Welcome to El Dogerino

Hello to you dog-lovers around the world and thanks for checking our first post ever!!! This marks the inauguration of our blog called “El Dogerino” paying homage to our love for dogs and our passion to travel.

Please come on in to meet our crew, check our new introduction “Woofisode” and  stick around for further posts on traveling with dogs, dog education, and our reviews on different pet friendly, and non-friendly locations.

Also, feel free to share with us. At “El Dogerino” we looove dogs! Small, big or gigantic. Bald or hairy. Funny, ugly or cute, it doesn’t really matter. So share the love. Post your dogs!

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It’s Not Dominance, It’s Leadership!

The more we read about and explored the world of dog training and rehabilitation, the clearer it became that there is a holy war raging between two worlds of opposing ideology; that of dominance and that of positive reinforcement. 

At first we thought we were missing something in between the lines, maybe misreading the different articles’ statements or that we were just pure dumb and could not grasp the intricacies of either method/theory/culture.

So we did the only thing we could and bought a bunch of books, read a bunch of articles, talked to several professionals, and enrolled in certified training courses.

Our curiosity started about a year ago and we like to believe that we have come a long way since then (even though we are not even close to having acquired the amount of knowledge we would like) and slowly we have been making up our mind as to which theory we prefer, but most importantly what we think the source of the problem is: Misunderstanding! 

For training purposes we like both methods. We’ve seen both of them work with almost equally successful results. Both can rehabilitate difficult dogs and train almost every dog in as many fields as there can possibly be. We would even take it as fas as saying that in many, many ways, these two opposing methods are very much alike. For example, in desensitising and counter-conditioning a dog both methods will use some kind of “treat” or positive reinforcement, be it a cookie, a praise or encouragement, a toy or a gentle stroke, the procedure and effect is the same.

So, if both methods work and they are actually not as different in some occasions, what’s the big deal? Two very big problems are the cause of all this controversy: One regarding the general view of the dog and it’s behaviour, the second a great misunderstanding of the word “Dominance” (even called the “D” word now a days by those in favour of positive reinforcement).

We are going to concentrate on the latter but just a short word on the first problem.

In short, it is a disagreement on wether dogs live in packs, and wether they behave in a similar fashion to their ancestors the wolves. The APDT which is one of the largest organisations for dog trainers, goes as far as saying: ” the idea that dog behavior can be explained through the application of wolf behavior models is no more relevant than suggesting that chimpanzee behavior can be used to explain human behavior.” – APDT (1)

This is of course ludicrous since dogs and wolves share the same genus (meaning closely related species of the same family) and humans and chimps don’t. Also, dogs evolved (through artificial selection) from wolves, around 100,000 years ago whereas humans and chimpanzees only share a common ancestor approximately 5.8 Million years ago before the family “Hominini” (Australopithecus) came to be and our paths diverged. Obviously there is a greater difference between humans and chimpanzees than between dogs and wolves.

Regarding this first problematic, the rest is just contradictory scientific research mixed with inconclusive results and the power of wishful thinking. People tend to focus on what they believe and disregard what they prefer not to acknowledge. Whether wolfs live in packs or families, or there is a pack leader or just parents exercising their right to rule over their pups makes no real difference regarding the real core of the controversy; dominance.

Supporters of positive reinforcement tend to confuse immensely the terms dominance and aggression. Aggression can arise between dogs but is never a solution nor a part of their intrinsic behaviour. Dogs (or other canids for the matter) of a same pack/group/family rarely resort to violence and aggression in conflict solving, unless the dog is suffering from any of the number of factors that can perturb its natural state and instincts (e.g. anxiety or fear). On the other hand, dominance exists whether we like it or not. Dominance means setting rules, boundaries and limitations. Being assertive in decision making, confident, and willing to assume the role of a good leader that can give guidance, fulfil the dog’s needs and relieve stress and anxiety in a productive manner. A leader is also responsible to give the dog’s life a purpose that is related to what the dog’s instinctual needs require, as can be for example working for food and water, simulating a hunt, developing the nostrils by doing search and rescue activities, amongst many other possibilities. That is why we like to call it “the leadership theory” and not the “dominance theory”.

Real leadership concentrates on a dog’s needs, not fear and control. The goal is to be viewed by your dog as a gentle, old, wise parent who can be strict and unyielding at times, yet never harsh nor mean but always compassionate and  just.

Regarding dominance itself, it also exists as a physical form of communication between animals, but I have to reiterate that it is rarely shown through aggression! If you had the opportunity to observe many dogs living together you would have seen that there are peaceful disputes over various things like territory, food, toys, etc. These displays of dominance are transmitted through a very specific set of body movements from which the non verbal conversation is easily understood. One (the more dominant one) is saying “I mean you no harm but this is mine and you have to back away” the less dominant one usually thinks about it and decides to back off and forget the matter, or goes into a playful and submissive position to lure the other dog into play.

Submissive dog

Most people who object with the “dominance theory” say that this works for intra-species relations, but it doesn’t work between humans and dogs, since we are not dogs and do not share the same language. Well, surprisingly we do share a very similar language, but because we are very verbal beings we tend to forget that we also developed the language of the body. Just because I’m from Mexico, doesn’t mean I cannot learn english and transmit information, even though it is not my language. Well the same applies to body language.

The last big misunderstanding between the two cultures is a lack of information regarding what dominance theorists believe. It is the understanding of people who support positive reinforcement that we believe a dog’s bad behaviour is the result of him/her trying to overpower us, or taking over the leader position.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. If the role of the leader is already taken, dogs will not try to overpower the leader, but will be content to follow if the leader is the kind of which we spoke earlier. However, if that role is vacant, a dog might either naturally assume it or will become anxious due to that lack of leadership. Behaviour problems don’t come from a dog challenging your authority, but from a lack of boundaries and proper guidance.

See it as a class of high school students without a teacher. The lack of rules and limitations will encourage a revelrous and chaotic atmosphere. No one will try to assume the teacher’s role, it is just the lack of that role that leads to undesirable behaviour. Once that role has been filled by a proper tutor, that behaviour will stop.

Summarising this long, yet long overdue post:

  • We believe that both theories have good things, amazing potential and similarities.
  • The conflict is due to misunderstanding and a lack of information.
  • Dominance for real dominance theorists (not brute, old school practices) does not involve aggression, pain or intimidation.
  • Dominance is a combination of body language and leadership (fulfilling a dog’s needs).
  • A misbehaved dog is NOT trying to take over the house or overpower your position within the family/pack. He/she is either asking for guidance and direction because he/she doesn’t know better or is suffering from anxiety due to a lack of proper guidance and leadership.
  • Even though we disagree with some of the statements of the APDT, we absolutely agree that dog training should never involve fear, pain or intimidation, and should always be beneficial for both human and dog. We also encourage to include their practices and advise in whatever dog training method one chooses to employ.

We hope you find this enlightening, and that it can open your eyes to see that even though they are different, both practices are equally effective, compassionate, and well intentioned. 

We would also like to thank “selfhelpdogtraining” @http://selfhelpdogtraining.com/wordpress/?p=124 for inspiring this post and http://www.gsdhelp.info/ for lending us a picture. 

(1) http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominance.aspx

 

 

 

 

Home-made Lure Course

Hi everyone and welcome to El Dogerino!

Today we have something different in store for you. At “El Dogerino” we are fanatics of doing different activities with our dogs, we think they stimulate them physically and mentally and some of them fulfil their deepest animal, dog, and breed needs.

This time it is Luring! Luring is an exhausting sport that brings out the hunter inside every dog. It is a game which, if done properly, creates a bond between owner and dog, exercises discipline, tires the dog’s body, and stimulates the brain. Fantastic!

But our Luring Course is a bit different than most. It is an “El Dogerino” original invention, completely, absolutely 100% home-made.

Check out the video to see how it’s done and the results you can get out of it!

 

Timid Little Nervous Afrika (Part 1)

Afrika is radiant once you get to know her. She wags her tail and plays the fool and looks at you as if you were the most especial being that had ever existed. In her eyes you probably are the most precious thing; a trustworthy and kind yet fearless leader. It feels nice to be appreciated in that manner yet it is also rather sad. Afrika gets attached in that manner because she is in desperate need of protection, affection and guidance, since in her eyes everyone else is the complete opposite of you. From her perspective the world is a scary place full of torments and tormentors, aggressive humans, dominant dogs, loud noises, moving objects that can only be escaped by curling into a little furry ball in a corner; her corner!

At first she wouldn’t dare come near us but since we have to asses every dog before we can start treating them, we got close to her only once to see her reaction. As was to be expected she growled and snapped at me a little, not in an aggressive manner but as to scare me away. It was her way of saying ‘I want nothing to do with you, just leave me alone.’ We got the hint.

Here lies the first challenge: Gaining her trust.

Since it is impossible to rehabilitate a dog that doesn’t trust you, it was crucial for the process to gain Afrika’s trust and show her that we mean her no harm. Of course for this part of the process we used a lot of treats and affection, but contrary to what people think, with used no baby voice or verbal encouragement nor did we try to lure her to us by throwing treats closer to us each time until she was close enough to pet her. Instead, my beautiful “wife-to-be” turned her back on Afrika, reducing thus any sign of confrontation. There was also few or no eye contact at all. This gives the dog the idea that she is approaching you on her own terms, rather out of curiosity than because of the treats.

Mitana (my fiancee and crucial El Dogerino crew member) threw the treats at random at different distances, angles and places, making it a game for Afrika. She was like “Yeeeeiiii this human is not dangerous, she is a treat machine!”.

She would go pick them and wait for the next one, coming closer every time, but when she did come close Mitana actually threw the treat farther away, to show Afrika that she didn’t necessarily need to come close to us to get the treats, she could do it at her own pace. Afrika really enjoyed that and started to get the feeling that this girl/treat machine wasn’t so bad after all.

This is the very first part of gaining a dog’s trust. It is more like showing them that we are not threatening, but there were a lot more steps we needed to achieve before really deserving her boundless and infallible love. Stick around to keep track of how Afrika is doing and how she got there!

We hope this helps and we would love to hear what you all have to say! 

 

Bingo Hates Grooming (Part 1)

As we talked about on our latest post, El Dogerino is volunteering at a centre for mistreated and abused dogs. They are all adorable but some of them have a few problems as is the case of our dear friend Bingo.

In the game of Bingo one builds up her/his expectations throughout the game until finally the exciting time comes to yell: Bingo! It worked quite differently at the doggy rehab centre with Bingo the dog. The actual Bingo did not build up any expectations or give any warning before snapping or baring his teeth. One moment he would be happily wagging his tail and begging for you to pet him, the next he would just snap, try to bite and disappear from the scene of the crime.

At first we gained his trust kneeling down and letting him make the first contact with us on his own terms. He needed to be the one coming to sniff us and when he did we rewarded him with treats.

To his defence, he is an amazing dog; Active, playful, smart, obedient, wilful yet pleasing. Walking him is a pleasure, showing him new tricks even more so, yet something about his past impedes him from letting go and just be.

We know that he was injured by a car and even though he is in perfect health now, old memories of painful body parts can trigger an aggressive reaction towards contact, but we cannot be sure what truly happened to him.

Another problem is that he is extremely possessive towards his food. At the beginning it was impossible to touch his food bowl while there was still food in it, and even though it has been getting better there is still so much to do. We are going to talk more about this problems and how we have been handling them in future posts, but for today we want to concentrate on another issue, one that has tormented many owners in the past and that a lot of dogs suffer from. A great dislike of the hair brush and the grooming process in general.

First Step: Making friends with the object

We were told the only way that Bingo could be groomed was if he was on a muzzle, so we first decided to observe his reaction to see how we could proceed.

We took out the brush and upon sight of it he immediately ran away and wanted nothing to do with us. He was obviously terrified of it so we didn’t push it. To distract him from it we first took him for a nice walk and when we came back we placed him in an enclosed space were he could feel comfortable but where he wouldn’t be able to avoid confronting the issue. We had the brush hidden in our pocket and instead of taking it out immediately we played with him for a bit. When he was immersed in the game we inconspicuously let the brush out but attracted no attention towards it, we just kept playing because that’s what grooming is, just a fun game!

After a while we took the brush in our hand and kept on playing as usual. Fetch, petting, tug o’ war, anything goes. At this point he is actually watching the brush and even having small contact with it, while he is having fun. After the dog becomes accustomed to the brush you can let him smell it and have further contact with it by placing treats on top of it or even inserting pieces of treats inside of it to make the dog have as much contact as possible with it while trying to get to the treat. This creates a positive sensation for the dog and teaches him to associate the brush with a positive experience.  

This is the very first part of the rehabilitation process which helps the dog get acquainted with the object she/he dislikes. In further posts we are going to describe techniques for the actual grooming process and how we kept Bingo calm and relaxed throughout the whole exercise.

Hope this helps and stay tuned to learn together about different rehabilitation methods, their pros, cons, effects and challenges!

Have a wonderful start of the week.

 

 

We Are Back!

Hi dog-lovers and awesome pet-parents out there! I hope you have missed us while we had our little sabbatical, we sure as hell have missed you and even though we were absent we still managed to take a few peaks at most of your awesome blog posts. We are back and happy to be so! The reason we were gone is because the El Dogerino family was taking a dog-training and rehabilitation course which then led us to some volunteer work that we are using to put what we learned into practice, and of course to help cute little (and some not so little) mishandled and abandoned puppies. Yeeeeiii! During the course of the next few weeks El Dogerino’s purpose will be to share our experience helping these cute girls and guys to find loving families by helping them adapt to their new environment and surroundings. These guys are all awesome but some of them need a bit of work to help them fit in, being shyness or possessiveness or just bringing out their full cuteness by teaching them to play, do tricks and proper socialization. Meet the new gang: Afrika This amazing girl is Afrika. She is the daughter of another rescue dog who was found pregnant in the street. Luckily her mother was already adopted and is now happy but one simple factor is preventing Afrika to achieve the same fate; she is extremely shy and fearful. Over the next few weeks we will tell you all about our progress in rehabilitating her. She has already made some groundbreaking achievements yet a lot of work still needs to be done. Bingo This exciting and full of energy guy is our friend Bingo. He was also found in the street injured from a car accident. He has completely recovered now but we believe that the trauma left some intangible scars. He lunges and bites when touched in certain areas even though there is no physical pain left. Grooming is down right impossible at the moment but just yesterday he let himself be touched by the brush without growling, we are quite proud of that but it is a long process. Also, like it is common in street dogs that have to defend their food, he has some problems of food possessiveness. His case is a bit more complicated than Afrika’s but we will do everything in our power to help this guy. Nube And this adorable puppy is called Nube, which is Spanish for cloud. She is the sweetest, kindest, funniest puppy ever! This girl has actually given us no cause for complaint but to improve her chances of adoption we are teaching her proper socialization skills and puppy play as well as some obedience like sit, down, heel and leave it. We are sure she’s going to be just fine. The rest There are many other sweet, fluffy pups but we are going to be concentrating on these three for the time being since they are the most challenging. For any fans of Tau, Cora and Balam out there don’t worry, they are still going to be making appearances on the blog, and they are even going to be helping rehabilitate some of the other guys. So we hope you enjoy our new posts and leave us some comments with tips or advise or even some criticism is always welcome! Thanks for having us patience and we will be in touch.

For the Love of Dog

It is Valentine’s day, the stores are filled with red hearts and fat cherubs. All of a sudden we are all in need of love, reminded of it by all the marketing strategies of businesses.

But do we all believe that there is somebody for everybody in this world?

 Are we so lucky to find the perfect partners?

Some of us are but what about the rest? Are they going to live all their lives in hope….?

Asking myself all those questions, thinking about love I realized that next to me somebody is bothering me pushing me with his paws so he can grab my attention. I snap out of my pondering and start looking at Balam  who was right under my feet pushing me to play with him.

photo 1 (1)photo 4 (1)

There, I realize all the love and happiness those dogs have been giving us for the last year.

photo 4

Every time we come home after one hour stuck in traffic and the general stress of a hard days work, they are sitting there so happy to see us, like we’ve been gone for a week. They start jumping, playing, doing silly stuff just to show you how happy they are because you’re home .

photo 3

Many times we, Christian and Mitana, had been saying that we are in love with our dogs and yes we are of those couples who talk a lot about their dogs. Sometimes I can admit that people get pretty annoyed by that, but we like talking about them. How can we not when we’ve watched them grow, trained them, cleaned after them, played with them… And they are so so grateful.

They repay you with all the love that you can receive and it doesn’t matter how many mistakes you make they always forgive you just because they love you so.

photo 3 (1)

 Dogs teach us how to be humans, how to love and be responsible, to feel compassion, how to be a better person. And many people who never had a dog can argue with you but it really is something that just pet lovers can get. It’s that thing that makes you feel so happy and important because you are in the “inner circle” of your dog’s live and you are his pack leader, his dad or mom, his family and he or she is ready to do anything for your approval, for those silly words “good boy! who is my good boy?!?!” and that makes it all better. They are as happy to be with us as we are with them, ready to do anything for each other and to get a little tail wag, a goofy smile and a warm look and the smooth feel of their furs and their wet noses and drew and their woogling and soft little affectionate nibbling in your hands!

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So if you hadn’t already, now you can get why we have “El Dogerino”. We are in love with our dogs!
So we want to dedicate this Love Holiday to our pets, our furry friends whose love is unconditional.
Because all we need is love… And a dog!

Family photo