My dog knows he's done wrong

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No he doesn’t!

He has no idea!

All he knows is that you are cross and he has not got a clue why!

So he runs through a series of appeasing behaviours to show that he’s no threat. This may include lowered head, looking away, lowered body posture, creeping, slinking away, screwing up his eyes and grinning, licking his lips, yawning, walking in slow motion silently, licking you, jumping on you, nudging you, burying his head in you. A young puppy can even lose bladder or bowel control in his distress.

All the while you are wagging your finger, shouting or yelling - or worse (as anyone who had a vicious headmistress like I did will know!) going very, very, still and quiet and saying “What. Do. You. Think. You’re. Doing?”

He doesn’t know. Really. He’s a dog.

Dog Body Language

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Dogs express themselves largely through their body language. While most people see nothing - just a dog - it’s in fact a sophisticated language which is very clear, once you learn it.

As a dog-owner it’s your duty to learn Dog Body Language!

You wouldn’t adopt a child from another country and refuse to listen to anything she said until she could express herself fluently in your language. It’s such nonsense when you look at it like that!

So know that you have to observe your dog, look out for every ear-twitch, every sideways glance - what’s his head doing? what’s his movement telling me?

There are some good resources online for learning these movements. Here’s a good one from the amazing artist Lili Chin, of the Body Language of Fear in Dogs

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Do you recognise some of these from your own dog? Start looking! You’ll see them all, in time …

So why does he look so “guilty”?

All this is telling you that telling your dog off and assuming that because he slinks or cowers or looks away, he understands what you’re on about, is mistaken! (That’s polite-speak for WRONG!)

Dogs don’t “look guilty”, or “know they’ve done wrong”. Something a few correspondents have been trying to tell me this week.

Those awful videos that get circulated online - of dogs “looking guilty” - are horrible. Anyone who actually understands dogs knows that the dog is deeply unhappy and distressed by the hostility her owner is demonstrating. Having no idea of the cause, all she can do is grovel. Setting these situations up and videoing them is cruelty, no less.

What can you do instead when something you don’t like has happened?

The first thing to do is to look at why the thing happened. And very often you’ll find the finger is pointing at … yourself!

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◆   Who left the dog alone with the kitchen waste bin?

◆   Who left the door open so that your curious dog went out through it?

◆   Who failed to follow a force-free housetraining program and now has a confused dog who doesn’t know where to relieve herself?

◆   Who left valuable yet chewable items within reach of a puppy who has as yet no boundaries?

So if you come home to find a mess, just clear it up quietly, while resolving to change your own habits so that it can’t happen again.

Our dogs have it hard enough living in our strange world without being told off for breaking rules they didn’t know existed! If you follow this path, you’ll have a hard time ever gaining her trust.

My dog knows when he's done wrong

 

My dog doesn’t need a muzzle

Pin Lazy Muzzle.png

Oh yes. He does!

All dogs need to be familiar with a muzzle and accept it without demur. There are lots of reasons for this - safety round other dogs, keeping other dog-owners away, scavenging and picking up stones and slugs, for treatment at the vets - the list goes on.

I think a lot of the antipathy to muzzles is because of some wrong thinking. People think that if a dog is muzzled it is dangerous. In fact, it’s the safest dog around! His armoury is all behind closed doors.

But people seldom think this through. That doesn’t matter when we’re talking about other people. But when we’re talking about you, the owner, it does matter!

Why do owners resist teaching their dog to wear a muzzle, and why should they anyway?

I go into detail on this subject in my post at https://www.brilliantfamilydog.com/blog/should-my-dog-wear-a-muzzle

So here I want to focus on the most depressing thing I see.

Greyhounds

I know personally of two gruesome cases where unmuzzled greyhounds attacked a small pet dog. In one case a beloved puppy was ripped to pieces in front of his family. In the other case a small dog was almost pulled apart by two unmuzzled greyhounds but rescued by brave passers-by. It took many months of care from her vet and her distraught owner for her physical wounds to heal, and her PTSD-type memories are still needing work, years later.

It’s fashionable for people to adopt ex-racing greyhounds. These dogs are usually spent by about 3-5 years of age (if successful) and earlier if they were not winning.

Sighthounds are naturally quiet and biddable most of the time. They can make great pets in the home. They like to sleep 23 hours a day,  wake up for a bit of food then go back to sleep.

But you have to remember:

 

These dogs are killing machines

Now before you throw up your hands in horror and stuff my inbox with complaints, think about what they have experienced all their lives. They have been trained to chase down anything small, fluffy, or fast-moving, and kill it. That’s what they’re bred for, and that’s what they are encouraged to do.

They are muzzled from an early age, usually with comfortable, light, racing muzzles that allow them to pant freely and drink.

In some countries, greyhounds must be kept on lead at all times in public, and the number of greyhounds led at a time is limited. In some countries also, greyhounds need to be muzzled at all times.

To be fair, some of the greyhound adoption agencies recommend that at least to start with your ex-racer should be muzzled in public, though it’s not the law in most of the UK (Northern Ireland excepted - where all sighthounds must be muzzled in public). It’s so easy, because it’s what they’re used to!

Your newly-adopted ex-racing greyhound is an unknown quantity to you. You need to take precautions for many months before you know whether you have one of the lazy ones who couldn’t be bothered to chase anything, or one whose switch can be flipped in a second, triggering a chase that no dog or cat can escape.

The owner of the greyhounds in one of the instances I mentioned above had only had her two dogs for a couple of weeks. She had NO idea how dangerous they were, singly, and together. The adoption agency had not told her anything about the dangers, only that these were gentle pets. This nonsensical approach caused the horrible incident where the new elderly owner watched - screaming helplessly -  while her two new dogs attempted to pull the small dog apart.

She was traumatised by the event, paid the victim dog owner’s vet bills, and returned the dogs immediately to the adoption agency.

Unnecessary suffering

These horrors were totally unnecessary!

 

  • If the adoption people had faced the truth and told it to the new owners;

  •   If the new owners had had the sense they were born with and took steps to take the firing pin out of their dangerous weapons;

  • If an inexperienced elderly lady had not taken on two large dogs trained to kill;

  • And if owners of small dogs were aware of the danger;

 

all this may not have happened.

 

Small-dog owners need to take care

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My smallest dog is fluffy and fast. So whenever I see ex-racing greyhounds on my travels, Coco Poodle is either close to my feet on lead, or I pick him up, to remove the instinctive visual chase response from the hounds.

And before you all sharpen your quills and dip them into poison ink, I declare that I have a sighthound too. She was never raced, but her chasing instincts are strong. See the power in her leap! But yes, she does sleep most of the time!

More commonsense tips to be found in this free 8-lesson email course to get you started with your dog

     

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Fluffy Puppy turned into a snarking monster? 5 steps to enjoying walking your dog again

This article was first published on 4knines.com and is reprinted here with permission.

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That sweet pup who at a couple of months old was so adorable that you wanted to show her off to everyone, has gained half a year and grown horns!

She barks and lunges at every dog or person she sees – and you wouldn’t want anyone to see your dog now … So you only walk her at The Hour of the Difficult Dog. You’re embarrassed. Confused. What have you done wrong?

What she’s showing is a fear reaction which can appear in adolescence.

It may have resulted from not meeting enough dogs and people in her first few weeks with you; it may be that some time another dog or person gave your pup a fright; it could just be that she’s cautious and fearful by nature.

It’s not wrong or bad – it’s just the way she is. And you still love her to bits!

So how can you improve this and get your fluffpup back again?

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

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1. Understand

Your dog is not aggressive or nasty - she’s afraid. The reason she’s barking and lepping about on the lead when she sees another dog or person or bike is that she’s trying to keep them away! Quite often this apparently aggressive display will do the trick, and either the other walker heads off, or you drag your dog away in embarrassment and confusion. Once she’s upset and the hormones are flying around her body, she’ll be quicker to react to the next frightening thing she sees.

2. Make Distance

If your child had a fear of spiders you wouldn’t keep confronting him with the wiggly beasties. So, for the time being, avoid confrontations with other dogs. Walk where you won’t have dogs “in your face”. Turn and go the other direction when a dog is walking towards you along the street. Just knowing that she never has to meet another dog or person will take a lot of the pressure off your dog and allow her to keep calm.

 

3. Get rid of any gadgets or collars that hurt her

It stands to reason that if, every time you saw a red van someone choked you with a prong or chain collar or – worse still – gave you an electric shock, you would soon get very anxious about red vans. You would try to get away from them, and if you saw one coming you’d probably start to scream in fear of the anticipated pain. So ditch all those things that people tell you are the answer, and just have your dog on a comfortable, soft, flat collar and a good length lead so she can move freely.

 

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4. Change her Perception of Dogs and People

Before you set out on your walk, load your pockets with tasty treats that you know your dog will sell her soul for. Tiny cubes of cheese or hot dog will do the trick, or high-quality grain-free treats may work. Every time you see something coming, pause - and post treats into your dog’s mouth as she watches them. Treat, treat, treat … very fast. Be sure you keep beyond the distance at which she usually gets worried. Stop feeding once the hazard has gone away. If you are consistent with this, she’ll soon see a strange dog or person, turn to you and say, “Where’s my treat?” Result!

 

5. Still afraid your dog may bite?

You need to find a certified force-free trainer who understands how to help fearful dogs. Be aware that using any sort of force or punishment in this situation will make things worse. If your dog has already bitten or you’re really afraid she will, you can acclimatise your dog gently to a basket muzzle. Use the system at no.4 above so that she is delighted at the sight of her muzzle. The muzzle has the added benefit of keeping people and their dogs at a distance – just what you want for now!

Follow Steps 1 – 4 above and you’ll start to build your dog’s confidence and be able to enjoy your walks again.

 

For help with your reactive, anxious, aggressive, “growly” dog, get our free email course here.

     

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Can Choice Training help my Reactive - Growly - Dog?

Training your dog with choice is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

One of the interesting things I’ve observed recently is how much simple Choice Training changes life for those of us blessed with a Growly Dog - a reactive, anxious, aggressive, dog.

Of course, I always knew that! But it’s great to hear it come back from students and folk on my recent Workshop. That was all about Choice Training - training your dog by offering him a choice instead of telling him what to do.

And the results have been remarkable for many people!

They were surprised - and delighted! - to find that their growly dog was much better able to cope after only a couple of days of trying this new approach. Well, it was new for many of them …

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

   

How can a few simple games change my reactive dog?

What happens is that - through offering your dog a choice and not continually “commanding” him what to do - you build a completely new relationship with your pet!

No longer are you yelling and dancing, coaxing and cajoling, to try and get what you want. Instead you have a happy companionship where your dog is keen to do what you want because it’s what he wants too!

What I love about this way of training is that the dog doesn’t have to “be trained” at all. So how does the change happen? By you, the OWNER, changing!

Simple as that! Once you change your ways, your dog will just change with you.

And while you’re building up this amazing new bond between you, your anxious dog is getting less anxious, your reactive dog is able to cope much better with his fears, and your aggressive dog finds that - with you on his side - he doesn’t need to be aggressive any more.

I love my dog but …

Training your dog with Choice Training is much easier and more effective than you may have thought | FREE EMAIL COURSE | #newpuppy, #dogtraining, #newrescuedog, #puppytraining, #dogbehavior | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Many people come to me saying “I love my dog to bits, but …” What’s happening is that they undoubtedly do love their dog, but they don’t actually understand why he’s doing what he does. They know there’s a disconnect there, but are unaware how to fix it.

Once they start using Choice Training, things change fast. They become a team with their dog. They can now love him with understanding and empathy.

When I’m working with Growly Dogs specifically, I use a lot of strategies and techniques to achieve the desired change in the dog’s behaviour. But these are all based in giving him a choice and letting him decide on a good course of action.

When you have very young children, you have to show them and teach them all the time. Once your child is older, you’re no longer saying “do this, do that,” but you are backing them up in the informed choices that they are now able to make. This is what I aspire to for my Growly Dog students. That they can work together with their challenging dog to get the results they want.

One of the best things about Choice Training is that you can start it with your new puppy when he comes through the door at 7-8 weeks old. People used to say (some unenlightened people still say …) that you can’t train a puppy till it’s 6 months old. Why? It’s simply that the type of training they’re thinking of - harsh, punishment-based training involving physical pain - would be too tough on a puppy.

Why use it on any dog??? It’s quite unnecessary, as you’ll see from any of the 130-odd articles on this site, not to mention the many books, the audiobooks, and my free - as well as paid - programs.

And if a training technique won't work for a toddler, then it likely won't work for a dog —Stanley Coren

Take a look at this post which goes into the whole subject in great detail. There are some academic resources listed there for those of you who want to dig deep!

The fact remains, if you can treat your dog with the same courtesy, kindness and respect that you give to any toddler, then you’ll get the results you want!

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

   

 

 

 

Well that was a great week of dog training!

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The 5 Day Workshop was roundly acclaimed a great success! People got results that astonished them. Things they’d been struggling with for months or years were resolved in just five intensive days. 

I love celebrating my students’ successes, so while my team and I are still working on the aftermath of the Workshop and welcoming new students into the two courses recommended,

From Wild Puppy to Brilliant Family Dog

and

From Challenging Dog to Brilliant Family Dog

… I thought I’d let the Workshoppers speak for themselves:

 

Thank you for caring, it is so genuine. I am looking forward to this course!

My 14 week old puppy loved this! He couldn’t take his eyes off me, plus he sat after every treat without being told.

Did two sessions already and his recalls outside improved. This is going to be a fabulous week!! Thank you so much!

Thanks for your kind approach; it’s so much nicer than harsh words or worse!

Thank you for making the course and emails so easy to follow!

So Meg (the world's most anxious Border Collie who we've only had for a few weeks), has been playing - yes real playing with tail wagging, playbows, and coming back for more! She's now exhausted and flat out after all the playing - looking very relaxed. I'm a convert.

You are so amazing. I’m so enjoying this training video - hugs from me and Rory

He's improved so much and isn't as reactive when out.

You put the tools in front of us and give us the confidence to experiment! I so appreciate your clarity!

Though I teach others and we do this practice every day with my own dogs, we are loving and benefiting from the group experience. Thank you so much for this, this is my first course like this. The course so far is great, even for a training professional!

She is much better on the lead since playing the focus game yeah

This is really revolutionary! Thank you for sharing your wisdom and by that helping a huge number of people be their best version of pet companion.

This course really works and not just for a week. I haven't used any verbal cues or hand signals while playing the game. Looking forward to tomorrow morning when we do the next unit.

It usually takes at least two calls to get him in reluctantly from the garden. Today after the focus game, adding the sit cue, I called him, he came racing in on first call and sat in front of me! It’s only day 4 …

You’re a godsend.

Molly has always been very responsive to training (she's a collie/springer cross) but OMG! What an eye-opener and what fun to actually see her thinking and working out what I want her to do! It's so different but she's so engaged with me - I think she’s really enjoying it. It's amazing!! I feel tickled pink!

So proud of how my little dog is progressing, thanks to what we are learning from Beverley, would never have thought it possible, but we’re steadily getting there!

Fantastic information delivered in a very easy to understand manner. I always pick up a great tip from you - Thanks!

It all makes so much sense. And we are seeing such changes in both dogs.

Just wanted to say thank you for the 5 day workshop, we have seen a really big difference in Maisie, she is a lot more calm and much more focused on her walks which means no pulling on the lead and she also seems much more content.

Thank you so much for the workshop. It's has been incredibly helpful and great fun and has finally tired her out!!!

Thank you so much. Your 5 day Workshop has been most enlightening, I have always taught my dogs using a soft voice and a gentle touch, but I must say your method this week has been an eye-opener, letting the dog work out what is required! Fantastic idea.

This week has been thoroughly enjoyable for both myself and Maisey,

Isn't it fabulous how focused they are on you?

It’s amazing how quickly they work it out x

We have learned so much from Beverley Courtney's Essential Skills for a Brilliant Family Dog and the Growly but Brilliant Family Dog books.

Love this training. Bonnie and I have learned so much in such a short time. Thank you Beverley.

Saw so much progress with the 5 day Workshop. Dogs and us calmer and enjoying each other so much more. Stress levels right down.

I love love LOVE that as a beginner it’s about just doing the exercises and letting the magic happen, whether with my creativity or my dog’s responses! THIS I can do!!

 A big thank you Beverley and team for a fantastic 5 day Workshop.

 

Lucy Walker closer.png

Basking in praise?

No, I’m not! I’m too busy helping the new students find everything they need and supplying them with their course notebooks …

 

But I can allow myself a pat on the back for helping more dogs round the world have a happier life with their devoted owners, and be better understood.

I’ll drink to that!

 

Plenty of ideas in this free 8-lesson email course for changing your life with your dog!

   

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The Brilliant Family Dog Workshop’s nearly here!

Free 5 Day online Workshop to show you a new - force-free - way to change your dog or new puppy and enjoy life | FREE 5 DAY ONLINE WORKSHOP | #dogtraining, #puppytraining, #newpuppy, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

Great anticipation here, for this summer’s main event!

People are joining in droves, so I’m looking forward to great activity in the new private forum which will be opened in a few days.

And we learn so much from each other - once we’ve chosen the right place to be to learn! As you’ll know, any place I am is a place that focusses on force-free training. On training that reaches the dog’s heart and mind, and does not rely on fear or intimidation to have any effect.

As you’ll have seen from my recent post I am utterly against the use of aversive gear to work with our friend, the dog.

Join our free 5 Day Workshop and find a new dog-friendly way to get fast results with your dog or your brand-new puppy Description Free 5 Day online Workshop to show you a new - force-free - way to change your dog or new puppy and enjoy life | FREE 5 DAY ONLINE WORKSHOP | #dogtraining, #puppytraining, #newpuppy, #growlydog | www.brilliantfamilydog.com

This means that we can achieve exactly what we want without nasty collars, no spikes, no electric shocks, no nasty smells.

We wouldn’t dream of treating our children this way!

And yet people have no qualms about abusing their dogs, even the cleverest of whom is only on a par with a three-year-old child. The mind boggles at the double standards their minds have to hold.

But how do we actually get results without using these so-called “training aids”?

To start with, come and join the hundreds already impatiently waiting for kick-off! Our free 5 Day Workshop to a Brilliant Family Dog starts next Monday. Just click that link and you’ll be there!

Once you’ve registered, take a leisurely stroll round this site and have a look at more of the articles. You can use the SEARCH button to find just what you want. With almost 130 posts, it’s a great resource, and it’s f-r-e-e!

Why do I give so much away? Well, I want to reach as many dogs as possible and change their experience during their short life with us.

And you know what? It changes their owners too, so that means the good stuff will keep spreading.

Results!

I’m really looking forward to showing you just how to achieve the results you want with your dog, without listening to anyone who says you can only succeed through nastiness.

Choice Training is the fastest way to change your dog - from being a source of conflict and irritation - to becoming your companion and the Brilliant Family Dog you deserve.

Once you’ve worked your way through this 5 Day Workshop, you’ll have a puppy who plays nicely with the children, never nipping hands or grabbing clothes! Isn’t this just what you imagined when you got your puppy?

And you’ll be making a great start on walking comfortably together without your arm being pulled out of its socket! Just imagine that …

Join our free 5 Day Workshop here!

Go and find out all the goodies you’ll be getting …