For crazy Dog-People (like myself), this is the “Holy Grail” of situations.  When we first take in a new puppy, or adopt an older dog, we want to take the dog everywhere we go.  We search out businesses and establishments that have “Dog Friendly” policies.  My two German Shepherds know Lowes and Home Depot so well, that I could send them in to purchase  any number of items without worry.  Not only do they know where things are, but the employee’s know the dogs well enough to answer their questions, should they have one.

This type of socialization is extremely important to your dog in his development of proper behavior.  It’s equally important to building the relationship between you and your four-legged friend.  Creating a successful, well-behaved, well-trained, and willing dog is a product of much more than Training.  It involves much more than the pocket-full of dog treats or the clicker you keep in your pocket.  Does your dog respond to you because he wants too, or because you have conditioned (That word comes right out of an interment camp)  him with science?   Herein lies the power of Living With Your Dog, making him a part of everything your Pack does.  Dogs are not only Social beings, they are Sophisticated Social Creatures.  There’s  enough  available evidence in canine psychology to convince me that dogs know when they are being Lead by a Leader, or included in the activities of their social group, or Pack.  They also know when they are being short-changed by the leader they trust to watch over them.

What does this entail for the Communicative Approach?  I’m glad you asked.

Some of what I’ll write here will raise the hackles of some dog owners.  That’s okay…But I know what I’ve observed myself, and tested it out on many dogs of my acquaintance.  Let me approach this from specific disciplines.  First and perhaps foremost, you want a trusted, loyal and obedient dog.  How does Living with your dog help you achieve this state of grace?

Imagine that it’s 6:30 AM.  You awaken, slap the alarm clock into submission, and crawl out of bed.  Where has the dog been all night?  Out in the garage?  In the basement in his crate?  Tied out on the deck?  Or snuggled warmly in his crate beside your bed?  Or do you find it necessary to wake the dog so that you can free your legs from under him?  Some people feel, erroneously, that allowing a dog on the bed leads to dominant behavior.  Mule-muffins.  (I’m more than willing to discuss dominance behavior and it’s source, but this isn’t whats going on here).  My dogs have always been given the option to sleep in their private crate beside our bed.  As puppies, the door was closed.  This lasted until about 8 months of age, when the door was then left open, offering the dog a choice.  My Pack sleeps beside our bed every night, in their crates, by their own choice.  It is where they feel safe, secure, and available.  I’m tuned into them, and they are tuned into us.  They are living with us…and the bond between us is strengthened.  Occasionally, our dogs will jump up onto the bed in the night, for a reassuring ear-scritch.  That’s okay by us…Children enter parents rooms every night  asking for a drink of water, or a hug.  How could you turn away a request for simple reassurance?  Do you refuse this gesture of affection?    Or, if it’s really cold, 90 pounds of German Shepherd can warm the coldest bed pretty fast.  Again, a symbiotic relationship is built by a simple act…

When I’ve attended writers conclaves or seminars, I have found that many writers in every genre find themselves accompanied by their faithful dog whenever they sit down and attack their latest project.  In my chosen guise as a Dog-Writer, my fur-kids have listened to me tap away at the computer for long periods, often giving me their meaningful critique of my work…I Live With My Dogs.  They are a part of my whole day.  Maybe you are fortunate enough to work in Dog-Friendly office where well-behaved dogs are welcome…Do you take advantage of the opportunity?  Are you apprehensive about the dogs behavior?  Please then, consult with a trainer that can help you make this possible!  It enriches both your life, and your dogs!!!

Okay, I realize that life is BUSY.  Many of you work long days, or nights, and can’t be at home as much as though of us in the profession.  What can you do to “Live With Your Dog” and build your communication?  Above all else, Walk your dog at least once a day for at least 30 minutes.  Get Up Early, and make it happen!!  The exercise will do both of you a world of good!  When you get home, maybe take another walk, and include a game of fetch!  When you can be with your dog, or allow him to be with you…Do It.  Allow  your dog to sit quietly near when you eat as a family.  Now before somebody jumps on this last statement, I’m telling you to let the dogs be NEAR.  Not all up in your grill begging!!!  TRAINING should eliminate such unwanted behavior.  What I’m suggesting is giving the dog the comfort of being in sight of his Pack while you eat.  Feed the dog at the same time that you and yours eat!  There’s nothing more SOCIAL that the whole pack eating together.  Set Boundaries, and manners for the dog in this and you’ll be amazed at the lower stress level of your dog…He wants to be with you…Teach him how he can do that successfully.

For those of you that may be blessed enough to spend more time with your dog, You too can improve “Living With Your Dog”.

I’d like to address those of you in Schutzhund, Protection Sports, Conformation Shows, Agility, Fly-ball or whatever sport I may be missing.  Understand, this doesn’t apply to everyone as a blanket indictment.  But I still see it with regularity.   Standard Operating Procedure at every event, and most practices, is, “One dog working at a time, and then back into the crate .”  Which is in the back of the Suburban in the parking lot.  I understand why this happens, as some of the dogs cannot be trusted to socialize with other dogs, let alone humans. Therein lies the problem…Are these dogs doomed to an uninvolved and unsocial life because of what they are trained to do???   I think this is difficult for some to accept.  “My SCHIII dog is highly trained to do his work, and keeping him away is part of keeping his Sharpness…Many Dog Shows are moving away from being “Bench Shows” where spectators can wander among the grooming tables, handlers, and owners.  Many of the dogs are simply not capable of being in the public, nor, for that matter, are the owners!  I believe this takes something important away from the dog, the owners, the visitors, the show, and the future of Showing dogs.  If the dogs were “Lived With”, this problem would vanish.

To the credit of the Agility Dog competitions , I have found that a huge majority of those involved are walking their dogs among the crowd between runs.  Yes, each dog is given those a rest period between runs, but most are well-socialized, friendly, and approachable.  That may be the big reason why Agility is growing in popularity.  People, AND dogs are living the experience together.

I want to make mention of a special family of Canine Professionals that exemplify the idea of really living with their dogs, and simultaneously producing champions in protection sports and schutzhund.  To start, check this link to “Controlled Chaos dog training”. http://www.controlledchaosdogs.com/About-Us.html

This is the online home of Kevin and Cheryl Goede.  Kevin is a Master Trainer from the famous Tom Rose School, and his wife and partner Cheryl is the force behind the “German Shepherd Dog Community” on Facebook, easily the largest such group there.  We had intended a more in depth interview here with them for this post, but time has been fleeting.  Look for that interview in the future.  My reason for bringing them into this, is that, along with their very pretty little daughters, they raise and train German Shepherds and Belgian Malinois.  If you take time to examine their web-site and Facebook you will see photo after photo of the whole family playing, training, and living closely with their dogs.  These same dogs are currently distinguishing themselves throughout the Protection Sports community.  They are fulfilling their dogs lives completely, and I recommend their methods with unbridled enthusiasm.  (By the way, I have NO vested financial interest in the Goedes at all, nor am a close personal friend.  I just recognize the genius in what they do)  They have also started a “Skype” based training method, for some canine training if you are not close to St. Louis, MO. that looks like it has serious potential.  Check the Goedes out and you will see demonstrated what I mean by “Living with”  your dog. 

These dogs are Family Members!!! (Photo from Facebook page of Cheryl Goede)

These dogs are Family Members!!! (Photo from Facebook page of Cheryl Goede)

© Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures {2010 to Current} Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert W. Vaughan and German Shepherd Adventures  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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