My journey of ‘speaking dog’ began ironically with a horse trainer, Vivan Carter.
I met Vivian when I was four years old and began riding horses and learning from her when I was five.
Her profound insights and deep appreciation of animals helped to set the course of my life. Vivian could intuitively read any animal whether it was a horse, goat, cat, dog or donkey. She was a foundation teacher. A teacher of safety, compassion and education.
She was a huge catalyst for me. After seeing her work with horses, I set out on a life-long adventure of learning everything I could about all animals, and specifically, dogs. I sought out trainers, books, videos, classes and seminars.
I have literally been learning about animals since I rode horses with Vivian. Now, all these years later, all of my learning and experiences has evolved into the Pillars of Pack Leadership.
The Pillars of Pack Leadership is a behavioral approach to working with dogs that is rooted in relationships – not merely commands.
Our Pillars of Pack Leadership program focuses on understanding dogs’ natural drives so humans can learn to “speak dog” better. Our entire training philosophy encourages your dog to live in a calm state of mind (what I call the concept of JUST BE) which develops the ability in your dog to make good choices.
Helping your dog learn how to live life in a safe, sane and civilized way is truly the best thing I could ever teach you and your dog. Calm is a decision and it’s a skill that is taught.
Dogs are born with a combination of strong tendencies. Understanding what these are before any training will give you many insights into his personality, his natural temperament and how he perceives the world.
In our Pillar of Pack Leadership foundation we teach you about your dog’s primal drives and how to work with them.
We understand that people have lives that need to be lived — work, family and different obligations so it sure helps to know the kind of dog you are inviting into your life.
In order to change any behavior in a dog you have to change the context of the relationship between you and your dog.
The Pillars of Pack Leadership provides strategies and structure that helps establish you, the human, as an effective leader and the senior partner in your partnership with your dog.
At the core, the Pillars of Pack Leadership is replicating in a human to dog way, existing dog to dog interactions.
These are the same kind of issues dog to dog interactions have been dealing with since the beginning of time. I liken it to the kinds of things a momma dog did with her baby dog. For example, she told him, “It’s time to eat.” and then she’d say, “It’s time to stop eating.’ She also said, “You are going to go potty here not there” She said, “It’s playtime, let’s get moving”. Then she’d said, “Hey, playtime’s over and it’s time to rest”. She would also say, “Hey you are playing too rough and that needs to change.” She’d even say, “ Hey you’ve moved too far away from me, get closer to me now”. And you bet she said, “I’m done for now, I don’t want you anywhere near me for a bit.”
A momma dog taught her pup how he was supposed to act and behave so he would be accepted and functional in his pack. His very survival depended upon it.
The Five Pillars are:
- Mastering purpose-driven activities–How we exercise our dogs matters. I’ve heard it said that birds fly, fish swim, and dogs walk. Walking is what dogs do. Dogs need to walk and we need to walk them, that is part of the deal. Dogs need relationship with us, that is also part of the deal. A dog walking or running around a backyard alone is not a Purpose Driven activity. You must be present in order to provide feedback. Your dog needs social connection and he needs his desires to be fulfilled. That is what makes an activity purposeful. Purpose Driven activities are tethering, walking purposefully, playing or working place.
- Establishing effective ‘respect of space’ and ‘claiming space’ boundaries. Dogs don’t speak English, Spanish or French–they speak a spatial language. They are keenly intuitive and desire to know the intentions of other dogs and the humans they interact with. Dogs move into or away from another dog’s space. How they enter that space is either their correct or incorrect understanding of social dynamics. Respect of space issues and a dog’s ability to interpret intent accurately is everything in a dog’s world. A dog may love you, but may not respect you. Conversely, a dog may fear you, but may not respect you. Earning a dog’s respect is critical for developing and maintaining a balanced relationship. Respect is a precursor for trust. When you learn how to effectively help a dog learn how to ‘read the room’ correctly, it helps a dog choose a calm state of mind and sets the dog up for making good choices. You work these concepts by how you enter/exit doors and thresholds, how to meet and greet correctly and how to live in your home in appropriate spaces together.
- Establishing balance & structure for a successful life together with your dog. In order for your dog to be able to live life in a balanced way you must provide structure. What is structure? Structure is living life purposefully and intentionally with your dog. Dog trainers have always talked about having rules when living with dogs. Through the decades I’ve heard about them, read about them and practiced them. Heck, rules are necessary for any living, breathing being when you are attempting to live a life together in a safe, sane and civilized way, I promise you, good kids and good dogs do not happen by accident. They happen because of sound structure, healthy boundaries, and mutual respect. My kids have rules living in my home and my dogs do too! In the life of a dog, freedom is earned. A dog needs a job and he needs purpose. He needs to learn how to get along. He needs to know how to act in each different group and situation. A dog needs to learn how to choose how to ‘Just Be’. A dog can only do this when we are prepared to follow through, guide him, mentor him, give him accurate feedback, and build relationships and trust with him. This enables a dog to make good choices. How to teach structure for your dogs: teaching your dog how to just be, using appropriate confined spaces, tethering, roaming with rules and keeping your leash on for a defined period of time.
- Establishing effective feed rituals, bedtime rituals and potty rituals. Rituals are defined as “solemn ceremonies or actions performed in a customary way”. The reason these times are so critical to your dog’s life and state of mind is that they represent the major naturally occurring activities in a dog’s daily life. Consistently ritualizing these main events such as potty, feed and sleep habits helps to keep your dog’s stress level down and he will know what to expect. How you create great rituals is having specific feeding times in a day, sleeping & resting in a crate or other appropriate confined space, and having designated potty times and places.
- Mastering effective touch-tone timing and energy Yes, this pillar is all about you!!! Your body language and control of your body parts is completely something you can learn to control and learn how to use in its most advantageous ways. I know it sounds easy, but controlling your, legs, hands, arms and verbal tone, while you are interacting with your dog is like walking, talking, chewing gum and patting your head and tummy, and solving quadratic equations, all at the same time. It can get a bit complicated. The good news is you can most certainly learn how to use your body clearly and effectively. The minute you welcome a dog into your life a conduit of information flow has been established between you and your dog. Your emotions factor into the state of mind in your dog in a significant way. It is very important that you have the right perspective about how you will interact with your pooch. She should be part of your world, not the center of it. You must acknowledge that your dog is a dog and she is part of the canine species. She does not process her world the same way you do. We humans must acknowledge that the needs of a dog are not the same as the needs of a human. Dogs live in each moment and are present in a way that is unfamiliar to us. We get so caught up in our past and future we sometimes miss the importance of the now! Every touch of your leash, every nuanced tone of your voice, every touch of your fingers, every look you give, every move your body makes is saying something to your dog. Your job is to ensure that you are saying exactly what you intend to say. Your job is to ensure that you are enforcing or reinforcing exactly the state of mind you desire in your dog. You are learning a foreign language called dog and it takes an understanding of the art of movement and how it’s applied to be effective. Like it or not, intend to or not, you are always saying something to your dog at all times. I always tell my clients, “Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And, you don’t have to be mean to mean it.”
It’s not enough that I train your dog to do something for me.
I have to be able to share that knowledge with you in practical ways that fit into your daily life—and that is my specialty here at Aly’s Puppy Bootcamp.
The Pillars of Pack Leadership core training strategies are very manageable blocks of information that real people can implement.
Whether you are a first-time or experienced dog owner, the Pillars of Pack Leadership foundation is a big toolbox of the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully express calm, confident, competent, leadership within yourself and with your pack.
No matter how your dog came to you, Rescued, Bought or Found, the Pillars of Pack Leadership foundation is what changes lives, one dog at a time. No matter what specialty or advanced talent your dog has like AGILITY, HUNTING DOG, THERAPY DOG, SERVICE DOG or ESA work, the Pillars of Pack Leadership is the foundation that will set you up for success on your path. Follow our strategies and I promise, you’ll be “speaking dog” very soon.