Did you know that the bright corona around a star is usually only seen during an eclipse, when everything else is dark?
I went to the grocery store yesterday and I could see barely contained panic in the eyes of the checkout guy. The muscles in his face stood out as he scanned my items. Touching things and trying not to touch them at the same time. I guessed that it might be related to coronavirus and said it must be hard to be around so many people for his work right now. He said yes, if it gets any worse, he's just going to stay home.
I know this is a challenging time, and I honor the sadness and fear in all of us. I felt some bleakness start to overtake me for a moment, my thoughts spinning. Then I recognized that as my old programming, and that the tightness in my body was just my fight or flight instincts kicking in.
I remembered that this is one of those times where I don't have a lot of control. That I can do my part, but I don't have to fix this. It's like that moment in a dream when I fall and know that there's nothing to do but accept what is happening, to face it with curiosity.
I lost my husband last year and it was so painful that I can hardly describe it. And yet now there is new life in all of the cracks of my heart. I am grateful for the friendships I have and I am more honest and compassionate with myself than ever. Grief is a healer. Life is oh so different, and his death will always contribute to my world view and my ability to be here.
Things are going to get worse before they get better. Schools closed all over the US today. Other countries have shut down already.
Can you pause right now for a moment to slowly exhale everything you're holding in? Take another deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and exhale that over the count of 10. And repeat one more time.
There's an opportunity here. When all of our services close down to prevent the spread of the virus, it reminds me of how very interconnected we all are. We are not on our own in this life. We have support.
The man in the grocery store, he helps me get my food. He's part of a long chain of beings who make it possible for me to live life the way I do. Bees, farmers, truck drivers, the woman who designs the label on my food, the man who cleans the floor, the people who built the building I shop in. My local farmer's market, the people I barter with for cabbages in the summer.
Every single one with a heart and a life of their own. And that's just a fraction of the people it takes to bring this all together. The people who hire me to teach them about dogs, the dogs who had trouble and needed help, the people who make the computer I type on, the people I learned from... we are all interconnected.
And this virus reminds me that we are all made of the same human bodies, that we are so similar that a virus can pass from one of us to the other.
Kindness, joy, love...let those also continue to be spread. Let the love I hold in my heart arrive into yours. May gratitude for the kind word or smile you got or gave recently brighten your day. Times like this can bring out some bad things, but they also bring out the very best in us. Let yourself be kind, and see tiny acts of kindness everywhere. We humans help each other in times of survival.
Remembering that we are mortal may be one of the best things to come of this all. I would love it if we could learn to help each other thrive, even when this is all over and cooled off.
Right now, there's a big scare and we all feel a little more mortal. We are not making it out of this life alive.
But here's the thing, we were always going to die.
That's just how life works. So maybe we could help each other all the time, and remember we are all in this together. Not just in the middle of this challenge, but next year or the year after, when we have forgotten about this big scare. Let's take kindness with us everywhere.
Being human is a terminal disease, and frankly, I think that's a gift. Whatever I'm doing here as Grisha, it won't last forever. We don't have to worry about whether or not we will die. I can take that righ off of my to do list.
We will, eventually. Everyone I know, all of the dogs I will ever have, me. It's one thing I know for sure. Remembering that I will not be here forever lets me take a deep breath, accept my mortality, and focus on seeing how many wonderful things happen to me every single day. We only have a short time here, and yet we have an abundance of individual moments.
I savor this experience, right now, and live my life with purpose. Meditation practice allows me to not take my spinning thoughts seriously. I let them go and shift back to the moment. I feel what needs to be felt in my body, and shift back to the present.
Every interaction I have, I strive to be authentic to my own spirit and also improve the lives of those around me.
Live is lived in moments. And right now, I have dogs on the couch next to me. I'm warm, my belly is full. I have an abundance of all of the things I need in life in this exact moment.
So yes, there's a downside to coronavirus, but let's look more at the corona part. What else might this affect for the good?
- People have time to spend with family.
- People may remember to value contact with one another.
- Dogs on walks not being constantly petted by strangers, for fear of transmitting a virus. There may be a whole generation of puppies who show less reactivity because they were able to go on walks without being accosted. In Sweden, for example, people don't pet dogs out in public and I think it's great for them.
- People may prioritize their mental health for a while, taking a break from the go-go-go world we have created. This is a good time to practice daily meditation (or morning/night), start getting therapy online, read wholehearted books. If you need some ideas to shift toward wholeness, I teach an online course called How to Human. It's packed full of the tools and techniques that have been most helpful to me.
- People spending more time outdoors, in nature.
- People reconnecting with the ones they care about, using video chat, etc.
- Basic patterns of life are disrupted, so it's a good time to develop new habits and hobbies, if done mindfully.
- It's a good time to take a real look at what you do that feeds your soul and spirit, what helps the world be a better place.
Yes, all kinds of other things are possible. But we all get to choose for ourselves what to do right now. Do we take it as a challenge or a catastrophe? Regardless of the downside, there is always an up side.
We have, right now, a sort of permission slip to do something outside of the ordinary. Expectations of everyday life have shifted for a little while, as the world goes into hibernation.
The darkness is the best time to see what is light inside ourselves.
It is all going to be okay. Things always work out, one way or other. Life is more than okay. It's actually pretty amazing.
What are you doing with the gift of corona?
Also I'll leave you with this video. If you watch only one thing on the Internet this week, let it be this.
(photo credit at top: image by Wikipedia)
I was surprised to hear that there is still at least one Facebook group that doesn’t allow discussion of Behavior Adjustment Training (BAT) because of where they place it in the Humane Hierarchy. I’d post in the group directly, but I was banned years ago for daring to talk about BAT and besides, it may not be the only group that hasn't gotten around to updating their rules. So I wrote a Facebook post and I'm sharing here in my blog for posterity.
While I think it’s great for a well-informed group to take a stand to encourage humane protocols, the key point is ‘well-informed.’ I’d like to help anyone with outdated information get an accurate look at BAT.
Certified BAT Instructors are required to adhere to the Least Invasive, Minimally Aversive principles of training and Joint Code of Ethics published by the CCPDT, IAABC, and the APDT.
BAT is used for many species, especially dogs with fear, aggression, and even frustration. It promotes learner agency, fosters better communication, and improves the well-being of all involved; as such, discussion of BAT should not just be allowed in modern dog training groups, but actively encouraged. I’m grateful for the many dog trainer groups that discuss BAT as a go-to method for reactivity.
BAT 2.0 lives in the least intrusive parts of behaviorist Susan Friedman’s Humane Hierarchy. I recently taught a seminar at ClickerExpo on the Evolution of BAT, where Susan re-verified that classification before I spoke.
Guest post by Kate Rehman of K9 Triumph Training
I am disabled young lady who has a service dog to mitigate my disabilities in my every day life. I do tons of charity volunteer training sessions which are private one on one with rescues, pets, fosters and service dogs.
When you at me, you won't see my disabilities; they're invisible. Rest assured they do exist. I am Deaf; a rare genetic disease is to blame, amongst other disabling issues. I do not hear at all. My service dog alerts me for fire alarms, knocking, my name, dropped items that hit the floor, and other sounds that I might not notice.
I have had the pleasure of implementing Grisha's BAT techniques/protocols with service dogs.
By law, service animals must be under control when working. That means we have to figure out ways to reestablish training, and 'empowered partnership' means we do it in a way that also meets the dogs' emotional needs.
I go through the handler's stance by gliding my hands over their shoulders (with permission). I go over their arms, their wrists and hands. I tell them what their body is showing, their energy, and what I see with their body language. Dogs responds to this.
When we walk I watch the handler and how they walk. I stop them, ask questions and get in their minds/what they are feeling?
My questions are, 'Are you in the moment?' and 'Can you look at how you holding the leash?' I slide my hands gently down the leash and pull a tad (this is where you are creating tension). I remind them, 'Remember to be in the moment with your partner.'
[Grisha's note - touching the client can be distracting or it can be really useful. Please use your best judgement when working with clients and always get their consent, verbally and by observing their body language! Just as with the dogs, we need to respect their boundaries.]
Usually the handlers are almost paranoid, edgy and worried about judgement when we start; trying to correct their dog every move they make.
It takes no time for them to figure out and we have communicated clearly what we would like.
No fighting, no pulling back and no frustration.
Even though some don't have fearful or aggressive issues, the BAT leash protocols work excellent for unwanted behaviors and habits that have formed.
We need to give respect and empathy to these amazing working dogs. BAT is one great way to help these dogs, whether it's maintenance BAT leash protocols or BAT aggressive and fearful adjustment training.
Things happen on the job, but there is a solution, and if handlers are willing to find a professional trainer that does BAT things could definitely turn around for all.
Related article: BAT = BRILLIANT + AWESOME + TREMENDOUS! about using BAT to train assistance dogs in Canada
Imagine you're a betta fish, swimming in your home, and suddenly you find yourself jostled around into a cramped 2-liter bottle for the rest of your brief life.
You're not there because someone loves fish and want to take care of you, you're just part of a child's science experiment. Live animals are prohibited in the national science fair, but not in school classrooms. Texas middle schooler Ruby G. recently stepped up on behalf of the animals and may have saved thousands of (fish) lives over the next decades of classroom experiments.
Ruby's 7th grade honors classroom was experimenting with different ecosystems with 2 liter soda bottles. A terrarium, with soil and bean or grass seeds is in a bottle on top. On the bottom was the aquarium bottle. A string between the 2 acts as a root system and carries water to the soil.
The aquarium ecosystem had gravel, aquatic plants called Duckweed, bottled spring water, and snails. The teacher also said they could add a betta fish and/or small fish. This is when Ruby started to realize putting fish in something that small was disastrous. It wasn't just theory--fish in other classes had already died in the first week!
Her mother reports, "When we went to Petsmart to get aquatic plants for her team's aquarium, the employee there said, 'please don't put any fish in those bottles.' And she told Ruby that kids from her school had completely cleaned out the store buying betta fish. And she was asking her manager not to allow the kids to buy fish for that anymore."
"So Ruby decided then and there she was going to do something about it. And when we came home from the store she got on the computer and started writing."
A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. - Einstein
Next, Ruby submitted her well-written paper to her teacher, who was convinced to stop using live fish in future science experiments in his classroom. While that might have disappointed a few of the children, most approved of the compassionate choice to not use animals in classroom experiments.
We all can make a difference in the world. We see injustices every day, to humans and other animals. We make choices with our actions and our words, our inactions and our silences. Brava to Ruby for standing up and getting things done!
Here's Ruby's paper:
The Act Against Fish and 2-liter Bottles
I would first like to state this- in the national science fair, live animals are prohibited. No animals are to be used- nor human subjects without permission slips. Now- I realize it’s not possible to ask a fish for a permission slip, but picture this. You’re taken out of your home/shelter and are put in a tiny containment space for a semester- about 18 weeks, with unusual amounts of food, and caretakers who know nothing about you. There you have it- exactly what happens to whatever fish, or shrimp you buy for your bottle project. It isn’t reasonable to leave these creatures with 12-13 year olds who just buy fish because they think it will look cool- they have no idea what the fish need- and as I’ve discovered, our teachers may not know anything about our water breathing friends either, seeing as if they did they would know the inch-per-gallon rule.
Betta Fish Living Conditions
Betta fish are actually a rare breed of fish called labyrinth fish. They need at least one gallon of water, though that is not recommended because it isn’t healthy. Typically, for every inch of fish (smaller fish), you need one gallon of water. Larger fish need 3. The Betta fish need five to thrive happily, a thermometer to keep track of water temperatures, and normal amounts of food. For the size of ‘tanks’ we keep them in, the water should be cleaned DAILY. The bottles used in our experiments are 2 liters- not even a gallon. With these conditions, this can be considered animal cruelty- in the case of not knowing the needs, and stable environment required to keep these creatures. Betta fish also should not be placed in direct sunlight, as it creates an unstable environment, causing an overgrowth of algae, also it may raise water temperatures over a normal 78-80 degrees. All bottles in my own classroom are left on the windowsills.
Shrimp Included in Bottle Projects
In normal aquariums, shrimp are food. For many fish besides Betta- but Betta fish are naturally aggressive and will not only eat, but kill the shrimp mere hours after placing it in the water with the fish. Shrimp are not meant to be put into 2-liter bottles with killer fish. They are food, when you want them to be. Emotional distress can impact children my age losing a shrimp, or fish.
If children wish to have fish in a science class, first, don't put them in a bottle. Second, inform the children of the needs and expenses of a fish, including feeding habits, water temperature, and water purity. Third, make sure that they have an aquarium or plan for when the project is over so that a fish is not slowly being killed due to lack of attention, food, or water changes. Fish are intelligent, beautiful beings, and should never be considered for a project like this. It isn’t right, and no teacher is well enough informed to know that, or else we wouldn’t have children feeding their Betta gummy worms, and laying them on paper towels, while removing all original water. Who knows what else has been done over the years? I ask you with all good intent- please ban living creatures in science classes, for the safety of the students- and the specimen.
“Even small fish are fish.” -Czech Proverb
Life is full of learning and growing, and sometimes relearning things you thought you knew. We should all reserve the right to change our minds.
I have started a YouTube series about some of the opinions and ideas that I have changed over time. The videos are shown below. Please click here to visit my YouTube channel or click here to subscribe directly.
For the last several years, I have been pre-grieving Peanut's death. I have been afraid I would completely fall apart and lose my will to live.
Now that the worst has actually happened, I got lucky, because his death was not complicated by other emotions. I am just really sad and that's okay. We supported each other throughout his life and he was right there in my lap when he chose to go.
It turns out that his death was not as terrible as I thought it would be. I thought I would want to jump off a bridge when he died. I literally had my family on suicide watch.
But now that it's finally happened, I've noticed that it's different; the worry for him and for myself is gone, leaving me with a chance to savor his life, a huge appreciation for the time we had together, and gratitude for the support of my friends and family.
Sadness is much easier to handle than worry, especially when you don't fight the pain, but just let it happen. This post isn't about telling you how to grieve, but just sharing how I am grieving, to share this possibility that we don't have to be crushed by loss to honor those who have passed. We all mourn differently, there are no 'shoulds' here.
Many people talk about the rainbow bridge as the place where are dogs are waiting for us when we die.
It's human to have a deep need to know where are loved ones are now, and what they are doing. Having spent years caring for him, needing to know where he is at all times is a hard habit to let go. It's our job to keep track of them.
With Peanut's passing, I have found some solace in thinking of him running around happy with Spoon, who passed away last year, and Pirate, who passed away this month. But I need to process Peanut's life and death in a way that fits in with my own worldview. It turns out that what I came up with isn't inconsistent with the rainbow bridge, either, so hopefully it works for you.
This 'song of life' analogy has has helped me come to better terms with Peanut's death. It's loosely based on the Buddhist concept of clinging, as attachment as the root of suffering: "Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." If you have lost a dog (or cat or other family member) I hope that this post helps you find a way to savor the experience of loss, to appreciate this time instead of suffering through it.
(And maybe this is already something already woven into some religion or philosophy. I don't want to waste this important time researching whether this analogy is new. I just know it didn't occur to me before and I want to share it because it helped me.)
If you've ever laid down tracks for a song or a video this will make sense. If not, I hope it still works for you, but feel free to comment with your own version, like maybe weaving together a tapestry or something else.
I'm thinking of the sum of all life as a jazz song or a movie, where each individual being is like one track laid down for a recording (like a guitar riff or a little movie clip). The length of those clips is the amount of time they are present here for the rest of us to see. Feel free to look through your own worldview to think about whether some higher power is creating the song or it's just what happens when so much life comes together.
Trees have very long lifespans, so they'd have very long tracks. Humans have shorter tracks and dogs and other small animals even shorter. When they happen to be in the same space and time we 'know' each other but we are all still part of this same multi-dimensional song, starting from the beginning of life and ending when it is all over, if ever.
If I zoom in on my own track and see things just from my own perspective, it feels like a sudden shift, a catastrophe to lose him. If I zoom out to see the whole song, I see the beauty that we shared and how that fits in with everything else. I see how he was fading toward his end. All solos start and stop. If they went on forever they wouldn't be appreciated in the same way.
So Peanut may or may not make another appearance in the song of life. Maybe there is reincarnation, or heaven, or his energy and matter have just been converted into other form.
To me that doesn't matter so much as concentrating on what I do know. We had a fantastic time together, where our harmony added to the song of life. That will never go away. His existence has influenced the whole direction of my life and work. He was a frequency changer, a catalyst to shift my perception of the world.
His life happened exactly as it happened. At this point, the song has moved on and I have come to terms with the idea that he would no longer fit into it. So rather than clinging to him and wishing he were here now, I celebrate the fact that he *was* here. It feels oddly right that he is no longer here, which isn't to say that I would have wanted it that way, not at all. But I'm at peace with his death.
That doesn't mean I don't cry or that I just move on with life like he was never here. I have cleared my schedule to savor my sorrow and grieve for the loss of his physical presence in my life. I couldn't keep food down the day that he passed away. I have a knot in my chest sometimes. I cry when I feel like it and I enjoy every moment of this sad time while it's happening because that is the way that he is here now, through that experience of transition away from a physical Peanut. [If you have another experience, that's totally fine. We all grieve differently. I just want to share how I feel since it was unexpected to me.]
I feel intense joy and satisfaction when I look at the quality of our time together. I made mistakes with him, but I did my best to fix them, to strengthen our relationship and improve his quality of life whenever I could. From his influence on me and many others, Peanut is still part of the song as a whole, but his own track is over; from my own perspective in time, his tangible presence is gone. But his 'solo' is still impacting the song as it moves forward: there are so many ripples from his existence, like how I perceive my world, how I may now be better at honoring my own emotions, how I think of death, how I read dogs, how I love, how other dogs now have better lives because of him, and so much more.
In the end, I don't need to scream at the universe, "WHY?!" Instead, I whisper, "thank you."
(Look below the video for tips).
"Love Never Goes" Lyrics (Peanut YouTube version)
I am bound to you
You’re in my heart to stay
One look at you and I knew
I’d love you every single day
We’re on solid ground
You’re in my heart to stay
Even when I'm not around
I love you every single day
* Love doesn’t leave
* (It) Doesn’t run out
* Love never goes away
* Love doesn’t need
* No fence around (it)
* Love never goes away
You’ve got other loves
They’re in your heart to stay
I don’t have to be above
Just love me every single day
Hope you know by now
You’re in my heart to stay
Even when I have to go
I’ll love you every single day
* Love doesn’t leave
* (It) Doesn’t run out
* Love never goes away
* Love doesn’t need
* No fence around (it)
* Love never goes away
* Love doesn’t leave
* (It) Doesn’t run out
* Love never goes away
- More grief resources: "You're Not Crazy, You're Mourning: Grief from the Loss of Your Dog."
- Peanut's video playlist on YouTube.
Here are some things that I did that helped with my grief process and/or made grieving less complicated:
- Quality time - As he aged, I arranged my schedule to spend less time traveling and be home more with him. I arranged for quality time alone or with Bean when possible, although I also maintained my own life and non-dog hobbies. For many devoted dog lovers, their life is all about dogs. If you have more than one dog, that could be fine, but if your dog passes away and you have no other dog, then you may find you have no sense of self and don't know what to do with your time. So let yourself have a life. You deserve it.
- Filming - videos of us loving on each other and of him just walking through the forest give me the most solace. It gives me a way to reconnect as needed.
- Empowerment - choices I made for him were always in his best interest, within the constraints of life among humans. So things like positive reinforcement, long leashes and harnesses, carpets on the floor, training for him to actively cooperate in blood draws and vet procedures, predictability, ability to control his own proximity and interaction with stressors, and only adding in pain or discomfort when it was medically necessary.
- Being his advocate and fighting to be present at the vet whenever I knew me being there would help him. That helped prevent regrets. Many veterinarians insist on restraining your dog themselves or won't allow you to be in the room for IV fluids, but may agree if you sign a waiver or have muzzle trained your dog with positive reinforcement (even if they have no history of biting, muzzling means there's no possibility of the vet getting sued so they will allow it).
- We kept his body at home for two days before cremation, like a wake. That gave all of us (including Bean and Dharma) time to really process that he was gone. I was able to go to his body and say goodbye many times. We curled him up into a dog bed (head tilted up to avoid leakage) before driving him home, so that he was in a good position when rigor mortis set in. It was relatively cool on our sun porch so we kept him there. If it's warmer where you are, get dry ice to put into the bed, under and around your dog (or cat or whatever). We had a hard time finding dry ice though. My friend in California had her dog's body for 5 days before cremation, so it's not just possible in Alaska.
- Hearing other people's memories of him and going through videos, photos, etc. really helped. Specific memories of Peanut in real life or in videos help more than general statements like "I'm sorry for your loss" or "Dog's lives are too short," so I asked for people to share memories when I announced his passing. Every comment helped me, but it was so helpful when they did share a memory. If many people don't know your dog, make and share a short video of your dog's life so that people can share what they see in that. The process of making the video was also helpful to me, as well as rewatching it many times.
- Stopping the clock. This is what I'm doing right now. I have lost a family member and need this time to sit with the grief. I don't need to go to work right now. I allow myself to have whatever emotions that come through, and I don't berate myself for having strong feelings or try to push them away. I don't force anything, neither trying to be sad nor trying to be happy.If I want to go on a hike or work or whatever, that's my choice, but I have paused as many time commitments as I can right now. Question anything that involves the word 'should' - that's usually a sign that it's not helpful for you in your grief, but rather just something that is motivated by avoidance of punishment.If you work for yourself, take the time off. Put on an autoresponder. If you work for someone else, use your sick leave or vacation time, and if that doesn't exist, see about a leave of absence.
- More tips in my main grief article.
Here's my announcement of Peanut's passing on Facebook:
Does your Yes life need a tune-up?
I wrote a Facebook post last night. It was very satisfying, at first, because I got to say NO, confrontational dog training isn't right. Stop It.
But that's really ironic, right? That I am trying to use something negative to fix the problem of being too negative? I can do better than that. If I really want change, there's a better way to teach, which I use all the time with dogs.
My goal with dogs is to maximize chances for positive reinforcement in their lives, in all forms. I want to be able to say YES a lot to dogs and that applies to people too.
So what do I want to happen? What do I want to see? I do try to use positive phrasing when talking to people, but sometimes on social media, or with my husband, my inner 2-year-old comes out. No No NO.
So I'm working on my Yes life. Today I started my own challenge, and I hope you'll join me. For the next two weeks (and maybe more) I am going to focus on phrasing all social media posts and comments in a positive way, and add the hashtag of #CelebrateTheGood to remind myself. If I look back and see that I could have done better, or missed an opportunity to be positive, I will revise or repost, and add the hashtag of #CelebrateTheGood to those, too.
Examples of positive posts and comments:
- Why you train dogs the way that you do (if you catch yourself pointing out negative things about the other side, just replace those with information on what TO do and why it's awesome).
- Something great that happened to you.
- What you agree with about XYZ (especially good for comments)
I picked social media because in a way, it's easier than real life. You can take your time crafting your words. You can revise when you see that it could have been better. That's a great learning opportunity.
Flags that indicate your post may have room for improvement:
- Words like no, not, never, wrong,...
- Judgements like hate, can't stand,...
- Name calling or insulting someone's character (idiot, uneducated, mean, bitch, jerk, troll, you get the gist)
- Reading through it gives you a bad feeling
Here's my original post from yesterday:
So let's try that again, with positive phrasing. First, I would leave off the blog post share because it's all about negative phrasing, "things dog trainers hate."
So there we go. Let's positivize the internet and fix our Yes lives. Can you join with me and take the #CelebrateTheGood Challenge for the next two weeks?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Naumann
Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0
New training approach brings hope for dog reactivity and socialization
Continue reading New Behavior Adjustment Training 2.0 Book (Press Release)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Creating a Canine Connection
The art of connecting with your dog is more powerful than ever
BAT Teamwork Seminars with Grisha Stewart
Continue reading BAT Teamwork Seminars Create a Canine Connection (Press Release)
When you change your behavior, your dog can change his!
I came up with a specific way to feed treats so that it's clear to my dog when he's allowed to take the treat. Humans talk a lot to dogs, but dogs are actually very visual, and they usually understand hand signals better than vocal cues. Try this out - your dog should learn to see the difference very quickly. Continue reading Life Hack: Yours/Mine Position for Treat Delivery
We took the dogs to the 6-Mile Creek Whitewater Bluegrass Festival in Alaska this weekend. It was great! I was very happy with how Bean and Peanut did and how the dogs felt about the experience.
It was a bit like a dog park with music, but it worked out well, since the dogs all started to know each other. The surface (river rocks) also discouraged a lot of running and playing, so it was easier for the dogs to stay calm. There was a lot of space and the dogs were off leash, so they were able to diffuse tension more naturally. Continue reading 19 Fun-Saving Tips for Festival Dogs
You might have read some of the traditional training books or watched a certain tv show that talks about training with treats as if it were a sloppy or mamby-pamby way to train dogs, whereas training with punishment means the dog works with you because they love you. The people who avoid treats just don't know enough about *how* to train dogs with treats, and I thought I'd write a blog post to give an overview of how to precisely use reinforcers to get reliable dog behavior.
Continue reading Will Training a Dog with Treats Spoil the Dog?
I know some of you just can't stand that fluffy new puppy who adores you, and want to get rid of her as soon as possible. If you can't find anyone to take this cute bundle of fur, here's how you can at least make sure she doesn't live out her natural life. Unfortunately, most of these also make your neighbors mad at you, but whatever.
Continue reading 8 Sure-Fire Ways to Shorten Your Dog’s Life
There are only two main principles for dog-friendly training. Give something to get more of a behavior you want. Take something away to stop a behavior you don't like.
Positive Reinforcement (+R): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior more frequently, reward that behavior in some way.
Negative Punishment (-P): If you want your dog to repeat a behavior less frequently, remove any reward or perceived award for the behavior. This should happen rarely - focus on reinforcement.
Think of positive and negative in the addition/subtraction sense. The counterparts to +R and -P are negative reinforcement (take away an aversive - something painful or unpleasant to the dog - as a reward) and positive punishment (present the dog with something painful or unpleasant for doing something you do not like). Continue reading What are Quadrants? Applying Learning Theory to Dog Training
Training your dog to come to you on cue is one of the nicest things you can do for your dog. Knowing that your dog will return whenever you want her to allows you both freedom to play and go wherever -- within reason -- like the park or even a dog-friendly festival.
Training a recall, along with a solid "emergency down" may save your dog's life one day, so it's worth putting some time into training her to respond quickly. Continue reading How to Train a Dog To Come When Called
Why Should I Crate Train My Dog?
Dogs and puppies should all be taught to be comfortable in a crate or kennel. The crate is a great hang-out place for dogs that are stressed, it's excellent for safely taking dogs in the car, and
Continue reading How to Crate Train Your Puppy
When dolphin trainers want to get a perfect jump from their charges, they don't put a leash on the dolphin, ask it to jump, then 'correct' the dolphin for not jumping and manually put it through the jumping motions. For one thing, the dolphin's body isn't well-suited to a leash. For another, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to physically manipulate the dolphin into a jump. Finally, the dolphin would get back at the trainer -- probably dousing her with a big splash of water or tossing her out of the pool (a favorite tactic of killer whales)! Continue reading What is Clicker Training? How Do You Use It to Train a Dog?
If your dog pulls on the leash, then the walk is neither healthy for your dog nor relaxing for you. It's also a sign that you and your dog are not paying attention to each other -- it takes two to pull, after all.
Walks with your dog can feel like walking meditation, not a battle! One wonderful thing is that if the human learns not to pull on the leash, the dog can learn much more easily! Please learn about the BAT leash skills in this article [click here] or the BAT Leash Skills webinar to help set your dog up for success. It's very helpful to start out your dog's training by first teaching yourself not to pull.
- Custom 15-foot long leashes for BAT are now available! We ship worldwide, with free shipping to the US.
- Walk With Me! Streaming feature-length video on walking skills for both ends of the leash (or DVD)
BAT should be a dance between the dog and the person. The human is the one who knows the plan for the dance, but the dog is the one who has the understanding of rhythm.
First off, I want to say that I'm all for getting rescue dogs. I have rescue dogs and I probably always will. There are tons of great rescue dogs that need forever homes. In fact, I just flew down to the Seattle area to get Bean from Welfare for Animals Guild, because at the moment I was looking, there were no reputable rescues in my area with puppies available.
I wrote this two years ago, when I was traveling a ton and missing my boy. Now I still travel, but not nearly so frequently. And at almost 13 years old, with a new puppy in the house, my senior dog continues to age like fine wine. Continue reading My dog is like a fine wine, better with age
Do you love to pet your dog? Does your dog love it too? Are you sure?
Here's a family safety video with a way to ask your dog if he or she likes the way you are petting. I call it the 5-Second Rule, and every person who interacts with a dog, cat, or even horse should know it, because it's excellent bite prevention and also just basic polite manners! Teaching it to children will avoid bites and also teach the concept of setting their own boundaries for safe interactions.
How does your dog ask for what he wants? Does she get dinner by barking? Does he get through the door by shoving past you?
In any home, whether it has dogs in it or not, good manners are appreciated. Things like pushing past your parents to rush outside or bugging them for candy while they were working were probably not allowed when you were young and they show that your relationship with your dog is not as strong as it could be. There's no need to yell at your dog when he does things like bolt out the door or bark, whine, or jump for attention. What you need to do is teach your dog how ask for what he wants or needs in a way that fits with your family.
As with all of the training methods that we recommend, we want you to set your dog up for success. Cue or show the dog what you want her to do (in words that she knows or by reinforcing behaviors you like), and ignore the tricks you don't want in your dog's toolbox for getting what he wants. You get what you pay for with dogs. If it works for them, they'll keep doing something, even if you don't like it.
Does your dog growl at you when you approach his food bowl? Is your puppy possessive about toys and rawhides? Does he snap at you when you even step near him when he's got a bone? Does your dog bare her teeth when you approach the couch? If not, you're lucky! Read through this information and start working with your puppy or dog now, to keep him in the blissful state of loving your approach to his food bowl or other prized possessions.
Firework noises have been exploding in my house all week.
Why? It's part of Peanut's annual fireworks vaccine. Because sound desensitization isn't just a one-shot deal and the fourth of July is coming up in the US. It's so long between firework displays that your dog may not remember the last training you did. To prevent spontaneous recovery of your dog's fear, give your dog a little taste of firework noises every year, before the full-volume ones happen.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Naumann
Follow your dog: How a little black dog led his trainer to the world and the web
Grisha Stewart Follows Her Dog Again and Launches Animal Building Blocks Academy
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Ellen Naumann
Thought Revolution and Online School Launched by International Dog Training Expert
Anchorage, Alaska. June, 2015 – One of the main controversies of the last several decades in animal training is whether or not to train with aversive force. Grisha Stewart is definitely about minimizing force, but asserts that modern training can do even better. She’s here to start a grass-roots revolution. “Quality animal care is more than training without adding pain or fear,” she said. “As caretakers, we have the opportunity to facilitate two-way communication, empower animals to meet their needs, and teach them how to participate in their own care.”
It's not just about getting behavior to change. The learner's motivation for changing has a profound impact on the arc of future behavior. For example, getting a child to stop picking on someone to avoid punishment is not the same as teaching them empathy and the power of compassion.
When I teach humans or other animals, I want behavior change to be for the right reasons, whenever possible, so that the lessons can keep propagating forward over time, like ripples in a pond. That's why I train dogs the way I do, and why I'm a huge fan of nonviolent communication (more about that in my How to Human class).
I like to think of two opposite forces that inspire behavior: attraction (I want) and repulsion (I don’t want). You can imagine these as physical forces, like gravity or what happens when you bring two magnets together in different ways. One way pulls them together in a very strong bond. Reverse that, and they're pushing apart.
If you had one magnet and wanted to move the other one around without touching the second magnet, how would you do it? You can move the second magnet around very reliably if you use attraction. You can still move the magnet with repulsion, but pushing is less efficient than pulling, and sometimes shoves it in unpredictable directions.
Let’s go back to animals. By attraction, I mean that the animal is inspired to do the behavior. For example, there’s a smell across the room, so the dog walks over to investigate. The smell pulls him over. Or you ask the dog to sit and he does so because he has a history of getting treats for sitting. By sitting, he moves toward the opportunity to get a treat. It’s like the treat pulled him into sitting, so that’s why I call this attraction. Continue reading Animal Magnetism: Is Your Training Attracting or Repelling?
The Canine Flu outbreak in Chicago is serious and responsible dog lovers are being cautious, not taking their dogs to parks and other such areas. This flu is a virus that US dogs have never been exposed to. It's a big deal.
But what worries me more is what is going to happen later with Chicago's puppies, because you really only get one chance at good socialization. Will we have a rash of dog aggression showing up in 2016, from all of these puppies who missed out on meeting other dogs? Will people say "my dog was a Chicago Flu Puppy" to explain why they lack social skills and show aggression?
To love a dog is to truly know the meaning of unconditional love. If you were lucky enough to share your life with a dog, especially a ‘soulmate dog’ who has passed or is nearing the end of life, then you also have the flip-side of such a strong relationship: grief. Every experience of grief is unique, so you can’t really be prepared for the loss of your dog.