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Better communication with owners = better communication with other dogs.

Often my clients feel some resistance when it comes to crates.
 
We make a deal, while we work together lets lean on them and see how it goes,
 
If at the end you still don’t like them you can pack them up and sell them off.
 
They agree, and what happens every time?
 
They leave them up and their dogs often take themselves into their crates when they are tired,
 
Overwhelmed by too many people and need a break, or just some where they enjoy being.
 
It’s lovely to see them find comfort in something outside of their owner where they can feel safe and secure everyone needs and deserve that kind of space in their lives.
 
But what I really wanted to talk about with this photo and conversation between myself and my client is this.
 
Both dogs have never really been this close to another, in fac both of them really like their own space, but here we see them by choice cramping themselves into the same crate, leaving for a bit of a bird chase then back to the same crate again.
 
One of these dogs was often escaping his yard to simply go sleep in the neighbours cars.. yep, not a joke he wasn’t up for a wonder as much as he wanted some time out and some peace and quiet, we debated whether or not it was because the dog he lived with at the time was a lot more boisterous then he was.
 
However when you compare these two Lupin (chocolate lab) is more extroverted than Gus and used to over shadow Gus a lot and he would be unconsciously pushed into the background just because he couldn’t be bothered to try and compete and seemed content with things
 
But really there was a lot of underlying tension going on with these guys, not just towards each other but life in general, the communication within the whole family was a bit all over the place.
 
When I first start working with people, the first thing we have to do is start untangling the web of what each dog and person is really trying to say and do, break it down, simplify things a little more, help owners see and understand where the communication break downs are happening, help them read their dogs better, and understand what they are trying to “say” ask for, or show what they need.
 
Owners quickly start to realise that their dogs really do want to do the right things by their family, they just don’t know how, I love the moment where owners can really see when their dogs just simply don’t understand what’s being asked of them.
 
And as communication grows and develops between people and dogs, naturally dogs become a lot better at communicating and bonding with one another, they are carrying less tension, more confident to express themselves in healthier ways, feel through their emotions without their emotions getting “too big” and over riding their abilities, moving from instincts into thinking takes time and skill building for us as well as dogs, and their owners are better equipped to guide them through situations they may still not quite know or understand how to navigate.
 
I have worked with a lot of dogs who haven’t even been able to be around other dogs, and then they can, because I work on the communication with the people and dogs FIRST because if you can’t give your dog feedback and have him listen in situations where his emotions may have elevated, how on earth are you going to help him move through a social situation with another dog.
 
These guys have never hated each other or struggled with one another to where being around one another was dangerous or unhealthy, but they have never been this close before until now, as their relationships with their humans grow and improve so does their relationships with one another and I gotta say it’s one of the sweetest updates I have been given yet.
 
They have had a couple of hiccups recently with a recent move of house, exciting times but can also unsettle dogs, their owners reached out and said heres whats happening, and not what should we do but and heres how we dealt with it.
 
They were equipped and able to find the answers imedietely and they were just double checking that they were going about it the right way, and they couldn’t have handled the moving hiccups any better than they did.
 
And they did that ALL by themselves.
 
So when I ask what is life going to look like for the next 14 years with your dog, I don’t just mean day to day stuff, I’m also talking about when things change, moves, vacations, births and deaths.
 
Our lives never stay the same and I’m glad one of the biggest things I can help my clients with is knowing and confidentially dealing with and moving through those times of being unsettled, and they know it’s not a step backward or a sign everything is falling apart, it becomes a test to see just how far they have come.
 
And with this recent move and the dogs having some unsettled feels about it they are able to take comfort in one another which previously would not have been a thing.
 
Its so flipping beautiful to see.

Dog Body Language

Learning dog body language.
 
Can be an absolute waste of time.
 
Often people suggest to me I should teach more about dog body language to make things easier for them and others.
 
Their theory is if they can read dogs body language then they will have a better understanding of what the problem is and have an easier time identify when its happening and fixing it.
 
First thing, even when you are able to recognize the issue and pin point when it’s happening if you don’t have the correct foundation and tools to fix the problem then all you have is knowing the problem and having the frustration of not knowing how to fix it.
 
How do I know this?
 
Because I myself made this mistake, don’t think I’m planning on sitting here being holy than thou I know better and you all suck, that is not the case, most of what I know about what doesn’t work or isn’t the main thing you should be spending energy on is because I have made the mistake myself and watch many others do the same.
 
Second thing is, every dog is different, every breed has a different way of going about things and feel emotions at different intensities they are driven by different things, within that every dog even when you put the same breed side by side is unique in there own ways.
 
Can knowing body language be useful? Absolutely!
 
but studying it as a whole, just to apply it back to one dog is a huge thing to spend your precious time on, I see you, I know how busy you are.
 
So let me tell you, you don’t need to study it to get better at reading your dog.
 
Imagine if you studied human body language in your culture, and then you went and visited a completely other culture even knowing there language well, some of their mannerisms and the way they interact and show their emotions is going to be different, its not going to be your “normal”
 
All that studying would then be a waste of time yeah?
 
We aren’t about wasting your time, what you need is to be given information that is direct, to the point, helpful and a good use of the time spent with your dog.
 
So instead of thinking about if you knew dog body language more things would be easier.
 
Think of it this way, if you had the skills to better at LISTENING to your dog, to show him he is heard and you are willing and able to respond accordingly and know how to lay things out for him that he can have a much easier time learning, understanding and responding to you, that’s going to bring you closer to the solution than learning about dog body language ever will, understanding your dogs body language better is a result of doing the work, not the reason why the work we get our clients to do works.
 
Being a better communicator with dogs and people as well isn’t about learning to read them better it’s about learning how to be a better listening and how to act accordingly.
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Mental well being for dogs

Looking after a dogs mental well being is just as important as looking after a dogs physical well being,

That looks slightly different from dog to dog home to home, but the core values remain the same to ensure that well being is running at it’s optimum.

Healthy consistent boundaries, that ensures every household member is comfortable with day to day living habits and routines.

feedback and guidance that builds and strengthens skills and understanding of the world around them especially their people and how best to connect and “plug in” to them.

Healthy outlets of fulfilment PLAY structure is one of the most over looked elements in a dogs daily life but is a huge game changer when done right.

Solid easy to read and communicate with fellow family members for connection to help satisfy natural social instincts.

And if you don’t put mental well being high on the care checklist of your dog, stress and disconnection can impact on your dogs long term health, stress and anxiety can alter gut health, immunity, and impact on/burn out the nervous system.

Mental well being = physical well being.

It goes hand in hand.

Find your vet important in ensuring physical well being when you need the guidance?

What about a trainer when it comes to your dogs mental well being?

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What we understand of dogs is always evolving

I recently found out that not too long ago 80’s to 90’s it was common practice to believe dogs didn’t feel pain or feel intense amounts of pain, including after surgery, broken bones etc

It actually blew my mind to learn that.

Fast forward to now, it’s standard procedure to administer pain relief before the animal has woken and to send the animal home with roughly three days worth of pain relief just for desexing.

How crazy is that??

And it got me thinking, if we were once in a place where our experts of a dogs body had no real understanding of how much pain they were in,

Can’t our experts in mental wellbeing and behavioural training miss the mark a little as well?

My clients get to get to know their dog on a whole new level, understanding their emotional cues better, to better recognise when their dog is genuinely having a hard time, when they are frustrated, throwing in the towel or simply trying to “win” in the game of who can be more stubborn/patient than the other.

And how that plays a huge part in how the dog interacts and reacts to the world around him.

“traditional” dog training disregards a dogs emotions quite a lot “dogs a dog don’t humanize them”

And yeah I agree don’t make them something that they aren’t but that’s not what the people I work with are aiming for, they are aiming for their dog to have the opportunity to be themselves whilst understanding the boundaries to keep them safe and happy.

And hell even newer aged veterinarian behaviourist work is missing the mark too by heavily working on shifting the brain chemically, by relying quite heavily on meds to “fix” issues, almost completely ignoring the fact that the brain is an ever evolving organ, neurons change, strengthen and weaken all the time, medication can have it’s place but it’s not THE answer.

Nothing is THE answer, like the body the brain is a complex thing, if you want to teach your dog obedience or tricks hell go for gold doing that work on your own,

But behaviour, emotions, reworking the brain,
communication, developing and strengthening bonds?

How good are you at solving rubix cubes?

The more you have going on the more behaviourally with your dog the more different pieces are at play
and this is why after all most 6 months my advanced clients are still seeing shifts and changes in their dog realising that whilst things are getting waaaay easier, and they are doing the things they have always wanted with their dog, the process of having a good relationship with your dog is an ever evolving thing, just like our relationships with people you get back what you put in.

and sometimes we don’t know all the right things to put in to get that return, and that’s ok, it’s more than ok to need help with this stuff, it’s hard and it’s complicated and our professionals in the field of working with animals, medically, behaviourally etc are STILL learning themselves, it’s still progressing and evolving.

When you hire help in that way you’re hiring a head start to get up to scratch with what we understand right now about dogs, but I can bet you in another 10-20 years time it will be different AGAIN.

So do you feel confident that what you know about training, working with and moving through the issues you face with your dog is up to date?

Reactivity – the power of understanding pressure.

It’s hard to believe I picked this big girl up just a week ago and two days prior she had to be sedated the night before AND the morning of to be able to go to the vets without her losing her cool,

At people and dogs.

Callie is our latest Board and Train and a really special one at that,

she currently doesn’t have a home (HINT HINT 😉) and without our help she wouldn’t have had a chance in gaining one given her very serious reactivity issues.

This is her yesterday, in the middle of petstock loving life as she gets thoroughly blow dried.

Hannah and I were almost gagging at the smell of her, I can’t imagine just how uncomfortable she was feeling before the soak and treatment she got for the yeast that been hanging out in those rolls of her.

I was fully prepared not to be able to do this with her and have to walk out before being able to get her into the hydro bath.

I’ve picked my groomer for this very reason, she gets it that some dogs can only handle so much and pushing based that point can have the complete opposite effect.

Even if it just means showing up and standing around for 5 minutes then leaving, that’s better than not going at all, that’s better than causing a bad experience and escalating behaviours.

And it’s exactly why it went so well.

There wasn’t any pressure, any expectation of what Callie HAD to do, it was all based on what she would allow us to do.

On her being willing to follow my lead and trust that I had her back that she didn’t need to hate on everyone and everything around her to protect herself.

Don’t get me wrong, she didn’t sail through the process like this the entire time, she is food mad and she wouldn’t take treats so her stress levels were super clear, she growled and barked at one man but followed me and calmed down super quick, while we were walking her around letting her treatment soak, and a pile of cans in the aisle that she found to be a little scary. She allowed staff to come up and pat her.

Despite how she was feeling she was willing and able to trust Hannah and I, allow us to wash her, soak her, blow dry her AND clip her nails. Really Hannah did all the work, I just made it look like I was working just as hard haha
I’ll remind you again this same dog had to be sedated a week ago for everyone’s safety

and I am all for safety as I said if needed I would have bailed on the grooming session if she couldn’t handle it but she so needed it, and I knew she would feel sooo much better afterwards.

I was so happy with this outcome.

It was made possible with the right structure, the right communication, I was able to check in with Callie when she needed it, help her move through things that were hard, and we were able to take pressure off of her by taking our time and doing things she was able to show us she was fairly comfortable with.

Hannah and I are a great team with these types of dogs it’s only because we get that when we put pressure on a dog when they are already feeling pressure from outside sourcing that we can’t control –

Strangers, other dogs and animals, the wind blowing etc
It makes it even harder for the dog to cope with the situation.

Time, structure, guidance and trust building all made this possible and I can’t wait to see where this dogs at in a couple more weeks time.

The best part to all of this?

None of the work is complicated, it’s not something only a dog trainer can do and it’s going to take hours out of your day to train.

I get my clients working no more than 5 minutes per day and I remind them to have a “couple of days off” to step back and refresh themselves from the work.

Board and Trains make the process go just a little faster but

it’s something any owner can do for and with their dog, you just need to know how.