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The Dog Whisperer

October 23rd, 2006, 09:22 AM
Ok, I know this board is very divided about Cesar Milan and his practices, but I watched a marathon of The Dog Whisperer all weekend and I'm pretty impressed. However, I'm not sure I understand the four-finger neck poke thing that he does. It seems to work as the dogs back away from him when he does it, but how do you keep a dog from biting your fingers when you go in for the poke? I've never seen one dog try to bite him when he does this. They always back away. I also noticed that Cesar Alpha rolls dogs quite often..but only the more seriously aggressive dogs and usually only if they bite. He called it "the most serious consequence". But the whole time I'm watching I was telling my partner, "This is what the people on don't like, when he alpha rolls the dogs as it can be quite dangerous" But he was teaching owners how to do it! So is it that dangerous? It seemed to work!
So anyway, Nicky hasn't growled or guarded or done anything in MONTHS, until a few nights ago. It was dark in the bedroom, I didn't see that Nicky had his rawhide in his mouth, and I went to pet his face. It was when he started growling that I realized I was running my fingers over his rawhide, which was hanging out of his mouth. My first instinct was to pull my hand away which I scared the crap out of me as I was not expecting it. I told him "No" and he scampered off with the rawhide. After he left it laying somewhere, I took it and put it away.
So, as you can probably guess, the whole time I'm watching Cesar I'm thinking, I wonder if any of this would work on Nicky? I just can't imagine doing the four-fingered neck poke to him though or trying to roll him without hurting him. I don't know..what do you think? How should I handle Nicky when he growls with a rawhide in his mouth? I've done the NILF training, I've done the hand in the food bowl thing, and he respects me 98% of the time. As a matter of fact, I was shocked that he regressed back to the growling crap and it upsets me.

October 23rd, 2006, 10:17 AM
How should I handle Nicky when he growls with a rawhide in his mouth?

i think you need to growl at Nicky HARDER than he's ever heard you growl before (a super loud NO!! should do), and demand that he "drop it", and don't let him do anywhere until he does. you're bigger, stronger and smarter than him, you're also alpha, and he needs to be reminded of that! :mad: Let him know in the tone and intensity of your voice that you mean business, make eye contact and make sure HE is the one who looks away first: that is what subordinates do. by letting him walk away with the prize, in his mind he has climbed the totem pole and succeeded in being alpha (even for a moment), he wins, and next time will be that much harder to curb the behavior.

i don't know what you mean by cesar's "4 finger poke" and i personally would not get near a dog that *could* bite me, because that would put the dog at a very bad disadvantage... IMO, a dog that can and does bite humans, specially their owners, are from that moment on a liability and they cannot be trusted, and it's a whole new ballgame... :eek: sooo, i would rather avoid "cornering" the dog with an alpha-roll or other physical punishment. Of course i'm only talking about "what if my dog..." and not from the perspective of a dog trainer, whose business it is to rehabilitate dogs.

I like cesar's shows but I know you only get to see a small percentage of the work that actually goes into the training... you see the "before" and "after" shots, with a brief glimpse into the "during", but i would not feel confident doing what he does with so little to go on! :o

how old is Nicky now?...

October 23rd, 2006, 12:06 PM
Wow, thanks Techno! I'm not sure how old Nicky is as he is a rescue. When I took him to the vet in January, they estimated him to be between 4-5 years old. He's come a very long way, but I feel like I should be able to take that rawhide from his mouth if I want to! :mad: I hate that the growling and snarling scares me. It comes from me being attacked by a German Shepherd when I was 12. It was not a pretty site. But now it's embarrassing when something as small as a Pomeranian can scare me into just letting him have the rawhide. I just don't want to get bitten and I think that's what the main fear is.
You're right about Cesar's show. I know that I only get to see a glimpse into what he does. He just makes it look so easy! :rolleyes:

October 23rd, 2006, 12:32 PM
one point that I agree with wholeheartedly about the dog whisperer show is that the energy you send out is VERY important.

if you are scared when your dog growls at you, you send out that vibe, which dogs are born to pick up on. I suggest that if YOU can't get past that fear, that you have your partner work on taking the rawhide away (if she can do so w/out sending out fear). In the meantime, you should resolve that issue (the fear of being bitten) and see if you can overcome it, or at least control it.

Calm yet assertive energy is a powerful force. I can tell my dog to "down" - if i'm focused on other things (burning dinner, the cat eating the plants, and the coffee I just spilt... ) he'll ignore me. but when done with the right energy, focused, calm, and assertive, he does it... happily. same with your pom - if you go to take the rawhide but are so consumed with the fear of being bitten, he will pick up on it, he senses you are afraid of him, which gives him the power. so go into it with a "I am taking this now" attitude. be calm, but claim it.

you'd be suprised how your energy effects everything in your life.

October 23rd, 2006, 12:48 PM
Jessi -
Thanks for the positive encouragement, Jessi! Fear is hard to control. If you feel it, how do you NOT feel it or how do you make it go away? You know? Everytime I walk past Nicky while he's chewing his rawhide, I make sure to hold my head up high and act like I don't even see him or care because I'm trying to show him who's boss, but I can still feel this wave of fear roll over my body, that he's going to growl and bite my feet, which he's done before, but somehow I got him past that. However, apparently I haven't gotten him far enough past it because as I said, he did growl the other night. But, I'll definitely keep working on it and give it another shot!:thumbs up
One more question. What do I do if he won't drop the rawhide when I tell him "NO!" or "Leave it!" the first time? And if he tries to walk away with it, do I grab him and hold him until he gives in? I'm just not sure what to do when this situation occurs...mainly because I'm shocked that he's doing it and secondly because of my fear and third, I just don't know what to do to get the results I want right at that moment.

Originally Posted by: Technodoll
i don't know what you mean by cesar's "4 finger poke"

I believe he actually calls it "the five finger touch". Have you ever noticed that he'll stand beside the dog and kind of stab him with the tips of his five fingers in the neck region? he doesn't do it hard, but he applies enough pressure and does it quick enough that it's supposed to mimmick the teeth of the dog's mother. It's a corrective thing. If the dog growls, or disobeys, he gets the fingers and the "Tch" sound that Cesar makes. I don't know how he does it without getting his fingers chomped on, but the dogs back up EVERY time! I would think that your dog would end up being terrified of your hands every time he saw them coming and then would become hand-aggressive.

October 23rd, 2006, 01:18 PM
my own personal way of doing things (which may or may NOT help you) is I'm not "tenative" about anything. If my dog has a bone, and I want it, I walk right up and take it. no words. just my energy of "It's mine now". I don't leave room for argument either - he will not get into a tug of war w/ me. I walk up - I take it - end of it.

it's how I am about everything really... time to trim nails, I get the clippers, stand over my dog, and just do it. no words. He stands still and cooperates now that I do it that way. very "matter of fact" and "business-like". this is the way it is - period.

if my dog has something of high value to him (i.e. a cat toy) that he won't give up easily, I use my "trade ya!" game. I come armed with something (cookie, small morsel of food, toy, etc) and say TRADE YA! take whatever he has away, then offer the trade.

October 23rd, 2006, 01:36 PM
jessi that is very good advice, i also use the "positive energy" approach and find it works wonders. if a dog senses hesitation or fear, they will take advantage of it to bully you :rolleyes: (well most dogs, anyways).

remember... no "ands, ifs, or buts"!! :highfive:

October 23rd, 2006, 01:45 PM
I'm more of a threatener when it comes to bones. Boo is a bone dog. A lot of people might think this is very aggressive, but it's what I do...

I'll walk up to him and he'll tuck the bone under his chin and growl. I say "Give it," at which point, he'll growl again, and then I say, "give it NOW". If he still hasn't backed off, I grab as big a piece of neck fur as I can (really, really grab a lot of skin (not fur) so the face is a bit stretched :o) and use it to stabilize his head (pull back so he can't lunge forward). Then I take the bone SLOWLY and put it close to my body with the other hand, and as I let go of his neck fur, I use the neck fur hand to stop him if he decides to lunge for the bone.

The other thing to make sure of is to give it back to him sometimes. If you take away something and always put it away once you get it, he'll learn that you taking it away means he completely lost it, so he'll protect it more. With Boo, about 2 out of every 3 times I take away a bone, I give it back. And so far, the only time he starts growling again is when he hasn't had one for a long time and it's all new again.:rolleyes:

As for alpha rolling super aggressive dogs that you aren't familiar with- that's a GREAT way of getting your face bitten off. The less invasive way of accomplishing the same thing with your own dog is getting your dog to lie down for longer and longer periods of time. My doggies do it on their side, for added subordination. :evil: But never make your dog lie down or go on its side in front of another dog. That's humiliating. It's just between you and your dog.:shrug:

And for the poke... One day, he'll get bitten and they'll edit it out and pay lots of money to shut any people who saw it up. And IMO, I agree with the reasoning that it will make your dog fear your hands. Get bitten in the neck and get poked in the neck and tell me if they feel the same.:rolleyes: A fast grab would feel more like a warning snap than a poke.

October 23rd, 2006, 02:04 PM
There you are Prin! I was wondering when you'd show By the way, I asked you a question on my other thread, "What Do You Look Like" check that out when you get a chance.
Thanks for the advice. When Boo is growling, doesn't it scare the crap out of you or make you hesitate just a little bit? That's my problem. I want to get as far away from a growling dog as possible, so grabbing the back of Nicky's neck seems impossible to me. I guess I'm afraid that he'll drop the bone and go for my arm before I can get my hand on his neck real good. I don't know. I guess I'm going to have to practice making Nicky lay down on his side. Any suggestions on how to do that? This is a dog who REFUSES to learn how to
Anyway, Nicky is very submissive and every little thing we do scares him, this is why it's so shocking to me when he growls like this. When we call him, he army crawls to us with his head down! I just don't understand how he can be so scared and submissive 98% of the time and then when he does have a rawhide, he's a completely different dog!
I tried something yesterday with the rawhide. I put it on the floor and sometimes between my feet and every time he started to get close to it, I said, "Leave it!" He only tried twice and then didn't give a damn for the rest of the So I'm not sure how effective that was. He seems to not care about the rawhide unless he's actually chewing on it. :shrug:

October 23rd, 2006, 02:11 PM
Yeah, that exercise is good. You might also let him chew on it while you're still holding it and get him to stop a few times too.

Jemma growls all the time, so I'm used to her teethies. But Boo ONLY growls when he's serious. So I do take it seriously and approach him as though he was going to bite me. I'd rather not get bitten by my own dog, but at the same time, even if he did, it would likely be a warning snap and not a full out mauling.

Whenever you approach a growly dog, you always have to assess the risk. With Boo, I KNOW he'll stay focused on his bone, which is why I approach from behind and by the neck. He's protecting the front. With Nicky, you'll have to read him more. You could even poke him with a broom handle (just bring the end close to his muzzle) to see if he just hides his bone more or snaps the broom handle.:shrug:

October 23rd, 2006, 02:14 PM
LMAO @ poking lil Nicky with a broom handle. Ok, I can't wait to go home and try this Oh, how do you suggest I teach him to lay on his side and how do I get him to know the difference between getting down off the bed "Down!", Laying down "Lay down!" and laying on his side "?" ? What kind of command should I use for those 3 different situations?

October 23rd, 2006, 02:17 PM
I use "floor" for getting off the bed, "down" for lie down and "dead" for being on their side.

You might want to start with just lying down for longer and longer periods first. Put the leash on and stay close and the minute he gets up, put him back down again with a "stay" afterward.

October 23rd, 2006, 02:18 PM
Ok, thanks Prin. I'll try it!

October 23rd, 2006, 02:19 PM
Start with a short time first though and build your way up (like start with a couple of minutes). You don't want him to fail too often.;)

October 23rd, 2006, 02:28 PM
LMAO @ poking lil Nicky with a broom handle.

in all honesty, I wouldn't do that. a) you could really scare him, which could lead to a very bad reaction to the broom. b) by doing so, you could be setting yourself up to be bitten when you do attempt to take the rawhide. c) nicki will still sense you are apprehensive even with a broom-handle distance between you.

I don't see any quick fix for this. I see this as something that will take alot of time - building up confidence, trust and respect.

Some issues, I find are better dealt with by avoiding all together. if there are growling or biting issues when rawhide is in the picture, maybe get rid of the rawhide. remove part of the problem.

October 23rd, 2006, 02:35 PM
Originally Posted by: Jessi76
If there are growling or biting issues when rawhide is in the picture, maybe get rid of the rawhide. remove part of the problem.

If nothing else works, this is what will happen! :frustrated:

It's definitely a fine line that I have to walk with Nicky. Because he is so scared of everything, usually, I have had to work long and hard with him to build his confidence and respect for me as Alpha but without scaring him. It's difficult to discipline him because I don't want to do anything to cause a backslide in his confidence. However, this growling thing is unacceptable and I'm not going to be satisfied until I am able to walk up to him and take it. Like I said, if nothing works, bye bye to the rawhides! :evil:

October 23rd, 2006, 02:44 PM
Like I said, if nothing works, bye bye to the rawhides!

totally sensible choice, IMO! if this is the only issue that causes growling... remove the situation, and there will be no more growling... as long as nicky respects and trusts you as alpha in every other way, that is fine :) BUT if ever the rawhide is gone, and he finds something else to "possess"... you will need to work that little guy ;)

October 23rd, 2006, 02:44 PM
Sorry- I didn't mean for you to hit him or anything with the broom, just to hover it near him slowly as a way of finding out what he's capable of without getting yourself bitten.:shrug:

October 23rd, 2006, 02:47 PM
lol...I knew what you meant Prin :thumbs up

October 23rd, 2006, 03:24 PM
oh no need to clarify prin! (nice that you did though). I would never assume that's what you meant. I knew what you meant, I just wanted to point out it could - potentially - make the situation worse.

If I ever held a broom like so to my dog - even to just test him - I'd end up w/ a dog that is unsure of my intention. (even if my intention is to just TEST a reaction - it may not bring about the reaction you're expecting, and could be alot worse) especially since you already have a submissive, frightened, uneasy dog on your hands.

good luck. keep us posted on the progress, no matter which method(s) you opt to try.

October 23rd, 2006, 03:34 PM
I thought it would work because a lot of dogs feel that brooms and vacuums are alive too.:D

October 23rd, 2006, 04:00 PM
I watched it to and must say the one with the dog Bandit snd the one with the pit bull were pretty impressive to me........

October 23rd, 2006, 04:18 PM
How should I handle Nicky when he growls with a rawhide in his mouth? I've done the NILF training, I've done the hand in the food bowl thing, and he respects me 98% of the time. As a matter of fact, I was shocked that he regressed back to the growling crap and it upsets me.

IMO he does not get the item(s) that he resource guards until you address this and have 100% of his respect 100% of the time.
Or he gets his rawhide in a crate (or confined space) where there is no risk of accidentally testing him and forcing him to feel that he has to guard. Above all you do not want to keep testing your dog because it will just make things worse.

Bullying a dog isn't leadership. IMO, grabbing and yelling at a dog to drop something will make them more aggressive or at the very least less likely to give it to you willingly (or they may just swallow it which is not a good thing either) - ESPECIALLY if they do not see as you a leader in the first place.

Work on "trading" things with your dog, always ensuring that what you have to trade is higher value (it doesn't have to be food, it can be anything that your dog values)!

You have to remember that resource guarding is a normal behaviour for dogs and is a survival skill. While I do agree that dogs should not have things taken from the constantly, they need to be trained to give the item up for safety reason.

Mine! A Guide to Resource Guarding in Dogs" by Jean Donaldson is excellent as is How to Be the Leader of the Pack and Have Your Dog Love You for It" by Patricia McConnell.

October 23rd, 2006, 07:25 PM
Thank you Lissa and everyone else! Great advice!