Posts Tagged ‘with’

10698556_709404422448305_6222598759717460874_nAfter all these years of working with people and their dogs..the one thing that still gets me every time ..and quite frankly the one reason I continue to do what I do.. is the feeling of joy I get when the dogs owner has that “light bulb” moment..

That moment when they realize what they were doing was the cause of their dogs behavior.

Today I want to speak to the dog owners who are having trouble with their dogs showing aggression to other dogs or people.. often these dogs will not want to leave your side or will hide between your legs..

get between you and other dogs or people who you interact with..

bark, lunge, and even attack and bite..

these dogs are insecure ..

they don’t believe that their owners can keep them safe so they feel they have to protect their owner who is not demonstrating calm leadership.

You can begin to turn this around by simply claiming your space.. when you are at home and your dog just walks up to you..stay calm..don’t say anything,..don’t pet them or talk to them..send them away.. move into their space and have them back up at least a couple of feet then walk away.. when they are sitting or lying calmly..then call them to you,.. have them sit and then pat them or love on them for just a few seconds..then send them away again to lie or sit outside your personal space..

This will begin to show your dog that you are a true leader worthy of their attention and they will begin to feel protected by you.. never reward excited or insecure states of mind this will only erode your dogs confidence and they will feel like they have to take control of the situation.

Only reward your dog when they are in a calm state of mind.

When you are out walking your dog and someone with a dog approaches you .. slow down…get your self calm and in charge and just move past the dogs with the authority of a leader.. if you make nothing of it neither will your dog.. if you get fearful or anxious so will your dog and he or she will feel like they need to protect you and themselves.. if your dog starts to react.. give them a command to sit.. and then follow through until they are sitting and calm .. then move forward again..

I hope this has given you somethings to consider..practice at home and remember to always guide your dog with strong leadership and a calm emotional state of mind.

If you have questions or need my help, just leave a comment, I am always happy to help.

All the best,

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

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

 

brown dog tugs

In this post I demonstrate how to use the tug toy as a means to connect with your dog and to help release stored up stress.  It is designed to keep the flow of energy moving so it don’t get stuck, and to bring fear to the surface so the dog can process it better.

Although I use the example of Lola being attracted to the power truck out on the road, this exercise is designed to answer the question that all dogs ask..what do I do with my energy,..regardless of it is a person, dog, or squirrel that your dog becomes attracted to,.. this is how you can get them to give their energy to you.

For more information about playing tug with your dog click here,.. Play Tug

tug of war reuse

I am sure you have probably heard from one trainer or the other that you should not play tug of war with your dog.

Some trainers say you can play tug with your dog but you must never let them win.

 

What I teach people about playing tug of war with their dogs is in direct contradiction to the thinking of conventional dog training. I play the game based on the premise that all the things your dog does has a direct connection to their prey drive and their desire to hunt, and the more value an object has, the more attracted and emotional your dog becomes when they see that object, and if your dog catches, bites and eats that object then there is a certain amount of stress relief that the dog will experience.

Let’s examine this for a moment..

For the sake of argument let’s place a dollar value to some of the prey items your dog finds valuable..with regard to how emotional energized and attracted your dog will be to each object.

When a dog sees a mouse scurry through the grass, he might become attracted and give chase..and while it is fun to stalk and pounce on a mouse and eat it..the dollar value to your dog is about 1 Canadian dollar.. or as we call it..a loonie.

That’s cool, your dog experiences a small reduction in stress levels, and your dog will most likely do it again if he sees a mouse.

Later that afternoon your dog sees a rabbit, or a squirrel, now things are heating up..he gives chase and if he catches the squirrel or rabbit and eats it.. he experiences a bigger rush of “good feelings” and stress reduction, and that is like depositing 10 loonies or so in the dogs emotional doggie bank.

The next day your dog sees a moose, suddenly every nerve in his body lights up with an emotional charge like nothing he has experienced up to this point.. in terms of money..he has just seen 10 million loonies worth of energy and emotion head off into the brush..and if he could only catch the moose and eat him..his stress would totally disappear and he would be the happiest dog on the planet.

You can see how it would benefit you as a dog owner to learn how to be the moose in the eyes of your dog,.. you don’t want to be the mouse, or the rabbit or squirrel, those prey items are fun but don’t attract your dogs emotions and, feelings like a moose, buffalo, or caribou would.

One of the ways you can begin to be the moose is to play tug of war with your dog, the only thing is you must ALWAYS let your dog win..no exceptions.

Here is a step by step guide to playing tug of war with your dog

1. Don’t stand face to face with your dog or smile a lot,.. humans are the top predators and this posture and showing your teeth will make your dog defensive and we want him to be in prey drive, so stand sideways, don’t smile, and don’t look him in the eye.

2. Get two tug toys…I like to use two foot lengths of rope tied in many knots. Put one in your back pocket or tuck it under your arm so you will have one to play with and get your dogs attention when your he or she don’t want to bring the one they have back..when your dog drops the one he has and turns his attention to you..tug and pull with him and when he runs off with that one, pick up the one he dropped and begin the game again.

3. With your dog on a 30 foot long line begin the game slowly, stay relaxed, make sure there are no other distractions, like other dogs playing or kids running around, and be sure to be on your game and paying attention..this game requires your dog to bite hard and if they miss the toy..you might get bit..but if you are careful, this doesn’t have to happen… tease your dog with the tug and entice him to bite it..this might take some time especially with nervous, timid dogs who have built up anxiety and stress..but keep at it..act like the mouse or the rabbit…run away waving the tug, lay down and roll around like a prey animal, and keep teasing your dog with the tug..he will bite it at some point.

4. Amp up your emotions and use your voice to get your dog into prey drive..say things like..” Get it boy”, Sic a hold on it,” or” bite that thang.”

5. If your dog starts to growl a lot then that is not a good thing, this means your dog is afraid he is going to lose the war..so you should quickly let him win.

Winning means he gets to run away with the toy.

A little growling is o,k. just don’t let things get out of hand.

6. When your dog bites on the tug, pull smoothly, don’t jerk hard,,and keep the play session short so your dog don’t get bored..once you have reached a place where your dog is pulling and biting hard try to time it so you release the toy when your dog tugs hard on it..so that to your dog is seems like he earned it and you are not just giving in to him..they can tell the difference.

7. When you are ready to end the game, have a piece of chicken some tasty treat in your pocket, take it out and offer it to your dog, they will take the treat and you can gather up the tug toys..and put them away until the next time you want to work with your dog.

* It is important that the game ends with you having possession of the toys, once you get home put the toys away out of sight of your dog until the next time you bring them out to play.

There you have it, if you have any questions about how to play tug of war to engage your dogs prey drive, tell me about it in the comment section below, thanks for visiting my blog and make sure to come back often.

All the best,

Harley

 

 

 

anxious dog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a part of life for both us and our canine companions.

For us anxiety might mean that feeling you get when you are going to start a new
job and can’t sleep the night before.

Or that gut wrenching feeling just before you parachute out of a perfectly good airplane.

Then there are those people who truly suffer from severe anxiety, and in some cases the anxiety
can be so severe that it causes some people to never leave their homes,and need therapy and medication
just to cope.

What does anxiety mean for our dogs?

Quite often a dog will be anxious about people,children, other dogs, noises, and generally
anything that the dog has not been socialized to accept as a normal part of their lives.

What I find disconcerting is that in a lot of cases dog owners are very cavalier about their dogs anxiety
and they force their dogs to interact with the very things that cause their anxiety..like taking a dog that is anxious about strange dogs to the dog park where they have no choice but to deal with strange dogs, or letting a bunch of random people come up and pet a dog that is anxious about people.

When we talk about separation anxiety in our dogs I often hear people say my dog destroys the house when we leave because he has separation anxiety.

I think it’s important to understand that while destructive behavior can be the end result of anxiety..it is more often a
behavior issue that often is the result of dogs owners punishing their dogs for certain behaviors which teaches the dog that the only safe time to indulge in these behaviors are when the owners are away, on the phone, or taking a shower, and training your dog is the answer.

That being said, destructive behavior can also accompany anxiety..a truly anxious dog in most cases has become anxious because they have unlimited access to their humans..and get so emotionally attached that they fall to pieces when the owners go away.

They will pant,pace, and sweat..and this ramps up the tension and loads adrenalin..so the dog does the only thing they can do to alleviate the anxiety, they go through the house like a hurricane..ripping up the garbage, door frames, beds, couches, and relieve themselves where ever they want.

If you find it’s a case of when the cat’s away the mice will play then training is needed..if it is true anxiety then the
owner must help the dog.

This can only be done, by building confidence in the dog so they can be on their own..

To accomplish this you need to crate train your dog and do it in a way that makes him simply love the crate..

First you would put the crate in the same room as you..and put the dog in with a chew toy filled with his food.

Leave him in there for 5 minutes, then 10 then 15..then move the crate to the next room..then to the farthest end of the house, and repeat the procedure, as the dog gets more confident, begin to leave him longer..and always feed the dog his meals from a chew toy..this will give him something to do in his crate and before you know it he will be looking at you as if to say..can I please go in my crate.

It is the same way I taught my children to spend time on their own..I give them a video game and tell them to stay in the room and play..and they gladly do it..and actually look forward to the time when I would tell them go to your room and play your video games.

Your dog will learn to see chew toys and his crate in the same manner..he gets to chew on something to relieve any stress or anxiety, and he gets a tasty munch while doing it..it’s a win – win situation.

I hope you found this post helpful, and if you did you can let me know by liking my Face Book Page

River Valley Dog Training

all the best,

Harley

blue blood puppy

I have been raising and training Blue Blood German Shepard’s since 1976

and in that time I have learned one thing to be the absolute truth,people
love puppies and will do just about anything to get the one that pulled
at their heart-strings.

Unfortunately for most of these people their fantasy about what it’s
like to have a cute little puppy is short-lived.

Once they get the little critter home it begins to bite fingers, chew up
the shoes, run around the house like their tail is on fire, and poop and
pee every where.

I made this video to explain that there is a way to
make sure the pup you buy and bring home has some manners,is house
broken, and has been learned appropriate chewing habits.

That being said, once the puppy comes to live with you, it is your job to
ensure the training and socialization continues for a lifetime.

So go ahead and watch this short video, where I bring out my new puppies
for the very first time.

If you like this video please share it with all your friends so they can
have this important information the next time they think about how
wonderful it is to have a new puppy.

and if you haven’t visited my Face Book Page please have a look and click

the like button and that will tell me that you approve.. click  here

All the best,

Harley

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Video 2 Puppies getting used to solid food at the age of 36 days

 

fenton 005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to share with you one of the most rewarding experiences I ever had with one of my dogs that proved beyond a doubt how important having a strong bond with your dog truly is., and it happened today.

I have always worked hard to communicate with my dogs, through body language, energy and gestures, that when put together is like a second language.

I have this kind of relationship with Lola my 6-year-old Blue Blood German Shepard.

You see Lola just had a litter of pups 7 days ago, it was a small litter of two males and one female.

I have a building especially for her to tend to her babies without being bothered. It is important for her to have the first 12 days to nurse and care for her pups, without any outside stress, and yes when she is protecting new-born, even my presence is a little stressful for her, although if I have to I can go in the birthing room and handle both her and her pups without getting her too upset.

Anyway to get back to telling you about what transpired between me and Lola this afternoon that made me realize that the lines of communication, loyalty, and trust between us is rock solid,..she reinforced to me that I am her leader and she knows that when she needs me, I will understand what she wants and provide it for her.

I always open the door to the birthing room in the mornings and leave it open so she can go out and do her business, and she is just beginning to leave the pups for a minute or two to help develop their independence.

Well I was doing some work up stairs on my computer when suddenly my Uncle Fenton called up the stairs, “Hey, your dog just barked at the door for me to let her in.”

I immediately thought this was strange because she would never leave her pups alone for that long. I told Fenton to let her in, and she came charging up the stairs like her tail was on fire, and again I knew something was up because she never runs in the house, it was how she was trained. She got to me and before I could say, “What’s up girl?”, she forcefully threw my arm up in the air with her snout, and yipped at me. Ordinarily this behavior indicates dominance and I would consider it disrespectful,  but I know her better than to believe that and  I could tell she was very anxious and excited,,something she never is unless I kick in her drives.

She ran to the top of the stairs and looked back as if to say hurry up and come with on..

So I followed her out of the house and out to the birthing room with her leading all the way, again something she never does, she always follows me except when I give her free time, and when I got there I found that I had forgotten to pin the door open and the wind had blown it shut..she couldn’t get in..

The door was scratched up a lot where she had tried to open it herself, but when that wasn’t working she thought of me,and came to the door and barked to let someone know she wanted in and then came straight to me and communicated to me clearly that she wanted me to follow her and she wasn’t taking No for an answer.

The fact that she is smart enough to figure things out comes as no surprise to me, what I had to write about was the honor I felt when she came to me for help…just knowing that she trusts me that much….validated all my years as a dog trainer and what it means to the people and dogs that I have met.

AMAZING!!

Have you ever had one of these uplifting moments with your dog,I would love to hear about it.
All the best,

Harley