMING because calmness is a very valuable and desirable quality in today’s modern house dogs just as it is within all of nature?  (That last question often disqualifies a host of training methods)  Do the methods line up with what we know as good, basic parenting (either among dogs or people) and common sense or are the methods unnatural and overly fixated on external motivation (positive or aversive reinforcement)?  Is there a backup contingency when/if one part of the method fails?  Is the training method bringing both dog and owner to a place of curiosity, thoughtfulness, and more physical activity?  Would the method work for other domesticated animals?  Is the training method FREE from limiting items (ex: food, shock collars, etc, – Will it work without these items)?  Is there evidence of the philosophy and method found easily within nature and within the universe?             The Garrett Stevens Method can answer YES to all of these questions!!!  The overwhelming majority of dog training and behavior modification methods available to most people though – tragically cannot answer the above questions in the affirmative!  Please pause to consider that.
  2. We put first things first in the Garrett Stevens Method.  It is wise to put the horse before the cart and not the other way round.  Yet, this is NOT often the case within the dog training industry.  Obedience and tricks and “work” for a dog should be of secondary importance (yes, even amongst pro trainers) when compared in relation to the dog – human bond, to the fundamental order of the animal’s senses, and to how the dog experiences the world around him/her.  This is why we teach all our clients the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Learning and applying those is a more simplified and highly efficient way to jump into understanding dogs and their culture and behavior and, in that way, the client will then be able to express themselves back to their dogs.  We must look to nature and to our own dogs to discover what must be of primary importance (even above looking to the sterile science lab) and then we must put those things of primary importance first if we desire success.  That is key to relational and behavioral excellence.
  3. We educate clients much more than we ever train dogs.  While some obedience training is necessary here and there – within all the cases we handle, believe it or not, the human client is the one where all our “dog training” either fails or succeeds because dogs are relational and any and all results must be Maintained BY THE OWNER!  The dog’s capacity for sociability must be stretched to the limits of that capacity (like working out and strengthening a muscle) so that real growth can occur!  When owners are taught to take responsibility and action (by employing the 4 Pillars) the changes that happen during our training sessions together can not only take route but genuinely grow into something wonderful.
  4. In the Garrett Stevens Method we put an emphasis on physical action and touch.  We do this because it lines up perfectly with what all DOGS care about and how all DOGS on the planet express themselves back and forth to each other and to us within the confines of their specific language.  Touch is a pup’s first sense.  All puppies are born blind and deaf.  Touch is also the first of the 4 Pillars of dog language.  Touch reveals everything to a person once they learn to use our unique method!  Taking action (by way of touch, space, and movement) is the name of the game when initially communicating with a dog – knowing when to calmly address your dog (gaining respect) and when to smoothly ignore your dog (giving trust) is key.  Being sensitive to touch and the space around our bodies and the dogs’ bodies is critical for healthy relationship and good behavior.
  5. Frankly, My Dear, we don’t give a d*mn when it comes to what training method is popular at the time or to what any doggy organization has to say when we employ the Garrett Stevens Method.  In fact, we don’t care at all what other experts may or may not have to say.  Does this mean we are closed minded?  Hardly!  In truth, it means the opposite because what we care about are Real Results for the dogs and for our wonderful clients.  We care more about what nature is teaching us and less about what new fangled “certification” comes out within the money-guzzling dog training industry.  Those utilizing the Garrett Stevens Method care more about what dogs care about and less about what people’s concept of dog training is or should be – because we’ve found that the more we align with nature and the balanced mother and father dog, the greater the relationship and the greater the behavioral success between human and canine.  The more we distance ourselves from the status quo industry methods the greater the outcome!  And we’ve discovered that that excellent relationship and great results we get often has little or nothing to do with certifications and group think and the selling of billions of dollars worth in treats or sweaters for dogs (or in selling largely unnecessary training equipment).  Results alone are and should be King!
  6. The Garrett Stevens Method does NOT require harsh handling or food treats!  Yes, it’s true – you heard me correctly.  We are the anti-trainers and we are the dreamers of dreams, we are the movers and shakers, of the world forever it seems.  As mentioned probably thousands of times on this blog – BOTH positive reinforcement and punitive reinforcement are externally based (fleeting) motivators and not the best choice in most circumstances.  Internal motivations (things like healthy relationship, freedom of choice, autonomy, curiosity, instinctual play drive, etc) are much, much better motivators than external positive or punitive reinforcement.  Internal motivation is one of the starting points in the Garrett Stevens Method but once that is rolling we begin teaching authentic maturity to both client and dog (as seen in mother nature) and that is one huge reason that sets this special method apart.  We are pioneering the way into the FUTURE of dog ownership (don’t believe me – read my books and discover why I say that).  Dogs are smarter than most training methods and therefore, they can and often do manipulate the heck out of it!  Training is secondary to a wonderful relationship particularly if the dog is NOT a professional working dog.  Don’t treat your dog like a dolphin doing flips for tourists in Hawaii – don’t stuff it’s face with food and don’t rely on weak external motivators that fade quickly – instead learn our method and truly communicate with your intelligent companion.  Once that happens freedom for both parties is just around the corner!
  7. When we use the Garrett Stevens Method we don’t need to make excuses.  Over the years we hear the stories first hand (over and over) from clients that have used other dog training philosophies and methods, prior to experiencing ours.  We hear about how the professional behaviorist, or dog trainer, whisperer, or animal communicator loaded the client up with many lame excuses once their method failed.  We’ve heard everything from “Your dog just shouldn’t be around other dogs or people.” (Yes, a professional trainer that someone was paying gave them that sage advice after their great “training” didn’t work – It’s ridiculous, asinine, and totally unrealistic!) to “Your dog is your dog and maybe it shouldn’t be touched by anyone else.”  (What a life for one of the world’s most social species – that brilliant advice, which came direct from a K9 trainer, is unbelievably stupid, and a cop out used to cover poor methods!) to one of the best lame excuses, in my personal opinion, we’ve ever heard.  It went something like, “Your dog wishes she wasn’t ever born.”  (This gem came to a client from a gen-u-ine “animal communicator” with psychic powers and all.  I guess that explains why her dog was barking too much whenever she was in the client’s vehicle…the poor dog just didn’t want to be born.  Excellent.  And this woman was paid for that “reading!”)  The Garrett Stevens Method is so DIFFERENT from all that because if something isn’t working, which is very rare, it usually means the client wasn’t emulating it precisely and that precision is EVERYTHING IN Dog LANGUAGE.  In proper language I cannot say, “I love the smell of that colon” and leave the sentence that way – can I?  I MISSPELLED the word “cologne” and instead stated that I love to smell a part of the human intestine!  That’s nasty and, furthermore, the communication is off kilter.  DETAILS MATTER!  The fine details matter to every dog that exists because they are the details of their language.  What does NOT matter, when interacting with our socially brilliant and highly communicative dogs, is whether you or I enjoy the absolute FACT that the details do matter!  It’s THEIR language so…I highly suggest learning it and learning to speak it back to them through our natural method because that, Friends, just may be the closest thing you’re going to get to calm, natural touch, space, and movement.  That is how you can learn to influence energy and really speak dog language and that will, in turn, influence your relationship and your dog’s behavior.  IF you truly love your dog – as so many claim to – put your money where your mouth is and learn their language.  Learn the Garrett Stevens Method.

Good luck on your quest.  For those legitimately interested I’d begin the journey by reading Dog Myths: What you Believe about dogs can come back to Bite You! because there’s a huge chance that what you believe about dogs and their language is way off base.  Then I’d move on to So Long Separation Anxiety (this little book is packed with plenty of other dog behavioral excellence far beyond separation anxiety alone) and then I’d pick up a copy or two of my upcoming third book about the dog’s 5 incredible Senses and the 4 PILLARS of Dog Language!  This book is going to reveal much more of the Garrett Stevens Method of behavioral rehab and canine linguistics!

Happy Learning!

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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 – use 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!

-G

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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  – be it good or bad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-G

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“Certified” dog training

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Let’s talk plainly about “Certified” and or “Accredited”dog training.  Over the years I’ve heard of way too many piss-poor, God-awful dog training and behavior modification methods coming directly from genuine “accredited” and “certified” trainers.  The wise dog or puppy owner would NOT let these buzz words fool them because they would understand that all animals don’t give a fig about human organizations and they don’t care whether a person has initials after their name.  The wise person would understand that not all trainers are created equal and that each have differing personalities, differing gifts and talents, differing strengths and weaknesses, and vastly differing levels of experience – which result in different results and experience for their clientele.

If you could glance at my business email inbox you’d see several emails from organizations like the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) or the CPDT (Certified Professional Dog Trainers) and others wherein they desire to “refer potential new clients” my way in exchange for my coming under/into their organization.  They do this so they can put their initials on my website and so they can grow their organization.  I could easily become “certified” under any number of these made-up “institutions.”

My question…who the heck are they?  What gives them, or almost any organization for that matter, any credence as far as proper animal husbandry and, more specifically, dog language and behavior training goes?  Just because a few people came together, did some paperwork, got a website and sent many emails to try and make money off of many people doesn’t mean in the slightest that they can deliver real world results for dogs and for people!  Did you know that Petsmart has “accredited” training?  People, Petsmart and Petco are the some of the lowest levels of dog training that exist on the earth.

The point of this post…Don’t be fooled by random initials when looking for help with your dog’s behavior instead look at family, friends, and neighbors and talk to them about their dog’s behaviorist or trainer.  Word of mouth is and always will be the absolute best.  Next look at the work the trainer has done.  Examine their website and really read the thing.  Check their philosophy.  After that look at the reviews online and read between the lines because not all reviews are the same either!  There is a massive difference between a raving review about an aggressive dog being transformed into a gentle pooch versus a review about how great the local puppy group class was.  The dog trainer or behaviorist should also have reviews from other professionals in the pet industry (dog daycare owners, vets, groomers, etc).  Pay attention to the details, Friends, or you’ll really pay with your money and your time if you end up hiring a bad trainer or another cookie-cutter behaviorist no matter their level of man-made “certification!”

Am I totally against certification?  No.  In fact, if the organization actually does real work (you know that thing that many folks shun these days) and if they have a great, hard-won reputation for success and for professionalism within the industry it may be something to check out but make no mistake…dogs don’t care about any of this.  They care about touch, space, movement, and energy.  And human clients care about results.  That’s it.

(Here at Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center we have actually begun certifying qualified individuals in the Garrett Stevens Method of dog behavior training.  Thus far it’s only been one guy that’s made the cut, my young apprentice, Jesse.  I’m not sending out mass emails and telling people they can become a “certified” or accredited” trainer for just twelve easy payments of $99.00 bucks a month.  Don’t cheapen my art you clowns!

Smiles,

-G

 

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This is a pic of me and my first dog, Bosley, working the bite sleeve many moons ago.

The Four Pillars of dog language – Part 2

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TOUCH: the most important and first sense of a pup.  Yes, that’s right, touch, NOT smell is the first sense and the most important in our dogs’ lives.  All canines, wild or domestic, are born blind and deaf.  The primary senses are touch, smell, and taste.  The secondary senses are vision (comes on day 15 after birth) and hearing (ears open fully around day 21).  Touch is the first Pillar of dog language (as defined in the Garrett Stevens Method) and it is the first of the five senses.

Now let me ask you, how important is touch for you throughout your day as a human?  Let’s go further and think about how important touch is for a blind person?  And if we go one step further we’ll be getting close…How important was touch for Helen Keller?  She was bereft of vision and hearing just like all our puppies began their lives.

If you want success with your dog’s behavior then forget everything you know or think you know about dog training and behavior.  Instead let me guide your imagination on a bizarre, fascinating, new journey.  Pause with me and really imagine having eyes and ear canals that are tightly closed to the world around you.  It’s hard to comprehend because if you close your eyes for a moment what happens?  Instantly our sense of hearing leaps to the forefront of our mind and we cannot simply shut our ears.  Maybe we need to run and grab the noise-cancelling head phones to fully experience the affect.

Imagining being born blind and deaf, being roughly licked and cleaned as you begin to breath your first breaths.  You stretch your stubby little legs, fight to lift your head, and basically just wiggle until you bump into, climb onto, or clamber under your mother and your many brothers and sisters.  What initially guides you?  What keeps you safe and warm from the start?  How do you first find the life-giving milk from mother dog?  Touch.  Touch is first.  Then, nipping at the heels is the next sense, Smell.  Smell and scent communication and scent memories develop but…touch communication and memories of touch come first.

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The olfactory and the gustatory system are indeed critically important in the language of dogs but why do so many dog trainers and dog owners (people who love their dogs) overlook touch.  Overlooking how dogs or pups touch us (or how they avoid our touch) is the Biggest Mistake in any and all manners concerning dog behavior!

In today’s world we’ve been conditioned to think that anytime a dog touches us if that touch isn’t an aggressive bite or a snap that the touch that is presented is somehow “affectionate.”  I say that’s preposterous!  That belief is literally hurting millions of dog’s and millions of people across the globe.  That belief gets human children and babies bit in the face.  The belief that most times when a dog touches a person that this behavior is just “displaying affection” is harmful and incredibly, and overwhelmingly narrow-minded.  As if dog’s don’t have a real language and clear communication.  As if touch isn’t one of their main ways of communicating.  As if there aren’t a plethora of polite touches and a host of rude ones within the scope of dog language.  As if dogs don’t manipulate their owners on the daily.  They do, Dear Reader, they most certainly do manipulate unwitting or unwilling dog owners or guests to the home and they almost always do it by way of rude touching.

Dogs will, every single one of them, test the physical boundaries of your personal space, or that of your child’s, or that of your guests, or they will watch just who claims their food dish, or the space on their bed, or on the couch! (Et cetera, et cetera)  And to their credit most dogs do not take all the unadulterated touching and unrivaled attention that they receive day in and day out and attempt to take over everything in the home or on the street.  Thank God only some dogs do this.  But the crazy thing is is that many do indeed attempt a full and eventually hostile take over! What typically passes for dog training and behavior modification sets up most dog owners for miserable failure in the long term!  And the hostile and violent take overs are usually brought on by the nervous, anxious, fearful dogs because everyone lets these type of dogs over-touch and out-touch them!  Too many dog owners are clueless about touch which is why there are 5 MILLION reported dog bites each year in the USA alone.  Many more go unreported.

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You must question touch because as you do it will open up more questions.  Did you ever wonder why we get our pups around 8 weeks of age?  Is that really the best time to get a puppy?  Is going to a group class where obedience is the focus the best way to help raise a puppy?  Is obedience training actually teaching your dog to be unsocial?  Why is the “sit” command typically the first thing everyone teaches their pup?  Is it even necessary or beneficial?  Does your style of training line up with how dogs naturally interact with each other?  Should it?  What touches does the mother dog allow on her body?  What touches does the mother dog give to her young?  How do older dogs interact with pups?  Is your rescue dog too needy in the area of touch?  (Hint, hint: the rescue dog is almost always imbalanced in the area of touch)  Do you have any boundaries about your body?  Do dogs have more or less boundaries about their bodies?  Are you building a healthy relationship based on respect, trust, and clear communication or have you downgraded the relationship to that of employer and employee?

-If you enjoyed this post keep an eye out for my upcoming book because it will go further into authentic dog language and how we can help our dogs and pups succeed socially in this modern world.  We will go into touch a good deal more and define just what is rude and what is not, what is going to lead to trouble and what can rapidly reverse trouble.  It should be groundbreaking in the pet industry as we discuss the ideal dog of the future…Stay Tuned!

-G

Wild news 2019 and our goals for 2020!!!

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We experienced an incredible amount of growth in 2019.  I’d just like to recap for those readers who may be interested.  (This post has exciting news)

2019 was the first year Stevens Family Kennels and Dog Language Center opened and it was an education for us.  We were incredibly blessed/successful in the operation of the business and we were able to serve many dogs and people.  I’m sending out a huge thank you to all our staff members (all members of the Stevens family) for their amazing hard work, and dedication, and for getting down and dirty in our kennel.  You guys make our work on all fronts fun for me and terrific for those we serve.  You guys truly care about people and dogs and make life a joy for anyone that spends time with you.  THANK YOU SO MUCH for your professionalism, your work ethic, and your people skills, and for your excellent animal husbandry!IMG_3270

For a decade and a half I’ve been working with crazy dogs and their owners (sometimes the owners are equally or even more crazy than their pets 😉  it makes life fun.  In 2019 we accomplished several big goals.  Opening Stevens Family Kennels was one of my long time dreams.  It is always a joy to accomplish a big life goal.

BIG NEWS…We are edging ever closer to our own professionally produced TV show!  As some of you know, we were approached by an executive TV producer from Hollywood and Seattle about a year and a half ago that was interested in showcasing the Garrett Stevens Method of dog training in an episodic format on a major network.  The director had seen me work with his parent’s dogs two years prior to this and he became an instant fan of our techniques, our rhetoric, our business, and a fan of the results the dogs experienced during the session.  Over the past year or so he has been working on getting us a television show!  Recently we met with him (the director), the executive producer and his wife, and a PR professional in order to go over all the options.  Currently we are moving forward and the producer and director both agree that a show featuring our unique behavior mod. has the ability to reach and influence a very large audience and help many people and dogs in the process.  Exciting stuff to be sure.  We’ll see what 2020 and 2021 holds!

I am almost finished with my next book and it is NOT a book about dogs.  (Although I do weave some of my story throughout the book)  The next book I plan to release in 2020 is a book that goes into the personal development and leadership category in the bookstores.  My original idea for this book was sort of in reaction to the best selling book entitled “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck”  You see, I don’t really like that title (it’s a bit crass and in today’s world we need less of that, because this crassness and these common callous and lazy attitudes that surround us on all sides (even in our vernacular) are already too prevalent and certainly do not contribute to a healthier society or an encouraged family group or individual).  To be clear, for all I know the book with the crass title is a decent book about not caring about the wrong things in life – which is good advice – but my book will be called something quite contrary to books like those.  I am undecided on the precise title but it’ll go something like “The highly noticeable art of truly Caring!” or maybe “The Not so Subtle Art of Actually CARING!”  The point of my upcoming book is that those who CARE More end up with great results in any endeavor and they also end up influencing more people.

Another exciting thing about this upcoming book is that each concise chapter is one that will greatly aid the reader in further personal development within his/her life and place them on the path of excellence and success.  Each chapter in my book on leadership and life is finely illustrated by a great person from history that we can all emulate.  From people like the founding father, Benjamin Franklin to the world’s best cartoonist, Bill Watterson, this upcoming book has stories about a shepherd turned warrior from the Middle East who lived thousands of years ago, to stories about a floppy-haired, sagging-socked basketball machine who revolutionized the game in the 1970s, this upcoming book will entertain and inspire you to believe more, achieve more, and to genuinely care about who you are, and what you are doing with the limited time you have left on the planet.  This book will help you care more about all those fine people that you come into contact with every day of your life.  I am thoroughly enjoying the writing process on most days and am looking forward to sharing more about this upcoming book with you all in the future!

Here’s to a marvelous 2020.  Semper Paratus and Carpe Diem

-G

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Simplicity

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“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Leonardo Da Vinci

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.” Bruce Lee

“Simplicity of approach is always best.”  Charlie Chaplin

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Nature is pleased with simplicity.”  Isaac Newton

If you’ve ever juggled a lunging dog on a leash in one hand and a clicker and a treat in the other hand all while being instructed to get the dog’s attention and mark the behavior with good timing if your dog performs… you’d definitely relish the complete and utter simplicity of The Garrett Stevens Method.  You’d fall in love due to the opposite nature of that aforementioned complex yet common clicker training nightmare!  Our natural method, that was learned direct from the dogs themselves, requires no clickers and no treats, it requires no weak and/or complicated external motivators.  Instead it calls for simplicity.

Dog language and canine behavioral rehabilitation is quite simple.  In fact, it is so simple most folks miss it. Some don’t have time for it because they’ve been conditioned to rush about and be busy in their daily lives.  Others think they already know about dogs and dog training and so they come into a session unwilling to learn this simple art of movement, touch, space, and energy – unwilling to learn these 4 pillars of dog language.  Finally, and thankfully, many people come to us ready to simply receive.  They are at wit’s end with their dog and thinking of rehoming the animal but they are prepared to learn and soon they see real results.

My secret weapon in my work with the dogs is simplicity.  My behavioral books are short and simple to read on purpose.  My custom, handmade training collar (that will outperform anything on the market btw) is quite simple, and because it’s simple it’s incredibly effective in helping dogs walk calmly.  The Garrett Stevens Method of dog training and behavior mod. works very simply and yet brings great results.  Stevens Family Kennels is a rather Spartan-type setting but dogs love it and grow more mature when they’re with us.

My advice:  Look to simplify your relationship with your dog.  Get rid of the fluff and the  extraneous stuff in your relationship and in your home life with your dog.  Seek out dog dignity.  Be direct.  Be honest.  Be real.  Seek simplicity.

“If you cannot explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough.”  Albert Einstein

(I think of this Einstein quote whenever I see another giant tome about dog behavior or training!)

-G