I pride myself on this one thing

I pride myself on 1 thing. Getting to the root of the problem.

I want to positively affect the dog and get the results that are lasting. I see many people walk their dog with a front harness. My question is why? Why not just teach your dog how to yield to the leash pressure instead of pulling you across town. Behavioral issues such as fear or aggression can be treated symptomatically.

For example: when the dog goes to bite I punish them. Now I’m not going to get into the details as it depends on the case, but this is just treating the symptoms.

Its the same thing when you have a cold. I know what I do! I go to Walgreens and buy a bottle of Mucinex. While I might feel better, I didnt get to the root cause which might be that my immune system is weak.

I must say that I probably always been living like this and looking at life from this viewpoint.

At 19 years old I quit smoking cold turkey. I went to a holistic doctor in Harlem NYC who really impacted my life. His name was Dr. Koyaki. I had no idea I would embark on a journey to where I am at now. I started reading and learning about spirituality. He also introduced me to my teacher Doc Woodbiine.

This is when I learned about energy in the body. It was similar to yoga what he taught me. It was a mix of chinese medicine along with ancient Indian medicine. I felt exuberant after 2 weeks. I also felt excited about life and full of a newfound energy that I could and still can’t describe in words.

He taught me about my body on a deeper level. I learned how a behavior such as breathing can have an effect on my state of mind. Also getting enough sleep, sleeping earlier, not eating after a certain time, working my body out physically, eating healthy foods, and being around positive people all affected my energy levels and state of mind.

Now I know that sounds like a lot because it is. And some of those things on that list seemingly have nothing to do with the other, but it does. I believe its more of challenge for us humans than dogs because we constantly live in our heads, dogs don’t. They can easily live in the moment. This is the holistic approach. Its why I put emphasis on how people live with their dogs, how they socialize them, the energy they are projecting and other details of their life. Everything matters even when you think it doesn’t.

Most people assume that their dog is learning when they do training. But in reality your dog is always learning how to interact with the world every second of every day.

I know you guys are ready to have great relationship with your dog. Hire a professional dog trainer. NONE OF THOSE PETSMART OR PETCO DOG TRAINERS!!! A lot of dog training in these places teaches your dog that you are just a food dispenser. They don’t teach you the other 90% that you need to learn. Get to the root cause and be free from the issue permanantly instead of using the bandaid effect.

Punished dog? To be or not to be

I have really been fascinated with the role of punishment in dog training. Is it effective? How to use it? When to use it? Besides the obvious of why to use it I found myself needing to use it on my oldest male dog. My dog had a problem with lunging at people.

I knew it was fear based and due to the neighborhood we live in. While walking my dog since 6 months old until now (10 years later) we have been in an estimate of 10 fights with stray dogs.

The screaming, growling, and biting still plays over in my mind. This was a horrible dramatic experience for me and my dog even when I carried around a stick and a pet convincer and some other items.

Anybody who knows me knows my dog is like my son/ partner. I was always with him. We ate together. We slept in the same room(not on the same bed). If I could I would of took my dog to parties with me. I did not have the knowledge that I have now when it comes to dogs and wish I did. My dog ended up not having the proper socialization due to these reasons and me being busy.

I while back I invested in a dog trainer who helped me with Fats (my dog). He introduced me to the ecollar. It worked for a time, but I did not have money to continue lessons. Soon I noticed my dog started to revert back to old ways of dog aggression and lunging at people. I then started to dive deep into understanding punishment and its role in dog training. I realize that my dog is old and I don’t want to put undo stress on him. I would like to help others into clarifying the use of punishment with dogs.

Anytime a dog does a behavior you don’t like the result is punishment, whether negative or positive. Negative punishment is the removal of something your dog wants and positive is adding something your dog doesn't like.

Is punishment effective? It definitely is. Punishment is effective in the sense that it stops bad behavior.

This is why so many pet trainers go to using punishment and pressure style training( make the dog do what you say) very quickly. This is because it works. According to Michael Ellis it works 100% of the time and I agree. You can always make a dog do something. Is this good dog training?

Not what I believe. But this is necessary at certain levels of training. The nuances need to be taken into account. I watched my senior citizen of a dog lunge at strangers. When I gave him a punishment, he suppressed this need to lunge at people. He still felt the need to lunge at people because of some fear, but the punishment suppressed him demonstrating this behavior. This is also important for people to understand.

Just because a dog doesn’t act out a behavior anymore doesn’t mean the dog is cured. Emotions effect dogs big time and judge what they do. If a dog is very fearful they can’t learn. This is why I focus on a dog’s attitude with my clients.

I want the dog to enjoy training and love it. I especially want puppies to be willing to try things. This is the reason why puppies receive no 1-2 combo from me( because I would never hit a dog and I don't want punishment to suppress their drive).

How to use punishment? High levels of correction. Many people would say that I am being harsh and that I have no heart. They must not understand how dogs learn. I would suggest they read Pamela Reid’s book Xcelerated learning for dogs.

I know you want to be kind and start low with correction and work your way higher until the behavior subsides. There is one main flaw in this mindset that hurts your chances of truly eradicating a problem behavior.

That is the fact that dogs adapt to the pain sensation. If you keep subjecting a dog to the same level correction then eventually they will get used to it and it will lose its potency. On the other hand if you go as high as the mountains then you will only need to do it a few times. Why do you think you don't play around with fire?

I can’t remember where I heard this analogy from but it reasonated with me. Imagine that every time you parked your car in the wrong place, instead of a parking ticket, your car exploded. I bet you never park there again with your next car. Nagging low level punishment is like parking tickets. Sure it might make some people think twice but not the majority.

We can’t just know how to use punishment; we also have to know when. The reason I don't punish puppies is because they don’t know what I am asking of them.

It is very important to be fair to the dog. If I correct a dog that has not demonstrated that they know what I am asking of them then the correction can have a dramatic effect on them.

This is how some dogs develop what is called learned helplessness. The dog will eventually stop trying and just give up. If your dog understands what it needs to do to avoid a harsh correction then best believe they will do it.

An example of this is if I ask my dog to recall(come). If we perform the exercise 1,000 times successfully then I’m sure my dog understands it. Therefore, if I tell him to come and he doesn’t he gets a correction. On the other hand, if we have been working on the recall for 1 week and my dog comes to me sometimes, then I will not punish my dog for not coming.

If we follow these principals to using punishment then I am sure we will have no problem with being fair with our dog. We will build a better relationship with man’s and woman’s best friend.

My experience at the Michael Ellis School for dog trainers

Three words described how I felt in that Santa Rosa county for those 2 weeks… I LOVED IT.

I couldn’t imagine that it would be so eventful and relaxed. As soon as I arrived I was welcomed on campus. Everyone was friendly and included me in whatever dog activity they were doing. I was the only one who stayed on campus but wasn’t there for the 17 week immersion program. Everybody else seem to already got acquainted and I was finding my place.

It was a quiet area which was dark at night and the only thing close was a Spanish restaurant across the street. The food was ok, but I had better. The tacos were thin and the meat didn’t have that fresh taste like Don Nico( my favorite spot in queens right now).

As far as my living space, I ended up boarding in a small room in the staff building. Besides the fact I had to walk outside and go about 150 ft to use the bathroom in the next building because the staff building had no bathroom, I enjoyed it. I also had no kitchen. So I had to go to another building to cook and to shower. This was an inconvenience, but being in this building had it’s perks.

I was close to the staff so I would watch the staff as they worked with their dogs for a competition. I would ask questions and take note to what they did. I remember one staff member specifically training for IPO. If you seen my Instagram you will see photos of the staff yard.

You will also see pics of the loner dog I was given named Phoneix. She was a Belgian Malinois and I fell in love with her. At first she really didn’t care for me. I was introduced to her on Tuesday, the second day of class.

On Sunday we were beginning to develop a minor relationship. On the following Tuesday we were beginning to become closer physically and emotionally. She was a lot more engaged with me in the training room. When it was time to leave, I didn’t want to leave her. If I had a lot of space I would of taken her with me, but then reality hits me.

Now for the meat and potatoes. Class time. You ever felt like you was just made to do something and it was effortless to do it? Well that’s how class felt. It wasn’t like sitting in a boring classroom.

The lectures were filled with practical and useful information and the practical helped us dog trainers there bring the imaginative into reality. At first I thought to myself, “how much can we possibly talk about obedience”?

Little did I know that Michael Ellis breaks it down into little tiny details. “If you give a reward with the same hand you can affect a dogs finished behavior” “You are turning your hand too much to the left that’s why the dog is crooked”. These were some of the sentences he would say as he would correct some trainers who thought they were already doing the correct mechanics, but couldn’t figure for the life of them why they weren’t getting good results.

Eventually everyone realized that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Michael Ellis was easy going and chill. He is a real down to earth person.

Since I spent my labor day here. I might as well tell you how that went.

First we did have dog training class that day. But like I told you already, I love this stuff so I didn’t want to skip class anyway. We ended up having a Barbeque. Bring your own meats and booze! I brought ground beef and a friend bought whiskey. It is safe to say that I did not miss NY at all as I was having a great time.

A couple of shots in and dog training was all we could talk about. We talked about what we were going to do when we got back home and conversed about various dog training topics. Typical signs of obsessive people. I think we performed better after a shot. Many people felt they could relax under the attention of 30 people and Michael Ellis.

Outside of training I felt horrible. No one told me it was cold in Northern California. I bought shorts, tshirts, a couple long sleeve shirts ( I didn't think I would need), 2 pair of jeans, a hoodie, and a light blanket. I was freezing every night. Not to mention my allergies out there were the worst I’ve ever experienced.

I was sneezing and coughing all the time. I thought maybe it was because I had a loner dog in my room but I was feeling like that before I met her. Someone saw me and explained that their allergies were acting up to. Then came the story of a botanist who decided to plant some weird plants in the area causing that area to be the worst place for allergies. Just what I wanted to hear. I just bared the pain and tried to look on the bright side- this was a great opportunity.

Overall I can’t wait to go back to the Michael Ellis school for dog trainers for other courses. If that's the prerequisite course I can’t wait to be in the other classes.