Tag Archives: canine exercise therapy

Who Rescued Who?

I’m actually not being cliche. Science suggests this is an actual question now!

The common theory is that we humans saw these canines scavenging around the outskirts of our fire eating the bones that we were tossing over our shoulder. We noticed this and used our immense intelligence to “train and domesticate” them.

Well, a scientist has recently done a paper suggesting that it was far more of a co-evolution. As in, we both learned symbiotically from each other at first. Clearly our intelligence let us eventually manipulate ourselves into the prime position with dogs, but I think the first part of our relationship was much more partnership oriented.

This is the abstract for the paper:

Dogs and wolves are part of the rich palette of predators and scavengers that co-evolved with herding ungulates about 10 Ma BP (million years before present). During the Ice Age, the gray wolf, Canis lu- pus, became the top predator of Eurasia. Able to keep pace with herds of migratory ungulates wolves be- came the first mammalian “pastoralists”.

Apes evolved as a small cluster of inconspicuous tree- dwelling and fruit-eating primates. Our own species separated from chimpanzee-like ancestors in Africa around 6 Ma BP and– apparently in the wider context of the global climate changes of the Ice Age–walked as true humans (Homo erectus) into the open savanna. Thus an agile tree climber transformed into a swift, cursorial running ape, with the potential for adopting the migratory life style that had become essential for the inhabitants of the savanna and steppe. In the absence of fruit trees, early humans turned into omnivorous gatherers and scavengers. They moved into the steppe of Eurasia and became skilled hunters. Sometime during the last Ice Age, our ancestors teamed up with pastoralist wolves. First, presumably, some humans adopted the wolves’ life style as herd followers and herders of reindeer and other hoofed animals. Wolves and humans had found their match. We propose that first contacts between wolves and humans were truly mutual, and that the subsequent changes in both wolves and humans are understood best as co-evolution.

Very interesting. The paper (coevolution03) is long, and, of course, “sciencey”. But, if you can deal with reading things like that you should check it out. There are some very cool concepts in it that may change your view on our relationships with dogs.

Definitely changes the human centric view that we in our superiority, rescued the dog from its unfortunate wildness.

Kind of begs the question:

Who did rescue who?

In Defense Of Bully Breeds

At Three Bad Bullies, we don’t deal exclusively with Pit Bulls or their derivatives. But, we are certainly HUGE advocates seeing as how almost all the dogs in are personal pack are Bulls!!! And while we work with ALL breeds, we spend a fair amount of energy trying to change public opinion on these often misunderstood dogs.

The one thing we hear over and over again is:

“You can’t override the dogs breeding! They were bred to fight/bite and that’s what they will do no matter what, it’s in their genes.” 

Well, to that I say:

1. Cum hoc, ergo proctor hoc!

If the fact that the dog was bred to fight is what caused the attack, how do you explain dog attacks from non fighting breeds? Ah….. There can be several causes, and you have just selected this one because it suits your fancy. Your logic is flawed. You suck. Learn to debate properly and try again later.

2. I agree with you.

100’s of years of genetic programming is almost impossible to override. Sure, in some limited cases the dogs can be born with NONE of the traits of the breed…. but it’s sheer silliness to assume that they are all like that. And yeah, in SOME extreme cases a dog that does have the typical traits can be TRAINED/MADE to behave differently….. But really, do most people that own these dogs really do that? Yeah I don’t think so either. So….. why do I think Pits are safe and you don’t? Well, you see, it’s because I’m not ignorant. And I don’t mean that in an inflammatory way. I mean I actually know what I’m talking about, and you are lacking all the facts. You see the statement “These dogs are bred to bite/fight” is accurate, but incomplete. It should say “these dogs were bred to bite/fight OTHER DOGS, and NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PEOPLE”. Hmmm, that’s a little different, isn’t it.

Let me say now that I am VIOLENTLY opposed to dog fighting. But, I grew up around it (this is why I’m such an activist now). I will use my unfortunate upbringing to shine some light on the selective pressures that actually shaped the breed. Here are some of the reasons why people aggressive pits were not tolerated.

1. Dog fights are illegal events attended by unsavory types, clearly willing to break the law. This means “rule” infractions, are not petitioned to a commission. Things are dealt with quick and harsh.

2. Before a fight, The opposing handlers wash each others dogs. This makes sure there is nothing weird in the coat that would affect the fight, it also lets them know that they will be safe in the Pit with the others dog. If a dog bites one of the opposing handlers, it will most likely get shot, and the handler will forfeit the fight and all the money.

3. In the pit during the fight, there are three people; each dogs handler, and a “ref”. If a dog “turns” (shies away), or are fanged (tooth hung up and cannot re-grip), they dogs are separated. This is not done with verbal commands, they are physically separated. Which means everyones hand in between these two dogs…. And again, if a dog bites any body. Dog’s goes down, you lose all your money.

4. And ALL of this bite inhibition before the fight is displayed in a place that not just sounds and smells like dogs fighting. But, is filled with tense, ill behaved, aggressive people. Imagine the vibe and the dog is expected to bite NO ONE! Then, even during a fight that could be life or death the dog is expected to bite NO PEOPLE, EVER!

So yeah, you’re right you can’t override genetics. The dogs were for hundreds of years designed to be non threatening to humans even under the worst of conditions. And guess what, they aren’t. They are great around kids because they were bred TO NOT BITE PEOPLE, to posses a crazy high pain tolerance, and have no fear. All of which means that they don’t bite when a kid pokes them in they eye, or steps on their tail, or makes some dumb ass noise that would scare a poodle. For Pete’s sake many experienced guard dog trainers actively recommend not using Pits as guard dogs because it’s not in their nature to be “man biters”.

I know, there are a lot of Pit Bull “type” dogs in the news attacking people. But you know what, It’s humans beings fault. Not the dog. These dogs you hear about are bred ON PURPOSE to deviate from the people loving nature of the real Pit Bull. Or, they are neglected and abused to the point where they are mentally unsound and become dangerous. But it’s our fault, not theirs. They are not that way normally.

Yes, Pits are naturally aggressive with other dogs, and you have to be lucky, or a very good trainer to have that not be the case. If you have a Bully, you may be in for lifelong Dog Aggression Management (Check out our links). But aggressive to people….. Nope. Goes against every fiber in their being.

So please, continue to say that their genetics determine their behavior, and it’s almost impossible to get it out of them. You prove my side of the argument every time you do. You’re just too ignorant to realize it.

Please help us educate.

Save these dogs from our ignorance.


Tug…. The Right Way

Everyone has advice on playing tug with your dog.

Some say never do it at all, because it encourages aggressiveness.

Some say it’s ok to do it with some dogs, but not dogs that are dominant, because they will learn it’s ok to challenge you.

But then there are a whole slew of professionals that use tugs to create amazing obedience.

So…. What’s the deal?

Here’s how I see it.

They’re right. Both of them.

The problem is, that most people play tug with their dogs without rules, or purpose. They let the dog start the game. Half the time they let the dog pick the toy. They HOLD the toy while the dog tugs (cause it’s way easier). And, They let the dog either stop when it’s bored, or they get frustrated when they try to end the game because they can’t get the dog to let go. This is bad, because if the dogs pick the toy and are able to start when they want, sometimes they pick your sleeve. If they get bored, then it isn’t exciting enough to be used for an obedience reward. And, if they don’t “out” the toy on command, you have a problem. Either, they don’t think you’re in charge and they don’t have to listen to you. Or, they KNOW they need to let go, and they want to….. But they have no impulse control, and they are too excited to comply. Both are bad.

If you play tug “right” it can be an AMAZING way to exercise your dog (and you!). It can tremendously reinforce pack structure. And if you do it often, you can develop a great reward that your dog will work for! That’s why so many Law Enforcement Dog Trainers use toys to motivate their dogs. They learn that you control resources. They learn they you are the source of fun! And what I think is the most important thing……. They learn impulse control!

If they are super driven for a toy, but they can see it waved around in front of them WITHOUT biting it…… That translates to other things that they may want to put in their mouths but DON’T because you said not to. How important does that seem?! Especially for power breeds, or dominant dogs.

In order for tug to be all beneficial, and not cause bad behavior, there must be some clear rules.

Now there are a lot of different trainers out there advocating different styles of tug play that all have a different twist on them. But they all have a few rules in common:

1. You start (and stop) the game.

2. You don’t “give” the dog the toy. The need to go after it.

3. You need to make the game fun. If you just hold the toy, the dog learns that them yanking on things is fun. YOU aren’t fun….. Things are fun. And the point isn’t that they love to play with toys. The point is that they love to play with YOU with the toy.

4. They Should not bite you, or your clothes! (that one should be obvious)

5. You should be able to calmly say out and have them release the toy on one command, and end the game.

Here’s a couple of examples of  trainers doing it well. They are my two favorites of all the tug advocates I’ve seen. They are:

Michael Ellis Video

(this isn’t embedded because the poster disabled it. But, it’s worth clicking. It’s a GREAT example of what solid tug work looks like)

And Ivan Balabanov

(The only one I could find was in German! Apparently, good English footage of quality tug trainers is hard to find without buying the DVDs)

DVD’s and the internet are awesome resources. And if you have to teach yourself I would suggest one of these guys.

But If you’re interested in the way I do tug….

Let ME show you how!!!!


What is Exercise Therapy Anyway

There is a “Biologically Appropriate” amount of exercise that all animals need to achieve optimal physical and mental health. No animal can reach their full potential without it. Dogs are no different. The problem is, in balancing a dog’s need for exercise with a dog’s need for structure. To rehabilitate a dog, they need to have extremely tight structure for a period of time. In order to meet the dogs exercise requirements without ruining their structure, owners have to spend a lot of time doing it….. Or hire us!

Problem is….. Most people’s idea of exercise is just to get them tired. Dog parks, run in the yard, endless fields of toys….. Sound familiar? And you know what….. It works. They get really tired. And no better. Not really.

Look, I realize that there are a lot of dogs out there that don’t really have inherent “issues”. They are just lacking the biologically appropriate activity level that they need. Up their exercise, and their “issues” go away. But, honestly, that’s not the case most of the time. I found out the hard way.

One of the dogs that we named this venture after, Mabel, was a nightmare no matter how many toys she had access to in the huge yard she had.

So what were we doing wrong?

Well, for starters, we weren’t doing any obedience. And that is a huge part of the puzzle. Now, there’s a ton of people who can help with that part so I won’t focus on it.

For something to be Exercise “Therapy” it has to be WORK not play. Most dogs are quite challenged by a treadmill. So, the treadmill is a great way to work them.
Leash obedience can be great exercise is a great way for both you and your dog to work! That means attention training, not slack walking. This is mental work, that happens to be physically challenging too. For you it’s walking or even jogging! For them it’s attention training. You walk, jog, start, stop, change directions. It’s interval running! As long as you keep them engaged, but not too excited, it’s still work!
The other way to work them at this level are what we call trust obstacles. That’s essentially finding obstacles that are mentally challenging for them. This develops leadership, and happens to be, basically, agility work for your dog, and you!
Sounds easy enough.

Or you can play Tug. The right way…. You know…… the way that establishes correct pack structure, and creates a great obedience reward.
Well, here’s the downside. It takes your creativity, dedication, patience, and many times physical endurance. Because it’s work for them, it’s not a mindless activity for you either. And, that’s what people really want. They want a “fix” not a plan! They want to take the dog to the park and let them play while they text. Or they want to go for their own jog for x amount of time/distance and not be bothered with all the starting and stopping, direction changes, or worse, the triggers they run in to! They just want to go for a walk/run damn it.
Well. If you have all the tools, knowledge, patience, and time to give your dog these things, then good on you!

But for the rest of the world…..

Check our services page, set up a consultation, and lets see how we can help you fulfill your dog!