Muzzle it ! (why objections to a muzzle on a dog are unfounded)

Most of us have seen it at one time or another : a dog on a leash wearing a muzzle, generally of leather or leather and a wire basket over the dog’s mouth/nose. And it is commonly a dog we consider a potentially dangerous one… a Rottweiler, German Shepherd Dog, American Pitbull Terrier, or similar breed known to be inclined to bite.  But the muzzle itself causes revulsion in many people and that is a mistake to overcome.

A muzzle is another tool used by a dog handler and its purpose is to prevent a bite by the dog wearing it. It does not protect the dog from another dog biting him. But the entire rationale is the eliminate the bite by a dog known to have bitten and likely to bite again in a certain circumstance. Some dogs only attack another dog or cat or wild animal, and not people. Each dog  has his own makeup and the breed alone does not indicate what or who a dog will bite. It is the dog’s state of mind and past experiences added with its genetics that determines the outcome.

A cornered and frightened dog of any breed may bite in fear. A dog that senses it is the leader in a family may use a growl or bite to keep other members in line (*dogs or people).  The muzzle gives a margin of safety in case the handler misses a cue that an attack is about to occur. The muzzle is a training device, not a punishment device and it does not hurt a dog. The dog is corrected if he tries to bite and the muzzle protects other animals or people as well as the handler. ‘High drive’  breeds (Belgian Malinois in particular) are more inclined to be aggressive toward others,  but German Shepherd Dogs (GSD) and pitbulls (APBT) are known to redirect their aggression while on leash on to a handler when corrected.

The use of a muzzle allows the scene to be set to have the dog make a choice to ignore another animal or person. With practiced obedience commands (‘off’ or ‘leave it’ are common words) to ignore another animal, the dog succeeds in avoiding a bite incident. Eventually the muzzle is not needed as the correct behavior is instilled with practice, even under deliberate stress.  Getting the correct choice under stress (‘distractions’) is called proofing a behavior.  The dog can learn (through conditioning) to choose the right response even though it wants to bite.  And that is a job for a skilled trainer and not an amateur.

So, if you hear a companion remark about a dog in a muzzle, remind yourself (and perhaps an honestly ignorant person, which is VERY common) that the muzzle is to prevent injury placed on a dog by someone who cares enough to help the dog not be destroyed in a shelter. Most dogs that bite a few times are ordered destroyed by a judge or are abandoned in a shelter to be destroyed. The kindest outcome if the dog must die is to have a veterinarian gently euthanize the dog painlessly. There is minimal fear, no pain, and no suffering by a dog in its final seconds of life. If it is your dog, respect it as a dog, however troubled and dangerous.

For those able to afford professional help, a skilled rehabber of dogs can generally turn a dog around inside a week with the owners accepting the responsibility to maintain the conditioning and to do what is best FOR the dog. No excuses, ignoring, skipping exercises, etc.   Your dog’s life depends on what you do for him and how effectively you do it.  If you fail, he dies.

The muzzle is a troubled dog’s lifeline and a signal to you, now that you understand what it implies :  “that person must think a lot of the dog to muzzle him while he is being walked and probably rehabbed…”

Dogs That Bite Other Animals… Pumpkin’s Case #2

By mid-July 2014, ‘Pumpkin’ the pitbull has had enough sessions and practice to learn how to ignore other dogs and follow commands from the ‘handler’.  I stress the word since a dog with a professional dog trainer responds differently that with an amateur trainer. An owner of a dog who follows instructions and who has basic dog training skills is well ahead of owners who simply have a dog that is untrained or conditioned to do unwanted behaviors.  With no skills, an owner who has a trainer rehab an aggressive dog has the task of learning how to maintain control over the dog.  Put another way, a person who learns basic dog training concepts and skills (5 basic commands) has enough to take over from a trainer with some ongoing help.

To  make  use of an ‘e-collar’ clear, here are the basics. Correct use of an electronic collar is not to shock a dog as punishment for an unwanted behavior.  Once I understood that a dog has no morals (it is a lower animal), it became clear that right and wrong have no meaning to a dog. So punishment or anger toward a dog is wasted effort by a person.  An e-collar is correctly used to supplement and eventually replace a physical leash or 20 foot long line attached to a collar. The ‘tug’ of a leash/line is used to get the dog moving toward a response that is wanted.  Example: Tug the leash, say nothing,  and when the dog approaches, reward him with a treat. As he repeats it and nears 70-90% response, add the word ‘here’.  And soon the dog no longer needs the tug and the word alone is enough. But at longer distances and with more distractions, a method of instant ‘tug’ is needed and if it is adjustable from barely felt to more strongly felt, the dog can then become reliable at a distance to the ‘here’ command. Only a slight tingle is needed (called ‘working level’) that feels like a very light tug of a leash/line.  With more distractions and/or distance, a slightly higher stimulation level is sometimes needed.

Once Pumpkin was conditioned to the low stimulation of an e-collar, he began to strengthen his responses (speed and reliability) to commands. The e-collar replaced a physical leash/collar for certain behaviors, especially ‘leave’ and ‘here’.  Some use ‘off’  versus ‘leave it’ but the dog is to ignore the animal or object it is involved with. It may be a stick, squirrel, dog, dropped piece of candy, etc.  The e-collar uses ‘pressure/release’ sensation just as a physical collar to show the dog that he can ‘turn off the pressure’ when he complies. If he falters, pressure is applied and released as soon as he begins to comply. The more readily the dog follows commands, the more freedom he has to have fun and excitement. Most people miss that.  A dog’s only freedom is that provided by a caretaker person. A dog alone will soon die of injury or lack of water/food or die in a shelter if unclaimed by an owner.

At this point, Pumpkin is ready to pair an e-collar with a prong collar/leash.  He already knows what to expect on a prong collar and has no fear of it; it offers the security that a handler will keep him safe.  A dog on a leash reassures other people  and follows the laws for most towns.  And if the dog understands that a prong  collar and leash are how the handler will communicate as well as with an e-collar, the dog has 2 methods to get information along with verbal commands. They supplement one another and they do not confuse the dog.  A long line has the e-collar ‘layered over’ it to teach a dog that either one is to be respected and followed.  And most trainers of troubled dogs or service/protection dogs use a prong collar and long line or regular leash.

Pumpkin is nearing the last part of his rehabilitation and will become another dog that ‘gets along with’ other dogs through rebuilding his confidence in a handler and learning to control his own impulses to attack other animals. Remember that a dog learns by conditioning and not by cognition. His learning is visceral and not intellectual or reasoned. A dog has a rather black and white world of choices. So if we can shape them to avoid danger to the dog and other animals, then he get more freedom to become even more confident and relaxed.

On July 14, Pumpkin was on his prong collar and leash with the trainer as his handler. I was the handler of a fairly well-trained Akita/GSD mix that is unneutered and young.  It was a strange dog, intact, and young that Pumpkin saw just a few feet away. Pumpkin made an attempt to attack the other dog and the trainer corrected Pumpkin with the prong collar. I had asked earlier whether the e-collar would be used. The method used is to correct unwanted behavior, and the e-collar is to reinforce known commands. A dog in the ‘red zone’ is not listening well and is in full aggression drive.  A physical restraint along with a correction command is needed to provide safety to the dogs and people. A stimulation from an e-collar sends some dogs further into aggression drive, and so is avoided.

On July 18, another session will be done to take Pumpkin further toward making the correct choice (‘leave the other animal alone’). After his one correction, Pumpkin did not attempt to attack again. He is a 55 lb pitbull male from a line of fighting dogs (not like Cesar Millan’s ‘Daddy’, of a softer tempered line). So his speed and strength is not like a Labrador or Jack Russell and his handling requires a skilled person to ‘read’ him.

On July 22, Pumpkin was on his prong collar near to a large bulldog/mastiff hybrid male once owned by a Mexican drug cartel. The dog was rehabilitated, but is a dog that will ‘punk’ a person who is not an experienced handler. He is not aggressive toward other dogs, but needs a consistent and fair leader. He is ‘pushy’ toward people.

Pumpkin ignored ‘Mister Biggs’ (weighs about 90 pounds and is a ‘band dog’) in close quarters outdoors. No reaction, no attempts at lunging, etc. is good news. A step by step improvement while maintaining a momemntum of progress is needed. Pumpkin works on obedience commands and retrieving (his desire to chase and grab is strong and now has a suitable outlet) at my home or at a school yard while off leash and with his e-collar in use.

Next step is to ignore and just ‘be with’ another male dog in a large, cool garage while Pumpkin is muzzled and off leash.  The trainer and I will be watching every move and the use of a dressage whip is to provide a space ahead of Pumpkin that the other dog may not violate. The person who has a dog-aggressive dog rehabs the dog partly through advocating for the troubled dog. A pack leader protects the troubled dog and ensures he is given only what he can handle. An aggressive dog is not put with other dogs to ‘work it out’. Every dog fight is dangerous for dogs and people and a dog is incapable of thinking or reasoning. They have to be taught by conditioning, step by step.  Pumpkin’s steps are going well.


Dogs that bite other animals… Pumpkin’s case

In mid May 2014,  I ran across a local trainer of troubled dogs in my area. His website said the right things based on what I had learned over 6-8 months of close reading of FaceBook posts by SolidK9Training  and  GoodDogTraining and Rehabilitation and Tyler Muto.  All 3 are top American rehabilitators of dogs that will kill other dogs, bite people or are just wild and uncontrolled on leash.

I wanted a skilled pro to show me how to help an APBT that is my own male dog.  He will attack and fight another dog if in close quarters. I do not yet know exactly why, but he is  an insecure dog. In the shelter, he was somewhat food guarding and was under stress that made him lash out if pushed.  My sense in handling him carefully over 7 months is that he lacks confidence and is tense and does not have coping skills to ignore other dogs when under some stress in close quarters .

On the first session with the trainer, it was evident that Pumpkin was willing to follow whatever was asked of him by a skilled trainer. I had taken him through basic ‘clicker’ obedience class and he passed easily. But dog aggression is not lack of training…. it is about interacting with other animals.  So the trainer explained that reinforcing correct obedience to basic commands helps to build confidence in the dog and handler.

By the middle of the lesson it was clear that Pumpkin is not a ‘hard’ dog, but just tense and unskilled at meeting other dogs. The trainer assured me this will be an ordinary job for him, but an eye opener for me when Pumpkin learns to meet and ignore other dogs in close quarters.  This is the second real trainer I have known and worked with. In the early 1990s, my male FlatCoat chased squirrels and a local pro helped me understand equipment and how to use it. Those skills are now needed again for prong collar and “e-collar”. Electronic collars are used by advanced trainers at very low stimulation levels to serve as a remote leash. The mildest tingle that is barely felt substitutes for a gentle tug on a long line to teach ‘here’  (called ‘the recall’). The old fashioned ones were only to interrupt unwanted behavior or signal a ‘gun dog’ while hunting to fetch, point, etc.

I was lucky to have as my first trainer an expert court witness on dog aggression and obedience competition judge as well as private trainer. So I started right and learned that the dog is never at fault. A dog learns by conditioning and making choices that ‘work’ ….   With modern ‘clicker’ training and correct e-collar use, even a dog that is very badly behaved can be helped in a matter of days or even hours to relax and become manageable.

More to come…

Lydia’s Memory

Lydia’s memory
Dogs never forget another dog they have known. Before I adopted Lydia, she lived with a dog in an AARF volunteer famly … he was called ‘Charger’. And now they are reunited. No one would remember where she came from after the Katrina hurricane, but there were thousands of dogs like Lydia. I adopted Lydia because of what I saw in her as a dog, not because of the storm aftermath. Lydia lived in the ‘here and now’ every day, as all dogs do.
I adopted her for the ‘here and now’ and told her so, nearly every day… ” I’m glad I found you. I love you just the way you are “.
Lydia had Cushing’s disease and it was clear one recent day when it was time to say goodbye. Lydia did not have to suffer, as I had determined to let her go well before that occurred. To keep a dog alive because of our own fear of letting go is a mistake. What matters is whether the dog has a life that respected and valued by its owners. Lydia had that in her training, veterinary care, protection from danger, and unconditional love.
Of all the dogs I have known and loved through dog rescue, AARF dogs ‘Lydia’ and ‘King’ and  ‘Conner, CGC’ are part of a video I made to accompany a song I wrote and sang here…  At 2:34 are the dogs of my own who needed me, and I needed them.
It’s a way to remind myself how they looked when they were young and beautiful so I do not have to forget.

Am I dreaming … ? ‘Pinch’ me

Let’s say you are dreaming about something that is real and disturbing and you toss and turn. You can’t figure out what to do withinin the dream. You try to remember what to do or you ask someone who might know… but no solution occurs in your dream.

Pinch yourself ? Why not… maybe it will awaken you from the dream and you will able to get the solution when you are in the real world and alert. In the famous Spanish play ‘La Vida Es Sueno’ (Life Is A Dream) the protagonist  resolves to live by the motto that “God is God”, acknowledging that, whether asleep or awake, one must strive for goodness.  That approach applies to dog training !

Whether dog owners choose to dream or accept reality, the dog is still a dog, with the needs of a dog.  Striving for goodness for the dog’s sake  is a smart approach asleep or awake!  And to accept a faulty ‘dream’ of others about prong collars is one of the most damaging mistakes the owners of difficult dogs make. It’s literally the difference between misery and fulfillment for dogs and their family ‘pack’ and frequently, life or death for the dog.

It’s well known that most ‘owner surrenders’ of dogs into animal shelters are for behavior problems (as seen by the owners). And aggression toward other animals and/or people is the shortest path to abandonment (versus house soiling, barking, shyness, etc.).

And the mistaken ’dream’ that many people, including some trainers, maintain and repeat is this: ” If you train him with positive methods exclusively, and never use a prong collar or electronic collar, you can make it work! “ But in the real world  a dog that is rowdy on a leash, biting at it, lunging at other animals, barking, and even biting at the owner is on the path to banishment to the back yard or garage. And the shelter is the final stop for the lonely, ignored and suffering dog.  And the drama can be repeated multiple times with the family never learning that the ‘dream’ was wrong.

A quality prong collar (pinch collar, German collar) for most hard to walk or control dogs is the cheapest, easiest, and fastest way to gain control of the dog by the handler. The dog is also relieved of the misery of his desperation as he feels and innately understands that the handler is in control.  Dogs need security and leadership from the day they are born, and those abandoned in shelters generally come out traumatized again from the experience.  If the dog never had leadership, a basic training class, or an owner to look up answers or hire a trainer… the dog suffers. The shelter experience of being with strange and fearful dogs and strange people and no home affects a dog. A prisoner knows why he is in jail; a dog is not a person and has done no wrong and cannot even know ‘good from evil’.

It’s known by most trainers that a quality prong collar, fitted and used correctly will almost immediately get a dog walking on leash much easier. The prongs do not hurt or stick the dog’s skin. The collar distributes a ‘squeeze’ all around the dog’s neck just under the jawline. A flat collar or choke chain literally strangles the dog at the trachea up from the collarbone area of the neck… that’s why you hear them coughing and gasping. Nature makes a dog pull harder to try to move forward and it usually ‘works’. It ‘works’ in that the person tries to hold the leash and allows the dog to move forward to relieve the leash tension and stress on the handler’s arm and hand.

A ‘quality’ prong collar (the standard at about $25-35) is made in Germany by Herm Sprenger and has been available for many decades. The prongs are rounded and the chain and all parts are heavily chromed and very smooth. It works with very little friction and releases the ‘squeeze’ in an instant.  The correct action in use after the dog is accustomed to it (generally a minute or so), is to lightly ‘pop’ the barely slacked leash. Not a 2-hand yank, and not a pull. The ‘pop’ and immediate release gets the dog’s attention and breaks his concentration on what he was doing. The dog senses the ‘pop’ came from the handler and that the handler is now  making decisions. Dogs do not hold resentment; dogs crave leadership and stability.

A dog needs leadership and does not want to be the leader. But with none available, the dog must fill the void and take leadership. That is dog nature, not a choice. A person shown how to use a prong collar correctly can take that leadership FOR the dog physically and mentally. The dog needs both and generally will be visibly relieved when it finally happens. I have seen it in my own experience and seen it in dozens of video clips of professionals handling a rowdy client dog. I have never seen or heard a dog yelp in pain or ‘freak out’.  In nearly every case, the prong collar was used because the dog cannot walk normally on a flat collar and some dogs resist (and continue to resist) or panic in a head halter (Gentle Leader is the best known trade name).

But the ‘dream’ that persists is that a prong collar hurts a dog and it is false. It does not injure the dog  precisely because only very light ‘pops’ help the dog to relax and be led. Yanking and jerking and pulling are not needed.  And as the dog feels fewer ‘pop’  corrections, he and the handler both get the shorthand communication that  ”  dog takes it easy and stops pulling;  handler becomes  dog’s focus and both  work together… not opposed”.

I have seen and used nearly every type collar available (versus harness). My experience is that the prong collar is the easiest to learn to use and the one that will get the best results with a rowdy, wild dog the fastest. Electronic collars (‘e-collars’)  require some education  and pretty good timing to use. The physical ‘feel’ of a prong collar can be learned by a young child in minutes with a skilled teacher.  And don’t fall into the absurd logic trap that … ” so you are saying a little kid can control a 90 pound aggressive Rottweiler with a prong collar ?”  I am saying that most normal, untrained dogs can be helped to ‘chill out’ immediately by a teenager or adult who knows what to do and can do it with normal coordination and the confidence a trainer can instill and illustrate. A dog is a dog, and in the dog world there is no bluffing … there is well known dog body language between dogs  and a leader and a follower, or else there is a fight possible.

If you have been told that prong collars ‘hurt’ a dog, why have you not seen articles and news stories about it?  Did you just accept the assertion? Did you ever see a story of a dog substantially  injured with a quality prong collar by a handler who understood the basics of its use ? You see plenty of stories of the millions of dogs abandnoned and destroyed in shelters every year. If most of the ‘owner surrenders’ are for general wildness and inability to control the dog…. what ratio of those owners know how to use a prong collar reasonably well ? Virtually 0. The point is that the fastest way to getting a dog that can walk on a leash/collar normally is with a quality prong collar… for most all dogs and most all people who simply ask for help. And the help is available in video clips or from a skilled trainer.

Here is your start, so you do the work. People do not value what is free, generally… so you can look into it for yourself.

YouTube  clips are free from   gooddogtraining    and   solidK9training   …  and the website has free videos and articles. The prong collar to a dog trainer is like a hammer to a carpenter… a basic tool that should be of high quality and reliable. A prong collar does not train : a person trains with correct instruction. It’s up to YOU to get that and your dog is worth it.



” A Dog’s Prayer ”

                                A Dog’s Prayer

                 Hear my silent voice, ancient as the wind and land Yet I, a simple beast, reveal the deepest heart of Man.

 Most noble of all creatures great and small, incapable of speech or guile,  I alone the only friend to Man, ever faithful, never failing all the while.

 My only role, unchanging through all time  to serve Him who created me and mine:  A lower god ‘twixt Heaven and earth,  of all God’s blessings I became  Man’s friend, protector, and earthly angel first.

 Though innocent of sins or shame, yet I would bear the pain for those of Man  in cruelty toward me and countless others at his fickle hand.

 My noble mind and voice, though silent, speak with soft intent:   reviled by few, loved by some, known to all in God’s firmament.

 Before my flight from earthly realm, Thy will be done in earth and Heaven,  and neither life nor death itself defeat my firm devotion given.  Yet, hear a humble servant’s plea:  to be with Man my only prayer, to serve my only destiny.

 For if the earth and all within shall pass away and justice reign at last,  then I and Man shall dwell as one, united as in ages past.

 I am the Dog,  a crowning jewel o’er every worldly treasure,  my dignity a lyric deep beyond Man’s clever count and measure.

 Yet I alone have stayed the course of nature’s path  ’til Man arise from selfish dream to know me as I am,  at last…

copyright 2000  Douglas Henninger, Richmond VA

When you adopt a new dog… are YOU ready?

Dogs are animals and cannot shake hands to follow the rules of etiquette that people follow. And they cannot talk, but they have a body language that all dogs recognize. People nearly always do not.

If you expect to take a dog to your house, for any reason, and other animals are there, it’s up to you to prepare. Use the  link just below  as a start to learn what 99% of dog owners never see and never learn.

Here is a short checklist I used successfully to introduce 3 dogs to my own male Boxer with very good success:

1) Get 2 handlers and one dog each on a sturdy leash and collar.  Be separated by 20-40 yards on a quiet street or open area (or fenced yard).  The people walk slowly toward one another and watch the dogs and feel them on leash. Keep just a very small amount of leash slack. Make sure the collar CANNOT slip off forward and that you can manage the dog if he lunges. A quality prong collar makes this much easier.

Remember: one fearful and ‘wimpy’ person can ruin the entire exercise… do not be,  or enlist,  a wimpy dog handler.  Preferably get a pro or experienced handler who has trained dogs repeatedly. The skilled handler should take the difficult dog.

2) At any  signs of the dog showing lunging or barking, immediately correct the dog with ‘No’ and a quick pop on the leash. Do not wait and do not hesitate; correct the aggression. Don’t get angry… the dog will sense it in you and he needs YOU to remain the leader. Aggression toward another dog is not acceptable or normal dog behavior. The 2 people are the leaders, not the dogs.

Turn and walk the opposite way and repeat until you can close the gap to within a few yards (not feet!). Do NOT soothe or talk to the dog… a dog hearing a person doing human happy talk or soothing talk hears the person encouraging and rewarding what the dog is feeling and doing! Stay quiet and only say ‘Good’ for very relaxed and friendly dog behavior.

3) If both dogs are relaxing and passing the other without lunging toward one another, then you can walk them with one, then the other, 3-5 yards ahead in a line. If they are at your side with the other person+dog at your side…. you can have a dog fight break out and be in the middle of it in an instant. Do not get in ‘striking distance’ !   Stay well apart and keep the slack out of leashes. Slack in the leash can give some dogs enough leverage to yank the leash loose from your hands. Minimal slack means maximum control for you, but just enough slack for the dog to walk on a loose  leash.

4) If it all goes well, do that same protocol in the fenced yard where the ‘home’ dog lives. The dogs are not there to play, so do NOT allow it. They are strangers and the handlers are the leaders. The dogs do not control the situation…. you do and you are responsible for the safety of the dogs and both people!  Use common sense. The safety of 2 dogs and 2 people is in your hands, literally.

5) ‘the best fight is one you can walk away from…’ and that is very true of dog fights. Do not make excuses for their behavior and do not attribute human emotions to the dogs. All you care about is monitoring a gradual and relaxed, but vigilant, meeting at a distance of safety.  Stop and walk away or even stop the protocol for that day if it does not go well. You may be out of your league with one or both dogs.   If the dogs can do really well in the fenced yard protocol (usually on the ‘home’ dog’s property), then do it again later that day or the next day. Once may not be enough. At an attempted attack, some people get afraid and shout or otherwise lose control of the dog they are holding. Exactly WRONG. Once you drop the leash, you have endangered the other dog, your dog and the other person.  Make yourself stay calm and turn the other way with your dog and stop any advance it makes toward the other dog. Be the leader.

6) Both dogs should be in crates inside the house and in separate rooms, if practical. Do not allow either dog  off leash anywhere together (inside or outside). A dog off leash can attack a dog on leash or the reverse. You are responsible for your dog’s safety and are under no obligation to a person with an off-leash dog or leashed dog that attacks you or your dog.  A Pet Convincer (compressed CO2 cartridge to make a ‘SSSSS’ sound will dissuade most dogs. But a serious attack may kill your dog or ruin your hand or arm if badly bitten. For those who carry a gun concealed, a dog park or walking the dog on the street is the place  to carry one.

Remember that a male and female generally do best together and 2 males are more likely to fight. Unneutered males are the most likely to fight, especially in feisty and powerful breeds.  Freedom off leash or dragging a short leash is earned. A dog has no rights and only earned privileges.

7)  A dog on a ‘prong collar’  (also called ‘pinch collar’)  that is properly fitted and used correctly ( see the links for videos of how and don’t assume you know all about it! ) is the most controllable dog on leash, whether there are other dogs going by or not. Top professionals helping regular people, with regular adopted and/or poorly socialized dogs, know this. Keep your emotions out of it and watch and learn from professionals who have trained hundreds of dogs successfully. Prong collars do not hurt a dog; your irratonal fears or objections do not change the effectiveness of a prong collar in helping a dog that pulls on leash. Your biases do not help your dog; ask your veterinarian how many dogs he has treated with injury from a prong collar or electronic  collar.  Likely the number is 0.

Look at these 2 professionals closely!     part 1   part 2    a shelter dog that needs help from a person…  is helpful to learn more about ‘reading’ dog postures and social interaction.

Inequality of results outcome and money income…

I did not write this, but simply copied it so you can read it.
In early January 2014, Bob Lonsberry, a Rochester talk radio personality on WHAM 1180 AM, said this in response to Obama’s “income inequality speech.”
Two Americas
The Democrats are right, there are two Americas.
The America that works, and the America that doesn’t.
The America that contributes, and the America that doesn’t.
It’s not the haves and the have nots, it’s the dos and the don’ts.
Some people do their duty as Americans, obey the law, support themselves, contribute to society, and others don’t.  That’s the divide in America.
It’s not about income inequality, it’s about civic irresponsibility.
It’s about a political party that preaches hatred, greed and victimization in order to win elective office.
It’s about a political party that loves power more than it loves its country. That’s not invective, that’s truth, and it’s about time someone said it.
The politics of envy was on proud display a couple weeks ago when President Obama pledged the rest of his term to fighting “income inequality.”   He noted that some people make more than other people, that some people have higher incomes than others, and he says that’s not just.
That is the rationale of thievery.  The other guy has it, you want it, Obama will take it for you.  Vote Democrat.
That is the philosophy that produced Detroit.   It is the electoral philosophy that is destroying America.
It conceals a fundamental deviation from American values and common sense because it ends up not benefiting the people who support it, but a betrayal.
The Democrats have not empowered their followers, they have enslaved them in a culture of dependence and entitlement, of victim-hood and anger instead of ability and hope.
The president’s premise – that you reduce income inequality by debasing the successful – seeks to deny the successful the consequences of their choices and spare the unsuccessful the consequences of their choices.
Because, by and large, income variations in society is a result of different choices leading to different consequences.   Those who choose wisely and responsibility have a far greater likelihood of success, while those who choose foolishly and irresponsibly have a far greater likelihood of failure.   Success and failure usually manifest themselves in personal and family income.
You choose to drop out of high school or to skip college – and you are apt to have a different outcome than someone who gets a diploma and pushes on with purposeful education.
You have your children out of wedlock and life is apt to take one course;  you have them within a marriage and life is apt to take another course.
Most often in life our destination is determined by the course we take.
My doctor, for example, makes far more than I do.  There is significant income inequality between us.  Our lives have had an inequality of outcome, but, our lives also have had an in equality of effort.   While my doctor went to college and then devoted his young adulthood to medical school and residency, I got a job in a restaurant.
He made a choice, I made a choice, and our choices led us to different outcomes.  His outcome pays a lot better than mine.
Does that mean he cheated and Barack Obama needs to take away his wealth?  No, it means we are both free men in a free society where free choices lead to different outcomes.
It is not inequality Barack Obama intends to take away, it is freedom.  The freedom to succeed, and the freedom to fail. 
There is no true option for success if there is no true option for failure.
The pursuit of happiness means a whole lot less when you face the punitive hand of government if your pursuit brings you more happiness than the other guy.
Even if the other guy sat on his arse and did nothing.  Even if the other guy made a lifetime’s worth of asinine and shortsighted decisions.
Barack Obama and the Democrats preach equality of outcome as a right, while completely ignoring inequality of effort.
The simple Law of the Harvest – as ye sow, so shall ye reap – is sometimes applied as, “The harder you work, the more you get.”  Obama would turn that upside down. Those who achieve are to be punished as enemies of society and those who fail are to be rewarded as wards of society.
Entitlement will replace effort as the key to upward mobility in American society if Barack Obama gets his way.   He seeks a lowest common denominator society in which the government besieges the successful and productive to foster equality through mediocrity.
He and his party speak of two Americas, and their grip on power is based on using the votes of one to sap the productivity of the other.   America is not divided by the differences in our outcomes, it is divided by the differences in our efforts.   It is a false philosophy to say one man’s success comes about unavoidably as the result of another man’s victimization.
What Obama offered was not a solution, but a separatism.  He fomented division and strife, pitted one set of Americans against another for his own political benefit.  That’s what socialists offer.  Marxist class warfare wrapped up with a bow.
Two Americas, coming closer each day to proving the truth to Lincoln’s maxim that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Dog Collars and People Collars…

GL choke chain prong Dogtra iQ

Most shirts or jackets have a collar of some sort. They do not vary much and are a decorative and sometimes functional part of a garment. They don’t change much year to year, but they serve their place in fashion and function. Dog collars are another matter…

Dog collars are functional and only incidentally decorative. And a dog collar is directly tied (no pun intended) to a dog’s behavior and even his fate. I can explain a lot of what is known about dog collars from having researched and used most all of the designs on my own dogs or rescued dogs.  Here they are.

Flat collar:  with a plastic clasp or metal buckle. Generally made of nylon webbing or leather.  It’s for attaching tags to and a leash to. The original collar.

Choke chain: usually chromed steel links and 2 rings. Properly fitted, the connection ring (to a leash) is on the end of the chain that emerges through the ‘other’ ring and toward the human handler over the top of the dog’s neck, not under. That allows the chain to slip easily and release quickly. A ‘pop’ or short snap interrupts the dog if it is to be corrected…. not a pull or a hard jerk. Decades old. Closely related is a nylon cord type ‘slip collar’ that is fitted to a dog by its length with no ‘slack’ versus a choke chain that has more slack.

Head collar: most well known is the ‘Gentle Leader’ from Premier in Richmond,VA. It has a neck strap high up under the jaw and an over-the-nose loop with a control ring attachment point under the dog’s chin for the leash.  It allows a handler to control the head direction, and thus the dog.  It’s like a flat collar worn high plus a nose loop… and is billed as ‘power steering for your dog’ and is known to be used on ‘pullers’ who are hard to walk. They emerged in the 1990s and I met the co-inventor, a past president of the national dog training organization APDT, as she demonstrated it for trainers..

Prong collar: also known as a ‘pinch collar’ or ‘German collar’  (the best ones are from Herm Sprenger company in Germany). The most misunderstood of the decades old designs, they use chromed steel links with a slip-chain attached to rounded prong tipped links that fit together. The points are ROUNDED and mimic the teeth of a mother dog on your dog’s neck. The prongs squeeze, they do not puncture.

Electronic collars: also called ‘e-collars’ are an adjustable flat collar with a radio receiver attached that generally activates mild stimulation. The receiver is controlled by a hand-held transmitter with 3 control buttons, generally. ‘Nick’ is a momentary stimulation (stim), ‘C’  is constant stimulation up to one-half second, and ‘P’ is page or vibrate with no electrical stimulation.  The stimulation is electrical current at undectable up to very noticeable levels delivered to the dog’s neck through 2 small metal contact points on the neck. The collar is worn high up under the jawline. Originally called ‘shock collars’  or ‘electric collars’ the modern type have revolutionized dog training for the better, according to top professionals. They do not punish a dog, but rather guide and correct him from distance or close up without a physical leash attachment always needed. The collar settings are controlled at the transmitter by the handler in real time. Old fashoned ones had  dip switches in the receiver to set the stimulation level and a single button on the transmitter. I had a good one and it worked OK, but the rechargeable batteries were marginal and the range was about 50 yards.  Modern ones are inexpensive, reliable, and very adaptable for training new behaviors and correcting a failure to do a known behavior.

As professionals know,  the 2 collar types most feared and despised are the most helpful ones to the dog…  and also cause the least pain and no damage to the dog.

They are the 1) prong collar and 2) e-collar.

Though it seems backwards to most people, it is true.  The prong collar is easy to fit and use and simply applies pressure on the dog’s neck under the jawline. A normal dog will immediately recognize the pressure is from the person and will submit and be attentive. Some dogs with a certain aggression type do not respond well to the use of a prong collar, but it seldom is the case. A trainer who knows how to fit and use it is a must if your dog is known to bite or assert himself against a person (including a handler).

It’s well-known among skilled professionals that a prong collar is effective to teach relaxed  leash walking quickly. And it’s not done by hurting the dog (strangling on a choke chain or twisting his nose toward the handler as in a head collar or a blunt ‘yank’ on a flat collar). Did you notice each of those imposes pain and some fear?

A prong collar, if used correctly, requires just a ‘pop’ with the control hand and both hands are seldom needed for corrections unless the dog is sturdy and resistant.  The smaller links for most all dogs and medium links for larger dogs are most effective and require less handler strength to be applied to the leash.

Remember this… a dog collar is not ‘cruel’ or ‘painful’ in its design or function. A person controls the use of the device and is responsible for the result. The lack of skill by an ignorant or careless person is the problem, not the device.

The electronic collar ( ’e-collar’), properly used, has a dual purpose. For commands already well-learned and repeatable, the dog can be corrected AFTER the ‘No’ command, delivered in a neutral voice if the dogs does not comply to the known command.  A dog can get distracted or simply decline to obey a known command and that’s when a correction is used. The momentary stimulation of the e-collar is to correct a faulty response to a command… not to punish. So the stimulation level is adjusted  just high enough to  ensure the dog cannot ignore it and the ‘nick’ correction is generally used (maybe 1/10 second duration) for an  instant… and no more.  But the stimulation is not just for correcting disobeyed commands (versus ‘not known to the dog’ commands). There is much more!

When the stimulation is dialed down to be barely noticed, it can be used with a  ’pressure on/pressure off’ approach to guide the dog to keep doing a behavior with pressure ’on’ (press the continuous button ) and when the dog has completed the behavior, the pressure is ‘off’ (release the continuous button) and the dog is rewarded.  Remember that the dog is barely even feeling anything but a tiny tingle. It’s frequently used to quickly teach ‘here’ (come when called), at first using a long line to make sure the dog does not run away from the handler!

It’s much like your parent walking next to you with your first bicycle. “Just pedal smoothly, I won’t let you fall, you are doing fine…” is felt by the child and helps guide him in the action. And on completion, you congratulate the child and celebrate.  The e-collar at low stimulation keeps the dog focused on doing the command . And the very mild tingle stops when the command is complete and the dog gets an approval (a pat, praise words, treat…) reward.

So what are the points to be made ?

By setting aside our  bias toward a tool for dog behavior modification (not exactly the same as training), we open up possibilities to help the dog behave acceptably in the world of people and dogs. Even the momentary startle or discomfort of an e-collar stimulation or prong collar ‘pop’ far outweighs the damage, pain, and frustration of harsh methods used with choke/slip collars and flat collars. The dog is not hurt with an e-collar or prong collar and the handler does not get frustrated and then turn his anger on the dog with harsh handling. This is critical to the relationship of trust between the dog and any handler who has the leash/collar.  A mishandled dog does not forget and John’s harsh mistakes can trigger aggression toward Jane if the dog is desperate or willing to challenge Jane.

The prong collar and e-collar used CORRECTLY allow a wide range of behavior shaping that is fast, virtually painless, and effective far beyond the old style collars. That is partly because over the past few decades, trainers have learned to really help a dog with them and stop viewing collars as punishment implements.  Modern trainers have moved well past ‘shocking with an electric collar’  for ‘failure’ to do a command. The e-collar devices are now  quickly charged up, extremely reliable in delivering the stimulation level selected by the hand-held transmitter, and easy to use.  And their employment by skilled handlers has opened up the chance for ‘family dog’ owners to speed training, eliminate unwanted behaviors, and strengthen the relationship of trust and security between dog and family ‘pack’. YouTube video clips and video presentations from  (free ones, VOD onees and DVD lessons) are easily available. They show a homeowner exactly what to do and how to do it by watching real trainers with real dogs, not staged illustrations.

What about costs ? A  Herm Sprenger prong collar will literally last your lifetime and costs about $25 . A high qualty e-collar can be had for $130-150 in the excellent Dogtra brand.  Balance that against sore shoulders (or being pulled to the pavement by a strong dog on a leash),  dog fights,  continued  barking,  general ‘wildness’ and more. Think about the increased relaxation and real love and respect between handler(s) and dogs that correct equipment and its use afford us.  Even before I revisited prong collars and saw modern e-collars, my motto for potential dog adopters was this:  ” Training is like spay/neuter… it’s what you do FOR your dog, not TO him “.  A dog learns by conditioning, not by cognition.  That’s why trainers refer to ‘behavior shaping’… it’s to modify the dog’s behavior gradually in simple steps because a dog cannot reason like a person or gorilla or chimp. Dogs need simple and consistent responses so that they learn easily what to do and what not to do.

Keep this available for reference and look at free video clips and articles at  . It’s a gold mine of free information by top experts who handle ‘hard dogs’ in police work  and dog competition sports.  Your neighbor or sister-in-law  is not a dog expert; listen to dog experts and follow their explanations.  Here are two at … Search for these IDs :

Solidk9training  and Thegooddogtraining     …. both are top professionals.

“Man’s Best Friend” is a dog but not the reverse.

This is difficult to write because it has to strike a balance between truth and having people turn away as they dismiss it. The old truism that a dog is Man’s best friend means that a dog is loyal to people even if they mistreat it or forget about taking care of it.

I didn’t say a dog remains loyal if it is abused or relegated to a chain in the back yard. Both situations overlap in that a chained dog is being abused in a different way from a dog being beaten . It may not be struck or without food and water and shelter. But confinement in loneliness without any training, handling, or basic interaction with a person imposes suffering on a dog and impairas it ability to ‘get along’.

Dogs are ‘pack’ animals, meaning that they live in a familial arrangement with a leader or leaders and ranking members.  A dog alone is not able to adjust to a ‘pack’ since there is not one in its world.  To deprive it of that ‘pack’ runs against common sense, science, and the collective experience of professionals and amateurs who care for dogs.  Dog’s need a ‘pack’ even if it is a dog and a person in a pack of two.

It’s also true that a dog only appears to be ‘loyal’ to people … What humans call ‘loyalty’ in a dog is part of a dog’s nature… to be a pack animal. People ascribe loyalty to a dog and confuse a dog’s behaviors with human loyalty, which is a chosen affinity  somewhat similar to love. It’s part of what is called ‘anthropomorphism’ (attributing human emotion and motivations to a non-human).

My view has become that a dog which is reasonably well-handled will act like what it is: a pack member that will protect against threats if compelled to, but it naturally defers to the pack leader(s) for protection.  It’s not contradictory.  Dog professionals ( has video and text to explain it well) know that a dog with a pack leader relies on that leader for protection against threatening animals (dog, wolf, cat, bear, etc.).  And if the pack leader person fails to do so even when the dog (in dog body language) clearly indicates it is calling for help,  the dog is affected adversely. The dog is compelled by nature seek protection of a pack leader and is damaged in its relationship to the pack leader(s) if the leader will not act. Dogs that begin to attack other dogs are frequently those who are not secure because the owner/leader did not protect them.

It’s why a dog park is not a place to take your dog UNLESS  you know something about the dogs there as well as your own dog. One aggressive dog can ruin the day (and possibly the psyche) of several dogs if allowed to “be a dog” by an ignorant or careless owner who mistakes aggression for play .  In a dog park or any public place, an owner must ‘pick your friends carefully’ on behalf of the family dog. Legally and socially, any damage a dog does is the owner’s respohsibility. Attacks from another dog that can be avoided are the responsibility of the person (‘pack leader’) because a dog is property under the law and cannot have any rights or respobsibility.  It is a dog, not a citizen.

To those who make an ‘argumentum ad absurdum’ (the logic fault that says… “well, if I can’t take him to a dog park, how will he ever get socialized ?”),  I reply as professionals do:  your dog does not have to go to a dog park. Your dog can learn to respect all humans, follow your commands, obey the rules of pack integrity, and be quite happy with correct handling and even basic level training. Dogs like to play with and wrestle and chase other dogs. It is the control over the dogs who are unruly and the people who own them that is the difficult part. Your dog relies on you to protect it.  Whether the police or dog park visitors care about your dog’s welfare is incidental. And if your dog is the aggressive one, it can be hard to acknowledge

It’s very easy, and natural, to make excuses why your dog acts aggressive. That is human nature, but  well adjusted and educated folks realize and act to ensure their dog can get along. They use a leash/collar or even an e-collar (electronic collar) and learn about dog behavior. People who can spot a school yard bully intimidating their child can be clueless about ‘dog bullying’. The fundamental difference is that a bullying child can be forgiven and understood since he is an unhappy kid.

An aggressive dog is a ‘mean dog’ or ‘vicious dog’ and can be destroyed by a judge’s order (generally after 1 bite episode if it is serious and the dog is a powerful breed).

So examine yourself to learn… do I need help from a trainer or behaviorist (they are different!) to resolve my dog’s aggression toward other dogs or people  ?  If the true, heartfelt answer is ‘yes’ then you have taken a step that many people will not even acknowledge they need to take.  A dog can be trained to ‘leave alone’ objects, food, other dogs, and people on command (or even by default). But it is a result of training (behavior modification is a big term, but more descriptive), just like teaching ‘sit’ or ‘here’ .

Just think it through; I didn’t make it up. I learned it from professional dog handlers and see it played out as I do dog rescue  and the training of my own dogs (or rescue dogs) on a leash.  A flat leash and a suitable collar (or collars) will manage your dog in public and help you avoid problems with your own dog, other folks and their dogs, and show the public how to handle and enjoy a dog that follows commands and can relax on the street.

And it is well-established by professional dog handlers.  More on leashes and collars another time in a post about dog collar types and how they work and differ.