Monthly Archives: February 2018

That Dog Sam

The story begins like this. From a very young age as far back as I can remember I have always been connected to animals in one way or another. We did not always have pets let alone a dog but when the opportunity was there we had pets. From cats to fish to birds to dogs (many of them) to goats to rabbits to horses. Yes, my life was full of animals when we could have them. One might think why say, “when we could have them”?  Well, my life growing up was one moving every year. You see my father has PTSD, in the 70’s and 80’s that was not a topic of conversation. He was always running from something and we never knew what that something was. We would move from town to town from state to state. Sometimes on a Greyhound bus once we flew to Texas on a plane and that was a big deal because we did not have much money. I knew this from a young age.

I was the youngest of 3 and so as my brother and sister would talk I would understand what was going on. Sub for Santas and Thanksgiving dinners being brought to the door. All I ever wished for was a pet of some kind. I never had many friends growing up because we were always on the move always running from something, what that something was I never knew. I say that over and over because We would settle into one place and my drive to have pets were so strong that I would find pets to bring home. I am certain that I stole peoples pets not knowing but they would come to me and then follow me home. That seemed to happen when my dad was out of town on a business trip and Mom was at work. They never said much about these pets that would follow us home. They would ask us to try and find their home but none of them ever left. “We never found their home.” I would say. But each year when my dad would go on the run again the animals were left behind and so were any so-called friends we would make at the time.

Traveling between California Utah and Texas we never found a settling point. My 6th-grade year my mom and dad decided that we had reached a landing point. I guess my dad finally stopped running from whatever he was running from. We were living in my grandmas home that she had on some property and there was my opportunity to really ask for all the animals I ever wanted. I knew in my heart that I was not leaving, there was enough ground that I could have my farm my animals my life that I always dreamed about. Things seemed to be settled in and wow did the animals start coming, “Lost,” I would say, again Mom and Dad would just go to the store and buy dog food and cat food and bird feed. They would always say these two things. “Don’t expect us to take care of them so if you want to sleep over you will have to go late and come home early to take care of your animals or take them with you.” The other was, “You have to keep your grades up or the animals go.”  Well, that was easy!  I did not have any desire to have friends because I always lost them but I could always find a friend in an animal.  I went to my Dad and asked him, “Can I get my own dog?” I was in the 7th grade then and he said, “As long as you can afford it.” and “That dog cannot have any accidents in the house and you must train it.”  and of course “Don’t expect me to take care of it.” Well, none of that was a problem for I had no desire to get close to any friends because I was tired of trying to find new friends.

So the training journey began, I got my first dog “Sam”.  She never had any accidents in the house. I took her everywhere with me. I kept her in a made shift dog run while I was in school so no one had to care for her. I would come home and she was at my side. Before long we convinced Dad to get us some horses for we were on a farm and well I met my one friend that was my best friend from then on and guess what she had goats yes goats in her backyard well there we have it. Time to introduce my parents to hers so that I could convince him that we need some goats too for our farm. It worked we got our goats on the condition that “We don’t ask him to take care of them” and “You must keep your grades up to a 3.5 GPA.” Ok, I got this!

The dog training began, I found people to help me but the training seemed too harsh for me to do to my best friend Sam! So I began to read and study from horse training to watching goats dreaming what I wanted my dog to be. All I wanted my dog to be was my best friend something that I never had, a friend to go with me to the barn a friend that I could talk to and walk with and just feel life and what it was like to be moving. I continued to work with people, I continued to work horses and save money so that I can learn more about dog training. I had a strong desire to teach animals and get them to mold into my life. All I wanted was friends and my animal friends were not scary. At this time in our life it was good, dad had stopped running and wow we had been there for 3 years now, the animals we had were cats (plenty of them) goats, horses, rabbits, birds and two Guinnea Pigs that we found in Provo Canyon when we were up fishing with my dad, yep running free. I had a connection to those pigs because it seemed someone had turned them loose and that seemed to be what we would do with the animals that would come and go when we were on the run. Although I never really knew what happened to them, I was never a part of that.  We would come home from school and our bags were packed, animals gone and we would hit the road. Those pigs were mine and I was bound to catch them and give them a home. We had babies we build them a nice wood box to live in and we would feed them from the fridge and work hard to pay for the food that all of our animals needed. Fascinating thing, my dog was always at my side everywhere I would go and she would stay in my homemade dog kennel that was built by a 15-year-old girl while I was in school. Birds would come and go, cats all really belonged to my sister for she was the cat person, I had my goats and my horses always seemed to be sick and have to be put to sleep or would die. All I had was my dog Sam who was always there.

Well you can only guess that the cycle started all over again, dad went on the move again but this time was he was buying a home, this home did not have the property and so horses went into boarding, goats went away by the time I was 17 we had our new home my sisters cats and my dog Sam. When I graduated from High School and went over to the barn my dad had sold or given everything away. He said we had no time for the horses because we were going to college. Yes but my sister and I were paying for everything. I knew my dog was mine and she was not going any place and fear had set in that when I was in college he would get rid of her too even though I was still living at home. Every morning I would drop her back at the old house in the old dog run that I built so she was safe. I would ride the bus to there from college pick her up and walk home with my dog. My dreams were those of wanting to work with animals but society took me in a different direction for a while, when I got married Sam got left with my mom and my dad went and left my mom and went on the run again.  What he was running from we will never know and still he keeps running.  Not as far or as long but he still runs.

I started working at veterinarian clinics and decided that I did not want to always be on the sad side of things to the dog, they don’t know we are helping them they just want to feel better and we cause stress and pain sometimes and to me that was not what I was about, I was hurt from so much loss in my life that I did Not what to be a part of that world. I did not finish college for I was determined I was not going to live life like my parents. I knew I was going to be a dog trainer one day. I wanted to be the reason why dogs stay in homes and I wanted to share that Best Friend with everyone who would let me.

What do I want for your Dogs? I want you to have a best friend just like I did, a dog that I protected that I trained to do all kinds of stuff ride with me wait for me and as long as you do that for me I will always keep you safe and you and I will go places. I finally got to a point in my life that Sam came to live with me I could not have her at my moms any more I could not leave my best friend for she never left me. She meant more to me than to just leave her behind because I was moving forward. Sam lived until she was 21 years old and finally she had 2 big strokes and I had to say goodbye to my best friend. The loss that I felt drove me to be who I am today. My love for a Dogs soul and a dogs mind is indescribable. The connection that I feel with animals is like no other. My dream is for you to find that best friend. That dog that you can’t be without, that dog that goes and does whatever you need it to do. That dog that dreams with you. That dog that lays at your feet to protect you from the world of hardship and loss. I want you to find peace in your dogs soul, I want you to find comfort in your dogs mind, I want you to have the centering life that a dog can give you. I want you to have a love deeper than loving a person, its a different love, it is a love for an animal a love for who they are and what they can give to you. Life is not easy but that dog that best friend that animal has taught me how to have patience.

That dog Sam thought me how to love. That dog Sam taught me how to be a friend. That dog Sam taught me how to survive. That dog Sam taught me how to live life to the fullest. That dog Sam taught me how to work hard. That dog Sam taught me that others can have this too. That dog Sam taught me that I can love another dog even after she was gone. That dog Sam filled my heart in times when my heart was empty, That dog Sam never gave up on me and therefore I don’t give up on others with their dogs. That dog Sam taught me to love you and your dogs for who you are and for the connection you so desire to have with your dog. That dog Sam is who made me the dog trainer I am today. That dog Sam is my soul!

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A Blog About Biting

I find it important to define biting based on the dictionary because biting is such a broad word. The word biting is an adjective not an action word but a descriptive word which sounds better and less intense then it being an action word. :  having the power to bite a biting wind; especially :  able to grip and impress deeply a biting wit. So now lets put that in dog training terms. biting can be from a snap of the jaws or a dog latching on and shaking something or someone. For me as a dog trainer it is important to known and understand the context of the bite and the circumstances around it. A dog that latches on and shakes is by for the most dangerous would be a level 5. A dog that bites causes significant damage and holds grounds but does not stay latched on would be a level 4. A dog that bites and leaves minimal marks but still holding ground would be a level 3. A dog that nips causes some damage (no stitches) then runs away would be a level 2. A dog that nips no damage then remains neutral would be a level 1. I define this because any biting is bad but it sure makes a difference in training. I also want to know the situation and the breed. Do you have a border collie who is running wth the kids and nipped at the heels, caused a bit of damage, no stitches but left a good scratch on the leg? Well that is just a border collie being a border collie.

I feel that it is the shelters and rescues responsibility to disclose any level of biting if they know and if the dog is returned for biting the dog should not go into the general population for adoption. I see so many dogs that have been adopted where the rescues and shelters have down played the bite and came up with excuses as to why the dog bit and send them out the door to a first time dog owner. This is not responsible a bite is a bite is a bite. Again there are reasons why dogs bite and a dog that is a biter should be put in a very intensive training program prior to the dog being adopted out. People aggression is one of the most emotional training programs that we as dog trainers need to go through with the owners. We have to stop coming up with excuses and train the dogs and if they cannot be in general public then choices need to be made. I am not saying all of them need to be euthanized but there has to be a better program for those dogs who come into or are retuned to the shelters and rescues for biting. I have seen time and time again the dog is the one who suffers because of our own emotions. There is so much training that can be done and there is so much that we can do depending on the situation of the bite and the severity and how many times. The first thing I would suggest to any person, rescue or shelter muzzle training your dog if you have a dog who is biting and then seek professional help. A dog trainer should do an evaluation of the dog with and without the owner, get as much information as they can and then give the best honest training plan and have realistic expectations of the outcome. Sometimes that outcome is not what we as owners what to hear but there is so much liability behind a biting dog that you must take the emotions out of it and do that is best for you, your dog and society so that no other person is harmed. Owing a dog that is a known biter is not ok.

steps to muzzle training your dog. Don’t rush this process keep it simple and please ask questions along the way.

feed each meal out of the muzzle just cup it in your hand and have him/her reach down in and eat his/her meals out of it. You will do this for 4-7 days or until he/she is with no problem sticking his/her mouth in it to eat.

Once he/she is not worried about the muzzle for eating you will stick his/her muzzle on and feed him/her his/her meals through the muzzle with the leash on and as soon as the food is gone take it off. This should take about 4-7 days as well.

Once he/she is totally fine with is new eating routine and is eating and waiting for each piece of food to be handed to him you will start to work on his offering behaviors during his meal times with his muzzle on. 4-7 Days. Once he/she can eat his/her meals while working on his offering behaviors you will then start to transfer it to out on the front porch where this will be his/her new eating spot with his/her muzzle on.

Once this is done you will then put his/her muzzle on every time a person comes over and you will feed him/her with it on and then in his/her crate while the person is still there.

Once he/she can eat with a person in the house other than the two of you then start taking him/her on short walks during his meal times and have him eat while out on the walk at a corner or just stop and have him/her work on offering behaviors and eating out on his/her walks, keep it short to start and don’t go looking for distractions.

It’s All About Connection

When you have true connection you have a dog that is your companion. Connection is a relationship in which a person, thing or idea is linked or associated with something else.

All dog owners should find a connection with their dogs. Dog training is more than teaching your dog commands such as sit, down, stay, come, heel. It is always good to have the commands and behaviors, but if you dont use them in a way that there is a connection the training does not transfer. For example if I connect sit to the environment of someone being at the door then when the door bell rings the dog makes the connection to sit.

What does it mean to have true connection with your dog. We have to be linked in a way that your dog is looking to you for information. You must be honest and not manipulate our dogs and the tasks we are requesting. We must train with association so the connection to training has purpose and they have a job to do. Things you mush have to have true connection with your dog is Communication and your training must be epic. Let’s look deeper into those two words and how they relate to dog training.

Communication is an act or instance of transmitting a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs or behaviors. A technique for expressing ideas effectively. Two way process of reaching mutual understanding in which participants not only exchange information, news, ideas and feelings but also create and share meaning. In general communication is a means of connecting people or places. If you have effective communication with your dog it will create and share meaning therefor having a connection through communication (training). Communication is not a one-way conversation. When we can communicate effectively and properly with our dogs through words and more importantly through our behaviors and our actions our dog will see the purpose and meaning and will respond with the appropriate behavior. If we can stop trying to be so controlling and have proper communication, our dogs will give clear communication back. We tend to control and do everything and not trust what our dog is saying back to us.

Dog training must be epic meaning noting or pertaining to a long poetic composition usually centered upon a hero in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated in elevated style, heroic, majestic, impressively great of usually great size or extent. it is epic when a dog training journey turns into a life long connections. people ask all of the time how can you get things from my dog that I can not? Or wow my dog is so different and so much better since they stayed with you. I like to believe a dog trainer is epic in a dogs life, we never stop being in the moment, we think and respond through the dog. Therefor we get to become the hero. Our events are real and significant to the dog. We make every moment of training heroic, majestic and impressively great!

The skills your dog should have to have true connection are that they follow you everywhere in the house in the yard in the environment. Do you see that person and their dog is just following them. Yep that is connection, that is not “luck” that is a true and honest connection that the owner and the dog has. A True connection your dog will follow you when off leash and out hiking or in a crazy environment such as a dog park or horse show. Your dog keeps their eye on you waiting for what is next and what roll they will play in this journey. Does your dog have true eye contact? not just looking for the food but can truly look into your eyes and ask a question? Will your dog just settle by you when you stop to have coffee or stop to sit and watch and event? They know that it is time to rest and catch up before we head out on our next journey.

I hear all of the time that people get annoyed that their dog is following them why cant the just lay there? I am just getting a drink, they dont know that. All they know is you are moving and they dont want to loose their position in the family. The more we turn our dogs away the more we break down the connection between us and our dogs. You should always bask in the moment of having your dog by your side all of the time.

Stop sending our dogs away from us and asking them to join another family. Create the skills of connection so that you become epic instead of the dog at the dog park or the person that comes to visit. Be the hero, be the leader, be the person they want to be with all of the time because you are safe, fun, a source of food and water, a source of life of being in the moment with them.

How to teach follow me: Your dog should be on a leash all of the time you are in their environment. The only time your dog should not be on a leash and attached to you would be if they are in their crate or outside unattended without you. If you go go outside to be with them they should be on a leash with you.

Why you should wonder? It teaches your dog to follow you through distractions and to connect to you instead of going to join another family. To wander you go the opposite direction from which your dogs wants to go. Do not go back and forth, go in different directions other than where your dog is pulling you.

Eye contact is a way for your dog to ask you a question, look for an answer, or give you information. You should always acknowledge the eye contact and be in the moment and talk with your dog when they are there. Let your dog see you smile and let your dog work for you in that moment. They see your eyes and they see happiness and joy when they give the right answer.

Come settle by me. That means they like to be with you and that the trust you will keep them safe while they rest. Even in your own yard your dog should want to come be by you unless you are out in the sun and they can be with you but in the shade. settle because I settle. We are always wanting our dog to go play and go away from us while we bask in the shade or work in the yard. It is not their natural instinct to go off by themselves, they want to be with the family and a part of what we are doing so alloy that and be in the moment with them, stop sending them away.