Monday, December 15, 2008

How to Manage Your Dog's Energy

Those of you who’ve listened to Kevin Behan’s radio interview heard him talk about the two types of energies operative in canine behavior: electricity and magnetism. Some of you may have also read the comments section of my last post, where I gave a response to Summer’s mommy about a problem she’s been having in getting her dog to do any off-lead heel without vocalizing. This post begins with part of that exchange:

How To Manage Your Dog’s Energy
Summer's Mommy: One question, sometimes she gets so riled up with the exercise that she wants to bite my left arm. I think it’s somewhat cute, but in competition that would lose me some points. Also she can get quite vocal (growling, short staccato barks) when she's in drive in the heel. Again, more areas where I can lose points. Do you have any suggestions on how to convert that drive that's being manifested into the biting/barking/growling and channel into just the act of heeling itself? I don't want to punish her or say no, but even as I praise her when she does it, she doesn't stop the behavior even with praise.

Here's my reply:

The biting is a result of a strong attraction (magnetism) while the vocalizing is an expression of nervous tension (electrical energy). She's also trying to "tell" you something. (What that is, I don't know.)

Remember, when she stayed with me I got to see her behavioral idiosyncrasies up close, and I said I thought that even though she's a bit tightly wound, she's also a very sensitive doggie. So it might also help to do more "chase me," "hup!" and "dance with me," and less hidden pops.

In other words, more magnetism, less electricity.

LCK

PS: Now that I think about it, the "chase me" will probably create more of a likelihood that she'll grip your arm while heeling, so while I might still do that, I would also probably give her some leash corrections whenever her teeth stray onto your arm. You have to be very fluid about it, and you can't pop her too hard; it should be just enough to damper the energy a little, but not hard enough to make her lose interest in chasing you.

Another way to work on this would be to do very short "chase me" sessions using a ball or tug toy as the focal point, and quickly end each go-through with a game of tug. Then gradually increase the length of the game, but then turn it into a "game" of off-lead "Heel!" And follow that with a ball throw or a game of tug, whichever she prefers. If she's still too bitey during the off-lead heel, go back to doing it on lead with the leash corrections to inhibit her from biting during the heel. The idea is to let her know that she can't bite while heeling, but that she'll get a big old payoff once she's finished.

I hope that helps!

Okay, so what do I mean exactly when I say more magnetism and less electricity? I’m essentially describing the difference between drive energy (i.e., desire/connectedness) and an overload of nervous tension (i.e., neediness/feeling disconnected).

The body of any animal has two basic energy systems. The nervous system (which includes the brain, the spinal cord, and all the neurons, axons, and dendrites), and the emotional system (limbic system, endocrine glands, sexual and sensory organs). Both types of energy are necessary. For instance, you can obtain a great deal of knowledge about a person’s internal organs through an MRI machine: a magnetic resonance imaging. But it doesn’t work unless you plug it into the wall first.

As I’ve been thinking over Jacinta’s and Sang’s problems with their dogs, Summer and Roxy (Sang complains that Roxy gets overstimulated, which basically means she’s got too much electrical energy running through her system), and it seems to me that there are four basic ways to use, manage, control, and modulate your dog’s natural energy.

First let’s talk about the differences between electrical (neediness) and magnetic (desire) energies.

We all have survival needs, and the survival instinct exists to ensure that we act to protect ourselves from danger, drink when we’re thirsty, eat when we’re hungry, etc., etc. Sometimes, however, we attach survival feelings to something unrelated to our actual survival needs. How many times do we tell ourselves that we “need” to get to work on time, or that we “need” a raise or a new car. Another example is the kid, like Ralphie in The Christmas Story, who thinks he’ll die if he doesn’t get the air rifle he wants for Christmas. When we attach neediness—survival energy—to non-essential things it screws us up, it puts stress on our bodies and actually makes us less efficient at getting what we really need. It also makes us feel unconnected from our co-workers, who—come on—aren’t going to kill us if we’re late to work, or our bosses, who are also not going to kill us. And it makes us feel like our parents “don’t understand” us when they say it won’t kill us if we don’t get what we want for Christmas.

But what do we say? “You don’t understand! If I don’t get it I’ll die!”

Yet, here we are. We’re all still alive.

On the other hand, when you have a strong desire for something—and I mean pure desire, without any neediness attached—you often feel a sense of steadiness and calm as if your desire has created a direct link to whatever it is you want so badly. You are connected.

Desire is governed by the sex instinct; never mind the actual, specific act of mating, the sex instinct governs the creative aspects of life, in all its forms. When you’re in a state of pure desire you almost know you’ll get what you want eventually. You have new, unexpectedly creative ideas on how to do things. And if you hold on to that feeling of desire—that fire in the belly—and if it’s strong enough, it will almost always bring some kind of positive results. It sets things in motion. This is what I mean when I say that desire has a kind of magnetic energy.

So electric energy runs your survival needs; it has a choppy feel, it makes you feel alone, disconnected, it’s chronological, meaning it makes you feel the pressure of time, and it also causes the bad kind of stress on the body. Magnetic energy is desire; it has a smooth rhythm to it, it makes you feel connected, it’s timeless, and creates mostly the good kind of stress.

I think this is a helpful model in learning how to manage your dog’s energy. And as I see it, there are four basic ways to do that.

The Four Ways to Handle Your Dog’s Energy

One: Give your dog a satisfying “ground wire” to offload excess energy.

Ground wires include tug-of-war, fetch, play sessions with other dogs, the “eyes” exercise, and even taking your dog on long walks in nature. (Believe it or not, trees and grass are natural ground wires for a dog’s energy.)

I’m trying to codify everything here, but a lot of what I “know” about this stuff is intuitive or comes from my subconscious mind. I’ll give you an example: The other night I had a session with a new client. They’ve got a pit bull named Latte who was found on the street, emaciated, over a year ago. She’s reportedly been a lovely girl since then, very affectionate indoors, very obedient and willing to learn, but she’s started exhibiting occasional leash aggression recently.

When I came in and sat on the sofa, Latte was unable to settle down. We tried giving her a bone or a ball, but nothing seemed to satisfy her, so while I was discussing options—describing the possible source of the dog’s behavioral problems, and she was still at it, trying to jump all over me—I put my fingers between her teeth, hoping to give her a chance to ground her energy by mouthing my hand. She pulled away, zipped around the room a little, then settled next to me on the couch again and kind of “sneaked” in close and started to nibble my fingers, hoping I wouldn’t notice. I let her do that. Five minutes later she was sound asleep.

I didn’t pay much attention to this; it happens a lot with the dogs I see. But in a subsequent conversation with her owner, she said she thought it was amazing that Latte had been so relaxed that she’d fallen asleep next to me on the couch. “She has never fallen asleep with someone new in the apartment. Ever!” That’s when I remembered what I had done with my fingers, and I realized that by doing that, I had, in essence, given the dog permission to use me as a ground wire, which enabled her to download some of her excess energy. And that’s why she fell asleep.

Two: Upgrade the dog’s “wiring/hardware.”

This will give your dog a better ability to handle his excess energy levels on his own. Instead of just plugging him into a ground wire (like a tug rag), this would be similar to replacing old corroded wiring with newer, stronger, thicker wires. It’s also analogous to removing emotional blocks. This is where the pushing exercise comes in handy. Also, certain training exercises where the dog has to change emotional gears quickly—things like the “off-lead heel” or the “down-while-running” and conflict training—would also fall into this category. They make the dog’s energy system more productive and less wasteful.

Finally, the fasting exercise, described in Kevin’s book, and what I call the Frankenstein exercise is also helpful at removing emotional blocks in the dog’s system and getting it to run smoother. Kevin has a couple of versions of the Frankenstein exercise, described on Neil Sattin's blog.

Three: Drain the battery/shut down the system.

This is where a crate comes in handy. Another thing that helps is not feeding into the dog’s nervousness. That’s part of what worked with Latte the other night. If I had reacted to her energy with any kind of “dominance” or fear, she would’ve had even more trouble settling down. If the dog has no excess energy from you to feed off she’ll be able to calm down much quicker.

Four: Provide a transformer.

This is where praising the dog to settle his nerves works wonders. When a dog has too much nervous energy and you praise him, this will often help him relax. I’ve described this in more detail (excruciating detail, some might argue) in my article on praise. But in terms of energy exchange it works like this: the dog is nervous (electric energy), praise makes him feel connected to you (magnetic energy)—you’ve transformed that excess buzzing of electrical energy—which eventually has to find a way to ground itself, come hell or high water—into smooth magnetism, which has more of a gentle, steady hum to it. Make sense?

Interrupting the flow of electricity by applying light shocks on the collar, a well-timed throw chain; all of these things have a tendency, when applied to an overly nervous dog to shift her focus from her choppy, disconnected, solo-mood-type behaviors to something more like a group-mood feeling. Again, you have to be very careful and not apply too much pressure or you’ll get the opposite result.

I’m still working out the various ways of describing this stuff. As I said, so much of what I do is so deeply ingrained into my subconscious mind that I rarely pay any attention to what I’m doing anymore. It happens naturally, like breathing. But I hope this helps you understand the basic premise of how Kevin’s model—of the dog as an energy system—works.

I look forward to hearing everyone’s feedback and ideas on this.

LCK
"Changing the World, One Dog at a Time"

31 comments:

summerinbrooklyn said...

Great post again! This one really helps me to cement my thoughts better. so basically, Summer's talkiness is really an expression of her nervous energy, is this right? When she's waah-waahing in a high pitched tone, I mean. When I ask her to Speak (loud abrupt, resonating bark) it seems to make her feel better - can this be a way of providing her more of a defined grounding outlet?

So in a sense, these are her list of grounding outlets (and I should work on expanding her repertoire so she has less opportunity to express her own nervous energy in other ways that are solo-minded):
• Speak (loud gruff aggressive sounding bark)
• Hup
• Tug & Get It games
• formal recall with Front & Jump Finish (her favorite exercise - I make her do it when I notice she's nosing around nervously, not paying attention to me)
• Down during nervousness (I ask her to down when she's reactive or when she's not paying attention to me - is this conflict training? )

ALso sometimes when she's feeling agitated when something (dog usually) makes her nervous, I find her heeling on her own.

Last night we got new toys from a secret santa and I noticed something I've never thought of before. When she's very high strung (new toys usually do this), she's very jumpy and bitey, but the moment I throw the toy, she runs to get it, but instead of returning to me all the time, she sometimes lays down and starts biting nervously (she'll never make a schutzhund dog!) and vocalizing (high waah-waahs). This means she's offloading her nervous energy into the toy (solo behavior) and not good, correct?

So what I did was to praise her, tease her with another toy, and she experienced some internal conflict - she wanted to come to me, but didn't want to stop piano-biting the first toy and still made waah-waah noises. I kept praising her, telling her OK Ready???, and finally if she didn't come to me instead of the solo behavior, I kept saying HUP HUP HUP over and over.

Eventually she reached some sort of stress threshold, but instead of shutting down, she dropped hte first toy, ran to me, Hupped, and I threw the second toy.

I did this for a couple more rounds, and by the third round, she was much better about returning to me for the second toy.

I tried it again outside this am, but she was a lot more distracted, so I said DOWN when she was entrenched in her solo behavior (after I threw a stick), and then walked a couple 100 yards away from her. I then recalled her, then did it again, and by the second recall, she was returning like a bullet. She played fetch/tug with the stick much better right after.

Am I on the right track or am I straying, do you think?

boywunder said...

This is a great post and discussion point Lee!

When Kevin explained this to me almost a year ago, I kind of got it. But your explanation really helps clarify things for me.

You're definitely right about Roxy having too much electrical energy running through her. She's like a live wire always looking for ground.

With Roxy, it's obvious that when she gets tense or stressed, she becomes incredibly attracted to the source of the tension, namely another dog. The attraction is so strong that if she weren't on leash, she would take off like a missile and then offload that energy on the other dog. After which she would feel a whole lot better. I know because I've seen her do it in the early days before NDT. She still has that urge, but at least now I can get her attention and redirect her into doing some pushing, which seems to work the best for her. But in hindsight, it really is amazing to see the before and after when she first sees another dog and then after when she has used that dog to ground her energy. Obviously not a desirable chain of events, both for the other dog or us humans. But looking at it purely from an energy standpoint, the difference in her energy before and after was amazing. She would charge the other dog and then "attack" them, though again she never broke skin or caused injury. And then after the altercation, she would be so calm and relaxed, and then want to play with the other dog. Which, at the time, I just didn't understand.

With one of our other dogs Jackie, she does a lot of Woo Woo Wooing when she gets charged up. Usually I can get her to settle and ground by making contact with me. She's MUCH less of a live wire than Roxy. Usually just a couple of hups and she settles down. Or, if the tension and energy is lower, then a bit of praise works really well for her. Like when she's meeting a new dog who comes into her "bubble". She has a fairly large bubble, so she really doesn't like when strange dogs get too close. If they do, then the hackles go up, and her body gets stiff, etc. But again, if the other dog is relaxed, then just some praise goes a long way to help diffuse that energy.

Recently we had to board Roxy because my wife and I both had to go out of town. It was about a week, and the woman who runs the place knows Roxy's issues and does her best to accommodate her and us. And we're very grateful for that. But I noticed that when she came back home from boarding, she was much more on edge and seemed to be harboring a lot of pent up, nervous energy. In fact, I was out with her the weekend after she came home, and we came across some other dogs, who never got any closer than about 100 feet. Her energy was vibrating like crazy. And wouldn't you know it, she bit my leg 2 times in different places. Not too bad, since it was cold out so I had a couple layers on. But hard enough to break the skin. Now that hasn't happened in almost a year. But being at the boarding place, where her energy was being suppressed rather than being given an appropriate outlet, she was kind of like a pressure cooker. She never got a chance to ground herself. So the first time we're out together and something comes up that stirs up that energy, she needs to release it and grab onto something, namely me, to ground herself. So I just kept my energy relaxed and upbeat, and got her to do some pushing with me, and she settled down. But it was pretty interesting to see that, as she hasn't redirected on my leg like that in over a year, since I've been giving her more positive outlets for her energy. I should have been more pro active in that situation and given Roxy a more appropriate outlet before things got to that point, but I had the Woo Woo-er with me too, so I had to deal with both at the same time. Fun:)

At any rate, this aspect of NDT is one of the things that is incredibly fascinating to me, because it just doesn't get discussed in other training circles. And I think it's a key part of understanding why dogs do what they do.

Sang.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Blogger summerinbrooklyn said...

“So Summer's talkiness is really an expression of her nervous energy, is this right? When she's waah-waahing in a high pitched tone, I mean.”

Yes.

“Sometimes when she's feeling agitated when something (dog usually) makes her nervous, I find her heeling on her own.”

That makes sense, because a) she learned to heel when she was in “group mode”—a dog can’t really learn to heel without doing that, no matter what the trainer thinks is happening—and b) you’ve established your role as a ground wire for her energy.

“Last night we got new toys from a Secret Santa and I noticed something I've never thought of before. When she's very high strung (new toys usually do this), she's very jumpy and bitey, but the moment I throw the toy, she runs to get it, but instead of returning to me all the time, she sometimes lays down and starts biting nervously (she'll never make a schutzhund dog!) and vocalizing (high waah-waahs). This means she's offloading her nervous energy into the toy (solo behavior) and not good, correct?”

Right on both counts (but who says she'll never make a ShutzHund dog?). The vocalizing is a real tip off to nervousness, but the way she attacks the toy, kind of “jealously,” also shows that she’s in solo mode: she doesn’t want to share her experience with anyone.

“So what I did was to praise her, tease her with another toy, and she experienced some internal conflict - she wanted to come to me, but didn't want to stop piano-biting the first toy and still made waah-waah noises. I kept praising her, telling her OK Ready???, and finally if she didn't come to me instead of the solo behavior, I kept saying HUP HUP HUP over and over.

“Eventually she reached some sort of stress threshold, but instead of shutting down, she dropped the first toy, ran to me, Hupped, and I threw the second toy.

“I did this for a couple more rounds, and by the third round, she was much better about returning to me for the second toy.

“I tried it again outside this AM, but she was a lot more distracted, so I said DOWN when she was entrenched in her solo behavior (after I threw a stick), and then walked a couple 100 yards away from her. I then recalled her, then did it again, and by the second recall, she was returning like a bullet. She played fetch/tug with the stick much better right after.

“Am I on the right track or am I straying, do you think?”

You’re on the right track, but it seems to me that you’re still in management mode. I think you need to figure out how to improve the whole system so that Summer’s energy doesn’t build up to such a level. Being a ground wire is fine, but you also need to really clean out her pipes, so to speak.

I think boywunder is in a similar state of stasis in his work with Roxy. He has his little ways of reducing her energy—and he’s doing great with them, just as you are with Summer—but I think he also needs to clean out Roxy’s pipes.

I mean, think about it: when you pick up a dog from boarding and you notice that she’s really badly on edge, that should tell you two things:

First, it should tell you that the person doing the boarding probably did something very mean and possibly quite nasty to Roxy, otherwise Roxy—who’s quite a sweet and tenderhearted dog underneath it all—wouldn’t have come home with this kind of negative energy seething up inside of her.

And secondly—and I think more importantly—if Roxy were in a more stable state emotionally when she had been dropped for boarding, and if she didn’t need to rely on Sang being there so much to ground her energy all the time—then a) she wouldn’t have done whatever it was that caused the kennel owner to treat her badly, and b) even if the kennel owner had been watching too much Cesar Millan, it would’ve rolled off Roxy’s back a little more easily.

One thing about Summer that’s quite important to remember is that she’s got this constant need to be given new and interesting tasks to do. So to improve her operating system you’ll probably need to work on areas where she shows the least ability to focus.

It seems to me that sometimes as trainer/owners we let OUR needs to see what the dog can do well get in the way of making real progress. Sometimes we need to see cool or “spectacular” results, so we tell ourselves, “Well this other stuff isn’t this particular dog’s strong suit, so I’ll keep working on the stuff she likes.” I mean, face it, we like showing off, don’t we?

So the trick is to find a way to make the dog like—or better yet, LOVE—the kind of stuff she would normally hate to do. That’s what the conflict training I did with Freddie was all about. He loved digging in sandboxes. So? What’s the harm? Let him, right? It burns off a lot of energy. It’s not like he’s getting into the neighbor’s yard. It’s a sandbox. Yes, but it’s solo mode, not group mode. I was letting him find his own way to ground his energy because a) I didn’t think I could pull off what I wanted to do, and/or b) I didn’t think Fred had it in him. I was wrong on both counts and Freddie was much better off in a lot of ways once I did it.

Summer has herding blood in her. So heeling and coming when called and that kind of stuff comes easy. (Well, now that I remember what she was like when I first met her, maybe not SO easy!)

Roxy has more of the independent nature of the terrier in her. So she comes equipped with less of a tendency to gravitate toward group mode. So Sang might want to think of ways to challenge her in THOSE areas.

I guess what I’m saying is focus on your dog’s weaknesses and try to turn them into strengths. When you do, the dog will turn YOUR weaknesses into strengths as well. And I don’t just mean your weaknesses as a trainer, but whatever weaknesses you might have in regards to becoming a better human being. It’s always a two-way street with dog training; they teach us as much (if not more than) we do them.

And a raise of hands: who’s done the Frankenstein with their dog? And who’s STOPPED doing the pushing exercise?

LCK

Dog-ma said...

What a very clear post, Lee! One of the transforming experiences I've had with my two 'problem' dogs has to do with aligning our energies and me being able to transform their energy. The energy the owner is giving off, ime, really plays a role in how a dog will respond in a given situation.

Before I take Roman, my dog reactive GSD, to the dog park (actually, we only go to areas that have trails to hike,beaches etc. where dogs can run off leash...I don't go to dog parks where people just stand around) I make sure he is 'grounded' by either a what I call 'focus walk' (brisk heeling for a mile or so at his jog pace) or fetch with the ball...THEN we have no problems and he can socialize politely with other dogs. If we don't, and his energy is ramped up, he will most likely charge the first dog he sees and bite...not to puncture or fight, more like a herding dog with sheep...then immediately come back to me. If I don't ground him, I can still stop this behavior by calling him to jump and bite at the leash I carry when he sees that first dog.

I do have a question about a dog's personal energy.Roman is now a very social guy and he's never fought a dog or caused damage...but, every once in a while other dogs (usually neutered males) will try to put paws on his back (he just moves away) or full on 'attack' him after sniffing him (always all teeth, no blood and it's over quickly as I usually can get the dog off of him by yelling off and putting myself between them...I've also stopped dogs charging him by doing this). I'm always asked if he is intact and he is neutered. People tell me their dogs are acting like he is intact. Roman is always walking with tail up, ears up, so I wonder if he's giving off some signals I'm not aware of? It's also interesting that the last time he was attacked by a large lab mix, and he was trying to come to me (the owner was down the path, duh!)Tikka, my yorkie/shih tzu launched herself at this dog snapping at its face! That gave Roman a chance to get away to me, and I could OFF the dog away from both of my dogs.

I'd like to comment more on this interesting post, and I have a few more questions, since it resonates so much with me, but I'm off to a Christmas dinner! Happy Howlidaze!

summerinbrooklyn said...

Hi Lee, Merry Christmas!

Thanks for the comment. You're definitely right - I need to work on cleaning out her pipes. In her case, is it about pushing her to deal with higher levels of stress in a group mode and not to download her energy into a solo mode? I'm still a little unclear on that.

She's quite a strange dog. She's high drive in some circumstances, but what I really would love is to be able to essentially turn it on and off with specific things. I'll give an example - if it's just us two, outdoors, she has to be in a specific mood to play with the ball. For example, if we sneak into a tennis court (something about the way the court feels, the way the ball bounces on the hard court, the way she can run more freely), or if we come across another dog who is interested in Summer's ball. This morning we ran into Henry and Amanda in FGP, and Summer wanted Hen's ball, and vice versa. So we actually traded balls for a bit.

And for tug, she'll want to play AFTER we walk away from a group of people, or when she passes a dog who makes her nervous. Also, in FGP, if I run down a small hill, across the asphalt footpath onto the big field, she'll run after me, jumping at my side and will want to tug.

I would like to have her tug when I present the toy to her, maybe on a voice cue. Sometimes I am trying to interest her in the tug or the ball, and she would be focused on something else.

I'm wondering if I need to work more on pushing.

I haven't done much of that lately, mostly just asking her to hup on me instead.

To improve her focus, do you think I'll need to work on not only the pushing, but to try the Frankenstein exercise?

Is teaching her some simple protection work similar to the frankenstein exercise and would it be a good substitute? We did an exercise once with Tyril where T had me hold her with a short leash to let her feel the pressure. Then T advanced from behind a tree, brandishing a stick and making threatening noises, saying things like, I'm going to get you etc. She looked really on edge, and I could tell she was nervous - ears back, scruff standing. T came closer, and slapped the ground with the stick, and she started making these high pitched barks, but as he got closer, she started a low growling. She finally let out some more high pitched barks, and he started turning away and moving away. He didn't want to stress her further, and he said the moving away will help her build confidence, and that the more we do this, her barks will get lower and lower.

It was a temperament test to see if she had the nerve to do some protection work. He said that she might never bite, but that I could teach her to bark threatening on command if I wanted.

We never did more of that work, but I'm actually interested in working on that more.

Is that similar to the frankenstein exercise with the second person, as described by Neil?

I say she won't make a schutzhund dog only because I don't know if she would have the nerve to bite someone, and more importantly, not piano bite if she could even do bitework.

When we play tug, I'm working on her piano bite by flinging her around as she is biting the tug. The flinging seems to ramp up her drive, and as that happens, her bite is fuller and harder.

I'm actually very interested in learning how to do schutzhund work through NDT methods. Mostly everyone does schutzhund with either e-collars, or through clicker style training (though I have no idea how clicker trainers work on schutzhund... I DO know that there are people who train for that using clicker methods...)

Sorry for the rambling post... I'm trying to write and gather my thoughts at the same time...

Love the direction of this thread though - I feel like this is NDT taken at a deeper level - and even though I'm still thoroughly confused over how I should use those methods to work on more advanced stuff with Summer, it's helping me think about training at a whole new level... Thanks again Lee!

Happy holidays everyone!

boywunder said...

Excellent points and insights Lee. You're totally right about needing to build up Roxy's ability to handle situations better, so that she can handle more of the stress that's thrown at her. In fact, the boarding, though necessary, was also kind of an experiment to see how she would do without me there. But, as I suspected, she just wasn't ready for that much stress and energy.

And you're also right about dogs teaching us things about ourselves. Because of Roxy, I've had to deal with a lot of my own personal issues, and continue to do so in order to make progress with her. I've realized a lot of things about myself, and by trying to figure her out, I've had to do a lot of self reflection. And it's made me, and continues to make me a better person. Or at least I hope so:)

So I've been going back to basics the past few weeks. Pushing and tug. And she's starting to settle down again. It really is quite easy to fall into behavior management, rather than moving forward. Something I need to work on myself. But hey, whoever said growth was easy:)

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Dog-Ma wrote: "Roman is always walking with tail up, ears up, so I wonder if he's giving off some signals I'm not aware of?"

I would phrase it differently -- he's giving off some kind of energy you're not aware of -- but, I think you're right.

summerinbrooklyn wrote: "I'm wondering if I need to work more on pushing.

"To improve her focus, do you think I'll need to work on not only the pushing, but to try the Frankenstein exercise?"

Yes. But again, it's not a matter of improving her focus, it's a matter of reducing the drag on her energy flow. What happens is that her system gets overloaded with nervous tension/electrical energy. That's what her vocalizing shows you. The throat is a secondary release valve for strong emotional energy that can't be released in any other way. (If you think about it, it's also why opera was invented.)

SiB: "Is teaching her some simple protection work similar to the frankenstein exercise and would it be a good substitute?"

Yes. And while I think Tyril was on the right track, I don't think he's doing it the way Kevin or Neil or I would. The goal is to set it up so you get that intense, full-throated bark out of here, right out of the box, so to speak.

Remember, it's kind of like making a kid shriek on Halloween. You don't want to make the kid go crying to mama: you want a full-throated shriek. It's a bit like primal scream therapy.

So when you tell me that Summer didn't do give this her full throat, and that Tyril moved away when she showed a bit too much nervous tension, I think that was a mistake. I also think there must've been something a little off about the set up. Personally, *I* wouldn't have used the stick and I wouldn't have turned away or moved away like that when she showed any increase in tension. I would've acted even more threatening, but I would've also been sending her subtle signals that it was just a game.

Here's how I do it:

I let the dog see me from a minimum of 20 feet away.

When she does, I go into a "stalking stance," my head extended forward from the neck, my eyes as wide as I can make them.

Then I put my hands up above my shoulders, palms forward, fingers slightly curled. It's almost as if I have three heads, if you can imagine what I mean. (To the dog this supposedly resonates with the shape of antlers, which is encoded deep somewhere in her DNA.

And again, if the dog whines, etc., that would indicate to that I hadn't scared her quite enough. So I'd exaggerate everything and move slowly toward her.

I'd also give her a low growl. I do that to create a flow of energy between my throat center and hers, not necessarily to scare her. (Anyone who does a good zombie or Frankenstein always has some sort of scary sound coming from their throat box too.)

There are only 3 reactions a dog will have to this: flight, fight, or freeze. Most dogs will initially freeze. You NEVER want to do this with a dog who's likely to flee. As I said above, I think I also give the dog some kind of subtle clue that I'm just playing a game. Not too much. It's really nothing more than radiating a gentle feeling of the love I have for the dog mixed in with the threatening stuff.

THEN when she barks, THAT'S when *I* would move away from her. But I wouldn't just move way, I'd either run away, laughing, but I'd also be saying, "Oh, no! Don't kill me!" An alternative ending to the game is that if I'm close enough to her by the time the "pipe-cleaning" bark comes out of her throat, I'd just fall on the ground and let her jump on top of me crying, "Oh, no! You got me! You killed me!" I'd also be laughing.

boywunder: "And you're also right about dogs teaching us things about ourselves. Because of Roxy, I've had to deal with a lot of my own personal issues, and continue to do so in order to make progress with her. I've realized a lot of things about myself, and by trying to figure her out, I've had to do a lot of self reflection."

The funny thing is, dogs don't experience themselves as being separate from us. If you saw the recent internet video of the dog in Chile rescuing his companion -- who'd just been hit by a car -- with this in mind, you'd know what I'm talking about.

So when you say that you've been forced to do a lot of self-reflection, while that's true from your "self-"ish perspective, dogs are the ones who are really doing the self-reflection: that's because to Roxy there's no difference between you and her. So whatever emotional issues you might have lurking in your subconscious mind are automatically her issues as well. Dogs can't separate themselves and their experiences from the ones they love.

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

one more question... will working on the frankenstein exercise/protection work make her less or more alert on walks? I'm curious. She's got true guarding blood in her - when she sees something out of the ordinary, she immediately goes into a VERY alert stance - neck arched, ears fully forward, body stiff, tail VERY high, sometimes scruff showing. She'll sometimes emit a low rumbling growl, and if I don't continue walking, but turn to face the "threat" with her, she'll give out one of her super loud, super low clipped barks. Just once or twice. I usually praise her and smooth her scruff a little, then continue walking. Sometimes I ask for a Hup.

I don't mind this behavior, only because she doesn't continue it for long and irritate the neighbors...

The other night, as we were walking TO fort greene park (she's always more alert TO the park, less so walking home though she does sometimes display alertness), this man walked out from between parked cars very suddenly, and stepped literally two feet to the side of her. She jumped to the side, whipped her head around and let loose a barrage of low loud barks - she sounded no different from a K-9 dog in full "I'm-Going-To-Get-You" mode. The guy was shocked and scared and cursed us out. I just told him, hey you startled her. We walked further away and i gave her a lot of praise. I actually was glad she reacted the way she did, even though the poor guy didn't mean any harm. I felt at least I know she has it in her, and if push came to shove, I know she would never let anyone try to mess with me... She's a harder-nerved dog than I give her credit for, which is why I'm newly interested in protection work...

I wish I could get you to help us with the Frankenstein work! I'm moving back to Singapore with her in early January... When we're there, I might join the German Shepherd Dog Club in Singapore - they do schutzhund work there.. the only thing is they use e-collars there, which is why I'd be interested in talking to you and Kevin and Neil about how to do schutzhund work using NDT. NO E-COLLARS FOR US! :)

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Hi, SiB,

Sorry to hear you guys are moving so far away! I guess they do get SOME internet service there, though, right?

To answer your questions, I don't think the Frankenstein will increase her "guardedness." Here's why: your physical description of her when she's "on alert" is a textbook example of too much electrical energy; a dog's hackle's can't go up unless they're first activated by an electric current in the dog's body. (Think of a cartoon character getting an electric shock; the cartoonist always makes the whole body look like its hackles are up.)

This won't prevent her from protecting you either. If anything it will only improve her skills in that area because she'll be less jumpy, both literally and figuratively. She WILL still feel threatened when you feel threatened though. (Did that guy make you jump the other night, or did Summer do that on her own, with no emotional input from you?)

And remember, police K-9s are the most relaxed, unruffled dogs on the planet. Nothing fazes them. So while Summer may never get to that level, I think she'll be a lot more balanced overall if you do the Frankenstein properly: no sticks, and no turning away until she shows some of that blue steel spine.

When are you leaving? We could certainly do something next week, or perhaps even this weekend...

LCK

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

One other thing: the Frankenstein is a way of reducing drag on the dog's energy system, right? Less drag means less electrical build-up. Less electricity means more magnetism. More magnetism means the dog is more likely to stay in a group mood, which means she'll be MORE in synch with what you're feeling.

Electrical energy is good for some things, but it tends to be choppy, time-dependent, and causes the dog to seek some form of stabilization. Magnetism is flowing, it exists in real time, and creates more of a floating than an off-balance feeling in the dog. Think of the difference between a subway train -- which runs on electricity and is bouncy and often puts you off-balance -- and a mag-lev train -- which gives you a much smoother ride. If Summer is amped up on electricity and a guy appears out of nowhere, it's like a sudden bounce in the subway train. If she's running more on magnetism she'll feel less startled, jarred, or thrown off balance by such things.

I hope this helps you understand it a little better,

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

Hi Lee,

Yes your last explanation is really helping me understand it better.

You're right, when the guy appeared out of nowhere, it was on a street that:
a) had an empty fenced in lot on the side we were on
b) was a little on the dark side (because of the empty lot - houses tend to be lit up outside)

It was in the evening (when she tends to be more "electrically charged up" from me being at work all day - plus it was dark.

I'm wondering now if when I return home after a day away, when I take her out, we should work on more pushing right at the beginning of the walk, to increase her magnetism and to reduce that electrical buildup...

That guy DID make me jump too, come to think of it. I remember my heart immediately jumping, and no doubt she would have felt that spike in my own electrical energy.

Summer is SUCH an interesting dog... sometimes she makes me really confused, but now that this thread is becoming more understandable to me, I'm beginning to see her behaviors in a new way, and it's really helping me think of new things I can try with her...

I'd LOVE to have you help us with the frankenstein! But unfortunately, I can't afford you, lol! Nonetheless, I'm going to send your blog to friends of mine, who have a shepherd mix who reminds me very much of Summer - Molly is part dutch I think - she's smaller than a GSD would be, but she's also got some brindle in her, which rules out belgians. She's VERY nervous, always pacing, always moving, always barking at things... I thought she would be the perfect candidate for you.

Dog-ma said...

Thank you all for an interesting discussion! I'm now interested in trying this Frankenstein on Roman. I expect he'll just stand there, alert. If you are familiar with the ATTS temperament test, there is a section on 'reaction to threatening stranger'. Roman just stood staring at the guy, then at me (I had to remain neutral), then at the guy, cool as can be...no barking, no hackles,no fear...he moved in front of me but was relaxed. Other dogs either tried to get away in fear or were full on lunging. We live in San Francisco and run into 'strangers' suddenly at times. Even if I jump (usually this happens on our nightly walks and someone suddenly comes around a corner), Roman never seems to spook. He's never growled, barked or lifted a lip at a human. This is a high drive GSD, too...but I've worked hard on having him look to me in all situations.

On another note, I do use an e collar with Roman for off leash work (actually, I hardly ever need to stimulate him now). It actually had a calming effect on him and he not only stopped obsessing but now is so ball driven to play with me (he used to be obsessed to chase dogs chasing balls but had no ball drive himself), even if other dogs are around playing ball. So, while some people think these are cruel tools,and they certainly are NOT for everyone, especially an untrained dog, it was the best tool to help Roman and he's much happier and so focused on me without the obsessions. Just my experience, fwiw.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Hey, dog-ma,

Thanks for your input.

As you can see from this discussion, too much electrical energy is often very problematic for dogs. It can create problems. So perhaps you can understand better now why I don't recommend using electronic collars. I'm not saying this wasn't helpful with Roman. I wouldn't know. But just as a general rule it's best to err on the side of less electricity.

LCK

boywunder said...

Whoa, I came back and all of the sudden there were 13 posts! Awesome:)

Lee, the thing you mentioned about how dogs can't distinguish between themselves and us is an idea I was just recently contemplating. I was thinking about how the common adage has always been that dogs reflect us and the world around them. That they pick up on the energy and emotions from either their "packmates", or their human counterparts, and then react accordingly. But then it kind of struck me one morning. They don't just pick up what we're feeling, they essentially become us, or the dogs around them.

Example: When Jackie sees something on the hill behind our house, or anywhere else for that matter, and she takes off after it, Roxy will immediately take off with her, even though before that moment she was off somewhere else, seemingly unaware of what was going on moments before. But the energy that was flowing through Jackie was so pure in that moment, that it jumped over to Roxy and she essentially became Jackie, doing what Jackie is doing. This of course works the other way as well. So when Roxy gets too energized by another dog coming near her, that energy jumps over to Jackie, and Jackie now becomes Roxy, barking and trying to get to the other dog even though on her own she wouldn't behave that way. If she were able to separate her own feelings from Roxy's feelings, she would know that that energy is coming from Roxy, and then know to not behave as Roxy is behaving. But since she can't make that distinction, she only knows that in that moment she is now Roxy, so she of course does what Roxy would do.

Living with multiple dogs definitely lets you see this dynamic all the time. This ability that dogs have to become someone else, whether that be another dog or a human. Which, of course, is why our own issues come out in our dogs. They can't help it, since they're just doing what is natural to them. Like you said, they can't distinguish between us and them. They're not just feeling what we're feeling. Instead, they are us. It seems like a minor point, or maybe semantics to some people. But I think it's really important to acknowledge the difference between saying that our dogs feel what we feel, and understanding that our dogs actually become who we are. So that crazy terrier is actually a little me, not just some version of me.

I don't know if that makes any sense. I haven't quite figured out a good way to explain it. But it was a pretty profound realization when I had it.

On another note, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

boywunder: "When Jackie sees something on the hill behind our house, or anywhere else for that matter, and she takes off after it, Roxy will immediately take off with her, even though before that moment she was off somewhere else, seemingly unaware of what was going on moments before. But the energy that was flowing through Jackie was so pure in that moment, that it jumped over to Roxy and she essentially became Jackie, doing what Jackie is doing. This of course works the other way as well. So when Roxy gets too energized by another dog coming near her, that energy jumps over to Jackie, and Jackie now becomes Roxy, barking and trying to get to the other dog even though on her own she wouldn't behave that way."

You're on the right track, but as you said, you're still struggling.

How so?

First of all the energy doesn't jump from one dog to the other. It's more like they're both connected to the same energetic network and when one dog feels a sudden surge (due to the fact that from her particular vantage point within the network her sensory organs pick up something that energizes HER). That information/energy is passed along to others much like a wave passes energy throughout the whole pond when one pebble gets tossed in.

It might help if you try to imagine one of those illustrations of the universe in terms of Einstein's time/space continuum, where gravity causes the fabric of space/time to warp. In like manner this network consciousness that connects dogs to their "packmates," is like a sheet or blanket that's pulled fairly tightly, but not too tight.

The sensory input of Jackie seeing something beyond the hill or Roxy seeing another dog (or Summer's owner being surprised at night by a man appearing out of nowhere) is like the shock that piece of fabric would feel if let's say a pool ball or a rock were dropped onto it. The force of that heavy object affects the whole fabric at once, and it's felt by anyone who's connected to it.

So Jackie doesn't "become" Roxy. As far as Jackie is concerned she IS Roxy and Roxy is her and they're both you. Or rather they don't have any "she" and "her" and "you" in their vocabulary or in their little black box; they only have these waves of energy, and how some waves create pleasurable feelings, some create unpleasant ones, and some responses reduce tension and others increase it. That's all they know: tension and release, ebb and flow.

Granted, thinking this way takes a little getting used to. Dogs certainly seem to have a separate identity from us AND from one another, particularly when they're in solo mood and want to steal food, balls, or bones from their playmates, or sneak off where we can't see them so they can do something they shouldn't "oughta."

Plus they DO tend to look at us when we call their names, which gives US the impression that they have a sense of "self." But they really don't, or if they DO, it's a very rudimentary sense, one that's shaped more by something called embodied embedded cognition -- where the "mind" isn't located just in the brain, but is a combination of mind, body, environment, and a backlog of their experiences. And the more experience a dog has of relating to a human being, the "smarter" the dog actually becomes.

One thing that MIGHT help understand this is that feralized domesticated dogs have smaller brains than dogs who live in a human household. This flies in the face of reason because, well, surely a dog who has to be focused on survival would be using her brain a lot more than one who's pampered and whose survival needs are all taken care of. Right?

Yes, but what causes this increase in brain mass is the increased amount of human energy the dog has to process on a daily basis: mental, emotional, and kinetic energy.

I had four dogs with me today. And after they'd romped themselves silly, they all fell asleep. And while I was at the computer, or watching TV, if one of the dogs got up to go get a drink of water or find a more comfortable spot, the others might've opened one eye or lifted their head, but they pretty much stayed motionless. The energy of the other dog's movements had little effect on them. But as soon as *I* got up from the computer they were suddenly all awake, stretching and then wagging their tails. And if I started to put my shoes on! Well, then they got really energized and started jumping around and "attacking" each other again in play.

It's the emobodied embedded cognition in the dog/human interaction that makes dogs seem smarter than they are. And it's the same equation written backwards that can make us more complete human beings if we let it.

Anyway, that's how I see it.

LCK

boywunder said...

You're right Lee. It does take a while to start thinking and seeing things in this light.

Your explanation of connectedness really helps clarify my own thoughts. If we go beyond "just" the dogs, we can see that we are all connected by this shared energy, therefore we also are all the same. Sorry, not trying to get too metaphysical, but animals are obviously much more in tune with this concept and way of being than humans, since they don't know any other way to be. But that doesn't mean it doesn't apply to us humans too:)

I'm going to have to bake on that a little while, because you're right. It isn't that the energy jumps from one dog to another, thereby becoming each other. Since Roxy and Jackie are connected by this fabric, then they of course would be one and the same, being connected by this fabric all the time.

It's starting to become a lot clearer now, and it's making more sense. I need to digest it all some more though to fully grasp it. But you're explanation really helps put me in the right direction. You really have a way of explaining and communicating things clearly. Which is why I love talking about this stuff with you. Thanks:)

summerinbrooklyn said...

Hi everyone!

I tried the Frankenstein exercise with Summer this morning, but I guess I didn't do it right... I tied her leash to a tree at a very quiet wooded area in the park, then I went about 100 yards away, put my big fluffy hood on my head, and crouched down low, and made low gruff growly noises and held my hands to at head level, and lumbered towards her. She looked at me a little quizzically at first, like, "WTH, I know it's you."
Then she started barking a little bit - a bit high pitched at first. But she didn't start barking until I was literally 5 feet away from her jumping around and kicking my legs behind me like an angry moose, growling and huffing. And her barks were high pitched almost like, "Mama, knock it off! You're making me nervous!" After about 1 min of me behaving like a goon, and her alternating between a high bark and a quizzical look, she finally emitted a couple of lower barks, so I ran off behind a tree, called out good girl, took off my hood and came back. She looked at me like, Good, you stopped behaving like an idiot.

Maybe I need to do it with a second person... She doesn't seem to react to me being the monster...

Also, I did this in mid walk when she was already getting her yayas out running and zooming along the wooded paths in the park... So maybe I shoudl be doing this when she still has some pent up energy from being home all day...

ANyway, an interesting experiment, and I'm looking forward to trying this again in a better setting!

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Hi, SiB,

Maybe I shouldn't call it the Frankenstein; it might've given you the wrong impression. You're not supposed to be a monster, you're supposed to be a predator. So more "stalking" and less kicking your legs behind you, etc.

Also, once those full-throated barks come out of her throat she has to be able to come at you full force; tying her up was a limiting factor for that part of the exercise.

Still, I wish I'd'a been there to witness this spectacle!

summerinbrooklyn said...

Ahhhh... ok ha I did feel like an idiot! When you say "come at me" do you mean almost aggressively? Like threaten to bite? So I shouldn't tie her leash up?

Sometimes when we play outside, I "stalk" her - I stand hunched over and do hold my arms out with my head hanging at shoulder level and stare at her. She either responds with no interest, or if she's more energetic, she'll play bow at me and jump around like a pogo stick and does short zoomies around me. Then I stand up straight and call out HUP and she runs into me and jumps up and bounces off my chest. If she's super riled up, she'll grab my arm (as she does in the heeling exercise sometimes)...

How do i get her from doing that to giving me the full throated bark?

Now I really want to do protection work with her! I think it'll do her a world of good to let it all out... :D

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

SiB: "When you say 'come at me' do you mean almost aggressively?"

Yes. For a fraction of a second the dog should want to sink her teeth into you and bite your ass.

"So I shouldn't tie her leash up?"

No, because that prevents her from coming at you. In other words, you're building up some immense internal pressure which HAS to be released INTO YOU. Being tied up prevented her from doing that.

However, if you're going to try this on your own, without an assistant, you have to be careful as to where you do it. The dog CAN'T have an escape route.

"Sometimes when we play outside, I 'stalk' her ... She either responds with no interest, or if she's more energetic, she'll play bow at me and jump around like a pogo stick and does short zoomies around me. Then I stand up straight and call out HUP and she runs into me and jumps up and bounces off my chest. If she's super riled up, she'll grab my arm ... How do I get her from doing that to giving me the full throated bark?"

I know. The problem is, you've already done the exercise in such a way that you've given her an alternative release. The zoomies are a good sign in that she's "orbiting" around you. That means she's got a strong mixture of attraction and resistance.

But instead of standing up straight and giving her the "Hup!" when she's in orbit around me, I would continue stalking her; I'd even amp it up a little by making my stalking stance even more exaggerated. Plus I'd use MY voice -- growling at her in as low a tone as possible -- to stimulate her to use HERS. I would keep stalking and really, really threaten her, down to her toes, until I heard that wonderful full-throated bark come out of her mouth, then I'd run away laughing.

If she grips your arm when she catches you, that's good. But of course you have to immediately re-direct her energy into a tug toy.

I hope this helps,

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

Hi Lee, yes this helps a lot! So I should be doing this sort of backing her up into a corner? Like against a chain link fence or something? The funny thing is I've been playing like this sometimes on our own for a long time without knowing what it was! Ha! But now I know...

One other thing I remembered. Sometimes when we were out with a friend, he'll go into a "I'm Gonna Git You" play thing with, and sometimes he has his bicycle and would wheel that around circling around her. She'd react by barking high pitched at first, then eventually would bark loudly at him. I'd tell her to bite him laughingly, and her tail would be high and waving like a flag. She seemed to be "laughing" when the game was done too. I'm definitely trying this a lot more especially after we move... Thanks again!

Dog-ma said...

Happy New Year, Lee! I want to thank you for all of the information you have provided on this blog. I'm so grateful to have discovered it in 2008 along with reading "Natural Dog Training" (I'm on a second read, a lot to digest).

I live in San Francisco, the epicenter, it seems for +R only/operant conditioning (Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, Trish King are all in this area, running academies, etc.) training. I wonder why we don't see more of Kevin's method? I was told I needed a trainer with experience in +R only science based methods to treat Roman's 'dominance aggression'...when it was clear this method was not helping, the famous behaviorist never referred me on but would have continued to take my money. I was told not to use compulsion training because prongs would make him aggressive and more dangerous since he would learn to suppress his aggression signals. My experience was that their methods made him worse. Until I met my current trainer, I was never told what to do with his energy! Now he tugs and fetches and plays with other dogs (unheard of before)...Now if I can only get my small mix to play with other dogs (she's 7 but loves to play with me, so I can live with that).

On another note, is the purpose of the Frankenstein exercise another way to release tension? Is it better I am the Frankenstein or an assistant?

Again, thank you and wishing you a peaceful 2009.

Angela

Dog-ma said...

p.s. I was LOL imagining SiB's performance! I would have paid to see that.

Also, I don't mean to criticize Ian Dunbar, Jean Donaldson, etc. but I also don't think their methods are completely benign, either, and can, imo, leave the average dog owner confused and frustrated.

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

The Frankenstein is designed to clean the dog's emotional pipes and give him courage to face his fears head on. Essentially it creates more emotional stability. Kevin calls this "blue steel." I call it spine.

I think you should communicate your feelings to the famous behaviorist who worked with Roman and got nowhere. She might feel she's being attacked, so I would go easy on the part of her psyche that's attached to her ideology, and how her identity centers around being knowledgable about dogs.

"What we tried with Roman didn't work. In fact it seemed to make matters worse. It wasn't until I switched to a brand new method, which is partially based on behavioral science and partially on how wolves hunt by working in harmony, that ..." And then you give her the same list of changes you've given here.

(Notice I suggested you say "What 'we' tried with Roman...")

If it was Jean Donaldson she might be open to hearing this. She's been talking a lot about the "predatory sequence" lately. If it was Pat Miller she might not be so open because from what I understand she used to be focused on dominance but "saw the light." It's an uphill battle to get a convert to go against his or her new belief system.

I don't know enough about Trish King to make a comment.

At any rate, expressing not your dissatisfaction but your "wonderful news" about Roman's progress, which you attribute mainly to using this new method but also partly to some of the things she taught you, might move things in the right direction, If she's capable of learning something outside her paradigmatic comfort zone, that would eventually help other dogs (and their owners) who might come to this woman for help.

It's up to you, though.

LCK

Dog-ma said...

While I see the validity in speaking with this behaviorist, I don't feel comfortable doing so. It was four years ago and, to be honest, nothing she did with us helped. I know others (ironically, who have found my new trainer) who had a similar experience. Plus, I don't think she liked Roman much, anyway.

It wasn't Pat Miller or J Donaldson. In fact, I also worked with one of Jean's trainers and DID have a lot of success in controlled situations. I also got to see Jean work at her academy and have a lot of respect for her, and she was really good with Roman and 'got him'.Roman got really good at their facility, but was still a problem IRL, and I just couldn't continue using the GL.

I'm sure if I ran into these trainers now, they'd think I'm terrible for using a prong and ecollar!

Anyway, I hear what you are saying about helping the people who go to this behaviorist, but I'm just not in a position to make much of a difference.

BTW, do you know of any NDT trainers in the bay area? I'm curious...

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

No, sorry.

And what does IRL mean?

LCK

summerinbrooklyn said...

IRL = in real life

did I get that right?

Angela, guess it's up to you to start a NDT training trend in the bay area! You'll prob come up with a lot of resistance since +R training has a stronghold there, but I'm sure there are other people with experiences similar to both you and I in that arena!

And, yeah the GL makes me sad...

Lee Charles Kelley, said...

Thanks, SiB. I'm not up on all the internet patois.

And I think you're right about Angela starting something going in the Bar Area. I've already got someone interested in Portland, OR, and MAYBE someone in Washington State.

And you can be in charge of the Pacific Rim!

LCK

Dog-ma said...

Oh, now you guys have me interested! I'm actually talking with my trainer (though not a NDT, he does good work) about apprenticing...I just can't stand all the poor people and dogs that are spending money and not getting results! There is such a rise in confused and aggressive dogs here, not sure how it is back east.

Lee, I really wish Roman and I could work with you! I'm visiting Boston in Feb and thought of also scheduling a consult with Neil S, since he is close-ish in Portland.

One thing I love about what I'm learning with NDT is that it can be used even if one is only into +R or someone like me who finds the 'shocks' helpful on a prong collar (actually, we are at a point Roman will respond with a simple buckle).

Hmmm...am I too old to make a career change at 43? Given our Calif budget and all the cuts in education (I"m a teacher), I may not have a job come June...I'm going to have to give this some serious thought...

boywunder said...

Hey Mrs. Dogma, never too late to make a career change. I'm 36 now and considering it myself. I'll do it if you do it:) We can be west coast Natural Dog Trainers. You can work in Cali, and I can handle the northwest. People in the midwest will have to fend for themselves:) LOL.

summerinbrooklyn said...

Hah! Me too! I'm 38, and if I don't find a job back in SG working in broadcast (what I've been doing), I'm going to try my hand at dog training! My friends think all I need to do is go out in public and work Summer, and people would naturally gravitate towards that. I do have to teach her some fancy new tricks though. Jumping through my arms only gets you that far...