"The Peeing Post"
Newsletter for dog lovers who respect the dog's nature
Chief Editor: Mogens Eliasen
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Dear Dog Friend,
Camp Courses again!
It is time for Camps! We got arrangements made with Pine Bluff Motel and KOA Campgrounds in Oliver, BC for the first week of May. Dogs and family are welcome.
Oliver is located only half an hour from the US border, in the southern Okanagan Valley. 4 hours east of Vancouver, BC - 4 hours north of Spokane, WA. Unbearably hot in the summer - but very nice in May... The terrain around is great: lots of light forest, small hills, lakes, and streams close by - easy on both people and dogs, yet with enough possibilities for challenges to satisfy every need.
We have done campouts in Oliver many times - it has proven itself to be a great place - and May is a great time! I am very happy that we could make the arrangement with the owners of the motel, so I am really looking forward to this.
Why you should attend a Camp Course?
Let me explain: because you deserve to take a week off and spend that week in a meaningful way with your dog! We have room for maximum 8 students, so it will be a very intimate class that will allow you to get all the coaching you need, so you can make some major improvements in your relationship with your dog. There is only me to teach this course, so the limit of 8 will not be exceeded.
We will not do standard obedience or standard confirmation training or standard anything. We will work with the dogs' instincts, their brains, and their natural motivation to solve problems that makes sense for them. We will do tracking, search, and other forms of nosework that also could be handy for you - and of extreme value for the dog. And we will get into some practical controls that are more useful than "heel", "sit", and "down". And sure: we will do trick training for those who want to!
Of course, if you have a special problem you want to work on, we can find time for that too. Bring your tools along - even if it is an entire agility course!
I can promise that both you and your dog will be pooped at the end of the week... and so will I! J
Get more information at http://k9joy.com/dogtraining/campcourses.php - on that page, you will also find the information you need for signing up. If something is missing, then send me an e-mail or give me a phone call!
Did you notice the ending ".php" of the URL for the camp course?
It means that the Camp Course is part of K9joy's Affiliate Program. It is a test from my side - I hope it will work. If it does, we will make it a standard. I am allowing K9joy Affiliates to earn a commission on the tuition fee of this course for people they invite to sign up! This means, if you know of someone else (for instance someone, who does not get "The Peeing Post"), who would like to join, then you can earn a commission on inviting them to join. It takes that you sign up with our Affiliate Program, but there is no cost to you for doing that, so you might as well do it...
The place to go for this is http://k9joy.com/affiliates. If you can figure out how to forward an e-mail, then you can make this work for you... Plus: it really helps me to be able to track whom I am to thank for spreading the word!
Actually, I am quite serious about this: our Affiliate program works in such a way that all you have to do to be entitled to commissions on sales from our web site is to get people to sign up as subscribers to "The Peeing Post". The Affiliate Program will register this new subscriber as "yours" when you use the correct affiliate link to pass on to your friends. And, once that registration is made, you will be credited for the purchases this person later makes from k9joy.com - be it e-books, videos, camp courses, leashes, whatever!
"Mogens, you killed my dog!"
It was Lloyd calling. He lives in the neighborhood, and I met him with his dog - the cutest little sweetie-pie of a mini eskimo. We got into talking about dog training.... (Don't ask me why! It just happens all the time...)
As most people who love their dogs, Lloyd also experienced a few problems. One of them being that the dog was pretty shy - most probably from abuse from the previous owner. In addition to that, it appeared to be hyperactive. Another thing was that the dog was confused... I could see from the way Lloyd interacted with it that it wasn't really sure what to expect and what to do, and when we got to the bones of the training methods, it turned out that Lloyd had been given professional advice that wasn't totally wrong, but certainly not appropriate either for someone who wanted to be serious about this dog training because the dog was so good at it!
Long story cut short: Lloyd got a CD with "BrainWork for Smart Dogs" and started training...
Five days later, I get this phone call, starting with the words, "Mogens, you killed my dog!" Well, I thought I heard the smirk in the voice, but I soon got confirmed that the dog was now just lying there, pooped, sleeping, instead of farting around like a flea in bag, as it usually did. The secret was that Lloyd pretty quickly got some of the exercises in "BrainWork" to work for both him and the dog, so this dog was now a passionate gift hunter with a significantly improved self-esteem!
I admit, feedback like this warms me. And I get it all the time from the people who got themselves a copy of "BrainWork". Lloyd said, "You deserve to be a millionaire on that book! I am not going to lend it out to anybody - they will have to pay you for getting it!"
Thanks, Lloyd - we are still some ways from that goal, though... but, with some help from all those who know what this book is all about, it could actually become possible. I can see from the feedback I am getting that this book should be a "hit", if any book about dog training ever will...
Aggression and mistrust
From one of the on-line lists I am passively subscribing to, I picked up this horror story - which, unfortunately, is quite common:
The owner of a Great Dane (intact adult male) was feeding the dog in the kitchen. While the dog was eating, he was hovering over it. The dog growled. The owner gave it a sharp "correction", consisting of a loud "NO!" plus a firm push on the dog's side, simulating a hit, but without causing any pain. The dog instantly turned around and flew with open jaws right up in his face!
Although shocked and injured, the owner soon "got back at the dog", grabbed it and slammed it to the ground, continuing with some less-than-pain-free beating till the dog started to yelp. He told the dog to get out of the kitchen, and it did. It went growling - and with hackles raised on the bum and the head kept low...
The owner wasn't really sure if he had gone too far, so he tried to reconnect with the dog by spending some time petting it in a calm and gentle way, confirming his positive intention, demonstrating "forgiveness".
Well, I think there were some 40-50 reponses to this on the list.... Many of them from people who had very adamant opinions about what exactly to do in a situation like this - and how to avoid those kinds of confrontations. There were basically two "schools" of thought here:
On top of this came all kinds of opinions about whether or not to let such a dog live - as usual, when things like this happen...
The really sad part is that not a single soul has understood the dog's body language and tried to understand the situation from that. Everybody refused to accept threats from the dog. There was 100% agreement to the conclusion that dogs should not be allowed to threaten a human. The differences were only along the lines or avoiding it or punishing it.
So, what's my problem?
THIS: Growling is not a threat. It is a signal of MISTRUST!
Also: raised hackles on the back and bum (but not the shoulder and neck) is a sign of INSECURITY in an ATTEMPT TO IMPRESS IN ORDER TO AVOID A FIGHT!
How do you think it will impact you, if you mistrust someone and, when you tell him, he now beats "the socks off your feet"? Will you have more or less trust ion this person after that?
So, will you now have solved the problem of this dog growling at you - or will you have made it worse?
How would you now proceed building your relationship with this dog?
Yes, if you hand out enough pain and discomfort so you instill fear in the dog, then it will probably choose to leave the food next time, instead of launching - but it will most probably do so while growling (showing mistrust) and raising the hackles on the bum (showing insecurity) - for very good reason!
What if you did not instill enough fear?
Well, then you are basically just inviting the episode for a repeat next time you come too close while the dog eats....
Sure, you can then choose to leave the dog totally alone. At least, you will not trigger the violence.
But what about the mistrust? How do you go about that?
I am sorry, but I have a hard time accepting that punishing the dog for mistrusting its owner has any merit whatsoever! Not to mention killing it for that very same "sin".
The whole thing starts with the very wrong assumption that growling is a threat. It isn't. It is often displayed together with threat signals (like showing teeth, staring), but that is a different story.
Let's look at it from the dog's side. Someone comes close while it is enjoying its food. It is not trusting this approaching person. It growls and raises hackles on the bum, hoping to impress this person enough to leave and not seek confrontation, clearly signaling that there is an unresolved trust issue here....
But the provoking person responds with an attack! Loud barking and a provocative push/hit from behind!!! Big time threats that were totally unprovoked!
It is any wonder that the dog feels it is time to get things "back to order?" Please note that the dog did not bite. It only hit with open jaws, as dogs always do in order to avoid unnecessary damage. When used towards another dog, it will hardly ever lead to any damage, because the other dog will move its head away quickly enough to avoid the hit. Humans just can't do that - and their skin in the face is far more vulnerable - so a couple of puncture wounds is the typical result.
What is wrong with this dog?
NOTHNG! It has all its instincts perfectly in place. It was not aggressive, it did not intentional harm anybody - it just responded to a ridiculous provocation that was totally uncalled for!
So, what should the owner have done instead?
Now, answering this question without understanding what the dog actually said with its body language ends up being absurd. But when we consider that the whole episode originated in mistrust, then we can come up with a much more meaningful approach.
Let us play it this way: You are the supervisor in a workplace and you approach one of your subordinates, who is deeply occupied in some activity you initiated, and this person says, "please stay away from me - I don't trust you". What will you do? You care for this person, and you are, of course, somewhat hurt by not being trusted. You are also the boss - so you "have a right to know what is going on", right?
Well, the only meaningful response I can point to would be to find a way of demonstrating that the mistrust is not justified!
Would that be "giving in" to this person? Would it be interpreted as a weakness? Would it damage a future relationship with you as the superior?
First of all - the fact that this subordinate can express mistrust in you is already quite a "bummer" for you. When that can happen, something is terribly wrong, for start, in that relationship. But if you play it carefully, you might have a good chance of winning this person's trust instead of destroying the relationship by taking offense and pushing the episode to confrontation.
The big question is how will you show that you are worthy of some trust...
Wouldn't it make sense to remove all possible threats, just for start? Show that you have no aggressive intentions?
Doesn't this mean: "back off"?
Sure, but that does not have to mean that you go away and let the subordinate take control! It should mean that you instead move to another position where it is easier for the intimidated party to see that you actually do have only friendly intentions. You remove the problem with the threat you posed - but you don't remove yourself. You stay around and start doing things that will earn the trust of the other party. Chatting, telling some jokes, turning your back so it is obvious that you do not plan an attack, crouching down, so you don't risk being seen with a threat posture, bending over. Maybe offer a little gift or favor! Hand out a treat, for instance, so the dog can see that you do not intend to take food away - you want to give food....
Can you see the difference?
And how do you know this kind of stuff?
Get yourself a copy of Anders Hallgren's "The ABC's of Dog Language" and read it well. Anders has it all explained in a down-to-earth manner that even a kid can understand. There really is no excuse for not knowing this stuff... The consequences of not knowing it can mean the difference, literally, between life and death for your dog.
Building a relationship with your dog - under your control
So far, we dealt with the emergency. Let's then discuss what to do about the relationship - how to avoid things from ever getting this far. (I cannot cover all aspect of this without giving you a full write-down of my 2.5 hour long video "The Dog's Social Behavior" - but I can illustrate the concept as far as this food issue goes.)
It is actually very simple - in principle. You need to teach this dog that you are in control of the food, and that food is served as a result of your mercy. It is not at all a "right" for the dog to be fed - and it is most definitely not something the dog can achieve through any kind of action or initiative that is not 110% controlled by you!
In practice, however, this is where most people goof horribly... They let the dog develop all the controls around its food. When the dog becomes aware that food is coming, it makes arrangements to have you serve it on its demand. It tries to hypnotize you to give it the food while you are preparing it - and you always end your preparations with serving the food - exactly as the dog wanted it!!!!
Excellent training, little dog - you certainly got your master well under control! All it takes to make him serve the food is that you sit there, staring at him - and he obeys!!!
What is the problem in this?
The problem is that you are making food come in a predictable way, instead of letting the dog work for it, so you can give it at an unpredictable time as reward for work well done. Read that again! It means: don't give food away for nothing - let the dog work for its food!
You can make a little exercise out of this, by using a specific command that means "you are allowed to eat now". The rest is to teach the dog that until that command is given, it is most definitely not allowed to eat, regardless your teasing! (Yes - you can put the food on the floor and start your little training program right around the food! This little exercise is actually one of the 50 exercises in "BrainWork for Smart Dogs"...)
Oh yeah - it will be a mandatory exercise when we see each other at the Camp Course in Oliver. Don't forget to reserve your spot!
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 will get an invoice for my time...)
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