Tag Archives: personal trainer

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

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.

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.

20150613_130632

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.

Body language (1)

Readers of this blog will know that I sometimes write about canine behavior, because there are a lot of things humans do not seem to understand about us. I believe that by writing about these misunderstandings, I will make life better for humans and dogs. That is one of my Ambitions. This time I would like to write about body language, to be precise ear language.

If you want to understand dogs, it helps if you know what to look for. You can start by reading our ears. We dogs can move our ears in a lot of different ways, no matter what shape they have. It is easier to read this by dog breeds with big ears, like German shepherds. But when you know where to look, you can also read the flappy ears of breeds like labradors. Look at the root of the ears, where they are attached to the head.

Basically, there are three major positions. The first one is when we are alert and interested in our surroundings:

Body language alert

You can see both dogs (the German shepherd is my friend Boss) have their ears turned forward. When we look like this, we are ready for action: playing, running, guarding, anything.

The second position is for situations when we do not feel too sure. For instance when we are impressed by another dog, cautious or scared of something. Then we turn our ears backward and stick them to our head, as flat as possible.

Body language submissive

The dog on the left is lying on the ground and moving her ears in a position that tells the black dog: okay, you are the boss (for now). The black dog is not feeling too sure either, her ears are flat as well, although she is dominating the one lying on the beach (notice she is almost stepping on her, another sign of body language I will write about later). This probably is because the picture was taken by Nicoline, my personal trainer, and Nicoline told the black dog to behave. The black dog was busy dominating the other one, but while doing so thought ‘uh-oh this might not have been a good idea with Nicoline so close’. This happens a lot to dogs, especially the not so smart ones: they act first and think later.

Notice that the lab next to the black dog is totally relaxed, ears in a neutral position. But hey, he is a very dumb lab. He probably did not get what was going on, thinking about balls.

Then there is the third position, I will call it neutral. It is when we are relaxed:

Body language apprehensive

Mind you: this can change very fast. We dogs react to our surroundings almost immediately (that is, the smarter ones), so we can go from neutral to alert to submissive in a split second. When you want to understand us, you have to be a good observer. But that is the fun of it, right? Never a dull moment.

Of course, these are just the three basic ear positions. There are a lot of other ones, for special occasions. I for instance have a wide array of positions, which I use as I please. This one is for when I feel hungry and P is eating something that smells lovely. It is something in between alert and neutral. Of course in this situation I am very alert (food is my top priority), but I do not want to give the impression of being too pushy. That is why I wear my ears like this:

Method cropped.jpg

This is for when I want something really, really bad:

Being very sweet

And then there are dogs that have a body language that is beyond any description. Like this one. What does it mean? Your guess is as good as mine:

Body language your guess is as good as mine

 

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:

IMG-20150115-WA0003

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

IMG-20150115-WA0001

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!

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.

Totems

I just received a very cool picture of me and my friends. It was made some time ago, by Nicoline, my personal trainer. You know, the Dutch Dog Whisperer I told you about earlier.

Friends

In this picture, you see my friends and Nicoline’s own dog, Fiesta. She is the shepherd dog on the left. Fiesta is no longer with us, at least, not in her old, physical form. Humans don’t seem to notice, but we dogs do – of course! Our senses are so much better. If your deceased dog was truly your friend, he or she is still with you, looking after you. If you weren’t good to your dog, he probably is with you too and causing you a lot of distress. In case you are wondering where the hell all this misery is coming from all of sudden – now you know why!

Fiesta was a grand dog and she really loved Nicoline. And vice versa. I think she will do some good things to Nicoline in the coming years. Like… making her win the biggest price in a contest (a living rabbit!) and having the sun shining when she goes out. Important things like that.

Me and Fiesta did not get along very well, I must admit. She was the alpha bitch of the pack. Of course I challenged her, I am not a very shy dog, you know. But she gave me a hard time. I did manage to sleep in her bed once, oh sweet victory. But my successes with her were, well, limited.

Anyway, I won’t challenge her now. Not anymore. You cannot challenge totems, in case you didn’t know.