A story about car rides

Almost two weeks ago now, I bought a Labradoodle (Labrador-Poodle mix) to train as a guide dog for the blind.

Over and over again I was warned by his previous owner how much he hated car rides:He has to sit in the front with me, otherwise the poor baby gets so scared. He always throws up if he has to be in a box in the back…” Oh great, I thought to myself. Imagining my life, filled with long car drives all over Germany, with a dog who would whine, bark and throw up the entire time, was a nightmare.

Nightmare pushed aside, I said goodbye to the lady and walked with Buddy, the Labradoodle, calmly to the car. I will pretend he has no issues with car rides, I told myself. I asked Buddy to sit down and wait as I opened the back and prepared my transport box for him. Very confidently I wrapped my arms around him and heaved him in. He didn’t want to at first, but I calmly told him he was fine and to stop being a drama queen (I did nothing physicallyI actually said,Stop being a drama queen.”)

He let out a very short (with what sounded like a question mark at the end) whine as I closed the door. I ignored it completely, got in the driver’s seat, started the car, turned up the music and sang along as I drove home. Hmmno barking! No whining! The entire ride, Buddy was quiet. There was a moment where I even forgot he was back there.

When I got home, I saw he had thrown up a bit, but I think that was because he had eaten right before the drive. A few days later, we drove again. He loaded up into the car easier, was quiet the entire time andNoooo barfing! So do you think Buddy actually had a problem with cars and driving, or did his owner make the the situation out to be something it wasn’t? She was so anxious and worried about herpoor baby, that Buddy was a wreck by the time she had turned the key in the ignition.

This is relevant to many areas in our life with dogs. We say or think our dog feels or acts a certain way, because we think Oh, if I were a dog and someone put me in a box in a car, I would be so scared and would probably throw up! So from day one, we project that on our dogs. We constantly say it, think it, and they sense that.

Try changing things up and expect your dog to approach a situation neutrally. Allow him or her to make their own decisions about how they feel about it. Then you can improve their behavior or just enjoy their well-behaved selves.

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Unter Verhalten, Hunde, Umgang mit Emotionen, Mensch & Tier, Humans

Playing the role

We are cruel when someone refuses to play the role in which we have cast him. We judge a person only according to his relationship towards us.

Anais Nin

I read this quote from Anais Nin and immediately thought of how we see our dogs a certain way. There’s always this vision of how we would like them to act or a memory of how they used to be that we can’t let go of. We keep telling ourselves that they’re still like that, even though they might have changed or are trying to.

A big tough guy might buy a Pit bull and tell himself and everyone else that his dog is Lesen Sie weiter

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Unter Verhalten, Hunde, Zitate

A short conversation about wags

The phrase,He just wants to play!, has become quite the joke amongst experienced dog owners and trainers.

If someone feels the need to tell someone that their dog won’t hurt him or explain his or her behavior in that way, there is always a reason. If their dog was calm or simply polite toward others, they wouldn’t have to say,He just wants to play!, it would just be apparent. That is the phrase I always hear before crises hits. Every time. I have never heard someone yell that and then seen two dogs get along right after.

One important concept that more people need to understand is this: a dog wagging his/her tail, is not always a Lesen Sie weiter

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Unter Verhalten, Hunde, Umgang mit Emotionen

Answering Unnecessarily

Humans were raised to be politeFor the most part. When asked a question, we answer. We say things such as Thank you!” oder “Good morning!. A constant, cheery flow of feedback towards othersactions is a must in our society to be liked, loved, hired or simply accepted. Which is a great thingthere can sometimes never be enough politeness and friendliness.

Dogs, as well as most other animals, don’t see this as necessary. If a dog walks up to another dog wagging, grinning and strikes a play pose, sometimes the other dog will simply ignore it. That’s okay. The playful pooch will shrug and go off to find another playmate or just a stick to chew. No hurt feelings and it is not perceived as rude or “, wobei er uns ignorierte.” in the negative sense. In a canine community, ignoring another means,Everything is fine, relax. I don’t feel like doing ____ right now, maybe another time.

Now, this hugeculturaldifference (seeing it as a cultural difference might make it easier to compare) is where many misunderstandings arise in dog-human relationships. Even subconsciously, we feel the need toanswerall of our dogs’ “questions. What do I mean by that? Say your dog brings you a ball. You react in some way and by doing that you are answering their question. When it comes down to it, we can’t not answer the question. Just as we can’t kein communicate. Everything we do, say, feel or express in some way is communicating something.

So. You can look at your dog and do something with the ball, or simply ignore the whole situation completely. It is good to do a mixture of both. If you feel like it, play with your dog. If you don’t, nicht. Either way, your dog won’t think badly of you. It may come up that dogs who are used to always getting their questions and requests answered by their humans (aka their personal slaves), might show signs of frustration when confronted with a person who ignores them. This will only last a short while before they realize that nothing comes from their persistence.

Being polite, to dogs, has a different meaning than it does to humans. You are not entitled to react or to respond. This is normal. Mother dogs will teach their puppies to handle frustration from an early age byclosing the milk barearly. Say all of the puppies want to drink. She might mentally shrug and say,Nah, I don’t feel like it right nowand just walk off. The puppies will whine and feel restless for a short while before settling down to play or sleep. Once it has all calmed down, the mother will come back to nurse them. This is a perfect example of rewarding the correct, calm behavior and simply ignoring the unwanted one. It is not physical or vocal punishmentit is training with frustration and knowing that we don’t have to answer all of their questions.

 

What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear all about it in the comments. Let’s keep this conversation going!

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Unter Verhalten, Hunde, Umgang mit Emotionen, Mensch & Tier, Humans

Why Should I?

We often hear people yelling at their animals – “SIT!!”, “DOWN!!-, often with no success.

My question to these people is alwayswhy? Why should your animal do what it is you’re asking? The answer always seems to be,Because I said so.While I can understand where this statement is coming from, we must understand what lies behind motivation.

Rarely do we as humans ever do anything without motivation of some form. We don’t just run around doing what our boss at work tells us to do for no reason. The job gets done, and hopefully done well, because we are Lesen Sie weiter

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Unter Verhalten, Dog-Horse Ähnlichkeiten, Hunde, Umgang mit Emotionen, Mensch & Tier, Humans, Inspiration und Idole, Tricks

Visualization

How we are with animals is a life stylenot a method. We should practice these concepts and mentalities in all other parts of our lives, too, not just when we’re with our horses and dogs.

The goal is to embody who we want to be when we are with our animals. One way to escalate this process (which is a life time journey) is to Lesen Sie weiter

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Unter Tiere

Dogs and new languages/names

My home is my home, but it is also the castle of up to 4 dogs at a time.

As a guide dog trainer for the blind, I am always giving dogs off and bringing new ones into my homeup to 6 times a year. When there are that many dogs in one home, there are bound to be some overlapping names. It is not rare to have twoSams or twoMaxs. In these situations, I have to change the new dog’s name, or it would be too confusing for the dogs and myself.

Here is where many concerned dog lovers cry out,But the dog will experience an identity crisis!!Because I find this statement so ridiculous, although it is very well intentioned, I wanted to share my thoughts on the subject today. We as humans identify ourselves with our name, our race, our way of dressing, our home, car, and culture, amongst other things. Dogs, and all other animals, see this very differently. They don’t look over at their best friend the German Shepherd and think,Oh hey look, it’s Tom!

They identify themselves through scent, mostly. The name we give them is just a sound that means that they, not the other dogs around them, should come to you. It’s just a sound to themnot their identity. Every time I have changed a name for a dog, which wasn’t very often, they learned it within two days and showed no signs of difficulty understanding the concept or stress. If they are rewarded with joy, play and delicious treats, any dog will tell you,Heck, you can call my Celery stick as long as I get that treat when I come to you!

Okay, this next languagediscussionis one that always makes me smirk at my own dog, Mowgli. He grew up with me in California until he was about 4 or 5 years oldlearning all of his commands in english. Although I still speak english quite a bit with him, I have moved his most used commands likecome here”, “down”, “den Befehl "Sitz"” and so on, to german. Again, everyone is worried that he is so confused and probably won’t be able to make the switch over to a different language.

Up to this point, he is doing fine. In the beginning he didn’t always understand what I wanted when I saidPlatzfor example (lay down in german), but he caught on quickly. Every now and then, and Mowgli is a very intelligent dog, he will test me a bit and look at me as if to say,I don’t speak german, I have no way of knowing what you want of me.All it takes then is an amused look from me and a “Mowgli…” and he quickly lays down or sits, because he knows that I know that he knows that he can understand german words after 2 years of living here!

Well, that’s all folks. Just remember, if done with kindness and patience, your animals can learn words in new languages and can also deal with getting a new name if needed (without getting an identity crises).

What funny/interesting stories do you have that involve animals and language? Please share in the comments below!

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Unter Verhalten, Hunde, Blindenführhunde, Mensch & Tier, Tricks

Using Resources

Although we might not think it at times, we are surrounded with resourcespeople, books, articles, videosthat can help us with something we are working on. Often we come up to awallin our training that we have difficulty getting around.

So much time and energy gets put into solving these training-puzzles, when our questions could be answered in less than 10 minutes if we simply asked. Everyone who knows me and has heard me talk about my animal trainingstyle, knows that I really believe in learning things yourself. Although I had a few informal horse lessons as a teenager, everything else is self taught. My dog, Mowgli, taught me most all that I know about dog training (along with all the dogs I have trained since him) and what I know about working with horses all came from experience and putting all that I simply heard and/or saw to practice on my own.

Everything I have learned about the horse, I have learned from the horse.

- Tom Dorrance

So once we have acknowledged that, we can say,Okay, I will try my best to get as far as I can get on my own. I will think situations through, attempt to figure them out myself and observe the results. But if I am not moving forward, I will turn to one of the resources offered to me.

This is an important point in our journey with animals. It’s that balance between self-reliance and not being afraid to ask for help, suggestions or tips. Then, keep in mind one more thing: not everyone who says something with confidence is correct. You could search something on YouTube and get a video tutorial that is completely wrong. You might searchHow can I get my dog to heel. One person will tell you to yell at your dog toHEEL!!!!while hitting him on the head with a heavy wooden board. Others might tell you to never, ever correct your dog and only give him the best cookies for his efforts.

Neither are the correct approach (in my opinion) and everything we hear from other animal trainers or owners, needs to be taken with a grain of salt and a whole bathtub full of common sense. I wanted to write this post to hopefully open your eyes to the wealth of knowledge all around you, waiting to be discovered. There is no need to get stuck on a problem and limit yourself, when a helping hand is a minute away, ready to show you how to improve.

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Unter Mensch & Tier, Humans, Inspiration und Idole, Zitate, Tricks

Tracks

Yesterday I flew the roughly 27 hours from Tasmania, Australia, back home in Frankfurt, Germany. Phew! Definitely not wanting to sit in or see an airplane for a good while. On the plane, I used the endless hours of sitting to watch some cool movies. One especially. Within two minutes of it starting, I thought to myself, I need to write a post about this movie. Within another 10 minutes, I thoughtokay, I really need to write a post about it!!

The movie is called

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Unter Inspiration und Idole, Movie Recommendations, Video Diskussion

In TasmaniaLast Day

The last two months have passed me by in a blur. I apologize for not writing more and will post videos as soon as I’m home (in Germany) again.

This past week has been filled with lovely trail rides. Ty has become wonderfully responsive, on the trail and in the arena. We had a lovely moment of lightness the other day when I asked him to Lesen Sie weiter

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Unter Pferde, Tasmania