Two Steps to Working with your Dog, or Why You Need More RuPaul

“The ego urges you to accomplish, while the soul merely asks you to enjoy the process.”

— Doreen Virtue
Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham
Photography – By Brittany Graham

I got pulled over by the police yesterday.  I was going X amount of mph in a x mph zone.  I never speed, either!  First time in 20 years (maybe more) that I’ve gotten a ticket. So what happened?

I didn’t follow my mandatory three steps for everything in the whole wide world.

 No, that wasn’t me; not my style.  However, I did ask the officer if I got bonus points for not ugly crying.

Step 1 – Control Yourself

I had a lot to do yesterday before my evening training session.  And to be honest, business has been booming.  It’s been difficult to keep up with everything sometimes.  I tried to squeeze in working on a blog post, straightening up my office, walking my dogs and returning phone calls all within the 2 hours between sessions.

I was like a cyclone of energy.  Meaning I was pretty keyed up by the time I had to leave.  I also meant that I didn’t keep track of time very well.

Now, if you know me, I’m am punctual.  To a fault. Typically I arrive 10 minutes early to each session (to everything, really), and kill time on a side street until it’s actually your appointment time.  So running late is not something that is normal for me.  But I hadn’t controlled myself, and had whipped myself up into a frenzy. So from the beginning, I was destined to fail.

Every now and then I fall apart.

Every now and then I fall apart.

Step 2 – Control the Situation

I never add energy or stimuli to a situation until I have control of the current situation.  So what happened?  When I suddenly realized that I was going to be 10 minutes late, rather than controlling the situation by calling my client and letter her know, I was going to make up the time.  Problem was, she was pretty far, actually outside my normal travel area.  So there we go; doomed to fail.  Which I did.

 

How does this apply to your dog?  Well, let’s start at the beginning.  Your dog does something you don’t like, say…barking, jumping, dragging you on a leash, etc.  For this instance, we’ll say the doorbell just rang.  That’s your dog’s cue.

Step 1 – Control Yourself

Fido goes nuts!  Barking, howling, jumping at the door.  It’s time for action.  But before you do anything, as yourself: are you angry?  Frantic? Yelling?  Then it’s not going to work.   Take a deep breath, organize yourself, and make sure you’ve got it together.  Remember, you can handle this.  Keep calm, and pull yourself together.

Don’t forget to watch your body language, too!  Put on your Piloting uniform.  Stand up as straight as you can.  I always tell my clients, pretend you rubbed Viagra all over your body.

Stand tall. Hand either beside you or behind your back.  Don’t feel the need to get down to your dog’s level; aim your belly button either at them or directly over them. I call this stance your Piloting  uniform. It’s the uniform you wear whenever you’re about to answer your dog’s questions, such as, “Can I bark at the door?” or “Can I jump all over our guest?”.  And do you know who wears this uniform best?

Drag queens.  Yes, you read that right.

Perfect body language, as usual, from RuPaul.  She  looks confident.  In control of herself.  She doesn’t look aggressive, but she looks as if she could handle just about any opposition without breaking a sweat. Is that what she (or any drag queen) looks like all the time?  Not necessarily, but it’s part of the job, so they put on their uniform. Their armor.  And they wear it proudly.

Step 2 – Control the Situation

Okay, you’ve released your inner drag queen.  You have your armor on, or your Piloting uniform, as I like to call it.  Now it’s time to control the situation.  Your dog is most likely misbehaving at the door already.  That’s fine.  You’re about to control that by claiming the door.  Simply walk up to the door, get between your dog and the door (stomach facing your dog still, RuPaul style) and back him off the door.  Pretend you’re a snowplow and gently, but firmly, use your legs to plow him back from the door like snow.

Now you’ve got a few feet to operate.  As soon as Fido is backed off the door, I want you to start backing up towards the door while pointing at him like your finger is a squirt gun and you’re going to shoot him between the eyes.  Nail him to that spot with your eyes and your finger as you move towards the door.

If he starts to move towards you, simply start over.  Snow plow him back, and then RuPaul him by pointing at him and nailing him to his spot with your finger and eyeballs.  Each time you are doing this, you are giving him a negative.  His question is, “Do you need help at the door?”.  This is how you give a dog a negative.  It may take a few times, but as you do it, you’re getting more and more money from his Piloting Piggy Bank into yours, and whoever has the most money wins.  Only once you have enough money in your Piloting Piggy Bank will you be able to s-l-o-w-l-y open the door (keeping your back to your door and your front towards your dog as much as possible).

Continue to control the situation.  If you lose control (your dog comes running up again), simply stop and reboot.  Close the door again even if you need to.  Your guest would rather wait outside a few more moments rather than be mauled and jumped on when they come in.

Once you let your guest in, you’re going to make a sandwich.  Your dog is bread, you’re guest is bread, and you’re the cheese.  Bread doesn’t touch bread.  You will be the cheese between them, answering your dog’s questions about your guest, even as they come through your house and sit down. Continue answering your dog’s questions using the same body language.

Congratulations, you’ve just answered your door without all the drama.  And the best part is, each time it gets easier and easier!

RuPaul would be proud.

Remember, these two steps are integral for any time you are Piloting your dog.  Dogs don’t require training in these circumstances, they require answers.  Think of dog training as tricks. Or something one dog wouldn’t teach another to do.  We train dogs to sit (teaching them English), to come on command (English again).  We may train them to go outside to go to the bathroom, or even to walk on a leash.  Those are commands we give them.  Piloting is when you are answering a dog’s questions: Can I jump on you?  Can I steal food from the counter?  Can I bark?

Usually I’m very good at Piloting myself, but like every other human, I’m not perfect.  Sometimes I flub things.  Hence my ticket.  But here’s the interesting thing:  I know that speeding is not acceptable.  However, I hadn’t controlled myself nor the situation. In other words, I didn’t Pilot myself.  A cop actually had to do that.  Piloting is simply giving negatives and positives.  My question was, “Can I speed?”.  It was preempted by my lack of controlling myself and the situation.  Cops answer: no.

Funny thing is, after the ticket, I actually felt better.  Rebooted, if you will.  While I was waiting for my ticket, I texted my client and informed her of the delay.  She was very understanding. I was only 15 minutes late. Not the end of the world, but now I was rebooted.  Calmer, even. I realized that I was going about everything wrong.  My unwillingness to control myself and my situation had cost me both time and money.  That’s a negative.

So I took a deep breath, pulled away with a fresh ticket in my hand, and calmly drove to my next session, singing along with Robert Plant and enjoying the ride rather than focusing on the destination.  Once arriving, I rebooted again, taking a deep breath, focusing on how lucky I am to have such a wonderful career that I work with dogs all day!  And then proceeded to have a wonderful session with amazing people and three incredible dogs.

Thank you RuPaul.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack & Special Guest: RuPaul
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

The Business of Dogs

“A big business starts small.” -Richard Branson photo-1504595403659-9088ce801e29 Darwin Dogs.  What is it?   Who am I? Where did I come from? More importantly, what do I represent with my business? Out of those four questions, I would estimate 99% of the time, only the first is ever asked by my potential clients. But let’s remember, businesses are builders of our society.  Like or it or not, businesses and business owners have a great impact on not only services and commodities that are available, but can change laws or lobby against new ones (cough couch *PETLAND* cough). For instance, Darwin Dogs (me, Kerry Stack), well, I’m against animal abuse in general, and puppy mills as an instance (not shocking).  I have plenty of info on how I am using my influence and followers to try to shut down puppy mills, so it’s pretty easy to discover that.  It’s obviously nothing that I’m hiding. But what about other things that I may represent, or lobby for or against?  No two people will ever align 100% with their thoughts and ideas, nor will two political agendas or moral codes.  Hell, my husband and I can’t agree on what restaurant to eat at most of the time, and I love him to pieces!

As responsible consumers, it is our job to know where we are spending our money, and what we are spending it on.  No, I’m not referring to which bottle of shampoo from Target, nor am I referring to what specific burger from McDonalds.  What I’m referring to is the fact that you are giving businesses money: who does Target support? Who does McDonalds lobby against?

It’s a lot easier to just walk into a store, or hire a plumber, without knowing or caring what’s being supported.  For instance, would you feel the same way if the mom and pop bakery that you buy doughnuts from every week sends a check every other week to the NRA? And one to Planned Parenthood every alternate week? For some people, that doesn’t matter,and they’ll buy the doughnuts anyway.  For others, one or the the other check is going to rub them the wrong way enough to find another doughnut shop.

Business owners are in a position unlike any other career:  we have the ability to take your money and apply it to what aligns with our goals and aspirations.  For me, that includes saving for my children’s futures (estimable goal, in my opinion).  Obviously a lot of my income through my business goes towards basic living expenses.  But what else?  Have you ever wondered what you are supporting?  Have you ever asked other businesses who/what they support?  Maybe it’s time. It’s your money, don’t let it be spent against your wishes.

So in the interest of transparency, let me set the record straight about Darwin Dogs as a business, and myself as an individual.  Some of these things you may applaud.  Some of these things may cause you to unfollow Darwin Dogs.  Some may make you furious.  But it’s time for us all to be self-aware enough to know where our money is going after we swipe our credit cards.  Here we go:

1) I believe that every animal deserves a chance at having a good home, and having the best life they possibly can. Therefore,  I support Cuyahoga County Animal Shelter, City Dogs,  and numerous shelters and local rescues, as well as the Animal Welfare Institute.

2) I think that people are the greatest resource to enriching and bettering the lives of all animals (including other humans).  Healthier, happier humans make more healthy, happy humans. Therefore I heavily support the efforts of Heifer International.

3) I believe that Stevie Ray Vaughn’s version of Little Wing is better than the Jimmi Hendrix version.  (I know I lost a few of you there.)

4) I believe that we are all created equal, and we should all have the same certain, unalienable rights regardless of age, race, gender or country of origin.  Therefore I am a proud supporter of the ACLU, and The Innocence Project.

5) I believe in caring for our sick, and sustaining our health so I support Planned Parenthood Federation of AmericaElizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, and the Trevor Project.

6) I believe that the 10th Doctor will always be the best.

7) I believe humans are capable of great things when we stop finding our differences to be scary, but something to cherish and learn from, a melting pot.

8) I think Trump plays to the basest among us, and it makes me ashamed, because I know we are better than that. Therefore I attend rallies against caging children, ICE, limiting women’s rights, and (especially) hate groups.

9) I think PETA is bullying and extremism disguised as animal welfare.

10) I think we’re all so much more amazing than we give ourselves credit for.

11)  Picard.  Always Picard.  No contest.

So yeah, perhaps I’m a little Liberal.  Perhaps we don’t mesh 100%.  But I want you to know who I am, what supporting small businesses actually does for our economy.  I mostly wanted to write this because a past client sent me a PM a few weeks ago stating that he never would have hired me if he knew I was against Trump.  Never mind the fact that in two hours I worked miracles with his dog.  Never mind that he had referred me to six other clients.  He took it all back based on my moral abhorrence of Trump’s policies.

And he was right.

Listen, I’m not here to change his mind about Trump.  I’m free to attend my protests, and he’s free to attend his.  Just as I haven’t eaten at Chick Fil A in years because of my beliefs, he’s allowed to boycott Darwin Dogs because of what I support through my company.  And I know at least a few of you have lost some respect for me based exclusively on my dis of Hendrix (props on Watchtower, though.  Best. Guitar. Ever). But hopefully I’ve made you think a little.


Beard Rank:  Joel >Riker

Most of you are on this page because of animal rights, or you’re animal lovers, or just don’t know WTF is going on with your crazy diva-dog. (Hint:  Try Piloting.) But all of us are capable of learning more and doing better. Because as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better.”  Let’s all do just a little bit better at making our society a reflection of our morals rather than of just our wallets.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio