Archive for the ‘My Phiosophy On Dog Training’ Category

crateI want to talk to you about crating your dogs.

A lot of people I talk to struggle with this concept and think its cruel and unusual punishment, or they did use a crate when housebreaking their puppy but no longer use the crate.

I get emails almost daily from people whose dogs are chewing stuff, destroying the furniture and peeing and pooping every where..

This is taking place when they are away and when they are home..

Now I am a huge supporter of crate training your dogs.. it is the best way that I know of to keep your dogs contained and safe when you are away or too busy to watch them.

I always crate my dogs when I am away.. because there is just too much stuff that they could get into that has the potential to kill them..

Poisons, clothing, electrical wires, plastic bags, that could potentially suffocate them if the bag gets stuck on their heads..and if these things don’t kill the dog it could get stuck inside the dog and require very expensive surgery to remove it..

I don’t want to have to dog proof my home every time I leave .. so I put them in crates..

Not only are crates a great way to contain your dogs, it’s good for your dogs mental state of mind..

Just think about it..

What is your dog doing if not in a crate?..

Running back and forth barking at every widow?..

Searching from room to room?..

Getting into the trash?..

Building up stress and anxious behavior that is counter productive to having a calm and well-balanced dog..

I feel it is much better to train your dog to go in and out of the crate on command..and stay there. and to be quiet..

This is great structure training and a great way to build your leadership skills.

The one thing the crate should never be used for is punishment..if your dogs behaves badly..correct them.. sending them to the crate is not like sending a child to their room to think about what they did.. in my opinion it don’t work like that..

So my tip for today is practice having your dog go in the crate, lie down and stay there..leave the door open so the dog learns that just because the door is open don’t mean they can come out..only the command from you will release them to come out..do this many times..and your dog will learn that the crate is for calmness and quiet time..

If you have any questions or need help just let me know and I will help you sort things out..have a great weekend…and all the best.

Harley

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10369125_664311706957577_2559777548373876522_nToday I want to lay out a plan of action that will help you get control over your reactive dog..

If you got a dog that pulls you down the street, sniffing and barking at dogs and other people, and you find yourself pulling back on your dog,.. talking to them or yelling,..only to end up very frustrated, then this post will help you turn this around..

I want you to look at your dog like a stick of dynamite.. with the potential to explode at any moment.. now think about how much easier it would be if you work on putting out the burning fuse long before the dynamite explodes..instead of waiting for the explosion and then trying to contain it..

The fix for this is quite simple..

It requires you to set the tone and foster a state of calmness before you encounter something that will set your dog off..not after it has happened..

If you start today and follow my advice then by the end of the week you will be amazed at how much more control you have,.. how your dog pays way more attention to you than they ever did before ..

Will your dog be fully trained by weeks end?..

No..

But you will be able to see the potential for having the kind of dog you dreamed about when you got him or her,. and if you are willing to work hard every day.. there is nothing you and your dog can’t accomplish.. that I can guarantee..

So..enough chit chat and jaw wagging..here we go..

How To Gain Control Over Your Reactive Dog

1- Starting today begin to put massive amounts of structure into your dogs daily life..sits and downs for everything they get..and that includes affection from you and your family..from now on…nothing is free..

2- On leash or off..your dog must wait at doorways..no pulling or moving around..they only move when given permission to do so..

3- Keep the leash short..but not tight..this will give you better control so your dog don’t get into trouble..and you will know the second he or she disconnects from you..

4- Firm leash corrections to communicate with your dog, for small, wrong, choices at the beginning of your walk..like pulling, sniffing, veering around, or peeing without permission..will go a long way in keeping your walks drama free.. firmer corrections for small things may sound counter intuitive ..but is very effective in setting the tone for better control when things get exciting..

5- Avoid using continuous pressure to hold your dog back.. use short firm leash corrections with immediate release of pressure.. ie..pop the leash and release..pop and release.. (no talking) to your dog. Your dog will tell you if the corrections are firm enough..if he don’t respond ..the correction was not firm enough..if he squeals and crouches down.. it was too firm..you will need to experiment to find the sweet spot.

6- Don’t put pressure on your dog by having them meet other dogs and people up close..face to face .. most reactive dogs are nervous and feel unsafe.. so use space to help your dog maintain a level of control..if things get too heated leave the area..but in most cases just doing some 180’s to create space will do the trick.

7- Foster a daily life of peace and harmony in your home..train your dog to go to place, lay down, and be quiet.. this will become your dogs default state of mind and before you know it you will have one of the most polite and well-behaved dogs in the neighborhood..

Remember the dog you have today don’t have to be the dog you have tomorrow..you have the power to change things.. I know you can do it..

If you have questions about anything at all I would love hearing from you

Harley

10698556_709404422448305_6222598759717460874_nWhen people ask me about the importance of being your dogs Alpha I always say the same thing..it don’t matter how many times I eat before feeding my dogs, or come in the house and ignore them.. I will never be able to convince my dogs that I am a dog.

I don’t have anal glands,

I don’t have four legs, or ears that move around to catch the slightest sounds in the environment..

and I can’t smell urine from miles away..

Think about it for a minute..

If our dogs looked at us like we were a dog..then why is it that a dog aggressive dog is not aggressive toward humans?

We as humans can never be Alpha over our dogs..and the reason is as I see it..dogs can only truly pack up with their own kind..

They are able to recognize their Mother and other dogs through sight, smell, touch and sound. Simply put a dog will know another dog when they meet it..and likewise they know that when they meet humans,.. we are a different species.

We have become connected to them by thousands of years of domestication and the building of close ties..that’s it period.

In my opinion dogs see us as just another resource..that’s why an untrained dog will guard their humans with aggression..they will protect their resource at all cost.

That is why I always teach people how to control their dogs resources in order to have better control over their dogs behavior..and not just be a resource for the dog.

I feel that there is no long-term benefit to acting like an Alpha, and if you ignore your dog for long periods of time you can actually foster anxiety and confusion..

In a wild pack.. the dogs will all eat together at the same time..there is no line forming in accordance to any pack ranking structure.. if a dog or wolf gets to pushy ..they will be temporarily shunned.. and I use this in some of my training.. a short time out away from the rest of the pack has a great effect on the dog..and his pushiness is soon a thing of the past..

So for those of you that think that biting a dogs ears or rolling them onto their back and holding them until they shut down makes you the Alpha..

I am afraid you have been sold some snake oil..

You will never be able to fool your dog into thinking you are the Alpha.. it is much better to learn how to control the resources, provide structured training, and work with your dog as his partner ..this is how your dog will be convinced that you have what it takes to lead them..

I hope this has given you something to think about.. if you have any questions I would love to hear from you.

Have a great day..

Harley

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Many people think the best way to communicate with their dogs is to bark out commands..

Come!,

Sit!..ect..

They have a harsh Alpha mentality that is based in myth..

My understanding of dogs is rooted in the fact that they are predators.. and as such are in conflict with us at times..

Because we too are predators.. so quite often they resist our efforts to communicate with them..

I have found that when we stop talking and use body language to communicate with our dogs,.. we can take advantage of this predator/ prey dynamic,..

For example, if you want your dog to come to you it is better to crouch down and move away from your dog as you call them to come.. and in doing so you become more like prey to your dog and therefore they will be more attracted to you and come without reservation..

In contrast, if you stand tall and move forward as you call them to come in a demanding tone of voice,.. in their eyes you are now more predator and chances are they will resist you and move away..

When I work with my dogs there are times that I want to be the predator, for example when I want my dog to move away from the trash can.. I am the predator.. and times when I want to be the prey..like when I want them to follow me onto a slippery surface..

Try this with your dog and let me know how it goes.. and if you have questions let me know.

Harley

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I was talking with a friend of mine this morning and she asked me what one thing is most important in order to have well-trained dogs..

I thought about this for a moment and realized that the one thing I do that makes all the difference in how any dog responds to me is that I always work with them when my mind is clear and calm..

I have found a way to shut out thoughts about yesterday and tomorrow..

and to just be present..in that moment of time…

It’s in these moments of mindful awareness that we can both share peace…

Dogs are masters of living in the moment.. but because of the stress of living in our world they often have difficulty calming their mind.. this is when we start seeing behavior problems..

People have difficulty with this concept.. but can experience life in the moment.. for example..

If a soldier is going into combat ..there are no thoughts of tomorrow or yesterday..they are focused on the task at hand..

so to is the person who jumps out of an airplane..

But how can someone get into the present moment from the safety of the living room couch?..

I would like for you to try this 30 second experiment.. sit quietly in your living room or any room for that matter.. and focus on a spot on the floor.. don’t move your eyes from that spot or move your body.. this is important because if your body is moving..your mind is not settled….

Now become aware of the weight of gravity pulling on your body holding you to the chair or floor..

Now focus on a sound in the room..

the hum of the refrigerator ..

the ticking of a clock..

If there is no sound..then the white noise you hear in your head…

Now just hold that focus and mindful awareness of sight,feeling,and sound.. if a thought creeps into your mind that’s o.k..just go back to focusing …

As you hold this mindful awareness for the 30 seconds try to think about what you will do tomorrow.. you will find it is very hard to do.. practice this daily and work it up so you can hold this focus and awareness for 5 minutes at a time..

Then let your dog into the room..don’t look at your dog or speak to them.. just go into this mindful awareness.. you will be surprised how your dog reacts to it.. in most cases your dog will lay down and go to sleep.. and when they do you will know that you have connected with your dog in that present moment.. and you both will feel the peace..

Your training will grow exponentially.. I guarantee it..

I would love to answer any questions you might have, or discuss with you how living in the moment can vastly improve the relationship you have with your dogs.. contact me anytime.. and have a great day!

Harley

dog and hunter

 

Back in the late seventies I was, as my Uncle Eldon would say,. still wet behind the ears.

I decided that I no longer wanted to train dogs in the fashion that was prescribed by my Uncle, who was the dog trainer in the family.

 

I had become disillusioned with the practice of dominance based dog training, and began to form my own way of thinking about dogs and as it turned out my philosophy was the polar opposite of what Eldon believed.

Eldon was of the old school mind-set that said if the dog did not obey, or showed aggression to family members, he needed to be taken in a notch.

Which didn’t mean Eldon injured the dogs in any way,  no, he was very careful about how he dispensed what he considered discipline,.because they were highly valued assets that required care and protection.

In his words, “ A well-trained dog that can hunt is worth his weight in gold.“

His go-to punishment for bad behavior was,  if he thought the dog was being disrespectful, or willfully disobedient, he would give it a swift kick in the ass, and give the dog the veiled threat,

“If I have to talk to you again, I am going to let the ax handle do the talking.“

I had come to realize that what Eldon saw as respect in the dogs was really fear. The dogs always obeyed but they would come to him low to the ground, ears back, tail tucked in.

I could see the stress the dogs were under, and it made me feel bad for the dogs, and frankly pissed off at Eldon.

I did not voice my concerns, because to do so would have been an exercise in futility, and to my Uncles way of seeing things, disrespectful, therefore worthy of a swift kick in the ass.

At this point I had already trained a couple of my neighbors dogs to herd cattle, and I had brought home an eight week old , female Australian Shepherd pup, who I named Tiny, and had trained her to herd the cattle, my way.

Now back in 1978 my way of training a dog was not a method that could be named, and for the next 35 years remained un-named, and I was not even thinking about dog training philosophy, methodology, or even why dogs did what they did,. I was not that deep of a thinker,.. I just let the dog be true to his temperament, and I shaped behaviors, like come, sit, down, and stay.. as they presented themselves during daily life,.. and I based all this on those times when I saw that the dogs were their happiest and most dog like.

When they were hunting or herding.

The idea struck me one evening as we readied our weapons and moved from building to building, gathering traps and the supplies we would need to spend the night in the camp we had built at the end of the trap line, some eight miles up the stream.

I suddenly noticed the dogs were much more vocal than usual, with was not unusual,  I just had never noticed it before, and then…

The thought hit me like a ton of bricks.

When my Uncle`s dogs were not working with either hunting or herding they would just lay around and never showed any what I would call enthusiasm for what was going on,.unless someone came in the driveway, or a deer would come out into the field., then they would light up like a Christmas tree.

I realized that the dogs seemed to know what we were going to do, that preparation for the hunt was happening, and they seemed to perk up in spirit, they had an anxious anticipation about them… their normally fearful nature seemed to disappear,..and they became more vocal in their attempts to communicate with us.. and it wasn’t until much later that I further realized that the dogs knew what we were going to do, even before we did.

Then the thought I had earlier suddenly solidified, and I understood.

The spirit, or heart of the dog resides in the hunt.

The next morning the dogs would be electric with energy and enthusiasm to get started.., they required a little coaxing to settle down enough to eat, and sometimes we just fed them by hand along the way.

They acted like puppies again, full of life and energy.

They would walk behind and then charge ahead searching for things to run up a tree or corner,.

They would respond to our whistles and calls, circling back, moving through the brush, and with every bound through the snow you could see the layers of stored stress melt away as they used it to organize themselves in concert with our movements,..reading us like a book.

I observed the dogs after the hunt and regardless of if it was successful or not, they seemed to be re-born, and the fear and stress that had burdened them was suddenly gone…at least for a short time.

I began to train my pups with the hunt in mind, I would take them to the woods and walk around, play with them, and  let them be dogs, games like hide and seek, find the stinky cheese, tug of war, and I always let them win, because it made them so happy to run off with that old sock tied to a rubber hose.. I never considered that I should teach them that I am the boss.

I was not their boss, I didn’t want to be.

I was the one they depended on to provide outlets for their stress, by teaching them how to hunt, and to shape their behavior with the words I used to communicate my intentions.

All this I accomplished simply by playing with my dogs in a way that spoke to their true nature as hunters.

In return they give me respect and life long trust.

I knew dogs lived in the moment, but I was missing some information that if I had know about it back then would have changed my perception about not only dogs,.. but myself.

I now know that what I was seeing in my Uncles dogs was stored emotional energy that manifests itself as stress in the dog’s body and mind, and that energy is jam-packed with information that is vital to the dog’s ability to learn, and they are only truly able to release it and connect with us when they are free to express their true nature as hunters, and work with us as team mates.

All the best,

Harley

 

dog sniffing butt

How To Introduce a New Puppy or Dog To The Dog(s) You Already Have

Bringing home a new dog is a highly charged and exciting time.

It doesn’t matter if you get a pup or decide to rescue a shelter dog, if you already have a dog, it’s important to manage the introductions to make sure it goes well for you and your dog(s).

If done right, this getting to know you experience can be relatively stress free for everyone.

I have rescued many dog over the years and I can tell you that it takes about 1-2 months for dogs to settle the new pecking order, and a year before you could say the dogs are now part of the same pack.

They are going to test one another, they might even have a “dust up” or two, that’s why I believe supervision and good management are key to making sure things don’t get too far out of hand.

Watch this short I made on how to introduce a new puppy or dog to the dogs you already have.

Want to learn how to properly crate train your dog?

As Spock would say, it’s only logical captain. 🙂

To find out more about using a crate to manage your dogs behavior go here NEXT!

Ultimate Guide To Properly Crate Training Your Puppy Or Dog

dogs hunt fox..reuse

Dog owners should strive to imprint the desired response in their dogs, based on their individual temperament, in order for them to learn how to behave as family pets.

There are three important questions all dogs need to have answered by their owners, I talk about two of them in this post and they are as follows

1) What do I kill?

2) Where is that thing that will hurt me?

3) What do I do with my energy?

The third question is fundamentally the most important one and I addressed this question in a earlier post.

What do I do with my energy?

Now lets get to it..

If these two questions are not answered by the dogs owner in a way that speaks to how their temperament has evolved to answer them.. then the dogs instincts will kick in and they will take it upon themselves to find the solution..this is the reason most dogs can be well-trained, and their owners have put many hours of hard work into shaping behaviors and practicing obedience exercises only to have it all fly out the window when a squirrel runs by or some kid on a skate board rumbles toward them on the street.

When the owner fails to imprint desired responses, this deep-rooted, hardwired, instinctual reaction to life and death situations becomes mandatory for the dog.

Now this kind of reaction is perfectly normal for wild canines like the wolf.. who lives far removed from people and knows its terrain and it’s place in it, anytime a dog resorts to its natural instincts in the human world, things can and do go horribly wrong..the dog that chased the squirrel, runs across the road and gets hit by a car..or the boy on the skateboard gets to close to the dog and gets bitten..

When a dog is raised the natural way and the owner has imprinted on the dog the answers to these fundamental questions of,. what do I kill, and where is the danger..and the dog is in agreement with his owner..the dog will feel attracted to their owner  because they have the answer they seek..the dog becomes as close to 100% reliable and under control as it can be.

When a dog and his owner becomes part of the same team..and the two questions have been answered ..the dog will feel safe and trust that his owner has the satisfactory solution to the problem..

You don’t have to train a dog to be social..they are social to the highest level naturally..the only thing the owner need to do is answer the two questions.

all the best,

Harley

Resource: Natural Dog Training.com

CHECK THIS OUT

stressed dog reuse

I am going to get a little “sciency” on ya for a minute or two..yeah I can be a nerd like that..but in order to help you understand how your dog “senses” the world, I gotta put on my lab coat and talk about energy.

 

In the dictionary energy is described as a source of power.

An example of this would be as follows

In the world of physics potential energy is described as… the energy of a body or a system with respect to the position of the body or the arrangement of the particles of the system. 

In other words potential energy is energy waiting to be released.

So to understand how a dog experiences the world he lives in, we will be talking about your dog as being a biological living system, and the energy that drives their behavior is,.. how they feel at the moment about the emotional energy  of what ever it is they are attracted to..be it a squirrel, person, or another dog.

We are much the same  as our dogs.. living systems of emotional energy.

Sadly,.. most humans don’t live in the moment,.. so we take the long way round, we think and feel,.. and then make a decision based on our emotions.

Humans absorb the energy the world gives off through 5 distinct senses..

1. Sight

2. Smell

3. Feel

4. Hearing

5. Taste

Dogs use these same five senses as we do., as well as some that can’t be quantified..like a sixth sense or gut feeling.

In other words,..

Dogs and humans will have a feeling about something or someone long before they actually have time to think about it.

I am sure you have heard someone say, “I just knew something was up..I had a bad feeling about that guy.”

I believe it is this sense that can’t be measured that allows a dog to sniff out cancer, or to alert their owners of an impending seizure.

To put it in more simple terms, a dog takes in the energy that the world gives off, as vibrations..and in doing so one of two things happens.

Either the energy flows through the dog and has no effect on the dog or..

The energy is left unresolved and gets stored in the dog’s body as stress.

This can happen in times when your dog sees a squirrel or another dog and he starts to react by going into prey drive and you drag him away.

Dogs store stress as potential energy,.. it’s like a charge in their internal battery, and the stress is used to help the dog in times of intense activity,..when they need to exert a lot of effort, like the next time they are confronted by the dreaded squirrel, or that dog that just gets their energy going every time they meet.

Now in nature there is nothing inherently wrong with stress..it’s what allows a dog or wolf to hunt dangerous animals much larger then themselves,.. like moose or deer.

The problem is that domesticated dogs do not have the opportunity to hunt large game, so it is in our best interest to keep their stress levels low, and maintain a high level of relaxation..a relaxed dog who has very little stored up potential energy is much easier to handle when a high level of excitement takes place, such as seeing another dog or coming upon a squirrel.

Think of it like this, your dog’s body is a system,.. though which the energy of the world flows.

If your dog is relaxed their body is a wide open channel,.. and large amounts of energy can flow through easily.

If your dog is tense, full of stress and fear, their channel is narrowed,.. and if the same large amounts of energy is pumped through it, the flow is constricted and there is a dramatic increase in pressure, thus producing a higher risk that your dog is going to “blow up”, emotionally speaking.

This is why the best trained dogs will suddenly take off after a dog that strayed onto the property, growl or snap at their owners after years of having no issues with unwanted behavior.

So how do we make sure that we can drain our dogs battery so that their energy channels are wide open,.. therefore reducing the risk of blowing up.

It is really very simple.., the next time you take your dog for a walk and he sees a squirrel or other dog.., and starts to react..instead of dragging him off,,. thus insuring he will have unresolved stress about the situation, try this instead…pull out a tug toy..

Get his attention on you and the toy… and when the dog has past or the squirrel is up the tree…have a rousing game of tug of war, and remember to let your dog win..

This way your dogs stress will be relieved through the natural flow of energy during the prey drive inducing game of tug of war…and in time your dog will learn that this is what it feels like to chase the squirrel, or connect with that dog, and he will start to be more attracted to you as the source to resolve his feelings, and in time,.. looking to you will become an automatic response to highly charged energy situations.

So to sum it up, we have discussed how our dogs are feeling and thinking animals, and it should be your goal to help your dog be relaxed enough to respond to highly charged emotional energy with feelings..and engage their prey drive to make sure they don’t have time to think..

When a dogs goes from feeling (emotional energy).. to thinking( acting on instinct)..it is nearly impossible to get them to respond to you..and it is during these moments of instinct.. that a dog can get into all sorts of trouble in the domesticated world he lives in.

Thanks for stopping by and if you have questions or comments leave them below, I want to hear what you think.

All the best,

Harley

Resource:  Natural Dog Training.Com

 

Check This Out!

moose and wolf reuse

Drive training your dog is about engaging your dogs prey drive to bring about the behaviors we deem favorable.

Obedience behaviors like, come, heel, sit, down, and stay.

Some of the more popular dog training methods tell people who in order to have well-behaved dogs they have to be the alpha, or pack leader in order to gain their dogs trust.

While I can’t argue that this method does not work, I suggest it misses the mark by a fair bit, and in the process a dogs true nature as a predator gets squashed and the dog can never live to its full potential, or feel like it’s part of a team, which is what all dogs crave and need .

Now why would I say something as silly as your dog loves the moose?

Why not a rabbit?

Or a squirrel?… (We all know how most dogs love to chase those nut hoarding chatter boxes.)

Let me explain.

In a dogs world, a rabbit or squirrel offers a small reward when it comes to helping to drain their stored energy, and let’s face it, a rabbit or a squirrel is not a big dinner to a group of dogs or even for one dog.

The satisfaction is fleeting.

The moose on the other hand has all the requirements of a high value prey animal, it possesses everything a dog needs in terms of high level stress relieve and belly packin’ punch.

Another trait the moose has that draws the dog in like a moth to a flame is the fact that the moose can be very formidable, it is way bigger and stronger that a dog or even a group of dogs, and if the moose wanted to he could easily dispatch with extreme force, each and every one of those dogs..

And they know it.

Yet if they see this moose they will not be able to resist, and even with the very high risk of injury or death, they will begin to test this moose to see what his energy is., and if the moose follows the path of least resistance in the face of a threat, he will run, and the dogs will give chase.

However if that moose suddenly stops and turns to face the dogs, they will hit the dirt in an energized down and stare at the moose with all their energy..trying to get the moose to break down and run again…if the moose snorts, paws the dirt, and holds the dog’s stare… they will most likely break down and leave the moose alone.

Now the question begs to be asked,

Who is in control of who?

Is it the dogs, or is it the moose?

It would appear that the prey always controls the predator.

When the moose runs, the dogs run, when the moose turns on the dogs the dogs go down waiting to see what the moose will do next.

They are in harmony with the moose’s energy and that energy is what dictates their behavior.

There is no Alpha dog high on a hill, commanding the dogs to flank right, now rush in fast, their behavior is a feeling that runs through the group of dogs.

It is what they were born to do, to intuitively work together toward a common goal.

So the benefits of being the moose your dog loves are many.

I have listed but a few of them.

1. Being moose-like makes you the most satisfying thing they have in their life.

2. Because the prey controls the predator, your dog will always look to you to resolve their feeling about any intense situations that may come up, like an dog off leash, or when a squirrel crosses your path.

3.  You can become the predator to get your dogs juices flowing..and bring all their social skills to the surface where you can then become the prey and shape obedience behaviors as they are offered by your dog.

4. The most important thing that can happen when you start to act like a moose is that you will begin to think about your dog in a different light, no longer will the term alpha apply to the relationship with your dog,  you will begin to replace old habits with new ones, and that will allow you to develop a deeper more meaningful bond with your dog.

all the best,

Harley