Bixie at Work

Life on the farm isn’t all fun and games, there’s wood to be fetched, and I miss having Hessian along when I’m on my tractor. Whenever a log or a tool fell out I could point at it and Hessian would bring it to my hand. Hunting is a many-splendored thing. So a big part of Bixie’s duties will be forestry management although I don’t see any big logs in her job description.

However, the tractor puts her into a frenzy and she starts doing zoomies and then racing off to the horizon looking for something to sink her teeth into. That’s why I keep the long lead on in case I have to break the spell. Overall she’s doing well in keeping track of me in the woods, but my vigilance is always required, what a difference living with a dog who wasn’t raised to just naturally attend as its normal function of simply being in sync. So before she dashes around the house I whistle to see if I can capture her energy. When she begins to respond, only then do I insert her name and even then not in a demand/command kind of way. And as she commits I begin to pour it on to entice her to come close enough on a snow bank so I can reach down and supple her neck, to ground out the frenzy she’s experiences when excited.

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Published March 31, 2015 by Kevin Behan
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11 responses to “Bixie at Work”

  1. Lee Charles Kelley says:

    Wonderful video. The sweetness on her face when she comes running back for her massage is priceless.

  2. Julie Forlizzo says:

    Kevin, my dog Rocky does not live with me b/c I cannot have dogs here, so he lives with a lady a mile from me. I see him every day while she is at work. He is quite up in years and has pains here and there, so I can only do a few of the core exercises with him, which he does well. This lady is not interested in training or behavior. And she uses his name all the time. I don’t. Is he getting mixed messages and am I expecting too much from him? He will only come to me if I have treats and I always say “good boy” when he gets to me. Also, if we are in the backyard and he’s off leash, I will make all kinds of sounds to get his attention, but w/out treats – nothing. Even if I clap my hands or pat my knees, he ignores me. He is a wonderful dog, no problems. But your post has given me something to maybe work on. But then again, he is one way with her, and another way with me. Our walks are near to perfect, but I always bring treats. After every walk he gets rubadubs and then settles down wonderfully, and I leave him as he is quiet in the house. Maybe due to his age and him living with someone else, I should leave well enough alone?

  3. Ben Draper says:

    Why do you wait until she responds to say her name instead of using her name to get her to respond?

  4. This is great. I’m glad to know that this supple-ing is grounding. Sometimes I get confused about “adding energy” when the dog is already excited.

    I command/demand my dogs all the time, especially out in the woods! OOOPS…

  5. Kevin Behan says:

    Thanks, I have to say she’s given us a lot of laughs this winter. She is an indomitable character. Just needs softening.

  6. Kevin Behan says:

    You’re probably in the position of always having to put a thumb in a hole. Try concentrating on asking him to bark in stead of calling him by name. This will perk up his responsiveness and can spark his ability to feel attracted to you when his perception at the moment is that you are trying to take away his energy by uttering his name. If he can manage at least an attempt at a bark, he will be feeling energized by you and might be able to give up his space and come over.

  7. Kevin Behan says:

    She has a track record of humans taking away her energy, so I need to associate her name with a full state of energization. By whistling I can test if she’s feeling energized by me and if not, then I haven’t lost any ground. Once I see her getting excited by my input, then I’ll beckon (not command) with using her name so she begins to reverse her previous conditioning relative to her name. So I’m creating a circuit that at some point I’ll convert into a command/demand task because we do need control over a dog’s energy so as to navigate moments of conflict.

  8. Sam Ivy says:

    In the last few seconds of that clip it appears as though she is pulling the tractor behind her. What a fantastic little girl. Bixie is an adorable name, and maybe she will begin fetching like Hessian with some more practice. Corgis are brilliant dogs.

  9. Simulatu says:

    Seeing that she is allowed almost (still dragging a leash) full freedom, I’m wondering what does she do when she finds something to eat on the ground. Do you allow her to eat from the ground?

    I guess this is a more general “Natural Dog Training” question regarding what to do when dogs try to eat food/poop from the ground. Would you use the same redirection technique (whistling + name calling + supple her neck) when you don’t want your dog to eat something from the ground ? Or maybe pushing?

    My dog responds very well (if not very distracted) when calling his name and comes charging at me, then I immediately push with him. Is this a good solution to use when he tries to eat stuff from the ground?
    Right now I’m having a bit of trouble capturing his energy in that immediate moment when he finds something on the ground.
    I know for sure I can use a shock (collar if on leash or remote collar when off leash) to stop him eating it but his fragile attraction to me is very slowly growing and I don’t want to risk ruining it.

  10. Kevin Behan says:

    If I were close enough I definitely would interrupt, if I was too far away, I would have to pretend not to see. I’m not worried about deer droppings, it would have to be dog feces to be of concern, and of disgust. If you’re finding it’s hard to capture your dog’s distracted energy, then in the short term I would recommend cutting down food so that you can create a circuit. If you live in the city and your dog is snatching stuff off the sidewalk, I teach for an indication, getting the dog to look at me when I leave baited items on the sidewalk, this is a good place to begin with a Push, then having the dog down/stay, then I open the item and give it the food, then when we hit real junk, I pick up the junk and give food, just like teaching a tracking dog to indicate it’s found an item on the track. Finally I believe for the real world we have to correct the dog but first we have to create the necessary foundation. You can summarize the above by thinking in terms of 1) create the circuit, 2) harden the circuit, 3) Insulate the circuit with a correction. But the correction should be mechanical not electrical because a dog can easily process the former, whereas if there is a glitch in its foundation, the latter will cause side effects. Good luck.

  11. Lisa Rogers says:

    Hi Kevin, Thank you for this, Lee recommended I read some of this as I have two corgis already and just adopted a third who desperately needs help and work. Much appreciated. 🙂

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Books about Natural Dog Training by Kevin Behan

In Your Dog Is Your Mirror, dog trainer Kevin Behan proposes a radical new model for understanding canine behavior: a dog’s behavior and emotion, indeed its very cognition, are driven by our emotion. The dog doesn’t respond to what the owner thinks, says, or does; it responds to what the owner feels. And in this way, dogs can actually put people back in touch with their own emotions. Behan demonstrates that dogs and humans are connected more profoundly than has ever been imagined — by heart — and that this approach to dog cognition can help us understand many of dogs’ most inscrutable behaviors. This groundbreaking, provocative book opens the door to a whole new understanding between species, and perhaps a whole new understanding of ourselves.
  Natural Dog Training is about how dogs see the world and what this means in regards to training. The first part of this book presents a new theory for the social behavior of canines, featuring the drive to hunt, not the pack instincts, as seminal to canine behavior. The second part reinterprets how dogs actually learn. The third section presents exercises and handling techniques to put this theory into practice with a puppy. The final section sets forth a training program with a special emphasis on coming when called.
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