Category Archives: Rant

Break Stick Response

The article I wrote opposed to break sticks is the highest rated post I’ve ever written. And…… It’s because everyone hated it.

I see the pages and posts that refer people to it, and they all think I’m an asshole.

Apparently, the way to unite the wannabe tough guy Pit Bull bro, and the “pibble lover” hippie, is to take away their fucking break sticks.

I stand by every word of that article. I don’t use break sticks. They are inefficient, and make aggression worse.

But, the mistake I made was in not giving the alternative!

Everyone, just kept going back to “If not that, then WHAT?”

I didn’t talk about how TO do it because, telling people HOW to break up a dog fight on the internet is dangerous. Not to mention, it sounds horrible.

That’s because I use the same thing to stop a violent dog, that I use to stop a violent person.

I choke them.

Yeah…… That sounds bad. That’s why the people who know it’s the answer, don’t talk about it. They’re worried about losing public opinion.

Almost every dog professional I have ever met or interacted with online will admit (if pushed) to going up on the collar in an emergency. Google that shit and see how may trainers advocate it out loud.

Fortunately for me, I stopped giving a fuck about what the public thinks when I was a kid.  And….. Apparently, NOT saying is pissing everyone off anyway.

So…… Here you go:

(disclaimer- don’t try any of this without hands on instruction form a qualified trainer. this is for discussion not instruction)

Slip Collar Lift.

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(Check out this description from Leerburg.com)

Rear Naked Choke.

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It’s done exactly the same way on dogs as it is on people.

And, before you argue it’s efficacy, here’s an example of a 9 year old Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu student saving a friend using this technique.

What about the “Hind Leg Suspension” AKA “Wheelbarrow” technique? Isn’t it safer?

Yes……. If you have shit dogs. Curs. Chewy frantic re-grippers.  Yes….. That can break them.

If you outnumber the dogs. It can slow them down. I use it when handlers outnumber dogs. But, you still have to break the game dogs grip!

There are ONLY 2 choices.

Break Stick. And Choke. (don’t start with your e-collar bullshit. It won’t work on a game dog unless you go to a level that is quite damaging and dangerous. Same as hitting them. I actually DON’T want to hurt the dog hence these as the only options)

Break Sticks REQUIRE multiple handlers. Or at least some convoluted back-tying. And, they INCREASE drive and frustration. They do NOT change the economics of fighting. No dog gets pried off and thinks….. “Damn….. not sure I want that happening again”.

Chokes can be done done with slip collars on TWO DOGS simultaneously by a SINGLE HANDLER. Rear Naked Chokes must be done one after the other, which sucks…. But is doable alone. And, both versions give serious pause to the dog next time.

It is the ONLY correction that can have THAT deep of an effect……. AND doesn’t ADD adrenaline. Damage The dog. Or damage the relationship.

Period.

And don’t talk to me about safety.  Collar lifts have LESS risk than break sticks. And a Rear Naked Choke risk is no worse. No vital areas exposed. And honestly…… The dogs that make this a necessity aren’t chewy and re-gripping anyway.

Yes…… You should train and handle in a way that makes this unnecessary.

If you have to use this you failed the dog.

This is the “air bag” in your car. You DO NOT want to use it. But…… You will to save a life.

When all has gone wrong and the nightmare has begun……. Chokes are the ONLY thing that works when it’s life or death that doesn’t have serious blowback.

There it is.

The truth.

Flame away.

notonefuck

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Conditioned Relaxation Is NOT Massage.

OK……. Conditioned Relaxation is one of those hot topics going around. And, in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 6 months…… you’ve seen it. Or, at least heard it described. The typical view of CR goes like this:

“CR is using massage to get a dog relaxed.”

Massaging a dog until they relax IS NOT putting relaxation on cue!

I mean….. Yes……. you do need to use massage to get the dog relaxed. But that shouldn’t be the way it stays forever.

Look at Sit. I can push the butt to the floor to “create” sit. But if someone says “Did you teach your dog to sit?”, you wouldn’t say “Sure, watch.”, then push their butt down.

If you’re still pushing their butt down…… That dog don’t know sit!

There in lies the rub (pun).

People see the massage wrong.

The first mistake people make in CR with “touch” is they pet, scratch, or stroke the dog. And that might be “relaxing”…… But not on a Therapeutic level. If I went to a massage therapist and they gently stroked my hair…… Not what I need.

Then, once people realize the therapeutic benefit of touch, they begin to go to “work” on their dogs.

AND IT WORKS!!!

Then comes the second mistake.

Since it works, they keep using it.

Like people that say “My dog knows sit”, but they have to have food in hand!

You can get your dog relaxed but you’re still relying on the inducting method.

You’re still pushing on the butt, or grabbing a cookie for sit!

Like all solid obedience commands….. You want to wean of needing to induce, or coerce!

Have had a number of conversations over the past couple of weeks that has made me realize that people don’t “get” the idea that it’s an “obedience command”.

Some examples:

Woman dreads the toll booth, cause her dog blows up.

I, after suggesting crating the dog till they’re past the issue, said “Cool, work his CR until you can use it a the Toll Booth”.

She asked, “How am I supposed to massage him from the drivers seat at the toll booth?”.

Last night, I was doing a little clinic for a local rescue. Several of the volunteers were clients. And I was talking about dealing with difficult dogs. CR came up. I got a gut feeling the above example wasn’t a lone misunderstanding. And, I said…. “You guys know that CR isn’t just massaging your dog till they relax”.

And, holy shit……. almost every single one of the people that I HAD TAUGHT were shocked. Like…. kinda upset.

Like…… “What the fuck do yo mean it ain’t massage?!?!??!”

Now I know break things down well. And, I know that I am very careful in my teaching to avoid misguided learning. And, if my own clients, I taught myself, are confused about that…….

There’s no way folks out on the interwebs trying to self teach aren’t fucking that up.

And there’s no way the skeptic “CR is bullshit” crowd isn’t using that as reasons to dismiss.

Hell, that WOULD be bullshit.

You can’t give your dog a 10 minute deep tissue massage every time you drive through the toll booth!

But…. you have to induce it to “capture” it.

Food goes up- butt goes down. Once that’s reliable you name it sit. Once they “know” it….. you fade off the food.

CR is the same…. Massage to induce relaxation. Name it. Fade off massage.

Both are oversimplified….. there is more to food luring & CR but, you get the point.

Anyway, if you’re still reliant on food lures, leash pressure, or butt pushing…… Your Sit isn’t “finished”.

If you’re still breaking out the massage table for a long session…… Your CR isn’t finished.

Yeah…. It’s kinda the defining feature.

But it’s not the “END”.

For more info on CR:

Go directly to the source. Kayce Cover!

Chad Mackin covers CR in his Dogmanship Workshop.

And I do it in several of my workshops as well!

It Rubs The Lotion On It’s Skin…..

Jay Jack’s recipe for making a basement toy. :

(Strap in…. shit’s gonna get uncomfortable)

First…. Find a random person. Pick one that you like. You’re gonna be spending a bit of time on this project.

Then.

Break it down. Take away access to ALL resources. Control if and  when they move. When they go to the bathroom. EVERYTHING!

You become the ONLY source of ANY comfort.

Anything good ONLY comes from you.

For the really tough ones…..

Stop feeding them.

You can put them in complete isolation. Even “Black Box” containment unit.

You make them perform totally arbitrary tasks with super harsh punishment for mistakes.

This is all done IMPERSONALLY. It’s really important that you not get personal.

That’s the trick to making them really “love” you.

That’s the magic of Stockholm Syndrome.

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See….. When you just hold someone hostage and are mean to them. without giving them an “ally”…. They hate you.

But….. If you play it right, they come out the other end LOVING you.

Really.

There’s cases of hostages that have been allowed to roam in the outside world. But they return to their captors.

So, to pull that off, you have to make it feel like YOU are the one RESCUING them from this predicament they “happened” to find themselves in.

You want to help them (if they would only just help you do that and cooperate).

You don’t want to have to keep punishing them.

YOU are their way OUT of the lock-down.

The “Moving Center Of Their Universe”.

So….. What the fuck does this have to do with dog training?

Well,

If you take the word people/person and replace it with dog, you have a lot of folks idea of dog training. I’m not exaggerating.

Yep….. Almost everything on that list is a verbatim recommendation of how to handle training your dog.

And, what’s worse is, they will say they’re all about the relationship.

And, sure…… On the surface, they “appear” the same.

A real relationship, and a capture bonded relationship will both display “love”. They both “choose” to be there. And want to make the other person happy.

But, if you can’t tell that they are fundamentally vastly different…..

Then I’d hate to be your significant other.

Sure, it’s harder. Yes, it takes more work.

I can turn you out in my basement and “make” you love me in a month or two.

But to develop a true relationship and actually earn your love. That may take a lot longer.

Saw something today where people were recommending this “capture bonding” as a dog training idea, and was just too irritated not to write something. So there it is.

For fucks sake. Take the dog out of the “hole” and develop a real relationship.

Or……If you still think that’s the way to go…..

Maybe, come over to my place and let me show you my lovely collection of lotions, I could use a new “friend”.

Rant Over.

Is “Pit Bull” A Breed?

Holy shit this discussion pisses me off.

I’ve written and deleted 4 different versions of this, just because they turn in to me ranting unintelligibly.

So…… I’ll try again.

1- Is there a breed called Pit Bull? Yes. Yes, there is a breed called Pit Bull. The UKC started registering the American Pit Bull Terrier in 1898.  So. If you ever get into the discussion of “IS there a breed called Pit Bull?” then unequivocally….. The answer is yes. There is no debate. Yes.

2- Are the dogs people refer to as Pit Bulls actually UKC APBT’s? No. I’d kiss your entire asshole if we ran into a “Pit Bull” on the street that had UKC papers.

3- Does that matter at all? No. Not one bit. And there’s a lot of reasons why.

Pit Bulls were bred for function. That function determined their look. Same reason most Olympic Weightlifters look similar. And most NBA players look similar. And they tend not to look like each other. Function dictates form. The UKC was able to set a standard, because they looked true to type. But….. No pit ref ever asked for papers. And the dog men that pitted their dogs would’ve bred in gopher blood if they thought it would’ve made a better dog. Jesus Christ……. Its a fucking Bull & Terrier cross from day one!!!!!!!!

So…… Even though there IS a registered APBT “breed”. There really is no such thing as a “pure” Pit Bull. They’ve been mixing blood into that breed from jump.

If one more person asks me if my dog is “pure”, I’m gonna punch them in the throat.

4- You will be discriminated against because your dog is a “Pit Bull” whether you have papers saying it’s a French Bulldog/Boxer cross or not.  All “bully” crosses are taking the brunt of the misinformation machine, and complicit shitty owners. So, arguing that there’s “no such breed” still ain’t gonna get you in that apartment.

5- That fucking “Pick The Pit Bull” chart they pull out to prove BSL wrong is so NOT helpful. Trying to convince people that they can’t “find” the Pit Bull, does nothing to change their minds about what they THINK about Pit Bulls. It’s like saying segregating a person based on race is not cool, because of the difficulty in properly identifying their race. NOT that that shit is just WRONG. Stop muddying the water. Want to help defend these dogs…… learn about them. Then defend them. Don’t play the red herring game and say “you can’t even find one….. nanny nanny boo boo”.

Summary: The UKC officially “recognized” the type of dog the pit dogmen created a long time ago. I can recognize that type of dog when I see them outside whether they have papers or not. The fact that your dog doesn’t have papers won’t save you from BSL. The fact that your dog isn’t even remotely that old pit type of dog won’t save you from BSL. The fact that prejudicial douchebags can’t pick a UKC papered Pit bull out of a “leading” line up won’t save you from BSL. Saying there’s no such breed won’t save you from BSL.

You need to understand the “breed” so you can defend it well.

We need to cut down on irresponsible breeders AND owners. (of ALL dogs, not just these)

We need to train our dogs to be ambassadors for this breed so we can start to make a difference.

Ok….. I suppose I’m all ranted out.

For now.

 

 

 

 

Why “Break Sticks” Are Shit.

If you’re a dog trainer with an interest in rehabbing dog aggression……

Please. Throw the “Break Stick” away.

Look, I know why you have them. It’s a logical mistake to make.

You want to break up a fight that involves at least one committed dog. (a concern you NEED to address if you work in rehab). Well….. Who has the most experience in breaking the toughest dogs apart? Dog fighters.

Yep.

If a dog gets fanged in a pit, the ref breaks them. If a dog in a roll (practice fight sparring match) starts to get hurt, you break them. Hell, if there’s a management failure in the yard and two dogs get going, you break them. These guys have hands down THE MOST EXPERIENCE breaking game dogs.

How do THEY do it?

Break Sticks.

Ergo….. You want to break game dogs fighting. You use a Break Stick, no?

NO.

Yes….. They are effective. IF……

You have 3 people to the 2 dogs.

One handler goes in for hind leg suspension (another pass down from the pit) on each dog. This kills their ability to punch back in and re-grip. That’s good. It means, All you have to deal with is the current grip. The 3rd, (and sometimes 4th) person, go in and use the break stick to mechanically separate the grips.  And it works! Well. It breaks the dogs.

So…. Why should you NOT use it?

1- Most people didn’t know that above scenario. They just stick a break stick in their pocket and will somehow utilize it to make things OK. They don’t understand the 3 to 2 principle. They don’t know or practice that teamwork concept of “wheelbarrow” and split. If you aren’t in a yard with multiple trained, people all, of who have Break Sticks in their pockets. All of who, know the drill and can fluently assume one role or the other in rhythm with you…. It’s worthless. Trying to separate a game dog (let alone 2) by yourself with a Break Stick is futile, and dangerous for ALL involved.

2- Even IF you understand AND practice the above method with ALL your staff (shut the fuck up, no you don’t)…….

YOU STILL SHOULDN’T USE BREAK STICKS!!!!!!

When you use a Break Stick you are mechanically separating the dogs. Ever hear of “Restraint Frustration”? “Barrier Frustration”? Well, when a dog is in HIGH DRIVE, and wants to get at something and can’t, it’s drive goes UP!!!!!

Think about it. Leashes make dogs more reactive. Fences make dogs more reactive. On, and on. Those are things preventing them from accomplishing their goal. And it makes them want to go at it more.

Hell, that reaction is so strong, that trainers utilize it. We tease dogs with food to increase drive for it. We try to wrestle the tug out of their mouth to make them want to grip it harder the next time!

When you pry their mouth off that dog….. Guess what they want to do MORE now?!?!?!

Yep…… Bite.

And THAT’S why the Pit men used them. It’s the only way to reliably separate a game dog and NOT DIMINISH IT’S WANT TO FIGHT!

Hell, it increases their drive to fight through frustration. And for Pit men, that’s a good thing.

For you, in your home. Or daycare. Or rehab facility……. Not so much.

So unless you’re looking for a tool that takes more dogs than handlers acting in coordination, that INCREASES aggression after the fight…….

Please.

Throw the Break Sticks away.

(How TO break a fight is a tricky and dangerous subject that can’t really be done in an article. But check the services page for avenues of instruction.)

 

Always Wear Your Seatbelt

Even, when you’re only going a couple of miles.

Even when you’ve driven that stretch a million times.

Just put on your seatbelt.

The same is for your dog safety protocols.

Yeah….. I blew it.

The last dog I rescued was my Jaxxy. He was a tough one. And a blessing. He made me seek more information. He led me to the path I’m on now. But….. Took a ton of research. A lot of work. And about 4 months of pack restructuring to get my crew where we were.

And it was beautiful.

They were loose most of the time. Could play well. Slept on the couch together. Solid.

And, that was no easy feat.

Jax and Milo are both gamers. If they fight….. They don’t stop.

The trick with dogs like that is to teach them that they don’t need to fight.

And that works for 99% of the situations. Like good driving makes seatbelts irrelevant.

But….. That 1%…… That’s why you wear seatbelts.

That is why we have a rule of 2 dogs at a time on walks/pulls. Choke collars on  and back up leash for every dog even if they’re in pulling harnesses………. Because IF that one in a million thing just goes sideways, it can be safely dealt with.

But……

After almost a year of zero incidents…… I got a little loose.

One time in a hurry….. I took 3 for a pull. Now, that time,  I had all my back up gear, and a Pet Convincer. And, bothered to look way ahead to ensure no distractions.

And….. It went fine.

That turns, over time, into 3 being no problem in a pinch.

Being in a hurry, I forgot to put a back up collar on a dog once.

That, turned into not really stressing about them if I was just “doing a quick one”.

Yep…. You can drive a long, long time and not need a seatbelt.

But, then….. One day….. You hit a tree.

Well, I hit 4 ox dragging a tire.

Yeah. That’s a rural Maine problem. But, guaranteed you have something that ridiculously irritating in your neighborhood too.

I had 3 dogs in harnesses pulling my mountain bike.

Well, of course on that day, I only had one dog in a back up collar with spare leash. And, the only reason I had Jax in that, is because he gets hot sometimes and needs to be allowed to lollygag.

I did have a Pet Convincer…..

But, hadn’t checked it to make sure it was full.

Yep. It was one of those days.

So, we come upon these fucking ox. And, I try to blow right past them, which I’ve managed with 2 dogs…… But….. Not 3.

Pack drive goes up with multiple dogs, and on this day. they banked towards the ox. Of course I stop them, but now, the are all being restrained about 30 feet away from the things. I see the redirection about to come.

Out comes the Pet Convincer in an attempt to distract and get them moving.  It sound like a broken whoopee cushion. And,does exactly nothing.

And….. They fight.

All 3 game.  Actually game. 2 committed and gripping. 1 just taking pot shots. It takes me about 8 minutes to get them all under control. At one point, I had to give up on breaking them up, and take the line of the bike to fashion it into a slip lead. Breaking up 3 game dogs by yourself is a fucking nightmare.

Complete shit show.

Nobody died. So that’s good.

2 dogs in the ER. Staples and punctures galore.

Anyway, the point isn’t to complain.

The point is to try to help people.

So…… That day that you’re walking out and you hear yourself say “eh….. I probably don’t need to do that today……

Yeah….. Go ahead and put your seatbelt on anyway.

Complacency is expensive.

In recap, the things I could have done better:

– Follow safety protocols. You made them for a reason.

– Check equipment when important things depend on it working.

– Don’t test new levels of distractions/difficulty/danger (like passing 4 ox) unless you set it up on purpose, or at least have a back up plan that’s well thought out

Hopefully…… This will help someone remember to put on their seatbelt.

 

 

Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones….. But Words Make Me Want To Stab You.

RANT WARNING:

Yeah.

I’m in a mood.

Semantics in dog training is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever encountered. It’s like trying to debate religion. It’s nearly impossible.

Here’s a couple of gems from this week that have gotten me on a rant.

“Getting dogs out of adrenaline” 

“Reinforcing fear”

& the one that put me past the edge……..

“Conflict Aggression”

Conflict Aggression.

I’m seriously about to display some conflict aggression.

Don’t even get me started on the use of positive and negative. Or any other word involved in learning theory.

Look….. Words are useful. I like them. I’m using them now.

And like we’ve discussed on the podcast many times it is on the speaker to try to best describe their idea. And not to assume the listener will be so committed to learning that they can get through your lack of clarity.

You have to TRY to help them understand.

And I really do. I really try to get people to see what I’m saying.

But I get the feeling that people are sitting cross legged like a little kid with their fingers in their ears screaming “no…. I can’t hear you…. lalalalalalal”.

It makes me want to punt them across the room.

And just to be clear that’s a metaphor…… It would take much more antagonizing than that for me to kick a baby across a room. I do follow L.I.M.A after all.

Oh….. Wait….. No I don’t. I have been informed that even though I AM committed to using the least invasive, most minimally aversive thing that I can and still help the dog….. I am not supposed to say that word, because it’s a club, and I don’t follow the cartoon diagram that defines their secret method. And….. I didn’t do the handshake right, so they wouldn’t let me in the treehouse.

I honestly am teetering on the brink of one of two actions.

1- Not talking to any dog trainers ever.

2- Making a dog training dictionary so we can all agree on terms and clear up all the nonsense.

Yeah….

I don’t give up easy. So

I’ll start.

1. LIMA: is a concept. Not a protocol Or a club. . It means that said trainer commits to using the least invasive most minimally aversive option possible out of all the possible effective options.

2. Conflict Aggression: I don’t even know how to start. I can’t tell if it’s a ridiculous term. Or if I’m just irritated past my ability to reason. So I will field suggestions on this one! (see…… I AM reasonable!!!!)

3. Positive: Lets try this…. Positive with the capital we will assume to be the scientific term. As in the addition of stimulus. If its written without capitalization it means the aaawww feel good version. If it verbal we shall say that if we air quote when we say it…. it means we are not using the scientific term. First amendment: We shall assume that when talking to a client that they have never read this dictionary and so we will assume they are ALWAYS using the air quote version, until they have been allowed in the cult…. errr… I mean learned enough that we can use “real” dog trainer speak with them.

4. Negative: Follow the same rules as Positive.

5. Reinforcing: Straight up science definition here. Means that it makes the thing more likely to occur in frequency, duration, or intensity. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR INTENT WAS!!!!!!! This defines the result. NOT the intention. If the dog bites the leash and you try to yank away yelling. You meant for that to stop the behavior. On dog A that worked…. Therefore it was a not reinforcing. But dog B thinks it’s the best game of tug ever. So it IS reinforcing. These terms don’t describe anything other than the result. can be R+, and R-.

6. Rewarding: Ok…. “Technically” this means the exact same thing as reinforcing… But we’re gonna make another slang term out of this. It means GIVING something GOOD AFTER they do something you want! This is R+ for you geeks. This is “client” language.

7. Punishment: Science definition. Opposite of Reinforcing. Can be P+, or P-.

8. Correction: Slang definition. Opposite of reward. only P+.

9. Interruption: “client” language. Technically this would be punishment, OR a correction….. But implies a less invasive style. Like a noise…. A movment that steals attention, or a light touch to distract. The defining characteristic is the misdirection is what  breaks the dogs attention. Not the aversive quality. This gets grey. I’m up for help on this one.

And finally

10. Adrenaline: This shall be used to define a dog that is in a frantic OVER adrenalized state. This is not intended to describe any presence of adrenaline, such as naturally ocurring elevation of adrenaline at the sunrise. Or while doing enthusiastic obedience. This implies a lack of ability to control decisions on the part of the dog. OVER adrenaline. Also….. This is not meant to imply that adrenaline is the ONLY stress hormone released during this state. Yes cortisol and many others are present. This is a nod towards common vernacular. People say adrenaline rush, or dump. No one says “wow that roller coaster sure did elevate my cortisol and norepineopherine levels.”

Good.

Can we all agree?

Or at least agree to try to communicate.

Please.

Because sticks and stones can break your bones, but words…… Words can make me lose my carefully contained shit and beat your face into a small dish of pudding.

Just sayin.

Rant over.

 

 

 

 

 
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