"The Peeing Post"
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
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I can now announce the official introduction of
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Dear Dog Friend,
YES - this is a HAPPY new year! We have had a great response to the Pet Door Project - not enough to finish it, but certainly enough to forge ahead. If you want to join, there is still room - please go to http://k9joy.com/PetDoor for the details.
Groceries or greeting?
I got a comment from Louise in Ottawa to the fast comment I made in the last issue about greeting. I am referring to the conversation I reported I had with Phylis about using dog training techniques in human relationships also. Louise's comment is very relevant, so here it comes:
"When we talked about dogs a little earlier, however, Phyllis was keen to tell me that, when she comes home, the dog always gets greeted immediately,
no matter what she has in her hands! The dog cannot understand that she is
too busy or has her hands full of grocery bags; it needs to greet - and she
has learned enough from The Peeing Post to understand that this greeting is
a must for the bonding between herself and the dog. It is important for this
relationship that the dog gets rewarded for the positive intention it has
with its greeting behavior - the natural reward is reciprocating the
greeting - and doing that will strengthen the bonding relationship.
Makes sense, right?"
Well if the dog is coming in the door and you are home then making a fuss might be OK but if you are coming home the relationship is different.
I have customers that used to do that type of greeting and had problems with their dogs.
I recommended Jan Fennels book to them, "The dog listener" in which she recommend ignoring the dog till they go lie down and that you come into the house like you just came from another room (she also has little tests).
Now these dogs were dominant types and ran the house (some were GSD) and some did not like strangers at the door. I gave calming signals but the relationship had to change.
So Jan's book (either they borrowed from library, bought it or I lent them a copy) but in two weeks when I came for my next deliver the dog was changed. The owner commented that they did not realize the dog treated them like the dog's child as far as relationship. One owner was surprised at the test with food that her dog growled at her. That was an awakening for the owner!!!
I realize that your dogs know who the leader is and the greeting is OK in those circumstances but with dominant dogs and submissive owners might not be a "good" thing.
I totally agree with Louise's observation and conclusion. If an owner has a dog that perceives itself as the superior in the relationship to the human, this owner has a big problem.... and that problem will get worse, not better, by responding to the dog's demand for attention!
My excuse for not bringing this along in the first place, of course, is that I should not expect subscribers of The Peeing Post to be in that kind of situation.... J
The excuse is lame, though - because the problem Louise refers to is not that uncommon. It is actually very common....
Although I do recommend Jan Fennel's book because it contains a lot of very diligent observations, I also disagree with her recommendations in regards to dealing with this kind of problem. Not because her recommendations are wrong - because they are certainly not - but because I prefer solutions to go farther. Personally, I do not accept a solution that just avoids the problem. Jan's suggestion does not change the fundamentals of the relationship between owner and dog - it just makes it less painful for the owner. That's just not good enough to me, because I know what it takes to provide a much better solution: get some serious work done on the leadership! A good start is "The Dog's Social Behavior".
However, I acknowledge that there is a lot of work involved in facilitating such a change - and not everybody is willing to put in that work! Well, those people will never dare to sign up for any training with me anyway - so I have only rarely seen them in my classes - and when I do, they are typically the ones I send home with a full refund, saving them from a continued embarrassment...
For such people, Louis's advice is rock-solid and very good. If you cannot take initiative yourself, then the least you should do with a dominant dog is to refuse responding to the dog's initiative...
Initiative is one of the most important leadership traits - if not the most important one... You can't mess with it.
A good friend of mine, Gary Gibson (who runs "Custom Canine" in Burnaby together with his wife Kathy) has used this kind of training for hundreds, if not thousands, of "problem dogs" through private in-home training sessions, including a lot of "rescue dogs" from the shelters - and the results have been remarkable. I often discussed these kinds of training methods with Gary and Kathy, and I seriously admire them for doing this - it certainly saves a lot of dog's lives!
Check out Jan Fennel's book - it is worth it! It gives a lot of good insight in the dog's ways of "seeing things".
So, why don't I use those methods too? Answer: because I am not satisfied with a band-aid solution aiming at "neutral". I am darn picky in regards to what I want from a dog-human relationship, because I know what I can get - and I am not happy about ending on a note where "the problem went away". I aim for a bonding relationship between man and dog - not for a truce of mutually accepting cohabitance. But I know that not everybody is interested in aiming that high - and that was major reason for me to be able to co-exist with "Custom Canine" as my neighbor "competitor" for many years - without ever feeling that we were competing - because we weren't. We supplemented each other, and I am grateful to them for having saved me from dealing with too many owners that would be driven nuts by my ambitions on their behalf...
Is it evil or what?
Another very related issue is aggression. The first scientist to ever deal systematically with it from a behavioral point of view was Konrad Lorenz, who, without a doubt, was the man that got me turned on to studying animal behavior. I count him as one of my most important mentors. His very famous book "Das sogenannte Böse" is, unfortunately, not as well known as it should be. Part of the reason could be the English translation of the title: "On aggression" - which is a far cry from the German original that means, "The so-called evil" - a much better description of what the book is all about...
Most people are terribly confused when talking about "aggression" - and they mix it up with "dominance", "threat", "hurting", "hunting", "abuse", "anger", and much more. And none of it is correct!
Aggression is actually very noble behavior!!!!
I know - it sounds terribly weird - but when you read Konrad Lorenz' book, you will understand. Let me explain a little of it though.
Aggression is a behavior that uses force or threats of using force in order to make another indivual of the same species leave the space of the encounter. Its intention is to trigger a yielding response from the other party. Its purpose to increase the distance between the aggressor and the opponent. In the extreme, the opponent will flee - or return the aggression towards the aggressor, who might then become the one that will flee. Only in extremely rare situations will this lead to any serious damage of either party - provided the ability to flee is there. Well, in confinement, that's generally not the case - and that's why we observe so much aggression among the animals around us - because we stripped them of the freedom to spread over the maximum territory!
Seen this way, aggression is the key to a species' success spreading its individual over the largest possible territory and hence securing its survival!
If this reminds you of something like, "there is nothing that makes good friends as having a common enemy", you are on to seeing the connection between aggression and the ability to make friendships. It is very fundamental.
One of the most fascinating observations Konrad Lorenz did was this: Aggression is intimately connected to the ability to build personal bonds! In order words: friendship is linked to aggression! Those animals that have no aggression, also show no personal bonding with each other. Only those who have strong capabilities of aggression also have the ability to make personal bonds!
The reason is hidden in the fact that aggression, when it has the purpose of spreading the individuals of a species, must be linked to inhibitors that prevent damage when force is being used - or pretended to be used. Animals that are not in possession of aggression as a natural behavior, like pigeons, will actually kill each other if confined to the same too-small space! Wolves will not - they will bond to each other instead.... They might fight and have some expressions of aggression, but they also have strong inhibitors that stop them from making full use of their own weapons. Pigeons have no inhibitors. Their weapons are insignificant - but strong enough to kill when lack of space drives their stress levels up above the limit for balance.
This could actually be an explanation why humans have such big trouble being nice... We do not have much natural ability to kill - we can only do that by means of weapons. So we are, genetically, on the "pigeon" side of the line - with quite weak inhibitors, compared to those of wolves and dogs who have lived in packs for 15 million years and developed some incredibly powerful inhibitors!
Aggression uses threat signals to signal itself - but it is not a threat in itself. It is similar to dominance in that regards. Dominance also uses threat signals, but mixes those with strong signals of peacefulness - and very strong inhibitors, even though the opponent offers his/her life! Submissive dogs lie on their back and open their neck for an easy kill in order to mitigate strong threats - and the threatening party cannot kill! (Fighting dogs unfortunately exempt - they have been bred long genetic lines that no longer have those inhibitors, and they cannot be recreated - it is like dinosaurs: extinct means gone. Forever.)
How many examples do we know from history where humans have killed other humans that sincerely asked for mercy? Wolves and genetically intact dogs just don't do that kind of thing. They have too strong inhibitors.
Another important observation is that aggression does not have any purpose of hurting the other party. The purpose is solely to increase distance. There is no abuse involved, no intent to hurt.
Further, aggression is never part of hunting behaviors. Aggression is connected with some very different kind of stress than the tension during a hunt. Killing behaviors in wolves and dogs are not related to aggression at all!
Anger is sort-of related to aggression, but only sort-of. Humans can generate anger from their own thoughts. They can direct that anger towards certain objects and certain persons. They can carry their anger for long periods of time. They can let the anger go - and they can bring it back, by desire. Anger is very far from being an "automatic" behavior you just have to accept - it is indeed very controllable and mostly generated by our conscious mind. Wolves and dogs do not know what anger is. They can get upset - but that is always in response to a certain situation and experience. It is never created in their own minds...
This is one very strong reason for me to love dogs - and to believe that we have a lot to learn from them....
Please share my joy!
Because this Affiliate Program is about sharing. As most of the subscribers to The Peeing Post have probably figured out by now, I am so fanatically intrigued by dogs that I want to spend just about every minute I have on something that will enable more people to see the true wonders in dogs - and use the knowledge to create personal bonds that truly go beyond what you can expect to experience with a human! I have tried it - several times - and that's why I keep wanting to go back - and I keep wanting to share that experience with other people. But I cannot do it on a full time basis unless it becomes commercial and provides an income. Besides, if I want to give it all away, it will not get valued... I have tried for many years and I have reached far better results when I charge people some cash for my time and knowledge and assistance. When they pay for it, they are much more likely to use it! And that's what it takes for them to experience what I want them to experience!
Then I still have all my training materials from the education systems I developed in the past with Human Dog Leadership Inc. - I know they can reach out to a much bigger audience when I get to working on them - the idea of making video traning courses in certainly still alive and kicking! I just wish I could reach out to many more dogs - through their owners.
And I am sure I can - when I get some help! And that's what the Affiliate Program is all about: you help me spread the word - and I help you with some tangible acknowledgement. I would rather reach more than twice as many people for the same revenue, and, with the Affiliate Program, I get a chance to follow up on successes and reward them. In general, I allow affiliates a bigger pay than what is left for myself after paying all the costs of administration and maintenance - I hope that this will be taken as the demonstration of a serious commitment as it is intended to be.
Win-win deals are the only deal that can work in business. I want to make sure that there is a win for you when you help me with what I want the most: reach out to as many dog owners as we possibly can reach out to, so they can get more joy out of their lives with their dogs - because every one of them can make their dog happier and, at the same token, improve their relationship with it and change its behavior to something much more enjoyable!
Please go and check the details of our Affiliate Program, so you can see for yourself how it all works. There is no cost and no obligation on your part. it is all "free lunch" on me, and I seriously hope you will accept the invitation and enjoy it! If you go to http://k9joy.com/affiliates, you will find a general description of the principles, and also the links you need to get more details - including signing up.
And, if you don't want to do it for the sake of money, then please do it for my sake!
(No - there are no limits on the number of affiliates the progam can handle...)
Cheers and woof,
If you have any suggestions to contributions or contents of The Peeing Post, I will be happy to know about them. (Please no anonymous contacts, though...)
If you have any comments or questions pertaining to this issue or in general pertaining to dogs, please respond - if I can find an answer for you, I will!
Even if your question is a "My dog..." question of a personal nature, I will be happy to give you as much advice as I can per e-mail, provided you will give me feedback on how you used my advice and what results you got - and allow me to publish the story. (If I don't get feedback, you get an invoice for my time...)
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P.S. One consequence of the affiliate program is that The Peeing Post subscription procedure will be changed. The new CAN/Spam law in the USA is not the only reason - the reason is that I am tired of deleting bogus subscriptions from spammers who jam the autoresponder I use to publish The Peeing Post and I don't believe the new law will do anything of value to change that...
The new procedure will involve a two-step process. The sign-up page will now only register the new subscriber - and send him/her an e-mail. This e-mail will include the URL address for the "real" sign-up page as a link. This way, I get confirmed that the e-mail address used for the subscription is a live person's e-mail address and not a spammer's autoresponder that now is going to send me tons of spam plus all the error messages from my own responder when my mails are rejected...
At the same token - and this is the good news! - I will be able to keep track on referrals. When you recommend The Peeing Post to a friend and use the link given by the Affiliate Program, you will be notified when this friend signs up!
I am contemplating also using this information to establish a reward system, so that people who refer many friends to become subscribers can get some tangible acknowledgement for helping me spread the word.
More about this next time - where we will also finish the lose ends around "BrainWork for Smart Dogs" - I owe some free copies to some people who helped with the title suggestions...