One of the things I do when people come to my ranch is observe their body language around my dogs, and vice versa. It's one thing to read Turid Rugaas and Tom Dorrance, and have the lights suddenly come on for you - which is an experience in and of itself - but its another thing to actually "walk the walk".
Speaking from my own experiences, it is not always as easily done as it sounds! It is a constant practice, and you will learn something every day, if you permit yourself to! First you must want to learn!
I want to teach readers something about correcting LGD pups and dogs when they are doing something that they should not be doing.
But at the same time I want you to understand about how your body movements, voice, and eye contact, can make such a difference in the outcome of your correction acts.
In other words, you get a double whammy. A great technique on how to correct your pup and some information that I hope deepens your understanding of HOW POWERFUL your body language can be around these dogs.
So pour that glass of wine or cup of coffee and sit down and learn…..
What do you normally do when your LGD pup grabs your pant leg, latches onto your hand, grabs the garden hose, your rug, a goat, a chicken? What do you do when you catch your dog doing something wrong?
Most people yell!
They say "NO, Oscar!" "Stop it, Sammy!" or how about the favorite, "Holy f**king SHIT!".
You know something? That's all Greek to your dog. He hears you screaming, and it doesn't cut it!
Dogs speak, but not in verbal languages like we do. They growl, they howl, they snarl, they bark - and barking has it's own in-depth language as Rugaas has written about. On the physical level of this, they grin and smile, pout and look sullen. Like humans, when they are pleased, their iris will expand and become larger. When they are pissed, they will narrow their gaze and bare their teeth. When they are happy, they will often bow their head coming towards you and raise a front paw up in a semi-salute or "wave".
I don't yell at my dogs/pups when they are in the act of something that's verboten. I don't because it is not effective. I also use specific body language. But first, the verbal part.
When I verbally correct my pups and dogs, I use my "famous" "Mr. Miyagi grunt": the guttural, deep, from the belly "huwhehi!"
I make this noise trying my best to impersonate the famous Karate master from the legendary film series The Karate Kid. My customers all know about this. And many of them use it. And it works! And even my consulting clients try it. And, that's right…..O ye of little faith…it works!:
If you remember the movie, you know what I am referring to. It's that gruff, rough, deep grunt Mr. Miyagi makes to "Daniel Son". I posted a video of it in a previous blog post. It is a clip from the film where you can not only watch but hear the noises Mr. Miyagi makes as he reveals to Daniel, that all the wall painting, car waxing and floor scrubbing he's been doing, has in fact, been his Karate 101 class.
Watch the video (again if you've seen it already) so you can hear the sound I am talking about. That is the sound I make to correct my dogs. And when my dogs hear it, they know. It's time to stop!
Now, about your body language. There are of course, cultural differences to consider here. But. Many people are stiff. They are reserved. They have perfect posture (I hate them). They stand at attention even when there is nothing to pay attention to. They are withdrawn, priggish, conservative…..I could go on. This is not criticizing them. Its just trying to paint a picture. You know: cardboard, lifeless, bloodless, no passion, no vigor. They get excited and you know it because they blinked. Once.
Then there's the other kinds of people. Some people are hot blooded, passionate bastards (or bastardettes) like me. They've got that fiery Spanish or Italian blood coursing through their veins. They talk with their hands! They put their whole body into a sentence. They don't stand still. They pace, wiggle, fidget, swoop! If you are standing too close to them when they pick up the phone, you could be dealt a major concussion. You get seasick watching them do laundry. They speak…not just with their mouth; they put their whole persona into it. We all have souls, but these types wear them on their sleeve!
Which one are you?
If the latter, this won't be as tough for you. But if you are one of those types who could have an ISIS suicide bomber blow himself up next to you and you'd maybe turn your head and nod (once), then you need to keep reading, because you're the type who'll have to work on this. Maybe even a lot. Like…for the rest of the month….
Its one thing to read in a book about dog body language and human body language and how wonderful it is to understand it, but how the hell do you make sense of all of it? Doing it is another thing.
Well, I'm going to walk you through this SOB, step by step. This is how I reprimand a dog or pup.
Let's communicate to a pup who's just grabbed your priceless Ming Dynasty oriental rug you inherited from Aunt Martha, or the leg of your new $3,000 Boer buck, or a garden hose, or - you name it, it can be anything. He's got it in his mouth.
You are standing oh say, 10 feet from pup. He's got the rug/goat/hose/container of caviar/your new Victoria's Secret bra, and he's not wearing faulty dentures. Oh no!
You are going to face the pup directly, bend down slightly, and bare your teeth (here's hoping you brush regularly), and do your best Mr. Miyagi grunt/gutteral noise like in the You Tube above, making very HARD, focused eye contact with that pup.
"Huhwehi!!!!!" you are going to say and I don't mean in your Lauren Bacall sexy bedroom voice, either. You're going to throw your whole 98 pounds into it. From the gut! Not your ring finger, not your left ankle, your GUT!
Now what happens next is key.
Pup is startled. "WOW!", he's thinking… "That sounds just like my mom when I grabbed her tit too hard last week!" He lets go of the rug/hose/goat/bra. Because when he grabbed ma's tit last week, she bit him, and it hurt! Don't want none of that again!
The microsecond that pup lets go of what it is he had, you are going to immediately - and I do mean right now - stop. You are going to turn slightly to one side showing a side to the pup - not a frontal position. You're going to bend even lower and soften your stare and take it off the pups eyes. You're going to duck your head down and to the side and break eye contact, rolling your head in a way like you're nodding at the pup, "come on, come on over here!". And you're going to do this all within about 2 seconds!
Remember how Jim Carrey does that silly head swing when he says "All righty then!", as Ace Ventura, Pet Detective? Yeah…that goofiness. Now you've got a visual.
And while bending over, you'll pat your knees and start immediately in your best baby-talk voice saying "Good boy! GOOD BOY!" Kissy kiss kiss! SMOOCH SMOOCH! You smile. You scrunch up your eyes and smile and bare your teeth. You take one arm and kind of slap it out in front of you in the air, just like your dog does his when he's glad to see you. The "wave". You exaggerate your joy over his having stopped.
And when the pup drops the chewed up bra (hey, you didn't need really need ALL of that padding in it, did you?), and comes to you all wiggly piggly and head down and sheepish and waving at you, you get down even closer to the ground and love all over that tail wagging bundle of farting fur. No "couple of head pats"! No "maybe/kinda/sorta"! You put some feeling into this - or don't waste my time! You smile - you rub inside of his ears - they love this. You coo. You get down there and do it, you don't stand straight up. No stand offish bullshit!
What is key is timing! Timing is everything. You must react instantly. You don't keep punishing the pup after he's quit. The SECOND he quits, you are on it! Like flies on shit, baby! You stop and go into complete non-threatening, motherly love mode.
What is key is feeling! You put your soul into this! You don't try. YOU DO! No standing there like a plastic mannequin barely moving. You express your joy that he quit doing the bad thing. You show him how good he is for stopping!
But. No one is perfect!
So say he turns around, goes to the rug/garden hose/baby duck/bag of dog food - it does not matter what it is - and grabs it again. YOU ARE ON IT! Not next week, not in 20 minutes. NOW. You repeat exactly what you just did the first time. Trust me. Unless you bought an inbred piece of junkyard crap bred by someone like….well, that's been addressed in previous blog posts….chances are, the pup will stop doing this very soon. It takes consistency. They WILL respond. And they'll 'get' pretty damned quick that they don't mess with Mr. Miyagi when he grunts!
You don't just use this for the rug/goat/hose/etc. You use the same technique, over and over, for any "bad" thing this pup does. You are consistent. You don't revert to screaming "NO" or "BREAK". You stick with that guttural growl of Mr. Miyagi's.
He's out in the pen chasing sheep? You do the Mr. Miyaigi grunt and you do like Sensei Miyagi says: "LOOK EYE! ALWAYS LOOK EYE!"
And trust me, your pup will soon be like all my pups and dogs. When they hear that noise, they will stop. And they will watch YOU and YOUR body language.
Now, for the physical way you reprimand a pup or dog.
Notice none of my previous instruction entailed any physical striking or hitting of the pup. That's because we don't hit dogs. We don't kick dogs. We don't beat dogs with whips. We never punish a dog by inflicting constant or long term pain or discomfort. We don't take the wimpy cheese-ass route and cheap shot it with shock collars, pronged collars, shock devices, E-collars, prolonged chaining up and staking out ala Bogus Boz Peckinpaugh, nor do we resort to the notorious Liebenberg Frankenstein yokes or hideous Penner Inquisition barbed yoke collars and horse whips.
If a dog or pup is doing something wrong, and you need to "kick it up a notch" from the Miyagi grunt, you don't zap them with cattle prods and sickening pain inflicting tricks, no matter what Loser Lewis and his inept gang tell you on Facebook forums.
Instead, you discount 110% of what those clowns have been telling you. You understand that dogs understand communication best that is MOST LIKE THEIR'S…not a mercenary shock collar dealer's.
This is what you do: You make that HARD EYE. You grab flesh of the cheek or behind an ear. You grab quick and hard, and maybe you even shake a bit if it requires it, and you do the Mr. Miyagi grunt - AND YOU LET GO, and you SOFTEN. Your eye. Your body. You don't hang on and keep doing it. Quick. Firm. Then you let go. Just like a dog would. No drama, no goddamned prong collars, yokes, muzzles, no cruel and ridiculous "quick fixes". Please. Leave those to the idiots. Hard - then soften. Hard - then soften. Hard when dog is doing wrong. The second he stops - you soften your stance, your eye, your tone. Instantly.
Because if you run a pack of dogs like I do, and if your eyes are open, you will notice how adult dogs reprimand adolescents and pups - by grabbing them - exactly where I told you.
Now, for your bonus training tip.
Do you ever sing to your dogs? I do. Dogs like music. They like tonal sounds that are calming and pleasant. They enjoy it. They recognize it and unless its some scratch ass loud rock, it can be soothing.
I sing to my litters from birth.
My dogs and pups hear this corny, gawd-awful rendition of "Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus, right down Santa Claus Lane" from birth. I sing it to them all the time, but most especially when it's chow time. And my clients will attest to this. Because I can start singing, "Toys and tots! Little toy drums! Right down Santa Claus Lane!", and out of nowhere, from all four corners of my ranch, there will be the deafening thunder of galloping 200 plus pound LGDs racing to me from all known points and directions, to the sound of "Here Comes Santa Claus"!
Key element here: you have to start this from puppyhood.
You can do it.