Tag Archives: Dutch dog whisperer

Nightmare

As you probably know we have a campervan and it is my job to guard it. I do this with pleasure, like I guard our house and our cargobike and everything else that is mine. I do allow some dogs to sit next to me in my cargobike, like Hester and Zuid. But I do not like them to enter my house and certainly not my campervan. That is my territory.

Bubbles and bus

So it was quite a shock to me to see what Nicoline, my personal trainer, is doing to her campervan. When we go out with our pack she drives us in her van, a real dog walker van with loads of space for all of us. She also has a campervan of her own and apparently she is using that to get the pack to the beach too! She send me this picture. It is a real nightmare for me to imagine this happening to my campervanI sure do hope M won’t get any ideas when she sees this. I would never allow this to happen in my campervan!

Hondjes

 

My all-inclusive holiday

I am back! I had a wonderful holiday with Nicoline and her pack of bandidos. The holiday was all-inclusive: food, snacks, beverages, a cosy place to sleep, a full activity program and lots of friends – all arranged for me! Awesome.

We went to the beach for hours:

Bubbles holiday1

I made new friends:

Stitch

And settled old grudges with old friends:

Bubbles holiday2

No, I am not kidding, we are truly friends! We just needed to talk something through. Thoroughly.

Talking it through

After that, we had great fun together.

It was a very nice holiday. But I am glad to be back home with M and P. I have time to blog again! I hope you all had a good beginning of the new year as well. For me, this must become a wonderful year, starting this way.

 

 

 

Holiday with the bandidos

This new year started with a surprise for me. A not so good and a good surprise in one: M and P packed their bags and have gone on a holiday, without me. Not so good. I went to Nicoline to have my own holiday. Good.

You can see I have mixed feelings about this. But, as a dog, I usually think positive. You know me: always on the bright side. And I think my own holiday will turn out fine. Because I am not only with Nicoline, but with my favorite pack, too! The Bandidos! Boss is here, and Stitch and Swiff and a lot of other rough friends. We will have loads of fun. Chasing each other on the beach and all that.

Nicoline and friends

You won’t hear from me for some time, because being with the Bandidos is hard work. There won’t be any time for quiet writing. Sorry about that! I will tell you all about my adventures later. So long!

Bandidos

Lately M is looking a lot at the big luminous device in our living room. She is watching a new Netflix series, she tells me: Narcos. It is about drugs and a guy named Pablo Escobar. I doze next to her when she watches, hearing a lot of new words. M tells me it is Spanish. Great, I am learning some Spanish!

I like some of the words I learned. For instance: ‘bandidos’. That is what they say a lot in this series: ‘somos bandidos’. It means ‘we are bandits’. I like this word because it is exactly what we dogs are when we are together. Like when I am with my friends in the pack of Nicoline, my personal trainer. We are always up to some mischief. Humans and other dogs that meet us are beware of us, some are even a little frightened. They should be! We truly are a gang of rebels. Somos bandidos!

This is a pic Nicoline made from some of us. She caught them in the act of an undermining activity, as you can see.

Dig this

No words needed

One of the big differences between humans and dogs is the meaning we give to words. Humans seem to have an agreement about what words mean, no matter what the circumstances. For example: ‘walking’ always means moving the legs to get somewhere. So when a human tells another human she had a nice walk, the other human understands what she means.

For dogs this is very different. We do not listen to the meaning of a word, for us it is the attached action or mood that counts. This means humans can use words in a different way when communicating with us. Take my friend Kiesja. She likes to do doggy dancing. When her humans says ‘strawberry’ she pivots. That is the way she learned it. Her human could have learned her to pivot on the word ‘turn’, but she thought it would be more fun to use another word. To Kiesja this is not important, because she reacts on the intention of her human. They trained this a thousand times, so the meaning of the word ‘strawberry’ is ‘pivot’ to her.

This knowledge about the difference in the use of words for humans and canines is important, because it explains a big misunderstanding. Humans seem to think that they can use words and we will understand what they mean, like other humans do. But that, as you can see by the example of Kiesja, is not true. We dogs connect a word (or a sound or a hand signal) to an action. When this is repeated, we will perform this action when the word is spoken. Like pivoting on the word ‘strawberry’. Or barking on the word ‘quiet!’. Because, you see: we don’t get the meaning of the word ‘quiet’, like humans do. When we bark and our human tells us again and again to be quiet while we bark, we will connect the word ‘quiet’ to barking. Get it?

I will give you another example. We have some new dogs on the block, a couple of golden retrievers. They aren’t too bad, but when they see another dog they start barking like mad and pull their leashes. Their human is not very strong, so he gets dragged over the street by his dogs. He is shouting ‘hey! hey!’ to his dogs when they are doing this. It is all very embarrassing, really.  My point is: these dogs probably think by now that ‘hey! hey!’ means ‘bark and drag me!’, because this happens all the time. I guess this human wants to make clear to his dogs that he does not like their behavior, that is why he is screaming. But his dogs obviously do not get his meaning. Mind you, I do not have a solution for his problem (why would I? It is not my problem), although I do think Nicoline, my personal trainer, will know what to do about it.

Nicoline and friends

Anyway, the point of my story (which needs a lot of words, sorry about that) is this: please know that humans and dogs understand words very differently. Once humans know this, they can start communicating with us in a different way. They can use fun words for actions they want us to perform. Or not use words at all, but sounds or hand signals. We react to those as well as to words. It gives humans a break, because they have to talk so much already, to other humans. With us they can be quiet, because we will understand them just as well. Or even better, because words tend to muddle intentions and energy. In the silence we can tune into each others energy and be together. No words needed.

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Moves

We dogs are very versatile in our movements. We can run extremely fast, dig huge holes and we can jump high in the air, as my friend Jojo demonstrates in this picture:

Jojo jumping

This pic is a lucky shot by Nicoline, my personal trainer. She also made this pic, it shows how well we can stand on our hind legs. Another move we excel in:

My friends

Yes we can do a lot of things, but some dogs overdo it. I mean one particular movement: bouncing.  All puppies bounce, that is normal. It is how we explore our strength and learn what our bodies are capable of. But when a dog has grown-up and he still bounces, that is not okay. At least, we dogs think so. Look at what happens when we play: when we are bounced upon, we snarl. And rightly so, because bouncing is very rude.

Oddly though, a lot of humans seem to accept that they are bounced upon. When their dogs are playing they tell each other: be careful, brace yourself for the impact! And they bend their legs, so they won’t fall when they are hit by their dog. That is a silly thing to do! Yes it is true that some dogs keep on bouncing when they are grown-up and some breeds even do it a lot, like boxers and bulls. But that doesn’t mean humans should accept being bounced upon! I mean: I don’t like begin run over by a 60 kilos bullmastiff. I don’t think humans like that either. They don’t need to, you know. My personal trainer for instance never gets bounced upon, because she is very clear she won’t accept it. Like the famous dog whisperer himself. I gather he doesn’t get bounced upon very often, too.

It is all about respect, really. We dogs do not accept it when another dog bumps into us and I think humans should act the same.

The power of surprise

In my last post I wrote about how to make your dog come to you. I suggested to use a toy or a yummy treat to make it worth while for your dog to come to you. Some of my human readers have asked me what to do if this doesn’t work. They told me their dog won’t come to them, although they have a treat or a toy.

Okay. I think these humans have a problem and I guess their relation with their dog is not as good as they think it is. They should work on that. Or maybe they made a common mistake, by calling their dog and putting her on the leash every time she came. We are not stupid, you know. When you call us and put us on the leash and take us home every time we come to you, we won’t come easily again. How do you think we feel, when we are having fun but we stop our play to come to you and then every time we do this, we have to go home? Here’s the clue: don’t do this. Call us once in a while, give us a treat or play with us, and let go again. Then your dog will learn it is a good thing to come to you. And she won’t mind that after some nice playing time she is taken home again.

There are some other tricks than toys or treats to make your dog come to you. The key word is: surprise. Like I wrote in my previous post: make it fun for your dog to come to you! I know a human with a very independent dog. She has to make an effort for her dog to come to her and she found an excellent way to do this. When she wants her dog’s attention, she starts jumping up and down, waving her arms and singing ‘whooieooieoowiieee!’. That is funny. It makes all the dogs in the dog park go to her! When we are with her, she tells us to sit and we all get a yummy treat. Then she sends us off again, to resume our play. Now that is a good way of making your dog come to you and build a strong relationship. When she calls her dog to go home, in the end, he willingly obliges because it is fun to be with his human.

This is just one trick to get your dog’s attention. One of the favorite tricks of my personal trainer is this: she throws some treats into the grass (and I pretend not to see it), then calls me and asks me to search for them. It always works. Another trick is bending down, pretend like you are looking for something on the ground, maybe even dig with your fingers. Your dog will certainly come to help you in your search. Some time ago we were walking leisurely along the canal near our house, when I turned and saw M sitting on the grass! She never does this, so I immediately ran to her to check it out. She told me she fell down, but she won’t fool me: it was another trick to get my attention!

Nose

All these tricks have one thing in common: it is a surprise for us and it is fun. We love surprises, so this will always work. But please do not make the mistake of putting us on the leash every time when we come to you. If you do, you will not fool us again and it will become harder and harder for you to make us come to you.

 

A visitor

Today I had a visitor. Some of my readers may think ‘so what?’. But to me it is a special occasion, because I seldom have visitors. Canine visitors, that is. The reason for this is simple: I do not allow any other dog into my house. I like other dogs, I have a lot of friends, but we meet outside on neutral terrain. When a dog tries to enter my house, I chase him away. I don’t want canine visitors on my territory.

Today, however, was different. First: It was my personal trainer who entered my house and she is no lady to tamper with. As I wrote before, she is a tough cookie. Second: She did not come alone, she brought a dog with her. And not just any dog, but my great friend Boss. Boss is totally cool, I really like to play with him… but I did have serious doubts when he came into my house. I go to his house a lot, but that is different. He likes to share, especially with beautiful female dogs like me. But my own house I prefer to keep private, I like it that way.

So I was in great doubt. My first reaction (which is always the best, as I explained earlier: decide fast, act fast) was to jump on Boss and bite him. I don’t care that he is a big mean German shepherd dog, I would fight him anyway. But then I thought this might not be a good idea with my personal trainer so near. And than I smelled, just in time, the great doggy treats she had with her. That is when I decided to behave like a nice dog, welcoming Boss into my house. As a result we both got a yummy doggy treat.

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There is a risk now, however, that some of my readers will get me wrong on this. I want to make very clear that it was a very rare occasion and an exception that I welcomed Boss into my house . I by no means intend to do it again, not with Boss or any other dog. This is still my house and mine only. So to end all possible misunderstandings right now: do not come and visit. Let’s have fun on neutral terrain.

Who’s the boss?

One of the biggest misconceptions about humans and dogs is the ‘boss-idea’. The idea that in a human-canine-relationship the human should be the boss of the dog. If not, the dog will be the boss and this will cause a lot of trouble.

This is a ridiculous idea. It is simply not how things work and it causes a lot of trouble in the relationship between humans and dogs. That is why I will explain how it does work, in real life.

Dogs and humans have been living together for thousands of years. Not in a boss-subordinate hierarchy, but in a relationship based on mutual respect and the idea of working together. We use each others assets to obtain a mutual goal. Like food and safety. This requires a good cooperation and an understanding between dog and human. You can see how this works with dogs that really work with their human, like police dogs, herding and hunting dogs. The police officer is not the boss of the police dog and the police dog is not the boss of the police officer. They know each other thoroughly, they know each others strong points, needs and limits and they work with that. They work together, as a team.

Nowadays a lot of humans live together with dogs, but they do not work together. They walk their dog, usually not paying much attention to the dog. I see this a lot: the human is talking to another human or into this strange device they seem to carry with them all the time. The dog is sniffing the air and pulling the human on the leash to where he wants to go. There is no interaction whatsoever.

And that is where the trouble begins. Humans don’t seem to understand that they have to work with us, in order to have a good companion in us. They think we will not lie on the couch or jump over the fence or dig holes in the garden or whatever it is that they don’t like, just because they told us they don’t like that. So when we do, they’ll complain to other humans that their dog is not listening and they will probably hear that they “have to be the boss”.

But this is not how it works. Look at the tv-shows of Cesar Millan, the famous dog whisperer. A lot of humans seem to think that he is the guy who promotes the conception of a human being the boss and the dog the subordinate. But I see something else. The dogs he works with are usually bad mannered or downright crazy. He has to be clear with them from the start and that may seem bossy. He sometimes even pushes a dog to the ground, forcing him to be subordinate. Whenever I see this in his show, I look the other way. I think it is embarrassing for the dog, his friends will never take him serious again. If Mr. Millan would do that to me, I would certainly bite him. Happily, he hardly ever comes to Holland.

Anyway, when you see his show, take a better look at what he does after his so-called disciplining the dog: he starts working with them. And that makes sense.  He makes sure they get the exercise they need. He investigates their special needs and works with that – he lets them herd sheep, for instance. And what is very important: he really interacts with the dog, all his attention and focus is directed to the dog. That is what makes him a dog whisperer. The same applies to my personal trainer, the Dutch dog whisperer. She is there, she focusses on her dogs. She knows them and their needs and she works with them. You can see the result: we are a happy pack.

Nicoline and friends

So here’s the clue: you do not need to be a boss, but you have to build a relationship with your dog. When you have true focus and attention, you will receive the same from us. We will get to know each other and work together. Sometimes the human will tell the dog what to do and that is fine – this is a complicated world and following the human directions may keep you safe. Sometimes the human will depend on the dog, because we have certain abilities that humans have not. Like tracking down tasty bits of pizza. Or finding the best way to cross the ocean!

Hike4

Not every dog can be a police dog or a herding dog. But you can go out together and have Adventures. Enjoy the weather, enjoy being outdoors, have fun. Do games together. Forget about being boss. Be together. That is what makes a human-canine-relationship one of the most special relationships in the world.

I’m back!

Hello there, I am back! M and P returned from their holiday and Nicoline brought me home. There were some interesting new smells in the house, coming from the luggage of M and P. I smelled lobster and sunshine. I really, really want to go with them next time, because lobster and sunshine are two of my favorite things! I can’t believe they enjoyed it without me.

But I won’t be cross for too long, because I had a good time with Nicoline. We were a huge pack, I was together with twelve other dogs! Some of them became my friends. I played a lot with Boss, a big mean German Shepherd Dog. He is still growing and getting stronger every day. I really like to challenge him. This is a picture of him, together with the older German Shepherd in our pack:

Boss

Boss is the one on the right. In this picture they were singing, I don’t have a clue why, it was absolutely horrible to hear. I bumped into Boss to stop him and he resumed playing with me.

Another dog I really like is Flynn. This is him:

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He can give you a very odd look, as you can see. I discovered the right response to this look:

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I had a good time, but I am glad to be back home. At least I have my own bed now (at Nicolines place we swop beds all the time), with my very own snoozebag. And I can blog again! Like I predicted, Nicoline did not allow me on the computer. She thinks dogs shouldn’t blog, tssss.