Posts Tagged ‘body language’

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I have been called worse, but I guess you could call me a self educated naturalist.

I find it very interesting and quite frankly grounding, to observe nature in action without outside influence.

The fall reminds me of the times as a young boy when the leaves changed colors
and could no longer cling to the trees, and there was that nip of winter in the
air, my  Uncle Eldon would say,

`Well it`s time to get the traps out and lay the line for winter.“

We would spend hours walking through the woods looking for signs of our quarry
and discussing the best spots to set the traps.

We would look at an old log that had fallen over a
natural animal trail, and ponder if it was high enough off the ground to
ensure a bobcat would have to go under it and not jump over..

Because the nature of the bobcat is to be stealthy, so that means low to the ground
and when faced with the option of jumping over something and possibly giving away
their position, or belly crawl under something they will inevitably go under the
log, thus our reasoning for placing he trap under the log to increase the likelihood
of success.

Now I don`t trap and kill anything for any reason, that was the way my Uncle lived
out of necessity and he provided well for our family.

What I learned about the animals that lived in the woods around where I live, gave
me the knowledge to be able to communicate with our family dogs in the way nature
intended, by observing how they interact with one another and how their instincts
dictated how they behaved.

I learned how to think like a dog..


I learned from and early age that it is not possible to teach a dog to think like
a human, they are not that complex, but when you take the human factor out, and think
about your dog as an animal, with instincts and needs that are very different than that
of humans, then it becomes much easier to know what they instinctively and naturally need
to feel safe, protected and have a sense of well-being.

Dogs crave physical and mental exercise as well as strong leadership that sets clear and consistent
rules, boundaries, and a structured way of life.

When a dog’s natural needs are being met, they will feel that the pack is safe and not have
to deal with any stress.

Dogs have evolved to have a close bond with people, but I believe most people, (not all, but most)
have forgotten or don`t think about the dogs natural instincts, and relate to their dogs in a
very human way, and in my experience this is where people create the stress that causes their dogs
to develop behavior problems that for most dog owners is unmanageable.

But when I am called to come and help someone with their dog troubles, and I tell them that the
reason their dog is acting out is because of the way they interact with the dog on a daily basis,
and that the dogs natural instinctual needs are not being met, and that their dog`s temperament
is a direct result of the relationship they have formed with their dog,and that they simply don`t
understand their dogs needs, they look at me like I have three heads.

Here are a couple of tips for having well-behaved happy and balanced dogs..


Teach your dog to respect your personal space, at the door, on the stairs
and when you are watching t.v. or eating supper..

Don`t worry so much about if your dog sits before going out, but be more concerned about how your
dog behaves at the door., is he polite and gives you room to open the door, or is he jumping,and
pushing at you, nose right up against the door waiting to bolt out the door?

Teach your dog to have respect, for example if you get up to move through the house does your
dog get up in anticipation of your movements or do they lie in your way and force you to walk
around them or step over?

If you answered walk around or step over, you can be sure that something about your relationship
with your dog has gone wrong, and you will need to re-evaluate how you interact with your dog.

If you liked today’s post, then let me know by liking my Face Book Page
River Valley Dog Training

all the best,


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I was watching a Wrestling match on the tube the other night
and one of the competitors was the guy we all know as…
“The Rock” aka. Dwayne Johnson.








I enjoy watching him wrestle, and yes I am well aware

that it is all scripted and fake as hell.

But..I still find it entertaining none the less.

Now I know you’re thinking what has this got to do with dog training.

Bear with me and it will all become clear in a minute or so..

What I like about the Rock is how he is able to use facial expressions
and body language to let his fans know what is coming next.

For example..he has a move called “The Peoples Elbow” a devastating blow
delivered by smashing his elbow into his opponent’s chest and in most cases is
the move that finishes them off..

You know what is coming not because he says anything but by the way he
stops, and looks out at the crowd,slides his elbow pad off,
then stares down at his opponent, and after a couple of springs off the
ropes delivers his signature blow.

He is what you could call a Master in using facial expressions and body
language to communicate his intentions..

Over the years I have learned and perfected how to use my body language
and tone of voice to have a powerful effect on how my dogs behave.

Let me break it down for ya…

You see your dog has three main drives,a defence drive,pack drive,and
a prey drive.

1- Guard Drive

This is a dogs instinctual reaction to a stressful situation, and of the three
drives this is the most diverse because it is determined by the dogs temperament
they will either fight or run away depending on their temperament.

If you have a confident dog that is not easily spooked by noise, other dogs or people,
they will most likely fight if cornered or pushed.

If you have a dog that is easily frightened by noise, other dogs or people
then this dog will likely run away in the face of adversity.Sometimes they will
just freeze and not move a muscle.

2- Pack Drive

Pack drive is the drive that your dogs are in when they work with you or interact with
a group of dogs. This is the drive you want your dog in when you work obedience exercises
or go for walks.

3- Prey Drive

This is the drive that causes your dog to want to chase sticks or squirrels.

This is the drive that you want your dog in when you call them to come.

Now how does your tone of voice and body language kick in these drives?

I’m glad you asked.

Have you ever layed down on the grass and notice that your dog almost immediately
runs to you and jumps and rolls on you having a great time. That’s because when you
lower your body to the ground it kicks in your dogs prey drive..they instinctually
are driven to play, because you pose no threat to them when you are on the ground.

You want your dog to be in prey drive when you call them to make sure you
squat down and use a high-pitched happy tone of voice when you call them to come.

If you stand tall and lean in toward your dog and use harsh tones then you will
shift your dog into guard drive and they will most likely not come to you or
be very hesitant and almost crawl to you on their bellys, because they are unsure
of what is going to happen to them.

When you stand straight, and use calming even tones you will kick in your dogs pack
drive and this is the drive you want them in when you go for walks or teaching

So to sum this all up..

It’s important to understand how your tone of voice and body language switches your
dog’s drive..because when you are working obedience commands you will want to change
your dogs drive to have success with different commands.

If you want to work with your dog or go for walks, then stand straight, use normal
even tones in your voice to kick in their pack drive, and your dog will follow you
and be very willing to work with you.

If you want your dog to come, squat down, or lean back, use high-pitched happy tones of
voice, this will kick your dog into prey drive and in most cases your dog will come
running to you.

If you want to kick in your dogs guard drive..stand tall, lean in toward the dog and
use a stern tone of voice.

This is a good drive to use when your dog is a little too excited and out of hand, not
responding to your commands.

Stand up tall and lean toward your dog and in a harsh low commanding tone of voice say,

“Hey, that’s enough!”

and in most cases the dog will hunker down, and start paying attention to you.

So remember if you want your dog to come then guard drive is not the drive you want..
a dog will find it very hard to come to you if you have kicked in their guard drive.

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Click Here====>   River Valley Dog Training

all the best,


puppy running



One of the most important, and quite frankly, life-saving commands you can teach your puppy is to come when you call. You want to be confident that your pup will come to you quickly and without hesitation.

There are a couple of things to remember,

1. Never, and I mean never, punish your dog for coming. You can punish your pup and not even know you did, for instance, your pup is playing with other dogs, digging holes and chasing squirrels, you call him to come, and he when he gets to you, you clip on the leash and take him home, to your pup this is the worst form of punishment and he will hesitate next time you want him to come to you.

2. You will want to practice in steps, first in the house, then in the yard, and finally in a larger park. All of this training should be done with your pup on a leash, in the home and yard on a 6 foot leash, and in the park, a 50 foot leash. This will give you control, and confidence that your pup will not get away from you.

3. At first with no distractions, and then when you know your pup is getting it right, add some distractions, such as other dogs, people, cats, cars, ect.

4. Always reward your puppy for coming to you, even if you didn’t call her to come, for example, give treat, play with toys, ect. Anything that your puppy perceives as a good thing can be used as a reward, even going outside to sniff the ground is a reward for your pup. This will reinforce to your pup that coming to you is a good thing.

5. Use your pups name when training any command, this will let the pup know that when she hears her name it means pay attention, puppies can tune out their name because they hear it so much, but when you train your pup in this fashion,… Call her name, “Lassie”, in the same kind of tone as you would call to a friend to get their attention. When she looks at you, and you must wait until she is looking at you, then give the command to come, encourage her as she approaches with smiles and marked excitement, and immediately reward her with a tasty treat when she gets to you.


This is a very good method to teach your puppy a reliable recall.

Remember this, If your pup is not looking at you they are not paying attention.

If you have questions about this or any other topic, please contact me via the contact form at the bottom of this post, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.



Dog training 150

You may remember when you went to school, and the teacher asked little Johnny why he didn’t pass in his homework,and was made to stand in the corner, or stay after school because the teacher didn’t believe Johnny when he said that he didn’t know how to train his puppy not to chew things, and he ate his homework.



Well any dog owner will tell you about the truth that Johnny spoke of.. I have personally lost, shoes, clothes, furniture, t.v. remotes, you name it and my dogs have chewed it..but that was way back before I finally figured out how to stop my fuzzy faced chewing machines from destroying my house.


Is your dog a chewer? Has he destroyed things in your home or personal items, like clothes, shoes and electronics?


Believe me I know what you are going through.


The good news is I can help..


Lets take a moment and look at this behavior closely..


Cold hard fact….dogs LUV to chew, it is a natural instinct… So, if you don’t give them something to chew, They will be forced to find something on their own,, … and guess what, they will find plenty of things that satisfy their urge to chew and it will probably belong to you.


Chewing can be a very difficult behavior to deal with, but here are some tips that may help:


1. Give your dog a good quality chew toy. Make sure he has plenty of toys and that he knows what is acceptable to chew on and what is not.


2. Change up your dog’s toys often, so he doesn’t get bored.


3. If your dog destroys toys, choose tougher toys that are almost indestructible.


4. Make sure there are no loose parts that can be easily torn off and swallowed.


5. Avoid toys that your dog could swallow or too big for him to play with easily.


6. When you first give your dog a new toy, watch his play to make sure that he plays with it appropriately.


7. Choose washable toys. Dogs are basically dirty, from the crap they walk, in to the drool left behind on the toy. This is a prime breeding ground for a host of bacteria and germs.


If you use these tips and provide consistent leadership for your dog, he will learn what is appropriate for chewing and what is not…


If you want to learn more about this or any other topic, or would like a copy of my Free Report on how to have a well trained dog in 4 easy steps, there is a form below,  fill it out, and hit send, and I will get back to you shortly.






dog body language



If you have owned a dog for even a few days you will have no doubt began to learn how to read your dogs body language. Most of us can easily tell a friendly dog from one that is not so easy to get along with. Like most people we want to know how our dog is feeling, and yes, dog’s do have feelings and emotions. They experience stress, and can become upset, angry, frightened, anxious and unsure.



However to some people, learning how to read your dogs body language is more about understanding dog behavior and using that insight to determine what methods of training can be applied to counter act any unwanted behavior. In some instances our attempts to restrain the dog from snapping and lunging may become quite aggressive, yelling at the dog, pulling and jerking on the leash, and just plain man-handling the animal is the reason he got upset and felt he had no choice but to bite in the first place.



Just because your dog is exhibiting certain body language it is not easy to predict what he is going to do, this is because there are many meanings to different gestures, for example, if your dog is growling this doesn’t necessarily mean he is going to bite, because fearful, and untrained dogs are more likely to bite, in reality growling dogs very seldom bite where as some dogs bite without any apparent reason.



You should never guess why a dog is growling, some dogs growl because they feel threatened, or the are fearful, anxious, or a middle ranking dog who is looking to elevate his position in the pack.Growling is a learned behavior, maybe its what he does when he wants to play, or it’s time to go for a walk. Some dogs are very vocal by nature and will use a wide variety of sounds to communicate with their owners and other dogs.



The truth of the matter is that we can never really know how our dog is feeling or what they are thinking simply by learning how to read your dog’s body language. It’s more about being connected with your dog and communicate with them in a kind and loving way. Have fun with you dog while you train the behaviors you want. Train them to understand words associated with desired behavior, such as sit, come down, go to your place, ect.



If you treat your dog with respect and make training fun, you will build a bond of trust that will ensure your dog will do what you ask, not because he has to, but because he want’s to.
If you have any questions about this or any topic, or maybe you have an idea about a topic you would like me to write about, then please let me know via the contact form on this page.





You can also grab a copy of my free  report, How to Have a Well Trained Dog in 4 Easy Steps, just fill out your info in the contact form and I will send you the report.

Harley E Harrington


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