FEEL THE FEAR…BE FIRM AND CLEAR

Sales of GIMME SHELTER were slow but we still had a great day at the Malibu Art Fair, sitting and chatting with our friends Sophie Kidian, the sponsor of Pooch Party, and Dr. Lisa Newall, of Malibu Coast Animal Hospital. When she’s not busy caring for handsome pit bulls, Lisa and her niece, Rosemary, create amazing designer cakes. They graciously treated us pups to homemade doggie cookies, and our humans to delicious cupcakes. As pit bull parents know, we ‘tough guys’ don’t really like the heat (or cold, or rain) but the canopy kept us sheltered from the sun. Unfortunately, our booth was right across from the stage, and the all-day concert by local rock bands. Like dad, I’m more an R & B guy. I freak when I hear a solo bass drum, which reminds me of thunder and fireworks. I started shaking, and so mom whisked me back home to the shelter of my bed. 

Sophie at her Pooch Party

The peace and quiet didn’t last. Dad had just turned out the lights when some actual pyrotechnics commenced at nearby Paradise Cove. While he and mom ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’,  I lay quivering in my bed. Afterwards, dad sat beside me and massaged me back to sanity which, according to dog guru Cesar Millan, “was exactly the wrong thing to do. This is because a dog relates your behavior to whatever it is doing in the moment, and it’s how positive reinforcement training works. If you want to teach a dog to “shake,” you have to associate that behavior with a reward until the dog instinctively knows, “If I do this with my paw, something good happens.” To our dogs, affection is a reward. By comforting a fearful dog, you are rewarding what it’s doing in that moment: being scared. You cannot explain to a dog why it shouldn’t be scared, or tell the dog that the frightening thing won’t hurt it or is going away soon — they do not have the cognitive abilities to understand those concepts. What they do understand is, “I’m terrified and it’s getting me a reward. My humans wants me to do this.” Over time, a timid, back-of-the-pack dog can be turned into a skittish, terrified animal because of humans unintentionally rewarding him when he’s in a negative energy state. Dogs don’t need love when they’re fearful; they need leadership.” (read the entire article 

Eugenie and Lou flogging our favorite book at the Malibu Art Fair

(ps – check out the limited Tanner The Pit Bull tees)

Like my ‘parents’, most canine caretakers mean well but their good intentions sometimes led them and their pups astray. Like yesterday morning, when dad let me meander all over Malibu Colony while we were walking with our friend, Carl. He thought that he was giving me some slack (literally) to explore a new place, but he was really sending me a confusing, mixed message about who’s in charge.  Cesar stresses that people need to be consistent when establishing and enforcing doggie ‘rules’: “Like humans, dogs are curious and they will test the rules whenever they can. It’s how a dog in the pack learns what is and isn’t acceptable. They’ll gradually escalate their behavior until their mother or another dog corrects them. This process continues until they know the rules and follow them. When a misbehavior has no consequences, a dog is more likely to do it again. “(Read More).

 

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