Prey Essence Next to Predator Aspect

I recently took a trip to Vermont to get some help from Kevin introducing my new rescue dog Freya to one of my other rescues, Eva. We met a fellow NDT practicioner, and his dog, Mikey.

The above video is just a short view of how we worked with the dogs, introducing them and allowing them to process the charge. Eva was lifting Mike’s lip with her muzzle so I asked Kevin what that was all about. He explained that she is accessing the prey essence (saliva) in order to connect with the predator aspect (eyes). This is how she made a connection with Mikey so that even the predator becomes grounding.

Natural Dog Training is Coming to Maine!

Natural Dog Training Conference

I am so excited to announce that I have invited Kevin Behan, the founder of Natural Dog Training, to come to Maine to teach a two-day conference this fall. The seminar will cover the fundamental principles of Natural Dog Training and also include hands-on training to learn the core exercises, so bring your dog! This is a fantastic opportunity to learn Natural Dog Training from the creator himself. Kevin’s methods are completely unique from “alpha” type trainers, and much more intricate than clicker-style or positive reinforcement. Natural Dog Training helps you to connect with your dog’s true nature, creating harmony between human and dog.

We are limiting the attendance to 25 people in order to keep the group small enough for Kevin to give some personalized attention to each handler. We will also work in teams of two in for those who don’t bring a working dog to get hands-on experience. So if you have any interest at all in dog training, or a desire to deepen the bond between you and your dog, save the dates: October 3rd and 4th, and start planning your trip to beautiful Cape Elizabeth, Maine! Use this link to register: Natural Dog Training Conference.

How to Choose the Right Veterinarian

IMAG0537

Have you ever taken your dog to the vet’s office and felt that you weren’t on the same page with your dog’s doctor? Are they wary of raw feeding? Do they push vaccines and Frontline Plus when you don’t feel comfortable with those options? I FINALLY found the right veterinarian for my dogs, after years of searching for someone who aligns with my values. When it comes to taking care of your dog, you will want to choose a doctor who does not make you feel like you are a horrible caretaker if you choose not to use traditional medicine.

I just had the most wonderful experience when I found Dr. Jukith K. Herman at her Animal Wellness Center in Augusta, Maine. Dr. Herman took about an hour and a half to intake my two dogs, Sophie and Eva. She is the first vet I’ve ever met who is pro-raw diet and anti-vaccine. She was completely on board with my care-taking the dogs without the use of commercial dog food or poisonous flea and tick prevention. Instead of using Heartguard, we got this tincture from AmberTech. For more information from Basis Pet about Heartworm disease: Heartworm Preventatives – Is Marketing Hype Putting your Pet at Risk?.

Anyways, I just had to rave about my new vet, since it’s the first time that I felt totally happy bringing my dogs to their doctor. Just as we have to be our own health advocates, we must also advocate for our pets. This task is much easier when working with practitioners who reflect our same point-of-view. So if you haven’t found the perfect vet for your dogs, keep looking!

Just Feed Your Dogs Raw Already!

Photo Oct 31, 11 35 19 AM

So, as a vegetarian who feeds her dogs raw food, I have to say: if I can do it, so can you!

I was prompted to write this article when my friend made a Facebook post about how she needed guidance on brushing her dogs’ teeth. I told her, “Give the dog a bone! My dogs don’t own toothbrushes… and neither should yours.” So I thought another post on dog diets might be welcome since that comment turned into a discussion on teeth cleanings and diet. Aside from the obvious benefit of not having to brush your dog’s teeth, there are so many other reasons to consider a raw diet.

Photo Oct 31, 11 37 41 AM

Many people ask me why their dogs have bad breath, hot spots, dry skin, allergies, ear infections, anal-gland problems, etc. And the first thing I always tell them is to go to a raw diet. I have seen all of these issues disappear since switching my dogs to raw. They are 7 and 8 year old dogs and I’ve never had their teeth cleaned. Their ears are clean and clear and I never have to wash them. Their skin and fur is clean, clear and healthy and I never bathe them (ok, well, unless they roll in something nasty or get totally mud-laden at the beaver bog). They don’t have that “doggie” smell. I mean, of course, they smell like dogs, but the way a healthy, happy dog should smell. Anal glands are clear and they never have to get squeezed. (Yes, this is a thing.) Plus it’s almost impossible to fatten them on a raw diet. They are lean and active, thanks to a raw diet.

Pastured Chicken Backs

Feeding raw is one of the easiest, best ways to care for your dog’s health, so what are you waiting for? There are MANY ways to feed a raw diet, or if you really can’t get over the whole raw thing, home-cooked is going to be a thousand times better for your dog than kibble. Feeding your dog kibble for every meal of their life is like you eating cocoa puffs every day for every meal, forever. You’d probably have sub-optimal health if you did this… So does your dog.

Health begins with food, not prescriptions from your Vet that treat the symptoms of the problem, which is their diet. Just think about it in terms of physics, what goes in, must come out. You put crap in, you get poor health literally oozing out your dog’s pores. If you want to learn more about raw feeding, please visit: ReelRAW, Dog Aware, and this article by The Dog Snobs. These are NOT paid affiliate links. They are some resources to get you started on your path to feeding raw. I’ve also linked the photos in this article to some dog food reviews on commercial raw and commercial dehydrated raw foods that can be found on my store blog under the tag “feeding raw.

Creatures of Heart

NeilSattinAndNolaHighRes

Neil with Nola, who has since passed away, but will always be a Creature of Heart.

“We all recognize that our dogs are emotional creatures, that they are creatures of Heart… So what Natural Dog Training does, that none of the other training methods do, it works with your dog on the level of Heart. And you’re getting them into an emotional space that’s conducive to obedience and social behavior. Every dog is operating from that level of how the world makes them feel. And so, if you’re just trying to control their behavior, but you’re never trying to get into how to make your dog feel differently, then you’re kind of missing the boat.”     –Neil Sattin, author of The Natural Dog Blog

I recently sat down with Neil Sattin at Crèma Café on Commercial Street to discuss our mutual interest in Natural Dog Training. In the late 90’s Neil adopted a 6 month old dog named Nola. Nola, it turned out, was aggressive to other dogs. In his search to help Nola work through this issue, Neil says, “I tried everything in the alpha school, the dominance school, the correction school, and then I tried everything in the positive school, the clicker, like, everything, and … nothing worked.”

He was advised by certain trainers that Nola should be euthanized, but Neil was not going to give up. He worked with other trainers and found that their methods “would work up to a point, and then it would just clearly not work. In the alpha-mode, ultimately I could see that she was becoming fearful and timid and it wasn’t helping the actual problem. And in the positive school…she would be good up to a point, but as you know, with aggression, you can’t click away aggression… And that whole step-by-step process of trying to desensitize your dog to those situations, only works up to a point.” So he continued working with Nola, seeming to make progress with certain methods, but then she would end up attacking another dog and he would find himself back at square one.

Back in those days, the internet was just beginning to put it’s pavement down as the information highway. But Neil kept searching high and low until he finally found Kevin Behan and bought his book called “Natural Dog Training.” The way Kevin described dog behavior and his approach to training really clicked with Neil. He went to work with Kevin in Vermont and was immediately intrigued with Kevin’s philosophies and system of dog training. Neil ultimately ended up apprenticing with Kevin for a month-long intensive program where he was immersed in the world of Natural Dog Training.

This experience changed Neil’s perspective on dog training, and he came back from his apprenticeship with the necessary tools to not only help rehabilitate Nola, but to then start working with other dogs as well. He even produced a DVD set explaining and demonstrating the main techniques and principles of Natural Dog Training.

I told Neil about some of the NDT work I was doing with my own dogs and asked him if there was a “prescription” for training in terms of time spent every week with the exercises, or how often should one practice bite-work or other techniques. I had concerns that I was going through periods of doing too much “training” and then getting burnt out and not doing enough. So Neil put it into perspective for me.

He compared it to people who have horses, and ride and work with their horse every day. There is no day that the horse is perfectly “trained,” they are constantly evolving and always improving their relationship with the horse. Well, same goes for your dog. Every day is an opportunity to work with your dog. But actually, even the “training” can be in the spirit of play. So it doesn’t have to feel like work at all. “Everything is an opportunity for you to engage your dog in the spirit of play, and the awesome thing is, this kind of play leads to really social behavior.”

He goes on to explain the pressures people put on their dogs, often in total disregard to what’s in their dog’s best interest. He says, “Most people, whether they realize it or not, they get a dog to serve a need for them…” What Neil asks us to do is flip that paradigm around and see if the human can serve the needs of the dog. He believes that we put a lot of demands on our dogs without really thinking about what the dog needs. “If I’m asking my dog to be cute on demand when guests come over, or to always come when called because I want to feel significant in their life, that’s all putting a lot of demands on the dog… On the flip side, if you buy into the premise that all your dog really wants to do is to feel flow, and find ways to release stress, then why would you ever want to do anything else with your dog other than helping them release stress–which is the pushing, the bite-work, even when you start doing obedience work, that becomes a vehicle for helping your dog feel flow and release stress.”

Neil’s experience with Kevin and the Natural Dog Training paradigm ultimately led him to work with people who had problems with their dogs, but in a way that was more focused on the people-problems. He says, “Kevin’s approach is all about how the dog’s emotional experience is a mirror of what’s happening with their human, and his tactic is that you work on the dog and that ripples back to the human.” In Neil’s approach, he teaches people techniques for working with their dogs, but he also encourages the humans to change their emotional, spiritual and physical habits in order to bring about change in the whole system. Because the dog is responding to the human’s emotional state of being, he believes that there needs to be a shift in the human’s life in order to see a shift the dog-related symptoms.

We also talked about how people can get caught in the “story” of why their dog is acting a certain way (myself included). As Neil puts it: “They get a rescue dog or for some reason their dog starts being aggressive, and my sense is that most of the time people are really trying to come up with a story about why that is; and in my experience the story is actually not that important, in fact it can get in the way.” So Neil does his best to get people out of their “story” and into the present moment, which is where the changes take place.

If you are interested in learning more about Neil’s methods in working with dogs or with people, please visit his website: www.naturaldogblog.com.