Hi folks, over the next 10 weeks I will be compiling a Top Ten list of gadgets that are sold to desperate owners as the "magic wand" to solve problem behaviour. Each week I will explain why these gadgets do not work (Dog Listeners should always explain why).
Kicking off the countdown at Number 10 are "calming" drugs. The reason that they have been included is due to their recent rise as a "quick fix" for anxiety problems.
In recent times, some vet practices have started pumping a pheromone around their practices to temporarily placate their patients. This is not a bad idea, although I know of practices that use Amichien Bonding techniques when working with dogs that have noticed a marked improvement in relaxation (for both dog and vet!). Similarly, some dogs have such a bad reaction to thunderstorms that the owners need to almost knock out their panicking pooches. However, once again I know from experience that AB provokes a marked improvement, when coupled with the owner not reacting to the storm. This is tough as our natural desire is to reassure a stressed dog, but in reality that only makes things worse as the dog sees us making an issue of the event, reinforcing its belief that there is real cause for concern. Less is more is a good mantra. The Jan Fennell Fear Of Noise audio explains how and why.
The worst culprit for drug use is Separation Anxiety. Drugging a dog does nothing to change its mind about why it needs to panic in the first place. Any dog that believes itself responsible for the safety of its pack can freak out when its family members leave the den. No amount of sedation will stop it worrying, even if the dog becomes quieter on drugs.
The real answer to solving this very common problem is to convince the dog that it is not responsible for the pack. This is where AB comes into play. Not only is it far more effective, it is also free (remember that drug companies make a lot of money).
One final point - there are some vets and dog trainers who claim that a drugged dog is easier to train as it is more compliant. Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought that drinking alcohol does not lead to better driving...
Stay tuned for Number 9 next week.
25-04-13- SO, WE'RE NOT THE LATEST FAD THEN?
Hi folks, I am usually one to dwell on the positive, but there was one comment that I received recently, while online giving a live seminar with the Dogington Post, that has stayed with me.
It was great to help lots of people with their dogs as always, and the feedback was mainly very positive, except for one that said that Amichien Bonding "is based on old-fashioned ideas". That's an interesting point...
There was a joke I heard when I was a kid that I didn't understand for ages, and when I did, I realised that it was one of those "jokes" where the correct response is to snort through the nose in a "oh, that's clever but not really amusing" kind of way. It goes as follows:
Q. What was the tallest mountain in the world before Mt. Everest was discovered?
A. Mt. Everest!
I get it now, and it is completely relevant to AB. Canines have been communicating among themselves for over 5 million years. Man and canine have been together for at least 40,000 years (evidence of bones lying next to each other in a burial site date back this far). At that time, we were both similar creatures; both hunters, both mammals. In the more recent past, humans have changed their lives and created agriculture, industry, society, religion, politics, television, air travel... all leading up to the Kardashians. We have forgotten our true link to canines in this process, especially in the last 100 years.
Jan Fennell discovered the lost understanding that Man had about dogs in the last 20 years. It was there all the time in plain sight - just like Everest.
In a way, the person who criticised AB as being old-fashioned had it half right. AB is old - millions of years old. Communication in a common language has been around a long, long time.
Next time somebody says that modern thinking is moving away from the idea that dogs think like wolves and are no longer pack animals, ask them if in they have told the dogs this...
PS the audio file of my hour long seminar with The Dogington Post will soon be available to listen to. Keep an eye on the .'What's New' page.
PERSONAL SPACE AGAIN! 20-03-13
Hi folks, over 95% of dog bites happen because people go up to dogs without permission. Personal space is a key component in the way dogs communicate. We humans know this to be true as well - our own personal space is precious and sometimes if we feel it being invaded we can also react.
Some people (and some dogs) are very tolerant, but we all have our limits. Check out this clip and you'll see what I mean. Can you blame him?
11-03-13 Aggressive Husky?
Hi folks, this week is going to be very busy as I travel around the Australian state of Victoria giving talks to introduce more people to the world of Amichien Bonding and the Dog Listening process. Melbourne, Geelong, Torquay and Stawell are all on my list. Then it's off to Sweden for a sold out talk in Stockholm which will be a bit of a shock as I doubt that the current heat wave here in Oz will be matched in Europe...
On the subject of the weather here, the beach has been the place to be this last week (somebody has to do it). Only yesterday, yet another way in which people think like dogs was highlighted. Just what is the correct distance from other bathers that you should place your towel? It does depend on the number of fellow sun worshippers present I guess. One thing is for sure - if someone came along and set up right next to you, I bet you would feel a bit less comfortable.
So, while laid out a good 5 metres away from our neighbours, a group of kids with one father set up in the No-Man's Land between us. I was OK about it but I did notice. A minute later, another Dad arrived and asked his mate why he had chosen to stop there. "I thought you knew these people," he said looking at us. "Not yet," I replied. Obviously the first Dad didn't have the same personal space issue as the second.
This beach is also "dog-friendly". Every time I go there I see cases of some dogs invading the personal space of others, and in some cases they are told quite clearly to get lost. I did some filming last week in Melbourne for the TV show with a couple who have fostered a Husky that they believed was aggressive. Check out this footage they gave me and tell me what you think... (Hint - "Get Lost!").
Discretion is the Better Part of Valour-(Run for it!) 04-03-2013
When I was a teenager, I watched the horror film "The Thing" for the first time. I wouldn't recommend it. Not that it isn't good, but it scared the bejeezers out of me. I think it might be one of the reasons I don't like the winter...
Anyway, one scene in particular sticks in my mind. They are testing each member of the team to see who is the "creature", and the suspects are all tied to chairs next to each other while the testing goes on (don't worry, Kurt Russell had already tested himself and it wasn't him). There is the usual surprise when the guy they didn't suspect turned out to be the Thing. As he starts to turn into the horrible beastie, the others are still tied to their chairs right next to him (or "it" as it turned out). Understandably, they were not too happy about this, especially as they were restrained and had no way of either defending themselves or of getting away.
Why is it that people insist that dogs should be forced "face their fear? If a dog is afraid or even aggressive when it sees something it does not understand, there are owners who have been told to get their dogs to sit and wait it out. Some poor dogs are in too much of a panic to listen, and in extreme cases dogs have turned on their owners accidentally, such is their level of panic.
We teach people to take the walk one step at a time, being Happy & In Control from the very start, and once they feel that it is going well, they can progress (but not before). Then, if a dog gets upset by something, we advise to make no fuss and WALK AWAY from the problem. The first means of defence for all animals is to run away from the danger until it is far enough away not to be a danger any more. There is no point talking to a dog that is in a state of panic, so don't try. Once the dog feels safer by virtue of being at a greater distance from the "Thing", you can then remind it that it can trust you.
I can guarantee that given the opportunity, the guys in that Antarctic outpost would have run like crazy once their colleague's head had split open...
Cheers (and sweet dreams!), Tony.
PS This clip is NOT of The Thing... but it shows how the littlest thing can be scary too
26-02-13 The Difference Regular Feeding Makes
Hi folks, one thing I have heard from people who do not accept the fact that dogs are descended from wolves is that domestic dogs are less aggressive when around other dogs. Although there are a lot of dogs out there which are aggressive due to the panic they feel about protecting their pack from danger (AB shows you how to change that), some people point to dogs seemingly getting on with each other in off-leash parks etc.
Here's a question - have you ever been to an aquarium and noticed the sharks swimming around with other fish? Why isn't it that in no time at all, there are only sharks swimming about? After all, sharks swim and eat, right?
I once saw "fussy eating" sharks in an aquarium in Australia. They refused the fish that was offered to them by the diver. The guide went on to explain that if they didn't feed the sharks for a few days, they would not refuse. Similarly, in South Africa I went to a sanctuary and saw African Wild Dogs eating within eyesight of a pride of lions. Normally, neither would accept the presence of such a rival anywhere near them. Lions have been known to kill the dogs to remove a rival for food, and the dogs have even been known to eat lions. However, both groups were kept well fed so they tolerated each other at very close quarters.
I don't know about you, but if I start to get hungry I can not only lose focus, but occasionally my temper. I have to eat before I go grocery shopping or I lose patience quite quickly! Simply put, a full stomach can sometimes lead to a more peaceful outlook. Think how long it would take humans to revert back to our more primitive instincts if we did NOT know the next time we were going to eat.
More food for thought...
11-02-13 Aah, His Little Tail is Wagging..
Hi folks, here is a quick story that illustrated perfectly how some people completely miss their dog's attempt to communicate with them. At the weekend I met with some people who are currently implementing the Amichien Bonding process and wanted me to meet another one of their pack who was - in their eyes - a "perfect" dog.
This particular little bundle of fluff was a veteran and, during a conversation about food, it transpired that if they tried to take his bone from him while he was chewing on it (as they had been told to do in the past by a dog trainer) their little angel became a demon and would try to take their hands off.
I have mentioned before that dogs know the rules when food is at stake, and an important part is the whole "leave me alone while I am eating" rule. In Nature this is respected and if challenged, it can result in a ticking off. Humans understand this principle too - imagine if a waiter tried to take your dinner away while you were still eating! You might complain at least (or stab them with your fork?). In fact, I never like it when the waiter comes up to ask if I am enjoying my meal. I let them know when they can take my plate by putting the cutlery together, pushing my plate away and leaning back. The equivalent in Nature is to walk away.
This is why we advise people not to go up to a dog while it is eating. Those who say that you should be able to do this to show dominance do not understand the way dogs (and people) really think. If you have to for emergency reasons, understand the signal you are giving your dog and tread carefully.
Incidentally, the day before I met with a lady whose husband still thinks that you should be able to take the dog's food away. I asked her to see what happened if she did it to him next meal time... should be interesting.
PS Another misconception is that a wagging tail means a happy dog. I will leave you to decide how happy this dog is. ...
05-02-13 Common Sense Rearing it's Ugly Head!
it seems that my last post (see What's New page) with the free section from our Aggression eBook must have been heeded by those in high places. In Victoria, Australia (where I am still avoiding winter) the Supreme Court has recently overturned a court decision to kill a dog based on so-called Breed Specific Legislation. To be honest, it wasn't very hard to do.
According to a senior veterinarian who was asked to participate in the original trial, the criteria for assessing whether a dog was a "dangerous" breed had - and I quote - "loopholes so large you could drive a bus through them". The shape of the ears is even a part of the criteria. Apparently rose-shaped ears are an indication of a dog to be feared. As my vet colleague pointed out during the hearing, this was not easy to define.
The other problem was how this story was reported. I won't name the newspaper but the jist of it was that the Supreme Court has put everyone in mortal danger from attacks by rabid beasts. I wrote a letter to the newspaper giving some facts but surprisingly I heard nothing back. Funny...
As any person blessed with common sense will know, to blame an entire breed of dog (or race of people) for all the troubles in the world has been - and always be - incredibly short-sighted. I remember an ex-partner of mine stating that all Muslims should be kicked out of Britain. When I reminded her about our Muslim friend Moey and his family, the response was, "Oh, he can stay. He's OK" (Please note the status of "ex" partner).
Of course, as I have always said, governments and officials have to be seen to be doing something about the concerns that people might have about dangerous dogs, but as you will have read in the free extract, the dangerous part is expecting that other breeds of dogs will be perfect. Respecting the true nature of all dogs regardless of breed is the way forward.
It would be too easy, for example, for me to say that if there were breeds that we should take steps to eliminate, then maybe the lawyers and politicians responsible for this kind of legislation (and making a lot of money in the process) would be the obvious choice... but I won't say that.
Check out the link above which deviates from the norm!
23-01-13 FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Hi folks, the Research and Development part of me is busy at work here in Australia, finding ways to get the Amichien message out there to help as many people as we can. During a comedy gig of all things I met a guy called Phivo who runs a company called Augustine Approved, named after his adorable boxer. We were both there as guests of famous Aussie comic Dave O'Neil who has interviewed me twice on ABC radio in Melbourne (Dave and I were also both guest speakers at a big dog charity Gala Dinner a while ago).
Anyway, it turns out that Phivo's company makes natural nutritional supplements and foods for dogs. An exchange of info took place, the upshot of which is that now he is making huge progress in calming Augustine down when on the walk and I had access to some very interesting information about dog food.
We know that certain foods that we eat are better then others, and the same applies to dogs. This is obvious stuff but then again so is Amichien Bonding (that's one of the things I like about it). Here is a free report to give you - for want of a better phrase - FOOD FOR THOUGHT!
Hi folks, some of you will remember me talking about the Guilt Fairy - that mischievous imp that is responsible for making so many people give dogs the wrong signals at the most crucial times. Well, prepare yourself to meet her ugly cousin...The Exercise Troll.
I have recently had the displeasure of meeting the troll on my Facebook page tonydogzknight (if you haven't seen the postings then I urge you to check them out. The trolling went from the sublime to the ridiculous).
As it turns out, the trolling was all because I made a statement that I know to be true from years of working with dogs, as well as studying them and their cousins in the wild; namely that perhaps the biggest myth about dog training is that exercise solves problem behaviour. The troll raised its ugly head and, rather than entering into a debate about why this is the case, proceeded to throw insults - sometimes in a style that made me feel that it came from Dame Maggie Smith's character in Downtown Abbey.
Needless to say, the tirade does nothing to change my view. The main claim from the Exercise Troll is that dogs must be exercised regularly as we now have domesticated dogs and so now they cannot run wild like their ancestors and cousins. The evidence is all around in Nature to show that this is not true. Certainly, wolves are capable of covering large distances and the hunt is a lot of exercise, but they do what is optimum to survive. That is to say; they will only do the minimum to achieve what they want. When hunting they choose the easiest prey. Border patrolling is only done through necessity. The rest of the time they reserve their energy, with occasional playing and a lot of sleeping. People who have dogs in open spaces like farms know that their dogs spend a lot of time resting too. I could go on but you get the picture.
I have just read from a fellow Dog Listener about a dog they went to see who was walked 6-8 miles a day, but still had aggression issues. I went to see a lady in Belgium who used to run 9 km a day to try to calm down her hyperactive Doberman. Only one of them was exhausted afterwards. The other was a now fitter Doberman and even more hyperactive. If exercise was such a cure-all then prisons that have gymnasiums etc. would be turning out reformed characters every time.
The terrible thing is that the Exercise Troll will use the Guilt Fairy to get people out with their dogs at all times for huge distances even if neither want to or if the weather is not conducive. As I write this blog it is over 40C outside - far too hot to go out with Gypsy, the dog that I am fostering. She is currently resting on the cool tiles under the shade of the table. Smart girl... People who have breeds like Boxers know that their dogs can start to suffer when the temperature hits the 20C+ mark.
Don't get me wrong; I am not suggesting that it is wrong to exercise a dog. Mental and physical stimulation are great for both owner and dog when it is done correctly, but in so many cases this does not happen as the Exercise Troll exists in an awful lot of "experts" out there, despite the evidence all around them that tells them otherwise. To claim that exercise will solve issues like aggression, separation anxiety, non-stop barking etc. is wishful thinking as it has no relevance. We know that the key is to give good leadership signals when the dog needs it.
As I was reading the ever-increasingly bizarre comments from someone who really should know better given their qualifications (which she was at great pains to point out), I could not help but think of Galileo, and how he was received when he presented his evidence about Earth and the Solar System. Did they welcome him with open arms? Nope. They trolled him. quite severely too! However, whatever the opinions of the "experts" (who had reputations at stake do not forget so this was less to do with science and more to do with their ego) the Earth and the Solar System did not care. They simply were then what they are still. Nature does that sort of stuff...
As more and more people feel the liberation and sense of fulfilment after discovering the Dog Listening method, they sometimes find themselves open to criticism from - among others -the Exercise Troll. My message to you is to read the trolling I got on my Facebook page and know that you are not alone. You may also deduce who lost the argument by getting angry...
Happy New Year to everyone!
PS If you are ever trolled, simply click on the link below and sing along to the Troll song and you'll feel instantly better...
Hi folks, here's the latest update on Gypsy (the artist formerly known as V-Line after she was hit by a train in Geelong).
It is evident that she is feeling much better, thanks to being given time to recover. She is still limping quite heavily but that is to be expected seeing as her leg was badly broken! The vets at Newtown Surgery did a great job of fixing her though and her hair is growing back where she was shaved during the operation. Props to Jane and the gang!
Now she is starting to find her feet (literally on the tiles in the kitchen -it's like watching Bambi on the ice) she is starting to do what all dogs do - ask questions about her role in the pack. We have already had a "fussy eating" scenario which lasted one attempt after I took the food away. She has barked a few times at next door's dog and various birds that fly into the garden, but she responds well to being thanked.
Today though, she has been using the old "Simon Says" and throne rules to test me. She started throwing in some deviation and hesitation when I called her. Of course I walked away and tried again a minute or so later. When she realised this wasn't working she came... and stopped a few centimetres from me. Clever girl!
How many dogs use this subtle ploy to get their owners to move to them right at the end? If movement creates submission, dogs that succeed in getting their owners to move to them are using their rules to gain the upper hand. Smart, eh?
Of course, they are not doing this to make us look silly. Dogs need to know that there is a leader of the pack so they ask these questions to find out who it is. If we step up to the role of leader, they are relieved and can relax. If we don't...that's where the trouble starts.
Many people miss that it is the everyday stuff that leads to other problems once the dog has taken on the leadership role. Even things that seem innocent can have a serious consequence. Here's a great example:
Over Christmas you may find yourself watching TV (James Bond etc.). If you suddenly find yourself stroking your dog and you didn't call it to you...Gotcha! Dogs can be in your face and dogs can be so subtle I call them Stealth Dogs. You don't even realise that they've slipped under the radar. Why not make your New Year's Resolution to understand exactly why dogs do what they do )and more importantly what to do about it)? That's a resolution you can stick to...
Due to long-standing commitments in New Zealand, this will be my last blog before all the celebrations commence so; Merry Christmas (and all other related festivities) to everyone!
Easy Does It!
Meet Gypsy. She was found after being hit by a train near Geelong, Australia. Despite a broken jaw, fractured skull and badly smashed up leg, she lives to bark another day. Right now as I write this blog she is laying on a rug in the living room asleep (see picture). Her mouth is taped up so her jaw has time to heal although she can open her mouth enough to eat (nothing but pate for the time being) and she has to get used to walking around with a steel pin holding her leg together (it's lucky for her I am not one of those people who thinks a dog must be walked everyday!).
Despite her injuries, she is still a dog and has already started to ask canine questions to find out her place in the pack. She has already tried to get attention on her terms, and although the evil Guilt Fairy has been nagging I am being solid (plus she is getting fusses when she comes to me when I call her, although I have to be careful where I stroke her!).
It is a huge temptation to "make up" for whatever bad things might have happened to a dog, but in most cases less is most definitely more. Some rescued dogs need time to get used to their new environment without being overwhelmed with attention. This is unfortunately what often happens and leads to the "yoyo dog" effect, where dogs go back and forth between the rescue centre and the new home. The secret to success is to take your time with the affection and to slowly introduce the notion that the dog can trust you. Dogs that are given the job of leader through wrongly directed affection/attention do the best they can but often it ends in the dog being sent back due to it not being able to cope.
Right now I think the priority for Gypsy (a better name than the one she was given in the vets - Trainwreck) is to get healthy and have nothing to worry about. In any case, her actual owners might be looking for her... if they find her then they are going to get some advice though!
26-11-12 Personal Space
Hi folks, I have just been listening to a couple of guys on the radio talking about how annoying it is when your personal space is invaded. One of them found himself in an empty airport lounge only for one guy to walk up and sit right next to him, at which point he grumbled, "Anything erong with the other 400 seats in this room, mate?"
If he had been a dog, that would have been a growl. I always say that when a dog growls it is like that moment when your parents would say, "I'm going to count to three...". If you were anything like me, you would wait for the "Thr..." before complying (and we wonder why dogs will sometimes push the boundaries).
It seems so obvious that personal space is sacred when it comes to our own, yet it is amazing how some people do not when it comes to dogs. I was at a cafe recently trying to enjoy a coffee. I say "try" because there were two little chihuahuas tied outside and these poor little guys were hassled non-stop by people passing by. When one of them snapped at a man who bent down to pat it on the head, the owner told him, "My dog doesn't like men." Yeah, right.
Worse followed when a father holding his very young baby stopped and lowered his baby into the dogs' faces HEAD FIRST! At that point there was another incident as an Englishman started to choke on a mouthful of coffee...!
If those two guys on the radio were dogs, they would have been deemed as "aggressive" by some people. Fortunately Dog Listeners are winning the fight to get people to respect a dog's personal space and not to invade it without permission. Sometimes it seems like a long fight though!
By the way, I am not recommending spitting coffee at people - it was an accident I swear...
PS What's wrong with this picture?
Hi folks, this blog comes after what should have been an enjoyable Sunday stroll. The local beach where I am is "dog-friendly", meaning that dogs are allowed off leash. Sometimes this is far from friendly for the dogs concerned. Some dog owners let their dogs off together, believing that they will all get along like one big happy family (how many of us can claim that with our own families?).
The sight of dogs chasing off other dogs that come too close to them is all too common, but yesterday the trouble started before we even reached the sand. All of a sudden, from nowhere a terrified young Kelpie ran straight onto the road in front of the oncoming traffic. The poor thing was wide-eyed and panting in obvious panic, but its weaving into traffic was going to end in disaster. Fortunately help was at hand. One guy stopped in his car to try to catch the dog, then a couple out walking their dogs joined in the effort. We all pitched in together to slow the traffic down and try to get the dog under control.
When eventually one gentleman managed to stop it, we were joined by another dog in a similar state. Just as the idea came to take a shoelace off to make a temporary leash, a man arrived who said he knew the owner and that she was on the beach. Seeing the dog's state, he said, "She is nervous around people." I replied that the only reason we were holding onto her was to stop her running into the road again. Both dogs belonged to her by the way.
He said he would take the dogs back to her, so I said it would be a good idea for her not to get cross when they were reunited and freak the dog out even more.
"That's OK, she knows all about dogs" he replied...
It took all my self-control not to say something using more colourful language.
I always say to students on the Foundation Course that Amichien Bonding is a blessing and a curse. The great thing is that you can get your house in order and get the relationship that you all deserve. The down side is when you see other people out there... The problem is that they must come to this process themselves. We cannot force it onto people even though we know it is by far the best dog training method out there. When people are ready, they will listen. It doesn't make it easier sometimes when you see what else is going on, but I understand and appreciate any frustration.
On a positive note, on Friday I was a guest speaker at a Gala Dinner for Pets Haven, a very well-respected animal rescue foundation in Melbourne. I was in very illustrious company and I have received some great feedback. The best way to overcome frustration is to do something positive about it.
As my Physics teacher Mr. Fox told me when I was 12, "Illegitimi non carborundum".
It's Not Rocket Science, is it? 15/10/12
Hi folks, this weekend I had my public speaker hat on (a trilby at a jaunty angle) as I gave talks for two rescue organisations here in Victoria. As usual, once people find out about Amichien Bonding they love how it is so effective without hurting the dog. I also had a very encouraging meeting which could lead to a LOT more people being helped by AB. More about that in due course...
I also met up with one of our graduates who is currently involved in a government initiative to teach children how to act safely around dogs. She gave the presentation which was excellent, and it is good to see that there are official schemes to teach kids the right way to interact with dogs. During the courses in Brisbane last week I was told by a student who works in the A&E hospital department that of all the dog bite victims that come in, most are children, and most of them are girls.
Girls are far more "cuddly" than boys, and if they are not aware of the risk of invading a dog's personal space they are more likely to get bitten. It was also not a shock to learn that of those dog bites, 70% were committed by either Labradors or Golden Retrievers. This is only because we have a stereotypical image of these dogs as "perfect", when they are dogs just like all the other breeds. Some personalities will tell others off is they feel their space is being invaded.
Once we respect all dogs (and teach everyone the right way to interact with them) we can avoid the vast majority of dog bites. It's not rocket science...
Tony's Blog 26-09.12
yours truly reporting live from Down Under once more. I've been doing more radio segments this week - in Perth and in Melbourne - which have been really well received. CLICK HERE to listen to the one I did with Eoin Cameron on ABC Perth.
I have recently noticed a Facebook campaign that asks for owners of dogs who might become aggressive to wear a yellow ribbon on their leash to notify people not to approach them. This is a great idea and I am going to do the same with my dogs. Before anyone thinks that I have aggressive dogs (if you met Pru & Kez you would also be confused by this notion) let me explain;
People who train guide dogs often find their training sessions are interrupted by people insisting on coming up and fussing the cute doggie, even if they are wearing highly visible signs asking for the dogs to be left alone. However if people see a dog wearing a muzzle they leave them alone. I have said before that if Guide Dogs wore muzzles they would work as a really good Human Repellent, but I prefer the idea of a little yellow ribbon.
Remember that over 95% of dog bites occur because people invade a dog's personal space without permission. This often happens with the family dog too. Dogs have rules about personal space i.e. respect it! Otherwise the offender might get told off. If someone goes up to a cat and gets scratched, they don't claim that the cat is a vicious creature that cannot be trusted and should be killed. It is a good idea to give dogs that same respect, don't you think?
Speaking of yellow ribbons... God Bless the 70s!
Yes I am back in Australia once more, and yesterday I joined the rank and file of people outside the Melbourne Parliament Building to call for Oscar's Law - a campaign to close puppy farms. The sooner these awful places are shut, the better. I was discussing with the Oscar's Law organisers, a really great way to turn people away from disreputable breeders is to turn people towards taking on a rescue dog. There has already been a great deal of interest in our new audio-book especially for new rescue dog owners (we are even in the process of translating it into Spanish - gracias Elsa!) and I will be starting my World Tour of rescue centres next month in Australia before moving to France and UK. For more details of dates and how you can get the audio for your rescue centre contact us at the office.
Australia is a nation that is heavily into sport, so the subject of the recent Olympics was brought up (partly by me!). The notion of "British" athletes was discussed, including the habit we have in the UK (N.B. technically we should have been called Team UK and not GB - there were athletes from Northern Ireland in the team, right?!) of claiming people as British once they win. The name Andy Murray was included in this - for so long the unlucky "Scotsman", now he is a ""British" champion. Fellow Scot Sean Connery was not happy about this and got all tribal about it...
Humans are pack animals by nature - which explains why over a million people lined the streets of London last week to cheer the medal winners... and why I earlier referred to Team GB as "we"- and when it suits us, we will form temporary alliances. You'll never guess what animal does that too...
When in Yellowstone last, we witnessed two seemingly different packs of 3 wolves get together over a kill. At first we feared a fight, but they immediately settled down and ate together. It turned out that they were all members of the same pack who had separated 6 months before. The next day we found the six of them together still. It suited them to do so at that moment...
I've said it once and I'll say it again - If it is that easy to prove that humans think like wolves, it is no stretch of the imagination to realise that their direct relatives think that way too. Once we respect and understand the true nature of dogs, we can really make dramatic improvements in our relationship with dogs.
By the way, Australians will "adopt" successful New Zealanders as their own too (Russell Crowe). The words "pot" and "kettle" spring to mind...
PS Below you'll find possibly my favourite joke about Scottishness, by a Scottish comedian (so that makes it OK) . My own tribal, territorial side also makes itself known from time to time...
Why do I leave the radio on when I go out and leave my dogs behind? This question is brought to you after I saw a company who broadcasts a TV station just for dogs so owners can leave it on while they are away. The company, based in California, says that it helps dogs with anxiety issues. Rumours that there are shows such as "The Kardaschunds" and "Corgi Shore" are purely invented by yours truly (the second one took a while to think of).
I actually think this a good idea, but not in the way it was intended. Human emotions often get in the way of correctly living with dogs, and our unending capacity to humanise dogs is matched only by our feeling of GUILT. This is why I leave the radio on (I make sure it is music I like, of course. No rubbish for my dogs). It helps me deal with that annoying little voice in my head that makes me feel bad for "abandoning" them. The Dog television station could be a good way of helping people deal with their guilt (which is responsible for other problems that we have with dogs).
However, having a TV on for your dog showing other dogs is not necessarily the best stimulation... Exhibit "A" M'lud.
Here's a great tool for helping with anxiety problems: when you come home, master your GUILT and delay greeting your dog until you have changed channel for something you want to watch. Then once your dog has left you alone, call it to you and have a good old fuss. Dogs get anxious when they can't find their babies (humanising I know but "subordinate pack members" has less of a ring to it). If you can show leadership qualities then you can come and go as you please as you are seen as the decision maker.
This instalment is inspired by a visit to an African reserve I visited in the South of France last week - a week which saw temperatures up in the high 30s (for those of you who work in "old money" -and our American friends- that's in the 90s). I went with a definite goal in mind; to film animals doing what comes naturally. A lot of people who were there were disappointed in the behaviour of certain animals, such as the lions and cheetahs, but that behaviour was exactly what I was looking for and I managed to capture it, even if it was a little far away in some cases (having said that I though it was prudent not to get out of the car to get closer - I'm not daft).
Check out the link to the film below, Nature Vs. Exercise, to see what that behaviour was (apologies if it seems this film is brought to you by ISBO (Institute of Stating the Bleeding Obvious).
What was interesting to note was that after walking around in the scorching sun for an hour (looking at animals who were lying down in the shade), we all sat under a tree and had a siesta. Funny that...
A couple of years ago, a French friend of mine who was studying English at college wanted to learn some set phrases involving animals to impress the examiner (we did a cultural exchange; I learnt for example that in French when you stand someone up you "place a rabbit") Among the MANY phrases I gave him was the saying, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks". This notion (or maybe excuse) was one of the subjects of my latest radio segment with Eoin Cameron on ABC Perth. Click on the link below to listen to our discussion on the subject of older dogs .
By the way, my French pal has learnt more English watching "How I Met Your Mother" than in all the years spent at school. He is now the French Barney Stinson.
Legen..... attendez.... daire!
How many people out there are convinced that they have a Devil Dog and an Angel Dog? I came across this phenomenon once more last week while visiting a dog rescue centre in the south of France. I was invited by the owners who have been thrilled with the breakthroughs they are making after meeting me a few weeks ago and implementing Amichien Bonding in their kennels, so it was a privilege to go there and see how they are doing.
It was great to see how the dogs reacted so well to the new, calmer approach by the workers there. Of course I got a lot more questions put to me too, in particular about an impressive male Golden Retriever who was - according to the staff - very protective of his kennel mate; a cute, multi-pedigree bundle of fluff.
Many times I have met people who have told me that they have two dogs - one is the Devil, the other one an Angel. It has always been my experience that in reality the "Angel" is really the one in charge. I call them Stealth Dogs - they quietly do things under the radar that the owner does not even notice what they are doing. The "Devil" is far more obvious in its behaviour and gets tarred with the diabolical brush.
This was exactly what was happening with the fluffball and the Retriever. She would quietly woof which set him off barking, and his big booming bark got attention. Clever girl... Whenever I hear the Devil and Angel monikers, I always give this advice... Watch out for the Angel!
The clip below, from Asia, is a great example of Stealth technology in action...
Hi folks, just back from a weekend with friends in Lyon, France. We all went into the city to watch the Bastille Day firework display, which commemorates the start of the French Revolution. The people had decided that the King had to go, and the French Republic was formed. However in a matter of a few years they found themselves with an Emperor!
A similar thing happened in England after the execution of Charles I and the establishment of an English republic. Eleven years later Charles II was put on the throne and the monarchy were once more back in place!
Nature hates a vaccuum, and pack animals need to know there is a leader and are uncomfortable with a void. Humans are no different to wolves in this respect (as well as many others). Think of times when there has been doubt as to the identity of the winner of an election and you will remember the feeling of insecurity. After the 2000 US Presidential Election, Bill Clinton famously said, "The American people have spoken. We just don't know what they have said yet..."
Check out the audio clip below of my most recent radio interview for ABC Perth Australia, where the subject of good leadership is discussed when walking the dog.
Some of you may have seen a rather unusual posting on my tonydogzknight Facebook page recently. This morning, when I logged on, I was greeted by a suspect post designed to grab my attention. I quickly took it down and blocked future postings from the person in question.
It actually made me think about how attention seeking is not just the domain of dogs. Also, that there are many ways to try and attract attention. Dogs can be in your face, or extremely subtle, but if whatever they do results in them getting attention it gives them the idea that they are higher than their owners in the pecking order.
I remember visiting a client whose dog would bite her regularly, and she did not know why. I asked her to pay no initial attention to her dog, who was leaping and jumping around her to get her attention. A few times she had to physically block the dog, but there was no aggression from either side. After a few minutes the dog got the message and went to its bed. A short while later, after having thought about this new situation, the dog came to her again. Without remembering my advice, she told the dog (thereby responding by communicating) to go away, at which point SNAP! The dog gave her a nip. The owner then told me that was usually when she got bitten.
There are some dogs out there who will enforce the rules that they understand to any member of their pack who seem not get the message. Attention seeking on the terms of the dog should not work (if you decide to interact with your dog, that is completely different). The dog is testing you to see if you will fall for it, and many of us do, all the time.
Back in the human world, needless to say, the previously mentioned post on my page did not achieve the desired result!
Cake Anyone? 27-06-2012
I stumbled across a podcast on iTunes while checking to see if our new Aggression download is online yet. It comes from America, and in it the dog trainer who created it gives a really good insight into the book "The Dog Listener".
There are two things that stand out particularly - she identifies that Amichien® Bonding works really well in conjunction with other training methods (in this case with clicker training). I always say that obedience, clicker training, flyball, agility etc. are all fine. They are icing on the cake. Amichien Bonding is the cake. Once you get the foundation of trust sorted out, anything you do on top of it has a stable footing to work from.
In this way we have successfully helped guide dogs, police dogs, dogs for the disabled and even Customs sniffer dogs. All this training is a lot of icing!
Secondly, Tara the dog trainer mentions that one major criticism of Amichien® Bonding is that it is not scientific enough. Don't get me wrong - we could have used lots of technical words to describe the process, but we thought it would be much better to explain the method in a way that makes sense to us all. I prefer straight talking any day to fluff. We have been lucky enough to work with biologists studying wolves in Yellowstone, and in my own time as a Dog Listener I have gotten "up close and personal" with dingoes in Australia, Wild Hunting Dog in South Africa and in one instance with a coyote in the Joshua Tree Park in California.
What I love to see is the huge amount of similarities between these animals and their domesticated relatives. What I love even more is the ability to translate this into a method that helps people sort out their dog's behaviour problems. It would be too easy to baffle with bullsh*t to make me feel special, but that's not really the point of being a Dog Listener.
Chek out the podcast and feel free to let me know what you think about this critique of "The Dog Listener" (it's number 40 on the page)
PS If you find our “Aggression” download let me know - I can't find it anywhere!
19-06-2012 Respect a Predator's Nature!
I am writing this blog after a quick walk with my dogs. As we made our way along the path, we disturbed a cat that ran full pelt away from us. Pru immediately gave chase. I carried on walking and sure enough she came back as soon as she realised that she had no support.
Some people's initial reaction when their dog does this is to run after them, but I know that a pack animal is more likely to continue if it believes it has other pack members to back it up and who are also following in "the chase”. Also, the instinct for "safety in numbers" is a strong pull. You cannot take the hunting instinct out of the dog, but you can show them that you are the one to ultimately make the decisions.
Besides, Pru is quicker than me!
This event coincides with the news I read this week about the zookeeper in Sweden who was killed by a pack of wolves with which she was completely familiar, having helped to raise them. Details are not clear as to how it happened, but it reminded me of the story of Timothy Treadwell, the man who spent 13 years interacting with bears in Alaska, before being eaten by one. When I give Aggression Workshops, I point out that the vast majority of dog bites come from the family dog, who is completely familiar with the victim.
Taking risks with Nature is done at our peril. We should always respect it and work with, not against it. For example, what do you do with an anti-social swan? Check out the clip below! (For those of you who are not British, "ASBO" stands for "Anti Social Behaviour Order").
Hi folks, the last few days have been hectic but very productive. I have received some great feedback from students who attended the Foundation Course last weekend in Geelong so thanks to those who have put cyberpen to cyberpaper.
I have also just come back from a meeting with Geelong Animal Welfare Society about giving a talk to raise funds and awareness of the wonderful world of rescue dogs. That will be taking place on 23rd September 2012 and it looks like there will be a lot of publicity, including the backing of the reigning champion football team the Geelong Cats (I am impressed) as well as an actress from Home and Away (not so impressed - I am more a Neighbours person. God Bless Mrs. Mangle!).
The main message I want to give people is that a rescue dog is actually a much better alternative than buying a dog from a pet shop (which you can still do in Australia) or via a dubious advert in the newspaper. In most cases, you risk buying a puppy from a puppy factory. Not only are these establishments severely lacking in the animal welfare department, but the pups they produce can actually cost a fortune at the vets as time goes by, due to various health problems caused by irresponsible in-breeding.
I remember being told about such a "breeder" of German Shepherds in Lincolnshire who once appeared on the doorstep of a potential customer at midnight with two pups in his hands. He told the poor victim to choose one as he was going to have them both put down otherwise. Nice... and this guy was a former police officer. You would expect better.
Rescue dogs are simply dogs that have either been let down by somebody else, or they have been surrendered as an alternative to having them killed (some people have unforeseen changes of circumstance). Once we can educate people away from the ill-informed stigma of rescue dogs, we will be able to find many more good homes for these perfectly good dogs. Thanks to teaching new owners about Amichien® Bonding, the success rate of rehoming goes up dramatically too. Winner, winner, chicken dinner...
There are more rescue talks in the pipeline, so if anyone reading this is involved in a rescue organisation then feel free to contact us about giving you the same help that we are giving in Australia.
PS Here are the Muppets messing around with the old-fashioned and out-dated song "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". I love the third dog's way of leaving the stage!
Hi folks, before you panic, this is not an advert for one of those courses designed to turn us all irresistible in the eyes of the opposite sex us, although I do know some good lines involving naming the Seven Dwarves. Legen... wait for it.... dary!
I was invited to be a guest judge at an event called the Million Paws Walk in Geelong not so long ago. It took all my expertise and experience to correctly detect which dog had the waggiest tail and most resembled its owner (the winner of that one had a poodle and a perm-no contest!).
While I was there I took my camcorder to see how all these dogs reacted amongst their fellow canines and also because I had a good idea that I would see a fair amount of pulling on the lead. I wanted to see if - as one of the most senior members of the RSPCA in Melbourne claimed in an interview on the same day - dogs on harnesses did not pull.
I am not suggesting that the gentleman in question's opinion was of little worth, but the link below shows a snippet of what I saw. Judge for yourselves.
As you will see, I turned it into a sports-type commentary (in keeping with the sports-related stuff that is everywhere right now, thanks to the London Olympics).
Hi folks, things are busy right now, what with radio and newspaper interviews, running the first Dog Aggression Workshops in Australia (more to follow in Europe and America after some great feedback Down Under). I even had my first ever request to be a judge at the Australian RSPCA Million Paws Walk held last Sunday. One of the categories was for “Smallest Dog”. I gave second place to a dog dressed as a bee. Trying to pass off as an insect took some thought, I figured.
It was great to be invited to be a part of such a major national event, but as a Dog Listener my attention was naturally drawn to how well (or not so well) the hundreds of dogs got along with each other. There was one Bulldog in particular who had real personal space issues, and one poor Dalmatian ended up with it hanging from her lip as she got too close for comfort. We all have a personal space, and some of us are more sensitive than others.
However, this can be compounded if the dog believes itself to be the leader of the pack, making decisions and protecting its charges from all these other potential threats. There were a few skirmishes during the day, often with the dogs getting a telling-off (and sometimes a smack) when they were only trying to do their job as they saw it.
There is one tell-tale sign that dogs think they are the leaders, and sooooo many dogs were doing it all around me. When you see a dog dragging its owner along, you can be sure that the dog is making a decision. “I have decided that we will go THIS way!!” I filmed countless culprits; at least half of them on harnesses designed to stop the pulling. WRONG – Thank You For Playing!!! Keep an eye out for that film once I have put it together.
I talked to one owner whose terrier (harnessed) was barrelling along, taking the owners along in its wake, as it were. After doing a little bit of Stop Start Change Direction, the dog was already much better.
Every time you change direction, you make a decision. Keep doing that at first and the dog sees that you are proving yourself as a decision maker, and someone to be trusted should it come face to face with a potential threat…. Or even threats with a million paws…
If you haven’t already checked out the film from one of our Dog Listeners, Nigel (we’re only making plans for him), then look now at the clip below and see how to take the lead when… well when you take the lead.
Stress Free Happy Dogs lead to Stress Free Happy Owners….
Hi folks, I am back in England for a week, culminating in a Foundation Course in Essex this weekend before heading off to Australia where I will (among other things) be meeting with pet supply stores, running Aggression Workshops, appearing on the airwaves and generally making sure Dog Listening is even more firmly anchored in the Great Southern Land Down Under (mixing my Icehouse with my Men At Work there…)
Of course, in order to get back to England from France, both Kez and Pru had to once more visit the vets the day before to be checked over. They have relaxed the rules a little now so they do not need to have a tick treatment now. I think the irritation was more on the part of the UK government towards their European brethren and they could not justify it anymore.
Anyway, once more the fine health of my two mutts was commented upon by the vet, especially when you realise their ages (12 & 10). Only their grey faces give away that fact, although it makes them look more distinguished as I have said many times.
The vet asked how much exercise I gave them, to which I replied that they hardly ever got walked. As a Dog Listener, I already know that exercise is not the solution to behavioural issues, but a comment made by one of my Facebook friends about this reminded me of another factor that is not to be under-estimated:
“The biochemical changes that pressure and stress create make people far sicker than lack of exercise, I'm sure its the same with dogs... (From what I know having done a lot of work on the Buteyko method for reversing chronic illness in people, myself being my first experience) It would be interesting to see if dogs who are cared for using Amichien® Bonding are generally less prone to chronic illness. I feel that it must definitely make a difference.”
In the past, I have dealt with many dogs that seem to have medical problems at first. Some vets have examined them and found nothing wrong physically, which is where we come in. I remember a dog that was losing its fur at an alarming rate whose hair started to re-grow less than a week into the new regime of Amichien Bonding.
The one case that really springs to mind was a client I saw who was actually on tablets for high blood pressure. She also had two unruly Great Danes (which one would notice more than if they had two Pekingese I imagine). After several back-up calls (once I thought it was a fax machine that had called by accident because of the pitch of her voice), I received a call from a woman with a voice that Holly Hunter would have been proud of (I know I was not the only one to find Mrs. Incredible attractive in the animated film because of Ms. Hunter’s vocal talents). It turned out that it was the same woman with the Great Danes. Her dogs had finally accepted her as leader and had calmed right down. In turn, so had she, to the extent that she was no longer on the tablets. Stress Free Happy Dogs lead to Stress Free Happy Owners….
PS An occasional massage can be helpful too, check out the clip below...
Hi folks, I am back from a fantastic weekend teaching the Amichien® Bonding process in Sweden. As usual, lots of pennies were dropping in people’s heads as they finally understood what their dogs have been trying to tell them all this time.
One of the best things about this work is that I get to meet so many interesting people. On the flight back though I met a particularly fascinating individual, and it was the knowledge of language that started the whole process.
As I arrived at my seat, I saw that I was going to be sat next to a young man who looked about 18. I found out later that he was 15… he was big for his age! He asked the stewardess if she spoke Dutch (she did not) and then asked if he could swap seats as he was tall (either that or he thought I smelt bad…). He couldn’t, and when the stewardess asked if he wanted to put his plastic bag in the overhead compartment to create more room for him, he opened it up to reveal a LOT of prescription medication. I decided to have a snooze, but was woken up by the food coming around (I have an uncanny knack of waking up at that moment).
I unwrapped my sandwich and the young lad offered a bag for me to put the plastic wrapper. Knowing he was Dutch I said “dankjewel”. That was the start. I told him I only knew a little Dutch, and very quickly he asked what I did for a living. Sometimes, when I don’t want to talk about dogs I pretend I am an accountant, but this time I told him. He asked me if I was like Cesar Millan, so I replied that I was different as we do not believe that dominance and force are necessary to change a dog’s mind.
“I’ve seen his show,” the young man said. “I think he’s a bully. I don’t like bullies. One time at school when I was 13, there was a bully who everybody was afraid of. I saw him hit a girl, so I grabbed him by the shirt, threw him against a wall and told him that if he ever did that again I would rip his head off his shoulders. All the other kids then stood behind me and laughed at him”.
Nobody likes a bully. Bullies inevitably will meet someone who will take them on, and whenever that happens – even if violence is used – nobody is upset if the bully gets hurt. Whether it is in the school playground or in a country like Syria where people are dying at the hands of a leader who has lost authority over his people, once the bully is defeated there is a sense of relief, and the one who finally confronts the bully is seen as a hero.
However, when a dog defends itself, it is seen as “aggressive” and in many cases killed. That makes no sense. I have watched Cesar a few times, and maybe it is coincidence but every time I watch, he gets bitten. Maybe that is why they advise not to try his methods at home… What we teach can be done at the owner's home in complete safety, and shows the dog the kind of leadership that we all want – calm confidence and the ability to convince the dog that it can TRUST us.
The boy in the clip below became an overnight star after he finally stood up to his bully. He even got to go on-stage with Justin Bieber during one of his concerts (I am not sure if this is a reward though…)
Yep, yours truly is back in France and I have just finished final preparations for the very first French Foundation Course to take place in France which starts tomorrow. Off to brush up my conversation skills this evening at the bar (where I will have one or two “pastis”, MAXIMUM...).
As you are probably well aware, I always like to show the true relationship between Man and Dog, which often means demonstrating that we in fact think like dogs, rather than the other way around. This is one of the biggest obstacles to getting Amichien® Bonding out there into the masses, even though the proof is all around us.
This blog is a cinch, thanks to the British government (the government that NOBODY is happy with - not even themselves). After a union meeting of petrol tanker drivers voted in favour of POSSIBLE strike action, the Government stepped in to reassure the British people that there was nothing to worry about. However they did advise to be prepared. More importantly, the message came telling worried Brits "not to panic buy petrol." By the way, don't think about a blue tree right now...
You will never guess what happened next.
An 170% rise in fuel purchases, prices going up and petrol stations running out as a result. Whodathunkit?
Here comes the "dogification" of humans for this week, brought to you by the UK ConDem government. We like to think that we are different from other animals. After all, we have art, literature, philosophy, society etc. Yet it takes just one little doubt as to where the next supply of a vital requirement of our lives for that to all go out of the window. If you still don't quite get that, take a trip to your local supermarket just before a major holiday and see how many people are stockpiling all they can (after all, the shops will be shut for at least a day!).
There is only one animal on the planet that think it knows the next time it is going to eat. That can change in a heartbeat.
Suddenly, it is dog eat dog... so to speak.
PS Speaking of Dog Eat Dog... here is the Antman himself. I have fond memories of going to the local youth club dance dressed as Mr. Ant Esq., complete with make-up, several belts and my Mum's riding boots. I was a Dandy Highwayman.....er, wasn't I?
…Hi folks, I have recently put one of the key principles of Amichien® Bonding to great use... while skiing of all things! By the way, skiing is also known as "Death by a Thousand Bruises"...
I had only had minimal experience on an indoor slope prior to heading off to Italy for a week of falling down mountains for "pleasure" but all the time I kept in my head the idea of being Happy & In Control, figuring that if I spent lots of time working on the controls at first, I would eventually make some real progress without breaking limbs (my own or other peoples). Therefore I did lots of Stop Start Change Direction, (sometimes unintentionally) starting on the easier blue slopes.
Sure enough, slowly, sometimes VERY slowly but surely I made progress. In fact, the last footage you can see of me negotiating the 2006 Olympic Downhill run (look at me ma!) was on Day 4 of my trip.
As a Dog Listener, I like to practice what I preach, so I can happily report that as a result of using patience and getting the controls in place before getting my feet wet, the only breakage suffered was the loss of a novelty “snowglobe” in my luggage. Baggage handlers do not know the meaning of the word "careful" it seems. I would hate to go out to a bar with a load of them - can you imagine how they would give you your drink?
I have been back on the road again these last few days, getting back to my roots (zipping up my boots etc.). Two consultations in two days - excellent. Firstly, helping a family get to grips with a pointer that had aggression issues regarding its fellow pack members. It was a usual case of a nervous dog in over its head, and panicking quite badly. The owners were great and saw a lot of changes in the dogs while I was there. The only barrier to success could be the wife's "what if?" worries, but the dogs showed a lot of positive reactions and of course I will be there to support. Love this job!
The second one was a greyhound who did not like to move! Well, it would stop dead when it felt like it and rush past the owner on other occasions. Plus, it had her up all hours of the night. She was really being given the run around. The next few nights will need some steely determination, but the knowledge and backup will help her to prevail.
It was during this consultation that the owner mentioned a TV documentary about the story of “the dog”, which culminated in an "expert" stating that the idea that a dog is a pack animal has been moved away from. Interesting... I hope they told the dogs that. The fact is that even people think like canines. We are tribal (pack) animals with an acute sense of territory. Neighbours have fought sometimes to the death over boundary issues. Gaza strip, West Bank, Northern Ireland, these are just a few well known examples.
As for being pack animals, if we did not have the same instinct then there would be no interest in sports. No city would have a football team, no country would enter their athletes into a major competition under their flag and there would be no chanting on the ground. During the last Ashes cricket series between England and Australia, the English "Barmy Army" were taunting the Aussies with (to the tune of Yellow Submarine) "Your next Queen is Camila Parker-Bowles...". It's a shame they didn't see the irony of this; after all, she will be their next Queen too (and the English pay for the privilege!).
If it is that easy to prove that humans think like wild canines, it is no stretch of the imagination to say that dogs do too. This idea has caused criticism from some sections of the scientific community and they have banded together to attack us. A bit like a pack, you could say...
I'm a stinker, aren't I? :)
PS Have a look at the clip below, conclusive proof that humans operate like pack animals... well you get the idea.
This week I have unearthed an intriguing clip that shows how the subject of food can be confusing. I have on occasion met dogs who eat better than I do. I don't get roast chicken, steak or poached salmon on a regular basis, yet I have been asked to help with dogs who turn their noses up at this fine fare, only to later raid the trash. Once, I met a dog who got lobster!
When a dog refuses food, we humans tend to think that it must mean the dog does not like that particular brand of food, and after trying all the others out there (at ever increasing cost), they turn to the food that they like, hence the lobster diet.
Some dogs can use food as a way of finding out their position in the pack, and at other times they simply may not be hungry. We feed them more regularly than they would if left in the wild (this explains how we can see sharks in the same aquarium as all the other fish) and if a dog misses one feed, we often feel guilty or think there is a medical problem. Too often, this results in the food bowl being left down all the time. The dog can then use this to prove a point over and over again. Some dogs will actually choose to eat their dinner only when the owners are in the same room, just so everybody gets the message... Get the concept of food right, and we can ditch the guilt.
It is maybe also worth noting in this clip that the girls are blindfolded, and the men are not. Males and females are different and react in different ways. Funny how there is only one animal on the entire planet that is led to believe that there is a battle of the sexes, rather than accepting the fact that we are different in order for the species to survive. Ah Society, thy name is Denial.
Hi folks, this is my last blog from the Land Down Under for the moment, and I leave Australia in a state of flux (the country, not me - I had a great time and got to help even more dog owners). The biggest news at the moment over here is the continuing power struggle between the current Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and her Foreign Minister, Kevin Rudd. Just to get everyone up to speed, K-Rudd was the leader until he was deposed by Ms. Gillard a while ago. The longer this goes on, the more Aussies are feeling uncertain about the leadership of their country.
Guess what? This is classic pack behaviour. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the case of canines and humans, this includes the need to know who is in charge. The situation in Oz right now means that this position is far from certain, and after talking to many people here, they just want it to be sorted sooner rather than later. The longer it goes on, the more insecure they feel. If Kevin and Julia do not sort this out, they may find the backlash leads to them both being out of a job.
Dogs - like people - need to know who is the one they can trust, and if they don't see that kind of behaviour from those around them, they can take on the responsibility themselves. Of course, the problem for a dog is that they find themselves in our world - a world they do not understand (no matter how much we may pretend that they do). Even when we can convince our dogs that they can trust us with the job of pack leader, we shouldn't be surprised if they ask for reassurance from time to time. Call it "Election Time" maybe... It's best to show the kind of calm leadership that promotes confidence.
PS Sometimes when politicians lose their cool, it can be funny. The egg thrower did not see this one coming. Give 'em hell, John!
Hi folks, I am full of the spirit of love and stuff, as 14th February can mean only one very special thing... my dog Kez celebrates his birthday.
This week sees my old Kezziwezz turn 12. As I may have mentioned before, his personality and that of his daughter Pru are perfectly mirrored in their birthdays. Kez was born on St. Valentine's Day, and he loves everyone. Happiness is cuddle-shaped for the Kezmiester. Pru..... she was born on Hallowe'en. That's all I am saying...
I have just recorded an interview with one of our Dog Listeners who is also an Obedience judge and instructor. It is a great interview which sheds light on the huge difference those dogs who, thanks to Amichien Bonding, are relaxed and happy while performing the various tasks, and those who are not due to a lack of good leadership. I originally filmed it as part of an introduction to our new eBook on Dog Anxiety, but it quickly became apparent that what she had to say was of value in a different way. I just need to marry the video and audio together and upload the film, then I will send out the link :)
The point is that (as I often say), as long as there is no negativity in the training, things like obedience, agility, flyball, dog-showing etc. are cool and often fun (as they should be for dog and owner). They are icing on the cake... but you need a cake underneath to support it.
Amichien® Bonding is the cake: When the dog trusts its owner’s ability to make the everyday decisions, it is far more relaexed when asked to perform certain functions or indeed be the centre of attention. Hundreds of pairs of eyes staring at them can be traumatic (how many people don't like that kind of attention?), but knowing that the leader is OK with it helps a great deal.
While you are waiting for me to get my act together with the link to the interview, here is a little something to make you smile... (I would like to point out here that I am not responsible for the music!)
I don't know if you caught the unusual way some people celebrated Australia Day this year, but it ended up with their Prime Minister being bundled into her car, minus one shoe and hitting her head on the car door as she escaped an angry mob. Her bodyguard did his job well, but Miss Gillard may have a couple of bumps and bruises as a result of his actions.
A panic reaction is very rarely done in a cool, level-headed manner. My dad once hit me so hard that I flew back into a brick wall. However, I was about to blindly run out into traffic at the time and I did get an ice cream afterwards (it helped the swelling on my eye to go down).
Dogs can sometimes nip their owners when in such a panic, whether it is while there is a perceived danger, or they think the owner is going to leave the house (some dogs will grab the owner in an attempt to keep them there). Advice to try and communicate with, or get the dog to sit while it is in this state, or even tell the dog off nearly always falls on deaf ears...
The reason why a dog panics is two-fold - it does not understand our world AND it believes it is the one responsible for our safety. While we cannot change the former, we can totally change the latter by demonstrating good leadership, and not just at times when they are panicking (when the best thing to do is firstly be calm and not to try to get the dog's attention). Once the initial adrenalin levels have dropped enough for the dog to calm down, then it is possible to interact with them. Of course, getting the dogs to believe in your ability as the decision maker in the pack helps enormously too. That's what we help people to do.
To see what the sudden adrenalin rush does to a nervous system, check out the clip below.
I have been asked by quite a few people about what the difference is between a dog trainer, dog whisperer and Dog Listener. Others are confused as to the difference between those who call themselves Dog Listeners and the real thing (unsurprisingly there are quite a few who have jumped on the bandwagon, offering all sorts of dodgy doggie advice and "magic wand" gadgets that are a waste of time and money). In order to answer this properly, I think it useful to talk about something that happened to my sister recently.
Ellie had heard that there was somebody near where she lives who was calling herself a "Dog Listener", yet had been banned from owning dogs for neglect and cruelty. Naturally, Ellie wanted to be sure that this woman was not a member of our organisation - as it is all too easy for people to get the wrong idea from half-hearing a story - so she looked up the full list of people who we recommend. Of course, this woman was not on there, and after a brief phone conversation, the individual in question has removed any information from her website linking her with us.
So that everyone can be assured that the person they may be contemplating to help them is actually someone they can trust, simply check on www.janfennellthdoglistener.com and go to "Our Dog Listeners" to see if their name is featured on our recommended list. If so, then you know that the person in question is following our Quality Control Monitoring programme that helps us make sure they are giving responsible advice that does not put stress on dogs and owners. If not.... we can't guarantee you'll get a good service. However, we do have a lot of new members who are starting out, and if you cannot see their name yet then feel free to ask us. Remember, just as all dog trainers are not the same, neither are all Dog Listeners! Make sure you ask for their credentials and links to Jan Fennell.
Cheers, Tony (I am on the site by the way!)
PS Maybe the clip below helps to show the difference between an Amichien approved Dog Listener... and the rest. Thankyouverymuch u-huh-huh...
Hi folks, and Happy New Year. My annual winter migration in Australia gives me opportunities to help a nation that often feels "cut off from the rest of the civilised world" as I have been told a fair few times, and so it was that last week I was once more in the 3AW Melbourne studio to reply to questions about antipodean pooches. Unsurprisingly, they have the same problems as the rest of us (fancy that!).
Anyway, as is sometimes the way of things, my introduction music was embarrassingly "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". I cringed visibly. It reminded me that over here you can still buy dogs in pet shops; something I cannot remember seeing in Britain since I was a wee child (that means small in Scottish, not incontinent). The big problem with pet shop pups is that there is a high probability that they come from puppy farms. There are even adverts in the press where there is a "shopping list" of dog breeds. You get in touch, pick the one you want, and they make them. Sounds easy, but there is a BIG cost. More of that in a moment.
There is increasing pressure from organisations like Oscar's Law here in Australia, trying to get puppy farms banned, and with good reason as the majority keep their dogs in appalling conditions, over-breeding with little concern for the quality of pups they are producing. Often there is in-breeding between family members, resulting in future health problems and deformities. At this point I will make no comment about the various royal families in Europe...
A puppy farm pup can cost a small fortune in the long term - I remember a friend years ago who had two German Shpeherds. One was bred by my Mum, and the other by a former police officer-turned-puppy farmer. I met him once... what a constable. The puppy farm dog cost him an arm and a leg (not literally - it wasn't an aggression problem) in vet bills for the severe hip and leg problems this poor creature endured through bad breeding.
Basically, unless they can prove otherwise... A Pet Shop Pup is a Messed Up Pup (I have used the word "messed" so kids can learn this simple message, although I wanted to use something with a bit more "punch"). Let's help our Aussie friends by giving this phrase the same impact as A Dog Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas.
PS click on the link below for MY favourite song with the word "Dog" in it.... I used to dress up like him at village discos...
Hi folks, as we reflect on the year just gone (always saying the same thing, "I can't believe how quickly the year has gone!"), I thought it would make a nice change to do a quick review which does not focus on the various troubles and traumas that are so typical of the media in general. I find myself once more in Australia, avoiding another winter (yes it is as good an idea as it sounds!). I did the first Aggression Workshop here in Geelong last week, which was very well received and will lead to a Safe Handling Workshop, both of which we will be offering elsewhere next year.
The first half of 2011 saw yours truly appearing regularly on TV in Australia, which was a great experience. I met lots of Aussie celebrities and guess what - they have the same issues that "ordinary" people do. My personal favourite was the music guru Molly Meldrum, who proved much more of a challenge then his equally famous dog Ziggy. As an aside, I wish Molly all the best as he recovers from his recent accident.
China and South Korea became the latest countries to buy the rights to "The Dog Listener", and I was contacted recently about appearing on one of China's most popular TV shows. I imagine that may mean quite a few people watch it... We are also finding new friends in India, as well as continuing our great work in the rest of the world. Mum held a Foundation Course at Monty Roberts' home in California, and she met up again with the main man just a few weeks ago in the UK. It is so cool that her original inspiration and mentor all those years ago has been her friend for these last few years. We will be going back there in April and September 2012 to do it all again, and I am currently talking to some people who want to help me run courses in Washington, New York and Philadelphia (I shall keep it quiet that I support the Cowboys...).
We have had a few changes at the HQ - My sister Ellie decided to change career this year and join the family business (makes us sound like the Mafia!), and her long experience as a teacher has already has a positive impact on our educational courses, as well as greatly improving our on-going assistance for our many associates all over the world. We have put the finishing touches to two eBooks on Aggression and Separation Anxiety, which will include a FREE audio file to further improve the help we can offer for these particular problems.
Personally speaking, 2011 was the year when I ran courses for the first time in French, which in itself was a huge step forward. They were a great success, and gave me confidence to start working in another language, culminating in my first ever talk in France in November. The advantage to doing a talk in another language is that if I tell a joke that they don't laugh at, I can claim that it is down to being English (it works for me...). In any case, apparently I did a good job as I have been asked to do more in Paris, Toulouse & Montauban, as well as running the first course in France next April. Tout s'annonce bien...
So to sum up, as I end this year where I started, it would seem that 2012 is going to be as much of a challenge (and as much fun) as 2011. In fact, later today I am having a meeting with a vet and his associate to discuss how to implement Amichien® Bonding into a re-homing scheme for dogs that have been used in animal experiments. As soon as I know more I will share the information with you all.
That'll do it I reckon - all that remains for me to do is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Fantastic 2012. To help get you in the holiday spirit, here is the best Christmas song ever made (Mariah Carey was a close second...) http://youtu.be/HwHyuraau4Q
Cheers for now, Tony
Tony's Blog 07/12/11
Hi folks, I am back in England for a week before heading back out to Australia. There'll be no time for jetlag as I will be giving a presentation on the evening of my arrival, all about the Truth on Dog Aggression, in association with a well-known celebrity veterinary.
Although this last week has definitely made up its mind to be when winter starts, we in Europe have been spoilt by some very mild temperatures of late. This has meant extra sun worshipping by yours truly, but it has also confused Nature no end. Flies are walking about (so maybe they should be called “Walks”), my rosebush still had buds on it etc. and over at Pond Farm, Mum's carp were in action once again. Normally, when it gets colder, they "shut down" and stop eating, but they have been large as life at the surface, awaiting the shovelling in of copious amounts of food.
As a result, Mum went to the local garden centre to get some extra supplies. When she saw that there was nothing in the fish food section left, she asked if there was anything out the back.
"You can't give them food now; they never eat in winter."
"I know that's what is said, but can you come over and tell the fish that?"
Anyway, after much discussion as to whether she should just leave them to go hungry or not, a bag of food was found. It was quite expensive, but Mum said she preferred to give them something rather than risk them being hungry now which could affect their survival during the winter.
OK here's the thing - because it was a rather expensive bag of food, they offered her a free “feeding ring”. When she asked what it did, they replied that it was put in the pond so that if ice formed, it would still leave an area clear of ice so fish could get to the food.
I'll let you think about this for a second...
That means that somebody has invented a device that allows fish to eat in cold weather, and even though the people at the garden centre told her that feeding the fish in December was wrong, THEY SOLD THE FEEDING RING.
This means that someone out there realised that an animal's nature doesn't necessarily conform to our idea of what they should do. They invented something which appreciates the reality of the situation.
Needless to say, Mum and I appreciated the irony...
Bonjour tout le monde,
I am writing this blog inside that darkened room I mentioned in an earlier posting, after a hectic November. Courses in Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark (many thanks to those who helped organise them), and to finish off the month a full-on weekend in which I sandwiched my first ever talk in France with two birthday parties for my good mate Pascal. Maybe staying up until 6am was not the best way to prepare for a 3 hour talk in French, but when I saw the hall fill up (extra chairs were brought in) I got all the energy I needed to get over 150 French people enthused about the Dog Listening process. 2012 already looks like the right time to start courses here, both in French and English. After all, I am not the only Brit living over here... We are everywhere!
Being able to understand and communicate in another language meant that I was able to successfully get the message across (even if I did make the occasional gaffe). If I had used the traditional British way of speaking a foreign language - to shout in English - it would not have gone so well. It is no different with dogs. Once you understand their language, their behaviour is easily explained, and - more importantly - you know how to give the right answers to their questions. The great thing about Amichien Bonding is that we already know the dog's language. All that has happened is that we have forgotten how to do it. That's where AB comes in.
Even the word "Amichien" is a great example of this idea. Taking the French for "friend" and "dog" and sticking them together shows that when you understand the language, it is obvious.
OK, time to listen to whale song with the lights out - I have a short time to recover before I head off to Australia once more to give our new Safe Handling course, as well as an Aggression course and the Foundation course too. Phew - just looking at that has made me tired.
PS Pascal invited me up on stage with his new band to play a couple of songs - the first time we have done that for a looooong time. This song means a lot as not only is it the unofficial French national anthem, but it was used on the last Australian TV segment. ”Lets rock!”
Tony's Blog 17-11-11
MAN EATS HIS OWN LEG
Hi folks, so far November has been hectic to say the least. Work in Sweden, France and Switzerland already done and tomorrow I head off to Denmark once again. Copenhagen (wonderful wonderful) beckons.
For those of you who have been asking to see more of me (so to speak), I may be on TV again soon, this time in France (which will be very cool). France 3 are interested in doing a feature later this month so regardez cette espace...
I heard yesterday that apparently in America there is now a law that states that the owner of any dog that barks for more than 10 minutes risks getting a fine. I have yet to have this rumour confirmed, and I wonder if it one of those "facts" that nobody believes until the words, "in America" are added at the end. All of a sudden it becomes feasible, as in the example below:
"A man ate his own leg."
Understanding why a dog barks all the time is the first step to solving the issue. Barking at potential danger can be dealt with if the dog sees the owner as leader and they create a positive association and sometimes actually look to see what the problem is. Done correctly, this is really effective and I have seen previous serial offenders stop in their tracks once the right information is given.
Barking can be a sign of separation Anxiety or of Attention Seeking too. Knowing the right way to address these problems in a calm, psotive manner is the way to bring peace to the United States. A fine does nothing to improve the situation. In fact, is the owner feels even more stressed as a result of the dog's barking, it can make the situation worse.
Actually, maybe this is a tactic to get the USA out of its debt crisis...
PS This clip does contain colourful Australian language (so watch only if you are not easily offended), but it does show how a dog can react to a potential danger, no matter how harmless it may seem to us...
Hi folks, this is my last week in Australia for this trip, before heading back to Europe for a full-on series of talks and courses in Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and France. I hope the French will have gotten over the disappointment of losing the Rugby World Cup, especially after having salt rubbed into the wounds by being fined $15000 for crossing the halfway line while the All Blacks performed their Haka (it made great viewing though). May I suggest that the next time England play New Zealand that the English players perform the equally ancient battle ritual of mooning the opposition (from behind the halfway line of course...).
The Haka is another demonstration of the second option of defence that animals use. Making yourself look big and scary can deter an attack, once the first option of Flight has gone. This of course explains why so many dogs out there are more aggressive on the leash than off it. The way to solve this is to show the dog that the owner is the decision maker, so it has less reason to be worried by the world around it. All of this information and more will soon be available on our brand new Aggression eBook, which will come complete with a free accompanying audio. More news on that soon...
In the meantime, here is something the French have given us which is one of those rare occasions when our tendancy to humanise animals produces something really funny. Watch until the very end - brilliant! Click here for The Dragonfly/Wasp Race.
Tony's Blog 19th October 2011
There's a new buzz going on' literally (I know my sister's experience as an English teacher will mean she will be sick of seeing the constant misuse of the word "literally", but bear with me Sis).
I had an interesting phone call over lunch from a gentleman who is currently involved in a country-wide initiative to rid Australia of Asian bees, which invaded the country in the last few years (you see? Literally a new buzz...). The problem is serious as they are taking over from the European bees, which will have many unwanted side-effects to the ecosystem. We are all now aware of the importance of bees to life on Earth; if Mankind died out there would be no problem for Nature, whereas the disappearance of the bee would have a catastrophic consquence to the planet. Someone could argue that Man dying out would be a bad thing as it would mean no more X Factor.... but that someone is definitely not me.
Anyway, the plan is to train dogs to act as "species hounds"; sniffing out the hives of Asian bees so they can be dealt with, while leaving the European bees alone. I have been involved in this kind of training before in New Zealand, where non-indigenous animals have threatened that country's fragile ecosystem, and the advice is the same.
The key to success is patient training, using positive reward for the dog choosing the right target, plus (of course) the foundation of trust that the dog sees the handler as the overall deicison maker, or "Project Manager", if you like. The dog will WANT to work for the handler, rather than being made to. As a Dog Listener, I have previously been able to fast track success with Guide Dogs for the Blind, as well as police dogs and sniffer dogs. Watch this space to see how this latest development.... er, develops.
Click here for more Quite Interesting facts about bees, courtesy of Stephen Fry and friends. HONEY BEES
Tony's Blog 29/09/11
Hi folks, I am just taking a few moments to write this latest blog before I head off to the airport, then it's off to Australia again! I wonder if this will be the first time that I leave better weather for worse... I hope the Europeans are enjoying the Indian summer. What do they call it in India? Maybe it's just known as weather...
While I am back in Oz, I am going to try to get footage of a certain sheepdog in action. You may not think this is necessarily of interest, but if I added that the dog in question is a Shar Pei... maybe that should be seen.
The fact is (as I keep saying) that the breed of the dog is not the issue, but the personality and nature. A Shar Pei is a dog with a hunting instinct, used in this case to drive the sheep along. That's how we started to use that skill for our own benefit in the first place. Not all guide dogs are Labradors, not all police dogs are German Shepherds, and if you check out the clip below you'll see clearly that it's not just Beagles who do this. € (for future reference, € denotes a bit of a joke - maybe that comment deserves a € too? More of a Greek tragedy perhaps...)
If you have film of a dog doing something that is against the traditional breed stereotypes, we would love to see it at the office. Perhaps we could compile a "Best Of"...
Hi folks, I am starting to get my stuff together for more travels - Australia in October, followed by Sweden, Switzerland and Denmark in November. Then I am considering hibernation until Spring...
I have mentioned before that humans act like animals all the time (and this is not meant in a bad way). Currently the Rugby World Cup is taking place in New Zealand, home of the world-famous All Blacks.
One of the highlights of seeing New Zealand play is the Haka (I probably haven't spelt that right) - a traditional Maori challenge which is very intimidating, and that gained extra meaning during the Gallipoli campaign during the First World War (the one commonly known as the Great War - although personally I think it was ghastly). After a battle to drive back the Turks, the allies celebrated, and some Maori members of the ANZACs performed a traditional dance upon the hill. The Turks, seeing these frightening warriors with their scary eye movements and tongues hanging out, retreated even further.
I was lucky enough to witness the All Blacks perform live at Eden Park, shortly before they gave England a rugby lesson. It was made all the more impressive as there was a Maori sitting just behind us who, upon seeing the players begin, leapt up and joined in.
All animals (who know what is good for them) will avoid confrontation if possible, either by running away (as the Turks did) or by standing ground and looking as scary as possible - just like a rattlesnake, rattling its tail, or the Maoris performing the Haka.
The Haka - done properly - is one of the most awe-inspiring sights in sport. However, there was a time when it resembled less a show of strength, rather a group of Dads at a wedding disco.. (click here for the clip)
NEWS JUST IN: My first talk in France will take place on Saturday 26th November in Cahors, in association with the Refuge Canin Lotois. More details to come- very excited!
Tony's Blog 14/09/11
Ethnic Cleansing in Australia?
Hi folks, once more a story about politicians jerking their knees and getting the wrong end of the stick; this time in Victoria, Australia. New legislation being brought about to ban "dangerous" breeds has meant that rescue centres there have been overwhelmed with the sudden flood of dogs either deemed vicious, or in some cases simply left because of a panic reaction by owners, scared that their beloved pooch may be a killer. The usual suspects are pit bulls, Staffies and anything that looks like them.
Meanwhile, in America a young child was attacked by a Labrador. A TV vet in Australia once stated on national TV, "There are two things you need to know about Labradors: One - they are always hungry. Two - they love children". It is not clear if they can eat a whole one though... Any plans to get rid of them (just in case)?
Throughout history, certain sections of society have been singled out as being a "problem", and steps have been taken to eradicate them. I think we know of a few examples. One wonders if somebody in Victoria will create a hidden haven for these banned breeds, a secret place where they are protected from authorities. I look forward to reading the diary. Let's just hope they don't use sharks to find them... (click here for "Sharks and Nazis.)
Obviously, something needs to be done, and the politicians are doing what they think is the right thing. However taking action without knowing the facts is not what we elect them for. They are supposed to make reasoned, informed judgements. What dog owners need is education (I would say it twice more but that line has been taken by another Tony). Any dog - given the wrong circumstances - is capable of causing harm, yet if people knew the correct way to interact with them, the incidences of dog attacks would be eradicated, without any loss of life.
It's not difficult, guys. Ask a Dog Listener!
Tony's Blog 07/09/11
Hi folks, from time to time we are reminded why dog is called Man's Best Friend, and this little story is such an example. As you may know, I have been recently working with Australian celebrities and their dogs, but this particular duo was the prototype, so to speak. (By the way, don't you agree that the term "psycho" is thrown about nearly as much these days as "conspiracy"...?)
Check out this brave warrior and his story: click here to see Taj, the "psycho" spaniel.
Go Taj!! I might add that when I met the pair of them a few years back, the so-called psycho was a sweetie... but then again I know what to do around dogs, and soon so will everyone else (more on this later).
There are some "experts" out there who claim that a one-colour cocker spaniel is prone to "cocker rage". The first syllable is apt here... Whenever a dog bites a person, there is inevitably a knee jerk reaction to ban "Dangerous Dogs". However, the number of adorable, calm and happy Rottweilers, Dobermans, Staffies etc. far outweighs the few. Hmm, weren't people saying that during the recent riots in England?
Blaming the breed and not the deed is something that people do when they do not know what to do. Thankfully for a lot of dogs and owners, they have found Amichien ® Bonding and they lived happily ever after. It is also a reason why we are putting the finishing touches to our brand new package which deals with that most thorny of dog problems, Aggression. Keep an eye out for its release. I guarantee that it is the definitive answer for anyone out there currently suffering from this most unfortunate problem.
Tony's Blog 30-08-11
Hi folks, just a quick thought after stumbling across an article about the idea that Galileo "got it wrong". It struck me that the word "conspiracy" gets used willy, and indeed, nilly these days. Even an element of the Catholic church has used it now (see Galileo got it wrong) It was everybody's favourite Pope John Paul II (the one with the lickable face according to Stewart Lee) who actually apologised for the church's treatment of Galileo at the time. Interestingly, the less lickable current Pope has backtracked from this now...
Anyway, I sometimes get the feeling that Galileo and us have a lot in common (hopefully this statement will not lead to angry astronomers burning copies of our Walk DVD!). The evidence is there, it makes sense, and yet when we explain the true nature of dogs, people see it as a conspiracy theory against the idea that dogs are "little people".
Fortunately, the number of folks out there who listen is growing all the time, and although there is still a long way for us to go to get to the top of the mountain, the climb is the interesting part (I read that profound quote in an interview with none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger - a man who, despite not being able to act or speak English properly, decided that he would become Hollywood\'s most highly paid star. Who’dathunkit?).
I have set myself a similar challenge - to make Dog Listening the most well known method of dog training in France. Now THERE'S a challenge. I'll keep you posted on how that goes... Bonne chance a moi!
We had a family trip to Lyon last week (see photo). As you can see, the dogs are impressed by the view. They were the centre of attention wherever we went, most often from japanese tourists, who would come over, take a photo and go off straight away (I admire their stamina on their brief but intense holidays, although I did hear of a group of Japanese tourists who feel asleep in their plane while going over the Grand Canyon after a whistle stop tour of USA). Anyway, it was a good thing that my two are fairly relaxed around big crowds. Of course, Amichien Bonding helps, especially for Pru, who is a nervous character, and would occasionally look to me to see if everything was still OK.
It reminded me of the consultation I did in France that brought me to this part of the world. A couple who live about 45 minutes from where i am now had a poodle that had a lot of issues, including freaking out in public. As part of my time with them (I had a few days) we went to a well-known market in a picture postcard town called Figeac. By that time, this dog had shown enough improvements at home and on little sorties for us to take this step, so remember, only go as fast as EVERYONE feels comfortable, human and dog.
We arrived at one spot that was in full swing, so to speak, at which point our canine friend became overwhelmed. Keeping calm, I advised the owner to go down a side street which was at one end of the square, and do some SSCD to reassure the dog that all was well. After about 5 minutes, they both returned, calm and relaxed.
Dogs will ask questions all the time, and our task is to give the right answer. When we can do that, the dog is reminded that it is not the one making the decisions for the group, and it can chill out. My dogs are soon to become stars in Japan, I am sure...
Normally, I do not recommend other TV shows about dogs, mainly because the info isn't that great, and indeed sometimes downright dangerous. However, if this US version is as good as the original Australian show, then it should be well worth watching. Click Here To Watch
A bientot, Tony
Tony's Blog 02/08/11
Greetings, here is something to DEFINITELY brighten up anyone's day. If you don’t at least giggle at this clip I will be very surprised!
What's the name of that area outside the school, surrounded by fences and gates so the kids can't get out (in theory)? When I was a kid, it had hopscotch squares marked out in paint, monkey bars (no mats thank you - it was the 70s) and we would all run about everywhere, often flailing our arms in all directions. What was it called??
Ah, that's right - a playground.
Not a "walk" ground.
Put kids on a patch of grass and almost immediately there will be high pitched shouting and screaming and definitely some high speed antics. We used to race to the climbing frame and back to see who was the fastest, running forward, backwards, even high velocity skipping (a lad called Gary was brilliant at skipping - had his own special technique which resembled a triple jump movement. There were no rules against it so he won. Thorpe St. Peter's very own Dick Fosbury).
Anyway, the point is this - at no point did we think it would be a good idea to just walk about for exercise. In fact, when we were kids we never understood when adults would tell us to wait "to let our dinner go down". It was straight out of lunch and off we went. We played, we found out where we fitted in the school pecking order, we fell over, we cried, we LEARNT.
Dogs play. Some dogs play a lot, especially when they are young. They learn valuable skills for life, such as grabbing each other by the neck or legs. This is instinctive so they can practice how to bring down prey to survive. It is important. Going for a walk because it is "a lovely day" is not important.
Also, when they play, it is in short bursts, and then it is over. No hours of plodding for them. So why do we think that is what they need now?
Five minutes of play with your dog is more beneficial, more stimulating, more fun and more natural to the dog. You can even do it indoors if it is raining. Brilliant! Try it with your dog and see what happens. Play safe and have fun, especially if it means avoiding a drenching in the dark. Why do we think that is the right way to exercise dogs? Well, that is the subject of another blog...
OK, serious dog learning done, click here to enjoy Playing Dead. This is a fantastic clip!!
Tony's Blog 27-07-2011
The Space Shuttle program has flown its last mission. I remember watching with extreme excitement the very first launch thirty years ago (yes I am that old). All our lessons were cancelled and a TV was brought into the classroom, and we sat there, marvelling at this latest great adventure of Mankind in space. Of course, at that age I dreamt of being an astronaut, and who knows, if Virgin Galactic gets a bit cheaper (!) I will be able to live that dream and orbit around the Earth one day.
Amazing to think therefore that, despite all the images sent back from space that CLEARLY show the Earth to be a spheroid (pedants will point out that it is not a sphere blah blah blah) there is still a Flat Earth Society, dedicated to the idea that the planet we live on is actually a Discworld. How can it be that they can ignore all the evidence?
This society helps me to be pragmatic when people tell me that dogs are not related to wolves. I remember seeing a documentary about dog breeds on the TV a few years ago, which was very interesting right up to the point where they stated "Today's dog is half wolf, half human". What bizarre breeding programme were they referring to?
Listen, we can ignore reality or accept it, and once we respect the dog for what it is, then we can start to appreciate its part in our lives all the more, and (more importantly) get the relationship with them that we and the dogs deserve.
Rant over ;)
Here's a clip of the Earth from space - We live HERE? Location, location, location...
I made a startling discovery last Friday at the vets, while the Dynamic Duo (or Gruesome Twosome) were having their rabies vaccination boosters (they last 4 years in the UK, but only one year here in France, due to the French being annoyed at the British government for demanding them in the first place. Vive l'amour!).
Anyway, I was glancing about and my eyes fell upon a chart of dog breeds. I scanned them lazily, then suddenly I realised that the Great Dane was not called a Grand Danois according to the picture - it was called a Dogue Allemand. German? Immediately it reminded me of the blog I wrote a while ago about how the British changed the name of certain breeds to make them sound less Germanic. Daschund, German Shepherd and Saxe-Coburg being the best examples...
This was to avoid angering a public during the time of the World Wars. A sort of rebranding, if you like, so people forget. I wonder what the new name for The News Of The World will be...
Whether it is the relationship between the British and the French (have you seen the advert with the talking snail and frog?), or how we feel about the Germans (friends of mine went to the World Cup in Germany a few years ago and were "shocked" by how nice German people were), it all boils down to tribes and territory, which is... yes, you guessed it, a natural instinct we share with dogs and wolves (see my latest Youtube clip). I could (and will) go on about how we share so much natural behaviour with other predatory mammals, just in case this reaches scientists - you know, to help them out a bit.
While we wait, here is a clip illustrating what can be achieved if we cooperate. Je vous presente... Ze Flying Sheep
Tony's Blog 13/07/2011
Greetings, back from watching the Tour de France LIVE - nearly lost an eye from having a free bottle opener thrown at me by one of the many advertising floats that precede the race itself. All that waiting and it was over in a matter of seconds. Punchlines not necessary thank you very much.
Another week goes by, and yet another university "study" into the nature of dogs comes out, which on the one hand states that people create problems for dogs by humanising them, but on the other hand the relationship between wolves and dogs is overstated. I would like to say that I have fond memories of being at University... I would like to say it, but I can't as I went to Kingston Uni. But I digress.
This week I have stuck a video clip onto our old friend You Tube, where I PROVE that people think like wolves. In fact, there are more times we do, but for the sake of this week's blog I am focusing on the one. Are you looking closely? Go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW0nlLap6Ys and judge for yourself.
Also, someone asked me recently if it was disheartening that even though Dog Listening is easily the best way to train dogs, why it was not on TV. Of course, Australia is already ahead of everyone else (that will be the time difference), but after watching a brilliant documentary about the comedian Eddie Izzard, I am always hopeful that eventually, everyone else will get it. By the way, guess what routine got Eddie finally noticed? Ironic... http://youtu.be/ctcMF9TQJCg
Tony's Blog 21-06-2011
Hi folks, I'll start this blog with some wise words from someone I know;
"I have a list of qualifications as long as your arm, but the next animal that comes in here doesn't know, or care".
That came from the man himself, Monty Roberts, and is a great example of this week's pondering. One of my clients asked me if I had heard of a new study that "proves" that dogs differ from wolves, as they do not follow a strict hierarchy, nor are they governed by dominance. I replied that this sort of research goes on all the time, and opinion can change dramatically from one day to the next. Remember the scientist who claimed that vaccinating children with the combined MMR jab could lead to autism? After creating a political and clinical storm, he later said that he had got it wrong. Too late - the number of cases of measles, mumps and rubella in children in Britain shot up dramatically. Hey-ho...
Scientists have PROVEN that by all the laws of Physics, the bumblebee cannot fly. Tell that to the bumblebees...
Basically, all I know is that Dog Listening WORKS, and works better than anything else out there. We continue to study dogs and their relatives in order to further our knowledge, yet all our studies keep coming back to the basics of Amichien® Bonding, which are easily the best way to go, and the way that dogs respond to it shows that THEY are the best judges of what works, not organisations or clubs who THINK they know (the huge bonus of AB is of course is that it doesn’t use pain, force or dominance).
This brings me to the second point - this idea that wolves and dogs can be graded in black and white. Dominance is not necessary with either, rather all that is needed is good leadership (Gandhi was no Rambo). Depending on the differences in environment, wolf behaviour can change noticeably, with temporary alliances forming, or packs splitting up as needs dictate. The main thing to keep in mind is that leaders are the ones who know best within any pack or group and make the decisions for the benefit of all.
OK, rant over. Let's lighten the mood with a clip of someone who definitely has not done official studies sanctioned by "professionals". Judge for yourself if this has stopped him... Chooker Parker
Tony's Blog 08-06-2011
It would appear that last week's topic hit a nerve, and it had nothing to do with the mention of Nazis (I think we are all agreed that they were not the most pleasant bunch). It was the idea that dogs "talk" that stirred some discussion (ironically). It is amazing to think that if you inform people that dogs are descended from, and think like wolves, they will not believe you, yet if you say that your dog understands EVERY word you say, there is much nodding of heads in agreement. Go figure.
One of the cleverest dogs I have ever known was our black German Shepherd, Sasha. She could balance a ball on her nose, waiting for me to clap my hands, at which point she would flick it up into the air and catch it deftly in a spilt second. Brilliant stuff. If I then gave her the choice of going to the park or to the forest for a walk, she would look at me, turning her head one way and another, trying to get the idea of what I was on about.
Of course, key words like "Park" and "Forest" would get a response, but the context was lost. It would have been an error on my part to assume that she knew what I was talking about. However, how many owners out there get a hysterical reaction to the word "Walk"? Don't think that this means the dog is thinking, "Brilliant, off we go for a walk. I can sniff the flowers and listen to the birdies in the trees etc. etc." Some poor people have to spell the word W-A-L-K in order to avoid creating the Tasmanian Devil (this has nothing to do with excitement by the way - for a solution to the chaos on the walk just have a look at our new Walk DVD package, which is solving this thorny issue for countless people, and all without using gadgets, gizmos, harnesses, reins, stirrups or anything else you can think of that is out there.)
With this in mind, I would like to firstly say that the dog is NOT ACTUALLY TALKING in this clip, and also that (I hope) there was no actual teasing going on. Having said that, how funny is this video? Enjoy. The Dog Tease
Tony's Blog 31/05/11
Hi folks, yours truly here with you regular dose of off-the-wall ponderings, and this one in particular is inspired by the news that last week it was divulged that the Nazis had spent time and effort trying to get dogs to talk. Now THAT'S an opening sentence.
The plan was to get the dogs to infiltrate enemy territory, and then report back to their superiors. I can only imagine they were convinced this could work after seeing that the Americans had trained a Rough Collie to alert the locals when children fell down wells in the area... Anyway, one of the "star pupils" cold apparently let his meisters know that he wanted sausages (It would take another 30 years for Britain to get their own version of a Sausage Dog"... Click here to see the clip)
Incidentally, the term "Sausage Dog" was coined during World War II so Dachshunds were not thrown out onto the streets in the UK. The same applied to German Shepherds, who became Alsatians, and of course the Saxe-Coburg family, who changed their name to Windsor...
One of the most common mistakes people make with dogs is believing that they think like us, rather than the other way around. This includes top Nazi scientists apparently. Some of these same men went on to help America with their nuclear program. Go figure.
P.S. I discovered a brilliant way to remove ticks from my dogs at the weekend, which requires no specialist equipment or lotions and potions. Make them dizzy! See the link right here How-to-remove-a-tick
P.P.S. This dog clip from "That's Life" is even better than Prince. Click here to see the clip
For some reason it is sub-titled in Dutch (why not?). I remember clips of this show being shown on French TV years ago under the title "The English are Crazy". I wonder why they thought that...
Tony's Blog 26 May 2011
Hi folks, this week's blog is - to be honest - just an excuse to show a particularly funny clip, but it does shed light on a common theme that, as a Dog Listener, I have to talk about to explain its importance.
If you remember the game "Simon Says" (I have tried to get people to play along during talks and courses with varying degrees of success. "No, Tony, we will not join in. We are adults now and have better things to do like pay bills etc." Honestly....) then I use this to point out that dogs understand the game too. Dogs are very good at getting attention in many ways (see last week's blog), and if it works, the dog knows what to do next time. Some dogs will then interpret it as a sign that they are in charge, which of course can lead to all sorts of problems.
People who understand Dog Listening become very good at being more stubborn than dogs, as some of them are VERY persistent. If you ignore your dog's attempts to get your attention, then call your dog to you once it has given up, you show that you have a personal space that deserves respect. This is what is done by the pack leaders in Nature.
Click below to see how one persistent dog met its match.
Hi folks, I am back to reality in France (not a bad reality to have really). I am disappointed to see that during my absence the DIY fairies did nothing to my house so it's back to the dirty work. A far cry from the life of a TV star in Australia... Showbiz is a fickle mistress.
The subject of saying "No" to a dog came up a few times while I was Down Under, and in order to explain why it is something to avoid, I had to explain to people what an ASBO was. The Anti Social Behaviour Order was one of the British government\'s less successful ideas. Basically, if someone was convicted of being a public nuisance, they were given an ASBO with the intention of shaming them to behave.
Unfortunately, it had the reverse effect, and young ruffians (feel free to add your own term if you feel \"ruffian\" is not sufficient) would collect them like scout badges. I was briefly in the cub scouts many years ago, and only ever got my Shoplifting badge. Well, I stole it really...
Anyway, the point is that if attention can be gained by bad behaviour, it will be gotten that way. I have met many "delinquent" dogs who have tried to attract my attention by throwing, chewing, knocking over tables, pushing chairs around, barking, jumping and grabbing... the list goes on. If any of this behaviour works, the dog will do it again. The trick is to ignore this and (if the behaviour is too extreme) give the dog a Time Out, so it can think about things while it has lost the pack.
The other thing about using the negative is how we humans have problems with it. Our subconscious cannot process a negative command. For example, do not think about a blue tree right now.
You thought of one, didn't you? In order not to think of one, you HAD to think of one. Clever, huh? Today's clip is another example. All you need to know here is that one of the T.V. presenters was specifically told NOT to touch the "sweet" looking mascot...
Hi folks, interesting developments over here in Oz to report. A vet right here in Geelong asked to meet with me about doing an interview for 3AW radio, one of the most popular talk radio shows in the country. He also invited me to an open day going on today at his surgery today (Sunday) which I will head off to in a couple of hours. There is talk of a sausage sizzle...
The talk at the home of the Geelong Cats went down well, even my jokes (well, most of them). One lady came up to me at the end who told me she was going to come to the Sydney courses. She had been following The Dog Whisperer's work for years, and had recently attended a 2-week dog training course in Queensland. She told me that for the first time she felt that the pieces were starting to come together, and that I was the first person who had explained WHY AND HOW we should do certain things with dogs (another difference between Dog Listening and other methods out there ). If anyone tells you to do something, be sure to ask why. If the reply is not convincing, think twice before doing it. Anyway, I look forward to seeing her in a couple of weeks, and to guiding her in her future career.
The jet lag hit me out of the blue last night in one of my favourite restaurants, which could have offended my friends if they hadn't known. I remember the first time I came to Oz I actually fell asleep in my dinner on the first night! This clip shows very well what jetlag can be like...
Tony's Latest Blog From Down Under
G’day cobbers, yep it’s that time again. I am back Down Under for a few weeks, starting with a talk this Saturday (giving me a couple of days to get over the jetlaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa………… it strikes at the oddest time!)
I got talking to a guy at Heathrow airport, while having a coffee just before boarding, who was going to Boston, Massachusetts for a water colour course (over there he will be using water colors of course). Check out his work at www.peter-robson.com. He gave me a greetings card with a London winter scene which is brilliant.
He told me that his teachers advised him to practice doing the things he found difficult until it got easier. Simple advice, yet how often do we actually do that? Great raw talent is one thing, but persistent practice is far more important for success. David Beckham would spend ages doing extra practice, long after the rest of the team had gone, and as a result he virtually carried the England soccer team at one point.
The point is, as long as your practice is consistent, you will make sometimes drastic improvements, even if occasionally you can have “one of those days”. However, unlike David, you don’t have to spend hours doing Dog Listening… unless you want to. Some dogs are excellent dribblers too…
There are 6 places left on the Foundation Course in Sydney at the end of the month, and after seeing the exchange rate yesterday (which came as a shock) now would seem to be the perfect opportunity for Antipodean friends to take advantage. Click on the courses link on my website to book a spot.
P.S. Here is the latest TV clip from Australia. Good music choice this time, but they do seem to like to see me walk…
Latest TV Clip "Braakensiek's Bad Girl" Go to the straight to the "Pets Page"
Hi folks, yours truly is back home after a full-on course in Yverdon, Switzerland. Full-on because it was the first ever Foundation Course done in French, and I did it without a safety net! There were a few slip-ups language wise (or paux-fas as an Aussie once put it...) but they found it charming rather than alarming. Not like the time I was in Montreal and instead of saying "mammals" I said "boobs".
It turns out that Swiss law says that dogs must be walked everyday, so for a split second there was a problem when I said that owners do not have to walk their dogs. Thankfully, one of the skills that comes with experience is the ability to think outside the box. I suggested that they practice Stop/Start Change Direction indoors, that way they can truthfully say that they are walking their dogs every day, as it transpires that the law is not specific about WHERE the dogs are to be walked. Ta-da! This elegant solution went down very well with the students. Anne-Francoise - who contacted us in the first place to organise the course - got the best birthday present too. She got rid of her Guilt about walking the dogs come rain or shine. Five minutes of SSCD indoors while it is raining outside is much more enjoyable (and drier too of course).
Unfortunately, this weekend's success does mean that I now have to start working on the translations for the Advanced Course. Have I created a rod for my own back?
Cheers for now, Tony
Tony's Latest Adventure "Down Under"
Hi folks, the latest TV clip has just been aired in Australia. Don't tell anyone but there I was with these two high fashion designers, who know all kinds of a-list stars (AND Simon Le Bon!), and while I was adjusting the microphone I noticed a food stain on my T shirt. You can't buy class...
(click here to see the clip and go to the \"pets\" page.)
As you will see, with some dogs it doesn't take long for them to get the message. Once you use patience and consistency, you actually find the results come quicker than if you rush things. Ever noticed that the time you are in a hurry and you take a shower, that is when the soap becomes extra slippery? Once you relax, things go much more smoothly. That is the same for walking the dog to heel. There are some people who say that the dog's nose must not go in front of the owner's knee, which results in not looking where you are going and constantly jerking the dog around. Not great or practical. A dog can be slightly ahead, as long as the lead is relaxed. As Mum says, when the lead is smiling, you are Happy and In Control.
Tony's latest TV spot 02-03-2011
Hi folks, as I write this blog I am just back home after a great weekend teaching the Foundation Course in Vallentuna, Sweden, and a really fun talk in Gothenburg for the first time ever, as well as giving a magazine interview. It seems Sweden is really getting into the swings of things.
This is the link for the latest TV clip has just gone out in Australia, and it is a cracker. See how yours truly tamed the Hound From Hell by clicking here: "Ruby Rose's Pound Puppy" and going to the "pets page"
As I keep saying, understanding the language of the dog is the key to success, and once you get the idea, you can easily avoid problems like the one in the clip. One of the biggest obstacles to this is our insistence on humanising animals. Walt Disney made a fortune doing it (I remember being slightly disturbed as a 4 year old after watching a rabbit and a skunk talking to a deer, In English, with an American accent. I followed rabbit around for weeks afterwards trying to get them to talk to me...).
People can substitute dogs for children, and by treating them as such give the dogs the wrong kind of information that can lead to all sorts of problem behaviour. However, one thing I am keen to mention is that you can both treat the dog as a dog, and still give loads of affection. You just have to do it at the right time and in the right way. On a previous talk, one woman told me that she loved to cuddle the dog in its basket, and she was afraid that I would tell her to stop. I reassured her that she could still do it, but she would have to get in the basket first, then call the dog to her. That way, everybody was happy.
Having said that, there are times when humanising animals is really funny. Watch out for the moment in the clip from the Craig Ferguson Show that the unicorn gets the words wrong (I never thought I would ever write that sentence in my life...). Craig Ferguson Show
Tony's Newest Blog 01/03/2011
DOG LISTENERS, DOCTORS AND DENTISTS
People have said to me in the past, "As a Dog Listener, don't you sometimes get sick of talking about dogs?"
I think I know what they mean - you hear the old chestnut about doctors at dinner parties being asked for their opinion of the host's haemorrhoids, for example. And I always like the joke about the gynaecologist who can't form a relationship, "If I see one more...".
Well, in a little down time between filming for Channel 7 and returning to Europe (next stop Sweden in mid February, which after being in the Australian summer will be a SEVERE shock), I have, among other things, been reading Russell Brand's autobiography (which may explain the rather risqué comments above. He's such a bad influence, don't you know).
Intrigued by the description of some of the TV shows he has done in the past, I have looked for them on Youtube, and as you know, yours truly has a penchant for adding a clip from said website in an attempt to entertain as well as inform.
Sometimes though, I have found a good clip, only to be put off by the barmy comments that some people feel they need to leave underneath the film, not only for or against the clip itself, but sometimes verbally attacking each other, using some right naughty language (I am sounding like Russell again).
Anyway, what does this have to do with dogs? Well, there was one rather nasty exchange between an American and a Brit, culminating with the former going on about the British and their "gross teeth".
I have heard this before from our cousins across the Pond, and speaking as someone whose teeth have "character" (in fact, I think their imperfections are part of my charm), I wonder why it is such a big deal to them. After all, if they were to criticise someone's appearance on gender or colour of skin, they would be rightfully labelled as sexist or racist (and I am sure that "dentist" does not also mean a tooth bigot... or am I?).
The reason for such an attitude is that fundamentally we are disturbed by difference. Whether race, sex or religion, we feel threatened by something that does not fit in with our world. This is a natural reaction based upon our natural instinct to survive. Just as the biggest threat to a wolf pack is the nearest pack to it, we feel our actual lives at risk from "others". I am not condoning this kind of behaviour, as our society means there is no need for it, but it needs to be understood before we can successfully manage it.
Which brings me back to why I very rarely get tired of talking about Dog Listening, or dogs - there is something of relevance in nearly everything around us, once you are aware. In any case, if ever I don't want to talk about what I do, I pretend I'm a lawyer, which usually results in social isolation! Cheers, Tony Knight
To check out Tony's recent blogs visit tony-knight.co.uk