dddon

Dog training is boring and exciting

I know what a contradiction. But truth is I personally find this in most disciplined arts. Dog training is no different. I mentioned in a previous post that I box and enjoy forever learning the sweet science. Boxing at first was very boring and robotic.

My coach would also explain concepts to me that made little practical sense when I was first starting out. Now a couple years later in my journey these concepts make more sense. I spent day in and day out working on the same steps. After a while it became boring and I wanted to work on new moves. I didnt realize how important it was to work on the basics.

This idea of doing the basic boring moves over and over transfers over to dog training. When Im talking with a client they always have a end goal in mind, but many don’t know how the road is to get there. It takes a lot of patience and practice. The fundamentals are very important. A lot of the fancy stuff people see dogs do are broken down in basic steps.

Focus heeling for instance has multiple components. You have to teach the dog to hold its head straight up, then teach them how to focus on you while they hold their head up. Next you have to introduce turning to the dog and the heel finish. All these exercises by themselves are not very complicated but together they paint a beautiful picture of the dog. (If you dont know what focused heel looks like go on youtube to see what Im talking about.)

The exciting part of dog training doesnt come until you have mastered those boring moves and you are able to connect the dots between them. A down is very basic. But it looks much fancier when a dog can stay down while 8 people stand around the dog enticing them to get up.

Im always excited when Im training a new dog to do more complicated obedience. Not only is it fun to me to teach it, I love knowing the possibility of what this dog will be able to do when Im done with them. Im guessing thats how coaches feel when their players do great things. I feel like a dog’s coach. I work him/her through any problems they might have, whether its insecurity or uncertainty. This is why its exciting to me. I set up the roadmap for the journey I want to take the dog on and just fall in love with the process.

The process can be lenthy depending on what you want to do. Many dog owners are unfamiliar with how deep the rabbit hole goes when it comes to dog training. It goes deep! You can become a service dog trainer, pet dog trainer, police k9 dog trainer, personal protection dog trainer. Its like being a doctor with training dogs . You can be a pediatrician, a primary care physician, or a specialist like a surgeon or cardiologist. There is certainly levels to this dog training stuff and just like any discipline, the details make all the difference. Thats what makes it exciting and boring.

Pet dog training vs Protection dog training

If you follow me on instagram you will notice little clips that I post of me learning to work a dog in a bite suit. It just happens that I met good people who introduce me to the sport world. Working with dogs in the sport world greatly helps my pet dog training.

The reason being is that a dog is in the highest drive possible when they love to bite and see a decoy to bite. These dogs still require the greatest control when they get on the field for a trial. For instance, the dog has to listen to their handler with no leash, collar, or even ecollar. These dogs are off leash with alot of space to run, but they choose to obey their handler. It is a beauty to see. If you are interested you can youtube any Ring sport trial or PSA or IPO trial and see what exactly I’m talking about.

How does this make me a better dog training besides the obvious? Well If you have heard dog trainers who are strictly pet dog trainers talk about a well behaved dog, you will hear some sort of

“ you want the dog to be calm and in a low state of arousal”.

At first I agreed with this as I knew nothing else. Now Im not sure as I see dog owners taking this mindset to far. I now see dogs who supress their natural drives. They are calm and docile, but I can’t get them to play or do much because they have been punished too much for getting excited.

I love to see a dog who is in a higher state of arousal, yet will still listen to their handler. That is the real challenge in dog training. I want to keep my dog highly motivated. This is protection dog trainers seem to be great trainers overall. I’m only in my beginning stages of protection work, but I’m already in love.

Also their is a reliability factor that comes into play with protection sport dogs. Depending on the sport no praise or correction is allowed during the routine. This means your dog has to perform the behavior no matter what and will not receive a reward or a firm NO to get them going in the right direction. This is the reliability needed in off leash to train a dog. Most dog owners will not want to do the work necessary to achieve such great results. That’s fine. It all depends on how far you are willing to go. I can tell you one thing. The people that are really doing great in these sports EAT!!! SLEEP!!! AND BREATHE!!! this stuff.

I find myself implementing some techniques that I learn in protection to my pet dog clients. It works. I will continue to grow and dedicate myself to dog training at the highest level to help my clients and those in need.

The obession with dominant alpha dogs

Ever watch Cesar MIlan and start doing the hissing sound while abrutly touching your dog? if so, Why were you doing it? Most dog owners don’t truly know. There has been an obsession with dog owners who think everything their dog does him trying to dominate them. I will explain why this is false and the trouble with this thinking(the owner is being reactive out of fear) what a truly dominant dog is like.

Many dog owners seems to think their dog is trying to take advantage of them by not listening. I challenge this idea and ask them. Does your dog really know what you are asking of them? Has he/she demonstrated that they understand? Just because us humans realize something quick doesn’t mean your dog can. Your dog is not being alpha when he jumps on you. He’s not being alpha when he is not listening. I understand that many people want to have their dog under control. Sometimes this idea goes to the extreme.

I watched someone give their dog a correction because he didnt come when called. In fact the dog was sniffing a spot where a previous dog had just marked. The dog was distracted not trying to alpha the owner. This reactive behavior puts the owner on the defense instead of being proactive about training their dog. Being reactive in a sense means the dog is controlling you. To avoid this I have rules that the dog must follow and their are consequences no matter what. This is an example of a proactive approach.

Dogs are like wolves!!! I hear it all the time. Many people assume that this is the case. They even quote the study about the whole alpha wolf to plead their argument. It was a study done in the 1970s. I cant remember the study but I do remember a key fact about it. Those wolves that were studied were born into captivity not the wild. It like being born in jail. Of course there’s going to be an alpha top wolf. You have a bunch of wolves fighting over limited resources. An alpha wolf in the wild is actually just a male wolf who is responsible and head of his nuclear family. He lets his children win in fights sometimes and plays around with them but is serious when its time to get to business. Wolves are predators.

Dogs on the other hand are oppurtunist. They were scavengers. This is how dogs evolved. They first used to go after human scraps when humans would leave the area. When humans would come back some of the dogs would scatter away, but some of them stayed even though the humans made them nervous. Those were the ones that survived by being close to humans. They learned that humans would feed them if they get close enough and stick around. Now these are in my own words about what happened, but you get the point. Wolves and dogs are different.

What is a true alpha dominant dog? In my opinion , this is a very calm dog. This is the dog that doesn’t bark or lunge at people just because theyre in his space. These very rare dogs are good by themselves. In fact, the only time they have a problem is when you force them to do something they dont want to do.

I remember a rottweiler I met who seemed to be in his own world. He would lay down in his section. When you walked by him you could feel his eyes piercing through you. I felt what he was saying with his eyes. He said “ you better walk around me or there will be a major problem that will need to be solved”. He wasn’t reactive. I didn’t even notice him giving me much thought. But I felt his gaze.

Like I said. These dogs are incredibly hard to come by. Most dogs who are reactive are insecure. A dominant dog is secure and doesn’t need to showboat. But if you cause problems for him your life will be a living hell. I can bet that most dog owners don’t have a dog like this because genetics play a huge factor and most people are looking more how the animal looks rather than doing a background check on what were the dog’s parents and their parent brothers and sisters temperament like.

So ease up with this whole dominant dog thing. Your dog just wants something and its your job to teach him the rules to get what he is allowed and how to behave.

Bratty dog vs well behaved dog

I love the nature vs nurture idea and it comes into play in what I want to talk about today. What do I mean by nature in dog training? The nature is genetics. Its when the dog comes from good stock with you having to do anything. I used to wonder how some dogs were so muscular only to realize their father was also muscular. Nature plays a big role in protection dog training. Some dogs have “it” and some dogs don't. Sometimes I hear people say that they want their dog to be protective. The problem is that som dogs don’t have a prtective instinct. Sure they bark at strangers, but thats mostly out of fear not protection. The other part to this equation is training. A protection dog can only truly protect on command through training. This is the nurture side of the same coin.

Nurture is how you raise your dog. What type of environment? Is she socialized well? Does she have any fears not due to genetic disposition? I focus mostly on nurture when training dogs. It's the only area I have control over. I can't control what a dog was born with.

I seen a friend with their dog. It was a pit bull that was well behaved and even easily capable of being off leash within a short period of time. His dog was 7 months old. His roommate claimed she was a dog trainer and said the dog needed no training. As much as i feel a dog trainer is needed, I agreed. If my friend just wanted a well behaved dog the dog needed no training. This dog was laid back and calm. I would trust a kid 6 years old and above to be around this dog. My friend began to explain to me that this dog was not like his previous dog. This dog was naturally calm and not pushy whatsoever. His last dog was a brat and if you gave her an inch she would take the whole football field for a touchdown. How do you recognize each?

Laid back dog

Has ears slightly backwards and flat against head

Eager to please

Looks at you a lot for approval

Moves slow a lot

I don't want you to confused this with a dog who has been punished a lot. These dogs can show the same signs yet it's because their natural drive has been suppressed. You would have to know a dogs history to know for sure.

Bratty dog

Pushes head on you to make you pet them

Usually the first one to eat from mother and pushes other puppies out of the way

Possessive over toys, people, and other objects

Rushes out the front door

Never takes in information from the owner

When you correct they tend to redirect as if to say “how dare you”

These are just some ways that you can easily spot this behavior.

I wrote this post with the beauty of variety in dog’s personality in mind. I love it how different breeds have different tendencies. Since society has been modernized we forget that all dogs have a purpose. Some dogs are not made to sit in an apartment with little exercise. Other dogs have a tendency to chase things. This could be the difference between a well behaved dog and a “bratty” dog. The dog might just be displaying natural tendencies that is not beneficial to us in our modern society.

Get a professional dog trainer to help you figure this out.

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.

A story of how a trip to New York City Housing Authority opened my eyes

I was sitting on my blue couch in my living room and going over my notes for a client’s dog and realized something. I would never have known any of this without the studying of dog training.

I know!!! That seems so obvious but I want you to think about it for a second. Some things do actually seem intuitive like if the dog does something wrong you give them a punishment and if they do something right you give them a reward.

But what about how to stop your dog from attacking every black guy they see or an old italian guy. ( I use men because ive never heard of a dog not liking women although im sure they are out there). I remember I was doing dog walking at a time. There was a client in East NY brooklyn in the Pink Houses. The time was 5:45pm and I was schedule for 6pm so I was there early waiting in my car. I just so happen to look up and see a guy walking his pit bull without a leash.

I was curious so I jogged across the street hoping to have a word with him before he went inside his building. As soon as I caught up I told him he had a beautiful dog( black and white medium built). I then asked him how he got his dog so well behaved. Now this answer is definitely not what I wanted to hear nor what Im sure any of you guys want to hear but here it goes

. He said “ He gets a lot of ass whoopings”. I was shocked and amazed at his honesty and also disgusted with his form of training. But you know what? It worked. How can I argue with a man that is showing me proof in front of my face. Of course I can tell him there is a better way, but he would probably resist as he did.

One thing I learned over these years is that people living in urban areas like New York City housing authority do not have the luxury that dog owners in the residential suburbs have. The dogs living in urban areas are always around a lot of people which provide a natural distraction that the dog realizes is just part of life. They walk by people with no issues because they do it every day.

Another important reason why these dogs tend to behave better is because there is less room for error. These dogs are usually quick to get put to sleep if something bad happens. The dogs that live in the suburbs are usually less interactive. They usually have a big backyard that they usually run around in screaming insults at the neighbor’s dog. They become less socialized and have a lot more problems. If these dogs become aggressive the first response by the owner is usually avoidance. They avoid streets where there are a lot of people. They avoid other dogs. They avoid anything that makes the dog act up.

The homeless are another group of people we can learn from. Here in NEW York City I can’t tell you how many times I have exited the train station and seen a homeless guy wrapped in a blanket with a cardboard sign saying we need food or something of that sort. Alongside him is his dog in a sweater and being calm as can be in a crowded dity street.

There are two ways that I feel dog owners can avoid the pitfalls of common behavioral issues.

Become very strict with your dog in the beginning and ease up as they gain your your confidence in them. The dog doesn’t want to be you equal. They want someone who will provide guidance for them. Stop trying to placate your dog and seeking their approval to like you.

Practical examples include

  • Dog is not allowed certain areas in house

    Dog can not pull me on walk

    Dog will work for food

    Take your dog places and socialize them. Many dogs only know your backyard so anytime you take them to other areas they act up because it seems so novel. When you go get their dog food from a pet store take them with you.

Places to take your dog

  • Pet store when you pic up their dog food or just to train

  • Friends house with a dog. You can have a play date

  • Walk on crowded streets if you can once you can get your dog’s attention

Hope that helps send any questions in the comments section or @ fraterniyk9@gmail.com

Choose the road less traveled: The lifestyle of a boxer and dog trainer

Many of you may not know but I am a student of the sweet science. I went to several boxing gyms before I found my home at eastern queens boxing gym. I trained hard and ended up with 2 amateur fights. Most people don't know the struggle.

The 2.5 hour workouts for 5 days a week( which is nothing crazy in the boxing world). This included the ab work. Punching until my arms were numb and then keep punching. Focusing on technique and strategy. Eating the blandest food known to man. Going to restaurants sucked because everything had salt or something else I cut out of my diet. I ran every morning.( I hate running!!! But then again what decent human being doesn’t). I would spar a bunch of rounds at least twice a week. I would also do mitt work too. It's like a part time job along with working another job and going to school. No going out drinking with friends( barely). Trying to sleep early because I had to get up the next day to train. But I loved it so I did it.

Dog training is similar in a way. It's very time consuming. It takes a lot of patience and techniques. I love the science behind both. I spend a lot of time working dogs and learning about them. I’ve spent countless hours reading books, watching what other trainers do, and even hiring a dog trainer to see what he would do in a given scenario. When it comes to working with dogs I do many short sessions (5 min max) and I do it frequently(6-8 times a day).

I’ve recently was introduced to the protection dog world after attending MIchael Ellis school in California. I have since came back to New York and have linked up with a guy who has championed a dog and been doing this for a long time. He is teaching me to become a certified decoy in French Ring. As soon as I put on the bulky suit I realized that I wasn’t in shape for this. It like the difference between being in shape and being in fight shape in the boxing world. I had to learn to get accustomed to running, jumping, and pivoting while the dog was coming at me from 25 feet away and being weighed down in the suit. I will add that it is pretty scary the first time a dog is running at you at full speed with full intent to bite you with all of their might. Even if you have the suit on you can still feel the bite. Its like someone took pliers and squeezed them on your leg with as much pressure as they could.

Some people even ask me why I do it because it seems painful. Others tell me I should go back to school and forget this dog training stuff. Some even say that I should go for something with a guaranteed paycheck. I even hear that I’m getting old. (HAHA). I don’t listen to none of it. I choose the road less traveled. I am determine to make my legacy. I challenge you to push past your comfort zone with me. To actually enjoy what you do. To dream and live how you want to live. This is why I do it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

The “WHY” behind your dog barking and lunging at people and other dogs

Reactivity is an issue that I see a lot of in dogs. I even have to constantly work with my own dog and hold him to a certain standard to deal with this issue. I used to wonder why my dog was so unpredictable with his lunging. The reality is he was NOT unpredictable. I just wasn’t paying attention to what he was telling me. He was letting me know that he was uncomfortable but I missed the signs.

These signs are known as cut off cues. A cut off cue or calming signals can be when

  • a dog looks away from the trigger,

  • starts sniffing the ground profusely

  • starts sniffing the air, etc.

  • lip licking

  • Freezing in place

  • yawning

    Cut off cues are important to a dog’s social repertoire. This is the dog’s way of saying I’m not in a social mood. When the dog is lunging or barking it is because somewhere in time they learned that got them what they wanted: SPACE. These are the 3 ways I see it.

  1. Dog is aggressive - wants the person or other dog to leave.

  2. Dog is fearful - wants to leave

  3. Dog is frustrated - combination of both

Without boring you guys with dog training terms, space is used as a functional reinforcer. To make things simple, look at it like this.

Dogs and humans learn to behave a certain way because it gets them what they want.

A dog barks at the mailman, then the mailman leaves and gives the dog what it wants: space. A boy acts out at school and his parents start to scold him or yell at him. He received what he wanted: attention. A woman nags and complains to her husband about getting her car fixed. He complies and she gets what she wants. These are all negative behaviors, but they achieved a goal.

Reasons why dogs stop using cut off cues

Dogs stop using cut off cues when they don’t work. When your dog is signaling a cut off cue like turning away and another dog attacks them, they learn that cut off cues dont work.

Another problem that a lot of people do is punish cut off cues.

Ex: You are walking your dog in the park and you see someone walking their dog. You stop and talk with them for a moment and want the two dogs to meet and sniff because you heard that its important to socialize your dog( your a right by the way). Your dog proceeds to start licking his lips and sniff the ground. Instead of rewarding that behavior and giving the dog space, you try to force your dog to interact with the other dog. This increases the social pressure and makes your dog not trust your judgment.

Another reason dogs won’t give cut off cues is because the dog is too stressed out. When I work with reactive dogs it is important to keep them under threshold. Threshold is the point before a dog explodes and charges at someone or something. In a stressful state a dog can’t think

. Are you afraid of heights? I dare you to climb Mount Everest and say the alphabet backwards. That is a difficult tasks because it is hard to think if you are too stressed out worrying about what will happen if you miss one step.

What we want to teach our dogs is that there are more appropriate ways to express themselves. We want to build their confidence in us to trust that we will handle the situation.

There are a bunch of drills I do that I wont get into here but that helps us earn that trust back. When our dogs are showing positive behavior that we want then we need to reward them. We need to let our dogs know that they did good.

Reactivity is a symptom of a greater problem in your dog. Don’t let it go unchecked or it will get worse. This is just the “why” your dog behaves like that. Be mindful that I have never seen your dog and your dog could be displaying predatory aggression, resource guarding, territorial aggression amongst others issues. We don’t have enough time to go down that rabbit hole but feel free to contact me if you have any issues.

If you guys have any specific questions you can comment or email me at Fraternityk9@gmail.com