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Lessons From Langston: First Impressions

index_13l(Todd Langston)

“If I walk into your house, I communicate to your dog and what I’m going to communicate to them is that I expect respect.”

For those of you just tuning in, I had the opportunity to interview dog behaviorist Todd Langston last month. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be posting his advice in a feature called Lessons from Langston. His first lesson was about the necessity of mastering the walk. Click here for more.

In this post, Langston’s reveals what the “whisperer” in The Dog Whisperer means, plus how to make a positive first impression on a canine. How many times have you walked into a friend’s house and immediately dropped to your knees as soon as you saw they had a dog? According to Langston, that’s exactly how to make the wrong impression.

Where does the term whisperer come from in terms of Cesar Millan’s National Geographic show The Dog Whisperer?

That show has this very mystical appeal because [Cesar’s] going in and doing something that seems magical. Because what happens is when you learn how to work with dogs, you learn what they need, you learn how to communicate with them, you learn how to speak dog. So whispering means communication without words. If I walk into your house, I communicate to your dog and what I’m going to communicate to them is that I expect respect. And once we have that understanding, I’ll give them guidance. That becomes what the whole quote, unquote whispering is. It looks as though the dog is doing things for you in this magical way but in reality you are having an actual conversation through your actions and energy and being able to read and return what the dog gives you. Then the dog is like, “Holy shit, you know what I’m saying. What else can we do? Dude, let’s go do it.“ Humans struggle recognizing that they don’t do it the right way.

Can you be more specific about how to approach dogs?

I walk in head up, shoulders back. I have a notebook in my hand, like my schedule book. When a dog comes up to me, I hold that in front of me and ask for space. If the dog approaches and is barking, I just stand there because he’s telling me he doesn’t want me to come in yet. He needs to pause and kind of back away a little bit and that’s like giving me permission to come into his house. And that’s important because if you come in at the wrong time you can get challenged. And you don’t want that. I have a notebook and if the dog is too pushy, I touch him with the notebook. If I meet a new dog and they’re respectful, I’ll let them smell me for as long as they want because I probably smell [to them] like Facebook. I have a lot of smells on my shoes. And when they’re done, I’ll sit down and ignore the dog. Most dogs trigger a really emotional response in people. It triggers people to give right away. That puts the dog in control. Humans turn into these blubbering fools with dogs, and the dogs are like, “whatever.” It’s all about control.

Lessons from Langston: Mastering the Walk

index_13j(Todd Langston)

Last week I promised to post an interview I did with Todd Langston, a dog behaviorist. I finally got it transcribed over the weekend, and I’m so excited to share it with y’all. We talked about everything from how to greet a new dog to how to use an e-collar a.k.a. shock collar. Please absorb every word. It’s valuable, free, and important for the well being of your freaks.

Todd uses the same philosophical approach as the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, meaning he speaks dog. He dropped so many pearls of wisdom in our forty-five minute conversation that I decided to publish his answers in several posts called Lessons from Langston.

Since summer is here, the first part is about the benefits of walking your dog…my favorite subject.

Why is walking your dog and doing it correctly so important?

“I’m glad that you’re saying that because if you really were going to put your time, effort, and energy onto what people call training, my opinion is that learning to master the walk will benefit you more than ANY…THING…ELSE. More than any single thing. It will benefit you more than any of it. As far as getting the dog to be more relaxed, getting the dog to be more well behaved, getting the dog to follow you, all of that comes through the leash.

I’m fortunate. I actually get to teach workshops with Cesar [Millan a.k.a the Dog Whisperer]. And that’s what it always comes down to is mastering the walk. A dog that pulls you is in control of what you’re doing. He’s in control of movement, he’s in control of everything. But [being on a leash] is also why a lot of dogs become aggressive because they can’t run away and have to stay connected to something they don’t trust. Most humans don’t realize that their dog doesn’t trust them. The leash exposes all of this.

Now you take the dog to a dog park and take off the leash. The dog can move in and out of social interactions the way he sees fit and not based on the human, then their personality is totally different. That’s why a lot of people call their dogs leash aggressive. A leash aggressive dog is a dog that doesn’t trust his human.

A dog only has four choices, fight, flight, avoid, and accept. And the dog will normally choose to run away or avoid situations that it’s uncomfortable with, but on a leash it can’t. So the dog goes into a fight state and that’s just because the human gets nervous, yanks on the leash, doesn’t know what to do, and the dog’s like “f-you, man.”

Walking a dog is important for every reason, all reasons, exercise, mental and physical well-being, everything. Learning to walk a dog and doing it a lot will give you a greater pay-off than anything.”

(To find out how to master the walk, click here. Coming up: Meet Todd’s own pack, Mr. Pickles, Almondine, and Hercules plus Todd shares exactly what the “whisperer” in Dog Whisperer means…)

An Interview with a Dog Training Badass

index_13j(Todd Langston)

Last week I interviewed Todd Langston. He lives in Orlando, FL and earns his living training dogs (and humans) using the same philosophical and scientific approach of Cesar Millan. My intention was to spotlight Todd as a Friend of the Farnival but his interview was too fantastic for a simple Q&A. This week I’ll be transcribing our forty-five minute conversation and sharing Todd’s most valuable insights. He’s a total badass. By the way, in the urban dictionary a badass is defined as an “ultra cool motherf-ker,” which pretty much sums up Todd.

I have a few more things to tidy up for the end of my second-to-last semester 🙂 and then I’m getting right on that interview. Hope you had a great weekend.

A Good Reference Site for Common Dog Problems

mel dog walk

I get asked all the time about training dogs. I even get offered money once in a while for doing it (!!) The problem is that training a dog, at least the way Mason and I do it, isn’t a one-time deal. As soon as I start working with any dog, I tell their humans that if they don’t maintain their leadership role at home than all our work is useless.

Our training philosophy is more a lifestyle than anything else. For us, because we live with eight dogs, we have to maintain leadership status at all times or the house would be chaotic. It’d be like the lucky bird incident on a hourly basis. We learned how to earn our pack’s respect by studying and using Cesar Millan a.k.a. The Dog Whisper’s philosophy.

Recently, through some research, I found a page about common dog problems written by Todd Langston. According to his bio, Todd’s also a student of Cesar’s. What I love about his site is that he lists common dog problems and outlines solutions in a simple and easy-to-understand way. Like Cesar in a nutshell. Just wanted to share it with all y’all. Click here to visit Todd’s site.

Mama Bear Versus James Hubbard

Walking Posse

About ten years ago, I met a local politician on the Springfield Greenway. His name is James Hubbard, a big, jovial man that over the years has seen me walk anywhere from one to five dogs. When I’m with three or more people, he’s seen us walking a total of ten dogs at one time, all well-mannered, controlled, leashed dogs, thirty percent of which are Robertson County homeless animals. Every time Hubbard greets Mason and I, he makes a big deal about our pack, pointing us out to passing strangers and friends, telling them and us what a great job we are doing for animals in our community.

Last weekend, Donna, ICHBA’s head honcho, called me. She pays attention to local politics. She said Hubbard spoke at a town council meeting in Springfield. He wants to limit the number of dogs one person can walk to two per household, meaning we’d essentially be unwelcome on the Springfield Greenway.

On Tuesday, I saw Hubbard for the first time since hearing he wanted my pack banned from the park. He started greeting Mason and I (and seven dogs) in his normal loud showboating way, only now I know he’s not jovial. Now, I know he’s nothing but a hypocrite.

As I age, my Italian temper rarely flares, but when someone screws with my dog’s health and happiness, I turn into a bear protecting her cubs. I gave it to Hubbard for five straight minutes, telling him to stop pretending to be my friend at the same time he wanted us off the greenway. He explained that our dogs were well behaved, but that there were a few other bad apples. I told him he should worry about the city enforcing the already existing leash laws before he tries instituting new ones.

I’m writing about this for two reasons. One, James Hubbard might be running for mayor of Springfield one day, and I want people to know how little he can be trusted. And lastly, if his proposal gets any steam, I’ll be fighting against it. Like an Italian mama bear.

Lucy’s New Lifestyle

As hard as yesterday was on every human involved, being ditched was the worst for poor Lucy. When her family arrived, we exchanged a few uncomfortable moments but I didn’t expect our encounter to be pleasant. After five minutes, they pulled out of our driveway, and my discomfort was gone, but that dog is still rattled twenty-four hours later. She’s anxious and quiet. She’s confused. It’s not easy restraining my maternal instincts, but we haven’t been coddling her. Instead, we’ve been letting her figure things out on her own.

Lucy’s adjustment at the Farnival is going to be a little harder than I had assumed because…well… Lucy is fat. This is a new problem for me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a fat foster dog before. Normally, they come here all skinny and hungry. But with Lucy, it’s hard to distinguish her waist from her hips, a balloon with four paws. And she’s only two years old.

When Lucy was fixed four months ago, she weighed a healthy thirty-seven pounds, but now she weighs fifty, meaning she’s gained almost 25% of her body weight. That’s a lot of weight for a an animal that reaches my shin to be carrying around. Needless, to say, Lucy’s lifestyle started to change drastically this morning, when she began her day with a four-mile walk, then came home to a carefully measured-out cup of food and no treats. I’m curious to see how long it takes for her to reach a good weight, so I’m going to do a weekly weigh-in.

4/29/15, Week 1: Lucy = a solid 5-0.