The Primal Blog

E-collar, Prong Collars & Muzzles

E-collars are such a taboo topic among many animal lovers, along with prong collars and muzzles. My stance is that it is your job as your dog’s owner to know what tools and methods are best for you and your dog. Every tool can be abused and misused. Dogs have sustained injuries from the improper use of e-collars, prong collars, nylon collars, leather collars, harnesses, head halters and the list goes on. Realize that abuse with training tools occurs when an owner decides to be neglectful and abusive. Lobster does in fact wear an e-collar, he is the only one of my dogs who does and he is by far the best behaved and best trained dog I have. And honestly, I have a better relationship with him because of the e-collar. So here is the story of how I have arrived at e-collar training with Lobster and why I refuse to let anyone tell me what is best for my dog just because they do not understand or it makes them feel uncomfortable.  

 

When I first adopted Lobster it was clear that either in his previous home or in his time at the shelter, he was the boss. Don’t get me wrong, Lobster was and always has been very affectionate and sweet and playful, but, when it came time to be crated or told to not chew on this, or get down from there – basically any effort by me to deviate his behavior away from something he was not supposed to be doing, he would snap at me. His issue appeared to be only with establishing dominance with me, with my dogs and my cats he is a total push over and constantly submissive and avoidant at the first sign of conflict. Of course, I was surprised when I first tried to crate him by putting his food in his crate then slowly trying to guide him in with his collar, as soon as I would touch his collar and attempt to navigate him he would snap at my hand/arm/wrist. So naturally being taken a bit back by the situation, I backed down and backed away from him, figuring he was probably stressed out from everything that had transpired in the last few days. Going from the rescue in New York, to being transported from NY to Philly by one person, then from Philly to Michigan by another person, then driven from Michigan to Minnesota with me. In the following weeks I began to realize that Lobster had some deeper issues with aggression in relation to feeling any form of dominance from a person. To be put plainly; Lobster thought he was tough shit and in charge.

 

Over the next few weeks it was clear some proactive steps would have to be taken to ensure I was going to be able to manage Lobster and be safe in the process. I refuse to have a dog in my home that thinks he can do whatever he wants, that is not behavior I support and it is also behavior I cannot have with four bully breed dogs. As Mike (head trainer of Primal Canine) has put it, dogs quickly and easily pick up bad habits and bad behavior from other dogs. Adding Lobster to my pack has added another dimension of dynamic, making it even more essential that I establish rules and boundries – crate rotation, crating when I am not home, crating my dogs while I sleep, not allowing them on furniture etc. Initially I said I did not want to do e-collar training with Lobster, I wanted to try everything else possible and spend some more time forming a bond with him in hopes he would be more responsive to direction from me when we had a solid relationship. So we tried multiple things to ease then tension of crating like treats, and kongs and chew dogs and lots of praise, and instead grabbing his collar to direct him or pull him off the couch I tried having him use a drag leash so I could direct him that way. Lobster eventually became wise to bribery with treats, toys, food and would persist with whatever undesirable thing he was doing. Same with the drag leash, at first it helped to not directly grab him by his collar but then if I was across the room, coming over and grabbing the leash became as tense. He started becoming more confident in trying to bite me and small snaps at my hand eventually manifested into harder bites, and even a few attempts to get at my face that thankfully I was able to move away from in time. But I wasn’t ready to give up and knew no matter what I was going to keep Lobster and find a way to make this work.

 

The day before Thanksgiving, Lobster was perched up on the gate leading into my kitchen because he was super anxious to get into the car and head to my parent’s house for the holiday. I attempted to lead him away from the gate so I could continue to get things packed in the car but he refused to get down. I was finally able to push him off the gate so I could get into my living but as soon as I got on the other side of the gate I was frustrated and was going to crate him so I could finish packing in peace but tensions rose and he wound up biting me a handful of times on both hands and arms and on my left leg. Thankfully I was wearing a winter coat and mid-calf height boots so the physical damage was minimal but it was at that point I decided that if I was going to keep Lobster, we were doing e-collar training.

 

Over the next few weeks, Lobster did a board and train with Primal Canine and we started him on e-collar. Three weeks later, Lobster had transformed from a dog that had reached a point of being unmanageable for me, to a dog that I now have such an amazing relationship with. His recall is amazing, his off leash training and his ability to listen and focus on me is something I never thought was possible. Everything has been great with Lobster since December, we have had no incidents and I barely even think about or remember the issues him and I first had. He was meant to be here with me and I am so glad I never gave up on him. Gone is the tension between him and I, there is no longer a vying for dominance, there is no more frustration of trying to crate him or direct him away from chewing up a dog bed or climbing on things he is not supposed to. Because of his training I can now take him anywhere, around anyone and anything with confidence knowing that he understands that he needs to listen to me. Above all, I now have a dog that I trust, and a dog that trusts me.

 

We get dirty looks when we are out walking because people assume that Lobster is some unhinged, wild animal and that’s why he has the e-collar. It bothered me at first, worrying about what people thought of him especially because of his breed and what people thought of me…probably assuming that I am some monster torturing her dog with an e-collar. But the now I just laugh when people act judgmental about it. Usually the people who are giving me dirty looks are the people who have a dog hauling them down the street, barking and lunging at other dogs, while the owner is tugging on them yelling the same command over and over as their dog doesn’t listen with this growing look of frustration on their face. If you don’t want to have control over your dog, that’s fine. If you want to use other tools or methods to train and manage your dog, that’s great. Just respect what each person has decided what is best for their dog and realize that one method of training and one tool is not going to work for every dog. If someone has to muzzle their dog to keep you and others and their dog safe, let them. Because if a muzzle, or e-collar or prong collar is the reason that owner can control that dog and keep others safe – that’s sure a hell of a lot better than an incident occurring, and the price being paid by that dog because that owner was more concerned about what others think. I would rather see a dog with a prong collar being controlled by an owner, than a wild dog wearing a nylon harness. 

Belgian Malinois will be the next Pit Bulls

            Belgian Malinois and Dutch Shepherds have recently exploded in popularity. The problem is that both of these breeds (especially the ones from specific working bloodlines) are not intended to solely be pets or companion animals. Mals and Dutches are working line dogs, they require serious, experienced dog owners who truly have the knowledge of the breed, and the extensive time for consistent, on going training and exercise. Novice and first time dog owners are as a whole are likely to be unfit and unable to provide the amount of mental and physical stimulation necessary to prevent the dog from developing serious behavioral issues. Acquiring any breed of dog because they are trendy, “badass,” or “manly” is ridiculous and the wrong reason to get any animal. Adding a dog to your life should be a decision made with careful consideration, and selected based upon an owner’s competence, experience, and amount of time available for dedication to training and exercise. Not based upon “cool factor.”

 

            If any of you are unaware of what a Malinois or Dutch Shepherd is, I am sure you have seen one before and mistaken it for a German Shepherd. Mals and Dutches are commonly used as multipurpose military dogs, police dogs, and personal protection dogs. Their alertness in conjunction with their drive and energy level makes them excellent dogs for protection and apprehension. Dogs with such drive require structure, training and exercise to properly contain their drive and disperse their energy. As we all know as dog owners, all dogs especially working dogs, who are deprived of dedicated owners will suffer. When working dogs have careless, negligent owners their dogs become highly predisposed to destructive behaviors, aggression towards people and other dogs, and are all around unmanageable. This is in no way stating that Mals and Dutches are inherently dangerous or vicious, because anyone that owns a dog knows that bad dog ownership can cause any dog to become unruly and difficult to manage. Therefore it is simple to understand that the way a high energy dog become dangerous is through the negligence on the part of human beings.

 

          Pit Bulls (the term being used loosely), like Rottweilers, and Dobermans (and many other working breeds) are stubborn, loyal, high energy, alert dogs with a high prey drive, which many people acquire for their “cool factor.” After decades and decades of idiots thinking its really cool to get a dog, never train it, never socialize it, never exercise it, and then be proud of the dog’s unbridled aggression – Pits became labeled as unstable and unmanageable dogs dumped off at shelters with issue after issue that their owners created. Suddenly these issues were branded to breed as if it was the dog’s fault that nobody cared about the commitment of owning a dog. I say that Mals and Dutches are the next Pit Bulls because the rate at which Mals and Dutches are growing in popularity, combined with their drive and human stupidity – they will be filling up the shelters quickly. This can happen a number of ways; people can recognize the growth of demand for the breed and somehow acquire a couple Mals and begin breeding them. Start using the dogs as cash cows, caring only for the profit and not the proper breeding, nor caring about who or where the puppies go. People see cute Mal and Dutch puppies online, think, “oh they’re so cute!” or “babe lets get one they look just like a German Shepherd!” The problem perpetuates from there as these homes and owners were not properly vetted, educated or prepared for this puppy. As time goes on, the owners realize the dog does not do well being crated 8-10 hours a day while they’re at work, and that 20-minute walk around the block doesn’t wear the dog out. The owners become frustrated as the dog tears everything up, barks constantly, pulls like crazy on walks and starts to nip at other dogs because he wasn’t manageable in public and is therefore unsocialized. That dog is destined for the shelter because it’s no longer a cute puppy from Instagram, it’s a 75 pound adult Malinois that cannot be controlled by the owner, he is dog aggressive, has a high prey drive and separation anxiety from being sequestered in a crate all day and night. I can only hope that the solution lies first with breeders being vigilant about where their dogs go, to who and for what purpose they will be used for. Secondly, it is of the utmost importance that owners understand that Mals and Dutches should not be gotten as companion animals. There are so many breeds of dog that are better suited strictly as pets that will of course still require training, care and exercise but not to the high standard which Mals and Dutches require.

Our Dogs Are Not Perfect and That's Okay

I will be a bully breed fanatic until the end without a doubt, and promoting this breed in a positive light will always be a priority for me. I realize as pit bull/ bully breed owners we will defend and protect our dogs to no end because of the already unfair and ridiculous myths and stereotypes that exist about them. We feel the need to shield them from these accusations and at all costs promote the best breed image possible. I have noticed that while in the midst of this noble effort, there are many people (non-bully breed owners as well) who deny…even lie to themselves, that their dog is in dire need of training.

Whether this comes from a disproportionate outlook on what behavior is acceptable from a dog, or from our willingness to make excuses for the animals we love so much. Maybe it is because we feel that rescued dogs or pit bulls as a breed have had such a tough life until this point, they should be allowed more freedom. Personally, I have thought maybe this can be my way of saying I was sorry for someone abusing or neglecting my dogs in the past and this will right those past wrongs in some cosmic karma sort of way. That is about as far as I have gotten with my introspection on that topic, but it seems to be applicable to the way that I hear many people speak about their reasoning for managing their dogs in the way that they do. Allowing bad behaviors to manifest for whatever reason is not helping yourself or your dog or the general image of the pit bull breed.

I guess getting back to my point, we as pit bull owners seem to be scared to admit that often our dogs do have issues like food aggression, dog aggression, people aggression. jumping, barking, biting, high prey drive etc. We tend to think if we are open about a pit bull having one or more of these issues, we are supporting the time old traditional stereotypes about pit bulls. But lets not forget that foremost, pit bulls are dogs. Dogs have these issues, whether we have adopted an adult dog or puppy, or even purchased one from a breeder. It is okay to admit that pit bulls will carry some natural “breed” (obviously that word is being used as a loose term before somebody tells me that pit bulls are not technically a breed) traits and characteristics. Some of those being a high prey drive, being highly aware and alert of their surroundings and being sensitive or aggressive towards other dogs if not properly socialized or correctly introduced to another dog.

Another facet to this issue is added by people who lie to themselves and others on social media about their dog(s) being better behaved than they really are in real life. This bothers me to no end because nothing about this is truly helping the breed image. All these people are doing is hiding a problem with their dog, while promoting their dog to be a model citizen of the breed to the public. While on a surface level, yes, cute and well selected photos of a pit bull will look good for everybody to see, but what’s the point of that if off camera this dog is at the dog park attacking other dogs, yanking you around while on leash and barking non-stop at your neighbors? Good breed image, bully breed advocacy and legitimate responsible dog ownership transcends social media posts and cute, well posed photos. Anybody on Instagram and Facebook can pose their dogs for pictures and talk about what it means to be a responsible pit bull owner. That only means something to me if in real life you are open to truly assessing your dog’s behavior; good and bad. It is simple to focus on all the positive things our dogs do. What I truly respect is if somebody can admit that they are dealing with issues with their dog, especially a pit bull. Because deep down we all know that announcing the good all over social media takes no effort, but to announce the at times ugly side of dog ownership is hard.

My dogs are not perfect and I am still learning everyday about what it takes to be a better dog owner. All in all, being a responsible dog owner and pit bull advocate starts with being able to realize our dogs are not perfect, neither are we, and that’s okay. What’s not okay is trying to save face with your family, friends, followers or even yourself when it comes to assessing and dealing with a dog’s behavioral issues. We all want people to love pit bulls as much as we all do, and see them for the sweet, loving babies we know they are. This starts with accepting that there is a constant need for proper structure, management and training, especially being under the microscope as a pit bull owner and lover. 

 

-@Murdapolis

Dog As A Family Member [Infographic]

Take a look at this interesting Infographic from DogHQ, Enjoy! 

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New Primal Canine Video Ft. Mike & Bear!!

Here's a quick look at the relationship between Primal Canine's Pack Leader Mike Jones and his right hand man Bear. 

Mike was given Bear a few years back by his wife and brother in-law. During Mike's quest to improve and gain more knowledge, he began to speak and work with other dog trainers to get more insight into Bear's unique personality (Bear basically wasn't  interested in anything). In the end, using standard training practices didn't do much for Mike & Bear, so Mike began to really tailor and adapt multiple training methods to work best with Bear's personality and learning style. 

After undergoing what is now called the Primal Canine Training Method Bear, is a shining example for his breed and even more an example that even rescue/shelter dogs can become elite working dogs and amazing household pets!

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