Tag Archives: Dutch dog whisperer

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!

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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.

Good & bad news

I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that M and P are going on a holiday without me. I can’t believe they are doing this, but the inconvenient truth is: they are. Their bags are packed and ready. The good news is I am going on a holiday too and stay with my personal trainer, Nicoline. I will stay with her and her dogs. It will be fun, we will go to the beach and the forest every day, for hours and hours!

Playing

I am afraid I will not blog during this holiday. Nicoline is an old fashioned person: she thinks dogs should eat well, sleep well and be outdoors a lot of time. She won’t allow me to work on the computer. So I am sorry, but you will not hear from me for some time. The good news is I will have a lot of fun and probably have loads of nice pics to share with you after my holiday, because Nicoline is very good at making pictures. Like the one above (this was last year, with my Staffordshire friend Dibbus).

I am sure I’ll have an awesome holiday with Nicoline. I’ll tell you all about it when I am back home!

The Method: dodging

I have written before how to manage rude dogs. Recently there was a picture taken of me, working according to this Method™, so I will share it with you. But first I will tell you about the very nice walk I had on the beach. I always like going to the beach and it gets even better when my friends are there. This time my personal trainer Nicoline was there, with her pack of dogs! They are my friends too; when I stay with Nicoline I see them a lot. This time the pack was quite small, usually she walks with ten or sometimes even fifteen dogs:

Nicoline and friends

I like playing with almost all of them: running and chasing and boxing with each other. The big old German Shepherd in the middle thinks he is the boss of the group. I like to tease him. I run to him, bite him in the legs or his neck and run away very fast. He will chase me, but he is way too slow to catch up. So when I am at a safe distance I turn quickly and run towards him, as fast as I can. When I am almost bumping into him and he thinks he has me, I dodge aside so he misses me. It looks like this:

The Method

The funny thing is he knows I will do this, but still he waits for me and tries to get me when I am almost there. By the way, we don’t do this for a long time, usually after this running around we stop and start sniffing and searching for little crabs to eat. I tease him, he is not really angry with me. He just pretends, it is a game.

When I meet a dog I do not wholly trust, this is a very good Method™ to have some fun and in the same time avoid getting hurt. It only works when you are a very fast dog, mind you! Otherwise just make sure you are not in their way and do as I explained in this post.

 

 

 

Fighting?

There are some big misconceptions, things humans don’t seem to understand about us dogs. I wrote about misconception number one: dominance. There is another big one: fighting.

Let me tell you about something that happened on the beach, lately. I was playing with another dog – a dog looking a bit like me, being ultrafast. We ran like hell, chasing each other. We had great fun. Her human had just told M that her dog was scared of practically anything, but I did not recognize that. She was a bit nervous, yes, but not scared. Anyway, we played rough. That is how I like it: bumping into each other, chasing each other, sometimes biting each other in the legs to invite the other dog to run even faster.

So we were racing on the beach, me chasing the other dog and biting in her hind legs to tease her. She did not like that, stopped, turned around and snapped at me. This happens sometimes. I don’t mind, it is only a clear signal that my motivation technique is not appreciated. In that case I stop, we pause for a while and usually we start our play all over again. But this time the human of this so-called scared dog got very hysterical. She shouted ‘oh no, they are fighting, I don’t want this! Go away!’. So M called me and we went on together.

I thought this very strange. The human obviously did not understand the difference between playing and fighting. I admit I was a bit rough on her dog, but we weren’t fighting. When we walked about a hundred meters she released her dog and it came running towards me to resume our play. But M did not feel like an argument with this hysterical human, so she told me to get along with her and I said goodbye to the dog.

Maybe one of the reasons why humans can’t  see the difference between playing and fighting, is that we dogs often play rough. We sometimes bark and even growl, we show our teeth. This is because playing is also a way of testing how strong we are, compared to each other. We do this with our humans, too! What do you think we are doing when we are playing a pulling game with you? We like the fun, but we are also testing if you are still strong. It is all in the game for us.

So this is playing, something very different from fighting. When are dogs fighting? I can tell you this: seldom. I mean really fighting, with the purpose to seriously hurt the other dog, not the barking and growling and biting-in-the-fur stuff that is playing rough. We hardly ever really fight because the risks are very high. When we city dogs get hurt in a fight we are taken to the vet, but when you are a stray dog, you could die. No dog will take such a risk if it is not really worth it.

For a real fight the stake must be very high. Such a stake could be a territory a dog defends. Or a pretty willing female, in that case a male dog will fight with another strong male dog who wants the same female. All the other things, like food, are not worth a real fight. If you look carefully how dogs behave in this situation, you will see a lot of snarling and growling and sometimes even an attack, but the dogs usually back off quickly. No one gets seriously hurt. We are pretty fast in determining which one of us is stronger and the strongest one gets the food.

Humans are not very good at really noticing what is going on, so I’ll help you out a bit here. How to tell the difference between playing rough and fighting? This is something Nicoline, my personal trainer, tells the humans she trains. She says that as long as dogs make a lot of noise, they are not really fighting. If they start snapping and showing teeth without making a noise, than the going gets though. When this happens with the group of dogs she walks with, she intervenes – she is a tough cookie, did I tell you that? She is brave. I would never intervene in a dog fight, I would just run. Which is a very sensible reaction, by the way.

Sorry for this long blog, it takes a lot of words to explain something that is not difficult to see for us dogs, but apparently it is for humans. I hope you will understand it now. A little test, to make sure you get it. Look at this picture. Is this fighting?

Fighting

Maybe it is a hard question to answer, because it is a picture and you cannot hear the noise.  This is me with my German Shepherd friend Sem. And no, it is not fighting (we made a lot of noise). Me and Sem like to measure forces when we meet each other. As you can see, we show our teeth, although in this picture Sem is not paying much attention to me anymore, because another dog was approaching. Sem is not very well mannered, he doesn’t know how to behave with a lady like me. Ha! I’ll show him next time I meet him.

Dominance?

Humans and dogs have lived together for ages, but still there are a lot of things humans don’t understand about us. For instance: humans categorize dogs in being ‘dominant’ or ‘submissive’. A dog that is bossy they call dominant. They say it is his character, they believe he will always be a dominant dog. But that is not true, because every dog is dominant, now and then. It is not his character, it is the situation that matters, and the way we interact in this situation.

Maybe humans think their dog is dominant because he behaves in a bossy way when he is with them. For instance: there is a little dog living on the other side of our street – she is a mix chihuahua / Jack Russell. She usually goes out with her female human, barking all the time and snapping at other dogs. But last time I met her, she was walking with her male human. She was as sweet as a cheesecake, walking next to him, not barking and not even once pulling the leash. Does she have a dominant character? No, of course not. She is only bossy when her female human is with her. She reacts on the situation.

If you want to learn more about dogs, just look how they behave when they are with other dogs. When a dog is well balanced and social, you will see that sometimes she is bossy and sometimes she is not. Me, I grew up in a shelter amidst a large pack of dogs. One learns how to behave in such an environment, believe me! I am not a very submissive dog, I can be really bossy sometimes. But not all the time. When I meet a dog that is friendly and playful, I am friendly too. With my Staffordshire friend, for instance:

Social 1

Sometimes, when I meet a dog who behaves a bit bossy, I like to challenge him. I don’t care how big he is (this one for instance is huge, but when I stand on my long hind legs I can be very tall!), it is the energy that counts. By the way: some humans think this looks like fighting, but it isn’t. It is only measuring forces.

Social 3

And sometimes I meet a dog whose energy of that moment tells me to show respect:

Social 2

Humans will say he is more dominant than I am, but this is not true. He is more dominant in this situation. If he would walk into my house, or try to steal my food, I would certainly fight him and chase him away. Like I said: it is the situation that matters and the way we interact in this situation. This includes the humans that are around. Did you ever wonder why every dog gets calm and submissive when Cesar Millan is near? Because his energy is very clear. Only dumb stubborn dogs challenge him and we all know what happens to them!  Same with my personal trainer, Nicoline. She walks with a lot of dogs and we all respect her. There are some dogs in our pack that humans would call dominant, but with her none of us is.

It is true that some dogs are more bossy than others. But no dog is bossy all the time. This whole idea of dominant dogs that will always be dominant in any situation is a huge misconception. Don’t believe it.