Home » dog whisperer

Tag: dog whisperer

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.

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.

Feeding Time at the Farnival

As you know if you’ve written to me, I try to answer most emails personally, but every once in awhile, I like to answer reader’s questions on the blog. The number one question is overwhelmingly about Dawn, but this week I’ve had several people ask how we feed eight dogs. Do we free-feed, meaning leave food bowls out or feed them individually? The answer is that feeding times at the Farnival are actually very structured occasions.

Here’s our routine: twice a day, I open up our “dog closet” and the pack comes running, knowing it’s time for grub. Feeding eight dogs at once isn’t easy, but we manage – or at least try to manage – keeping them under control by constantly exerting a calm leadership role. I put out eight bowls on the kitchen table, each labeled with white tape, and measure out each pup’s amount. Because Tony and Rosie eat too fast I place too-big-to-swallow rocks on top of their food to force them to slow down. (Thanks for the tip, Katherine P.) Then I feed them in order of their pack rank, starting with eldest to the youngest, making each one sit before I set their bowl on the ground.

I’m meticulous about food allowances because controlling a dog’s weight is one of the easiest ways to keep them around longer. Plus, dog obesity leads to disease, which means big vet bills. I hate to be blunt but a fat dog is an expensive dog. Right now, somewhere around thirty-percent of dogs are obese. Click here to learn how to determine your dog’s ideal weight.

Besides measuring out the proper amount of food everyday, I keep their weight healthy by walking the poop out of them. I know I discuss walking probably way too much on this blog, but that’s because it’s cheap and has so many benefits. You’d be amazed at what thirty minutes a day will do for your dog’s happiness and health.

Rosie’s Improving: Update 5

rose sup(Rosie)

Over the past two days I’ve walked our big galoot of a foster dog Rosie twelve miles. I know that’s a little excessive, but the weather has been so beautiful – 70’s and sunny – that I haven’t been able to stay indoors. Besides, I gained ten pounds over this long dreary winter so I have a lot of motivation to keep moving.

I don’t know if it’s the warmer temperatures or if Rosie is actually maturing, but she has suddenly started doing a hundred times better on the leash. She’s actually manageable in a pack.

After two days of acting civilized on a leash, I decided to give her a big test this morning and took her to the Springfield Greenway. There were nine dogs and three humans (Mason, Nancy, and I) in our walking posse. Normally, particularly in a pack, Rosie fights to retain the lead the whole time, yanking so hard sometimes I have to hand her off to Mason. Today, Rosie may have pulled for the first quarter mile but after that, she was easy to handle. I’m afraid to say this for fear of being jinxed, but she was actually a pleasure to walk.

Sometimes, it just takes longer to reap the benefits of consistent training. Just like humans dogs mature at different rates. I’ll admit there were times over the past six months when I wanted to give up on Rosie – just declare her un-trainable on a leash and wipe my hands of it. I’m really glad I didn’t.

Meadow’s Bad Hair Day(s)

Mead and ball(Meadow, pre-haircut)

I know my favorite canine philosopher Cesar Millan would say that I’m projecting human feelings onto my dog, but Meadow was not happy about her haircut for at least three days. She normally wears her hair long and flowing, but after a skunk sprayed her, we had to shave it off.

Her moping started as soon as we picked her up from the “salon.” We had brought two other dogs, Tony and Adriana, along for the ride, and she greeted them both with an uncharacteristic growl. She didn’t play in the mosh pit for several days nor would she sleep in our bed.

The other dogs weren’t sure about her new haircut either. The morning after we had her fur shaved Meadow stood up on the couch, and Adriana started snarling at her as though she didn’t recognize her. Like who’s the new chick?

Things finally turned around on Friday. Meadow, still brooding about her short fur, trotted beside me under a drizzling sky as we walked down the bluff towards the trails in our backyard. At that point, it’d been pouring for twenty-four straight hours, so by mid morning on Friday our normally dry creek had more water flowing through it than it had all winter. I’d say two feet of rushing water, enough to make crossing sloppy but not enough to stop us. We’ve had a lot of precipitation in Middle Tennessee over the past month, and sunshine has seemed nonexistent.

Meadow hopped into a deeper portion – maybe three feet – created by the jagged edges of the limestone rocks lining the creek bed like a dragon’s spine. And suddenly, as though a switch had flipped, she stopped sulking and started acting like the fun-loving Meadow we all know and love. In fact, I couldn’t get her out of the creek. The water splashing on her nearly naked body must have felt like a shower after a five-day camping trip, because she leaped and sprinted, diving her face under, then licking at the drops that sprayed off her muzzle. I realized she’s probably never felt water so close to her skin before, and that she must be a skinny dipper at heart. In order to celebrate her newly discovered hobby, everyday this weekend I’ve taken her down back and let her romp.

I don’t know whether I was projecting human emotions onto Meadow about her bad hair-day mood or not. But I do know that when she gets wet, even with her fur sheared she still smells like skunk. I’m not even joking. This is one of those patience things isn’t it? Like I just have to wait it out?