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Dog advocate and human-being life coach Brad Pattison brings his innovative, tough-love training and in-your-face counselling skills to the page.
Whether you're just getting started on training your new pup, looking to take your good relationship with your dog to a higher level, or trying to correct negative dog behaviours, Brad Pattison's book will provide DIY training material that underlines how you can teach your dog to be a healthy, happy member of your family. Each chapter focuses on a different aspect of Pattison's established training techniques, anchored by real-life success stories and focus dogs. Examples of chapter titles: Dog Speak: Harnessing Canine Communication Methods to Enhance Interspecies Relations; Coddled Canines: The Dangers of Heavy Petting and the Best Methods for Rewarding Your Dog; and Co-Evolution: Raising the Bar and Strengthening the Bond.
From the Hardcover edition.
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BRAD PATTISON is an animal trainer and human-being life coach who has been professionally remedying dog behaviour for over fifteen years. He uses revolutionary techniques derived from his studies of domesticated dogs, wolves and coyotes, and his unique methods involve communicating with dogs in a way they understand — through body language. He focuses on the effects that human relationships have on pets: learning how to properly assert your alpha status and training your dog in REAL LIFE situations. Best known for his TV series, At the End of My Leash, Pattison also founded Vancouver's Yuppy Puppy Dog Day Care Inc., pioneered the first Street Safety training program for dogs and facilitates courses that certify other dog trainers. His "Six Legs to Fitness" workout program for owners and their dogs has been featured on Discovery Channel's Daily Planet. During the Hurricane Katrina disaster, Pattison mobilized friends and created the Pattison Canine Rescue Team, which spent several weeks in Louisiana rescuing dogs from the floods. He lives in Kelowna, British Columbia.
From the Hardcover edition.
Why Do You Want a Dog?
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS FOR A WIN-WIN RELATIONSHIP
MYTH: Any dog can easily fit into your family unit at any point in your life.
REALITY CHECK: You should carefully consider why you want a dog in your life, what kind of dog you want and what a successful interspecies relationship means to you before you even think about shopping for a dog. Having a dog will likely be at least a sixteen-year commitment, but it can become a prison sentence for both species—and the dog too often pays the ultimate price, with his or her life.
The Doggy Dogma Assessment
When I first meet a client, I ask them three really important questions. It’s not a pop quiz that I can mark with a pass or fail grade in red ink. That would mean I believe I know the one right answer to each question, but I don’t. Although some people love “playing God” in this way, I don’t feel I have the right to do that.
The first question is “Why do you want a dog?” Or if my client already owns a dog, “Why did you want a dog?” The second question is “ What do you want your dog to be able to do?” And last but not least, I ask, “What does success mean to you in a dog-human relationship?” I pose these questions because my clients’ responses give me some fascinating insights into their frame of mind, as well as a family’s dynamics and their expectations not only about the role they want that dog to play in their life but also about how they imagine their own life.
Until recently, the answer to these three questions was probably much simpler in most cases: “I want a dog to herd cattle”; “ . . . to protect the flock of sheep from predators”; “ . . . to help with the hunting.” Nobody is sure exactly why humans decided to roll out the red carpet for dogs, but one theory is that the least skittish and aggressive wild canines were the most likely to be cu rious about us and the most willing to interact with us. In fact, anthropologists have theorized that when we started living with dogs fifteen thousand years ago—a time when it is believed domestic dogs diverged from their wolf ancestors1—we mostly cherry-picked the ones that were naturally submissive and friendly, so they’ve evolved to get along with us.2 That makes sense to me. You wouldn’t be able to develop a bond with a dog that bolted as soon as it saw, heard or smelled you coming.
Anthropologists and archaeologists have dug up a lot of evidence to support their theories that dogs have had an intimate relationship with humans for a long time. The oldest dog burial site found to date is about fourteen thousand years old. It’s in Germany, about an hour south of Düsseldorf, and the dog skeleton there looks like that of a small sheepdog. But the buried remains of dogs have been found all over the world, often alongside those of humans.3
So if you have a dog, you are part of an ancient tradition—though you likely had different motivations for owning a canine than the humans who hunted or travelled with dogs so many centuries ago. In this chapter, I’ll talk about the many reasons people choose to have dogs in their lives and their various expectations about the kind of relationship they want with them. As I mentioned earlier, it’s great to have expectations about our dogs and it’s important to set goals for both species. But some expectations simply don’t fit in with our own lifestyles. So many people saddle both themselves and their dogs with unrealistic, and sometimes downright impossible, hopes and dreams. And those expectations often underestimate or utterly ignore the skills and needs of dogs.
WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER
Dogs have been helping humans for a long time. In some regions, herding, hunting and sled dogs still work by our sides, helping us survive. Nowadays, we also have guide dogs, rescue dogs, police dogs, de-mining dogs (dogs who detect land mines) and dogs that detect cancer.4 Dog companions can have a therapeutic effect on people who have anything from heart disease to mental illnesses. Recent dog DNA sequencing has also revealed that they have much the same DNA as humans,5 so gene research with dogs is helping crack a variety of human diseases.6
In the past decade or two, dogs have also become a hot topic among behavioural scientists at universities all over the globe.7 Chimps might be our species’ closest relatives, but researchers have recently found that dogs are better thanchimps at problem solving and at perceiving and responding to human methods of communication, such as pointing, nodding, glancing and other specific body and facial cues.8 Dogs have also been found to be better than their closest relative, the wolf, at problem solving because they’ve evolved with humans for at least fifteen thousand years. Even six-week-old puppies still living with their four-legged moms respond to humans, which suggests that they are evolutionarily predisposed to follow our cues.9
You Complete Me, Rover
A common response to the “Why do you want a dog?” question is “I had a dog as a kid.” That answer sounds pretty simple, but there are usually some really interesting backstories involved when a client says something like that. If you’ve thought the same, maybe you have beautiful, gold-tinged memories of running through the woods with Rover. You might want to recapture your youth and a simpler “dog days of summer” time in your life when you didn’t have a care in the world. Or you might want a second crack at that “dog that got away”—whether she ran away from home, never to be found again, or your parents sent her off to “a better place,” which you now know was actually the animal shelter.
Another common response that clients give, and you might, too, is that they always wanted a dog but their parents wouldn’t allow it. If you’ve thought along those lines, you might have spent half your life feeling ripped off, and having a dog might be a sort of rite of passage into adulthood.
Some people I encounter are planning to have kids in a few years, and they think of the dog as a sort of practice child. Others want a replacement for a dog that recently died. Someare looking for protection. I know a single woman whose home was invaded by five guys. They raped her and killed her German shepherd. She now has two huge dogs; she needs them to feel safe. Others have had a failed relationship or even a string of them, and they’re sick and tired of the two-legged letdowns. So they bring a dog into their world to ease the pain and loneliness, to keep them company and, in some cases, to stand in as a surrogate partner or friend that they can take mountain biking or cuddle with on the couch.
Balancing a hectic life is another reason people get a dog. Rocky’s “parents,” Steve and Peggy, are hard-working professionals: self-described DINKs (Double Income, No Kids). Before Rocky entered their lives, they’d typically cap their long workdays with late dinners in a restaurant. Neither Peggy nor Steve had any previous experience with dogs, but they thought it would help balance their hectic schedules and, in Peggy’s words, “force us to have a home life.” As you’ll find out later, their real-life experience with Rocky was nothing like this initial picture of domestic bliss.
Other people get a dog because they’re depressed or have a physiological illness and their doctor suggests that a dog companion would help balance their health. Sure, studies have found that dogs are great stress busters; they can help us stay physically active and provide us with healthy social companionship.10 Being with dogs can elevate mood and lower blood pressure and stress.11 But we need to be able to provide our dogs with a lot of physical and mental activities so they can also be as healthy and happy as possible. We should be stable on our own two legs and know where we’re going to be for the next decade before committing to owning a dog. A dog sure can inject sunshine into your life, but he can’t do that alone. He’s not a magic genie who can grant all your wishes, especially if you expect him to be the spitting image of your favourite childhood dog or that incredible dog who passed away. If you think your dog will automatically set you up for a better life, whatever that means to you, you—and your dog—will be miserable. There’s a lot of hard work involved, so you’d better be ready to make the effort.
CANINE-HUMAN CO- EVOLUTION
Pioneering dog researchers at the Family Dog Project in Budapest, Hungary, summed up the strong doghuman connection by saying that “there is a large overlap” between the ways humans and dogs behave “because during their evolution in close contact with human groups, dogs evolved functionally similar social skills.” Studying these similar behaviours “widens our possibility for understanding human social cognition.”12
In other words, dogs aren’t slobbering idiots. Complex things are actually going on under their furry hoods. And understanding dog behaviours allows us to better understand human behaviours.
Lassie Come Home
Other people have what I call “Hollywood syndrome”: whether they’re five years old or fifty, they have a bunch of sentimental dog movies looping through their heads. They think that having the golden retriever, the Dalmatian(s) or the Lassie dog will automatically open up some magical, perfect world, complete with the dancing, the music and the Technicolor. People get so caught up in the fantasy that they can’t see the amazing dog-in-waiting sitting right in front of them.
Movie-star dogs have to go through months and even years of training and education. Like human movie stars, they’re surrounded by a team of professionals: a number of different trainers, stylists and makeup artists, sitters, managers, agents, lawyers, as well as canine stunt doubles and stand-in dogs to do certain scripted tricks. How can a typical family compete with these pro dogs? They can’t, and they shouldn’t even think of trying. But some dog owners refuse to let go of their illusions and choose to believe that somehow they got a doggy dud and there’s a better Lassie out there somewhere. Too often, that means the entire family unit has to suffer through a sixteen-year prison sentence or the dog gets packed off to the animal shelter or put to death. Whatever happens, it’s certainly not a pretty picture after all.
Before you start shopping around for a dog, ask yourself why you want one, and do your best to make sure that you’re starting your relationship with realistic expectations. If it’s too late for that, it’s still a perfect time to start training yourself to be aware of your own expectations of your dog and of yourself.
When I ask my second question, “What do you want your dog to be able to do?”, people often respond by telling me that they want a certain breed. In my opinion, our culture is much too breed-centric about dogs. Instead of really digging into what kind of relationship they want with their dogs, people often focus on the look of the dog.
While it’s important to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle and your needs, remember that every dog has a unique personality. People will say, “Well I had a Labrador seven years ago who was so calm and mellow” and assume that’s how all Labs will be. They don’t realize they’re describing a dog’s personality. They get another Lab and feel let down because she isn’t like that at all.
Imagine if you expected that from children: “Oh, the first baby was so sweet and mellow, she slept through the night and rarely ever cried. But the new one . . . We can’t get a night’s sleep anymore! We can’t figure out why he’s not an exact match!” You wouldn’t think that about people, so why view dogs in that way? Every member of your family should be on the same page, or at least in the same book, when they commit first to getting a dog and second to defining what kind of dog suits their lives. But family members will often have very different wants and expectations that would be impossible for any dog to live up to. To illustrate the point, here’s a dialogue I recently had with a married couple:
Wife: I want a pug.
Brad: Okay, that’s a shorthaired breed. It will need to wear a coat in winter if you want to spend a lot of time outdoors.
Husband: I want a bulldog.
Wife: What about a husky?
Brad: How’d you go from pug to husky!?
Wife: They’re beautiful and fluffy.
Husband: I don’t want a dog that needs grooming. I want a dog I can take for runs on the beach.
Brad: Sounds romantic. Why don’t you take your wife to the beach?
Husband: She’s not a runner.
Brad: And you wouldn’t put your wife on a leash and expect her to chase after you for seven kilometres, yanking at her to keep moving when she gets tired or wants to pause to talk to a friend, right?
Husband: Of course not!
Brad: Then why expect that from a dog? Even dogs that like to run long distances need to stop periodically to smell the territory and check out old and new dog buddies along the way. You need to be willing to do that.
Wife: I just want something to cuddle with.
Brad: Sweet. Why don’t you cuddle with Two Legs? He’s there 24/7 for you.
Wife and Husband (in unison): Oh, Brad, don’t be crazy!
What’s so crazy about assuming that a married couple should meet each other’s needs for companionship, love and affection instead of expecting a dog to fill that role? There’s nothing crazy about having realistic expectations of our dogs, like wanting to have a dog that can go off-leash, is well-behaved around kids, respects our human possessions and doesn’t have a meltdown every time we set foot out of the house. Canines don’t come to us pre-programmed like computers, so it’s our job to teach them how to do these things. And if we’re not meeting their needs, they will rebel. No dog could possibly live up to a wild mix of human expectations and be a healthy, well-adjusted dog. They don’t come with an on-off switch that can be used to shut down inappropriate human expectations. And they don’t come with a two-year warranty, though like appliances, they often fall apart around that time, and far too often, it’s only then that owners go looking for someone to “fix” the dog.
There’s no shortage of doggy mechanics out there who are willing to peek under the hood, diagnose the dog’s issues in a seemingly authoritative voice and promise to quick-fix anyone’s troubled pet. Some will even provide a warranty or claim to provide you with lifelong training. Even if they live up to that promise, why would you give them a second chance to wreck your dog even more? Too many dog trainers will actually screw your dog up on the first go, kind of like the shady car mechanic who messes with your brakes, carburetor and windshield wipers along the way, even though these parts had no problems before you walked into the shop. I’ll get into the dog trainer con artists in greater detail in Chapter 4, but for now let’s just say the pet indus...
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Book Description Vintage Canada, 2010. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0307357759