Archive for August, 2009

There was a phone call from a lady who wanted my help. She had been referred to me by the local vet.
When I explained her about my fee for a home call she said that 75 ¢ã was too much for her.
This happens. Some clients find paying for education normal. Others do not.
I put the lady in my free mailing program and spoke about my free Sunday morning walks.
Having arrived in Spain 3 years ago, she had adopted some Podencos.
Here is a copy of her message.
Hello Bruno, got your emails and read your website.
As I said I’ve got 2 great pups and another young bitch, Podenco’s!!!!!!!!
Therein lies my fear!
They are beautiful and they are clever and can probably outsmart me because I am too soft.
However, I am determined to learn how to be able to take them, there will be only 2, to the hillside near me and let
them have a great run AND take them home again after a decent time.
I would also like to know if the food you supply is suitable for the pups,  I need some food quite urgently and I thought
instead of buying the usual stuff I could get something good for the little fellas.
I couldn’t get you on the phone just now.
I hope to see you in the morning at the Tourist info car park.
Am I right?
Looking foirward to hearing from you.
Hi there,
Thanks for your message telling me you have adopted three Podencos.
Let me first give you some information about the PODENCO IBICENCO
Podencos are the descendants of dogs that lived in Egypt more than 3.000 years ago. Fenicians brought them to Spain some 2.400 years ago. Today we can mainly find them in the Balearic islands and in the federal state of Valencia. They have always been bred to hunt on their own. This ancient breed does not need human beings. They are so fast and so strong that they can hunt day and night in extreme circumstances. No wonder they still are are very independent dogs. This breed has never been bred in order to become a pet in Northern European countries. This dog is a killing machine that is being used by our Spanish friends and neighbours in order to hunt rabbits without a rifle.
When people from Northern Europe arrive in Spain, they have no idea what a Podenco is. When immigrants adopt such a dog they want it to be a pet. It usually does not work because you cannot change the instinct of the oldest breed on earth by being a loving and doting owner. As this dog wants to be free and running many owners of Podencos become frustrated.
I have had two Pointer-Podencos, as you can see on my website. They came from a nearby rescue centre.
Did they run away?
Yes they certainly did.
My solution was: first, taking very clearly the position of the pack leader and secondly doing thousands of recalls. When walking I always wanted to see them. It means that I constantly had to be alert and walking was not exactly a very relaxed activity with these dogs. But they were wonderful teachers for me. Like all dogs I have ever worked with they taught me the value of honesty, integrity, consistency and loyalty.
Walking is something human beings do. Animals never walk. Except the one in the Walt Disney movies. It goes without saying that these animals do not exist in nature. Animals look for food or water.
Dogs are animals and dogs never walk. They hunt. Podencos certainly never go for a walk. They always hunt. Hunting means looking for food. Without food, there is no survival.
Therefore is the most important activity in a dog’s live. If you are not in charge during that activity, they do not respect you as the pack leader.
1. As a dog owner we have the obligation to be the pack leader. Even according to the (Spanish) laws we have to be in charge of our dogs.
However, in order to be the pack leader, we have to be able to communicate with the members of our pack.
We can only do that in a language THEY UNDERSTAND.
Which language is that?
The way animals communicate is through ENERGY and by means of BODY LANGUAGE.
They do not understand English.
They can of course be taught to link a sound (a word in whatever language, or a whistle or another noise we make) to an action.
The moment we have learned to communicate with our dogs, we can educate them.
Educating them means that we behave in such a way that they respect us as the pack leader.
When we have achieved that, we can start training them in order to be sniffer dogs, to do agility, to be guide dogs, service dogs, gun dogs, security dogs, etc…
As you can see: training is the last bit. Not the first.
2. If you are afraid, it means that you produce weak energy and the dogs feel this. Therefore they will not respect you as the pack leader.
Would you like to do a cruise on ship with a NICE captain who LOVES his passengers but is afraid of water and ships?
No you wouldn’t.
You would get off the boat.
Would you like to be in a plane with a LOVELY captain who LOVES his passengers but is afraid of flying?
No, you wouldn’t.
Youy would prefer to get off the plane.
This is exactly what the dogs want to do when the owner is afraid: they want to get off the boat or plane, meaning: they run away.
Admitting that you are soft is the beginning of the solution. If you use the saying that you are soft as an excuse for not educating your dogs, nothing will work as the dogs will IGNORE you.
If you use it as a starting point for changing your behaviour it will work.
I see that you write that you are determined.
As a pack leader you will have to be determined and you will have to learn what it means to have calm ascertive energy. The dogs will pick that up and then you can start educating and training them.
3. The natural dog food I am selling is also available in a mixture for pups. Price is the same as the mixture for adult dogs: 60 ¢ã for 20 kg delivered to your doorstep. I can bring it to you this coming Monday.
4. Walks.
At the beginning of each walk I say that every participant is responsible for her/his dog(s). It certainly means that if we meet a car, jogger, cyclist, walker, tractor, etc… we call the dogs, make them come to us, make them stay with us until the thing or person is gone and then give the release command.
I will wait till 8.15 at the Oficina de Turismo in Jal¨®n.
DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE WALKING IN CASTELL DE CASTELLS. It is a mountain village and in the past ladies wearing high heeled shoes have had to turn around and go back to the car park.
5. You could not get me on the phone because I like to take a nap in the faternoon when I am not working. Therefore I put the phone on silent mode.
Whenever you want to acquire a dog think first about your personal situation. Visiting a rescue centre, my advice is to leave your emotions and your bleeding heart at the front gate.
Many years ago I lived in London. I remember an old and wise man telling me: if you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
Kindest regards from Brunothedoglistener
Well-educated dogs are obedient dogs.
Obedient dogs are happy dogs.
Happy dogs have happy owners.
00 34 690 19 29 76

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As a doglistener I have a profession I find very interesting. Over the years dogs have been teaching me the importance of clear communication and the significance of body language. Observing the way dogs communicate with other dogs I started paying more and more attention to my own way of communicating with them. Finally I discovered how fascinating it is to observe how I communicate with other fellow human beings.
For that reason I want to tell you a story where I was on the receiving end of a clear show of solidarity and friendship.
It was only a week ago that I had arrived in South Africa. I was staying in a self catering cottage close to the Magaliesberg in the province of Gauteng. One afternoon I decided to drive to the nearest village in order to buy some food. It was raining but I considered that not to be important. I had been driving in the rain for 40 years over European roads. So what?
Having put my 4 dogs in the rentacar vehicle I followed the extremely wobbly dirt track from the farm to the larger scraped dirt road. Arriving there I took a left turn and swiftly and elegantly ended up in the ditch. This was my first experience with the local African mud. And very good first quality mud it was. I can assure you that this mud is more slippery than the icy roads in Belgium on a cold Monday morning in February. My rentacar vehicle was obviously not adapted to the roads in the Highveld in the area Magaliesburg and Maanhaarrand. How could I know about these details? I was used to driving on the motorways between Antwerp, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and Cologne and had this ridiculous idea that the roads in the South African Highveld would be something similar.
Numbed by what had happened I had the wonderful idea of opening the car door and stepping outside. Thanks to the pouring rain I swiftly sank with both feet into the soft and juicy red-coloured mud. My four dogs liked that sight very much and wanted to jump out too. I was not panicking because, well… the situation was serious but not hopeless. Only a minute later I heard a vehicle approaching. Looking up I saw a Bakkie steadily driving past me. (By the way, a Bakkie is a South African pick-up truck.)
Then a most amazing thing happened.
The Bakkie stopped, its driver backed up, opened the window and asked if I was in trouble.
I was. I was in more trouble than I had ever been before in the South African mud. I am pleading mitigating circumstances here: I only arrived 6 days ago, so my driving record was not as bad as it looked at first sight.
Sheepishly I confirmed that, yes, I was in trouble. ‘Do not worry’, the man in the Bakkie told me, ‘I will pull you out. I just need to drive home to get a cable. Hold on.’ Without any special effort he drove off in his 4X4 vehicle and returned a few minutes later.  In a minute he attached his cable to my rented car and pulled me and my four dogs out of the ditch. A few seconds I found myself back in the middle of the road. Having disconnected his cable, the driver shook my hand, told me his name was Dave Smith, explained me where he lived and invited me to come along for a drink whenever I felt like it.
I do remember because I took notes. It went like this: You follow this dirt road for several km, but stay in the middle of it, and drive in the wheel tracks, until you reach a T-junction. There you will take a right until you see some big Blue Gum trees on your right hand side and that is where my house is. And do not worry, the road will be dry in a few hours’.
The helpfulness, friendliness and natural casualness of this man had turned my nasty driving incident into a heartwarming experience.  During my 40 years of driving in Europe I had never had such a friendly encounter with a fellow driver. I felt elated with David’s show of solidarity.
It was the first time it happened to me but during my stay in South Africa it would not be the last time.
Of course, I went to visit David at home, where I got to know his wife Jenni and where I drank my first glass of South African beer. Again I felt this glow of comradeship and friendship in my heart while listening to the stories that were being swapped by David, Jenni and their friends and/or family members. Whenever we met on later occasions I was always confused as far as the relationships where concerned.  I never could remember who was a family-member and who were friends, simply because they all gave me the impression to be members of the same big family.
A few months after our first meeting David told me that he and his wife had bought a plot on the slopes of the Magaliesberg. If you are born in small country (like I was) beware when a South African speaks about a plot. Where I live we think we have a big estate if we own a house on a plot of 1.000 sqm. It is different when a South African speaks about a small plot. He or she might for instance say that ‘It is just under 200 hectares, you know’. I was born in Belgium, a country that measures 30.000 sq km, while South Africa is more than 40 (forty) times bigger as it measures 1.222.000 sq km.
OK, I want to tell you something about the plot (?) David and Jenni bought. Imagine a country estate surrounded on three sides by three game farms, the fourth side open to the mountain and the Magaliesburg Protected Nature Environment. This is the home of many beautiful wild animals like the Black Eagle, Kudu, mountain Reebok, Duiker, Warthog, monkeys, Baboons and even the timid Leopard. Imagine to go horse riding for a day in this paradise with Jenni or Dave as your guide.
Now I am back in Spain but thanks to email I stayed in touch with Jenni and Dave.
Today I received their message about PHEFUMULA, which is Zulu for breathe. In the message they explain how they have turned the estate into a paradisiacal retreat whereupon they have built luxury self catering cottages.
I invite you to have a look at Phefumula on
If driving to the estate you get stuck in the mud, do not worry. David and his bakkie are not far away and he will pull you out. Just like he did with me.
Kindest regards from Brunothedoglistener
Well-educated dogs are obedient dogs.
Obedient dogs are happy dogs.
Happy dogs have happy owners.
00 34 690 19 29 76

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Today I received a very sad email-message from David in South Africa. He lives in a fully secured estate and came home to find both his dogs poisoned.

Dogs are being poisoned every day and not only in South Africa. It is a very big issue in Spain where the hunters are throwing poisoned meat in the bush in order to kill the foxes because they (the hunters) want to kill the rabbits themselves. In the area where I live hundreds of dogs are dying from strychnine very year. As a matter of fact in the local paper of today I read an article about dog poisoning in a nearby estate.

BUT, there are a few BUTS I want to talk about regarding David and his dogs.

Let me quote from his message.

I am now living in constant fear that the dogs may be poisoned again. What do you suggest I do? Can I train my dogs to only take food on a certain command? (They are beggars and thieves at the moment!)

It is my honest opinion that living in fear is useless.
What are you afraid of David?
You are afraid of the fact that your dogs will be poisoned a second time. Is that right?
If we have a problem we can run away from the problem and keep on living in fear.
We can also face the problem, find the solution and gone is the fear.

I am very glad that David is facing the problem and turned to me in order to find a solution.

Here we go. This is what I have written to David

1. I do not know if you have a garden and if your dogs can stay outside when you are gone. For the short term my solution is to keep the dogs inside the house. If need be put them in a cage/bench.

2. Another short term solution is that you teach your dogs to wear a muzzle when you are gone. Buy the model that prevents the dog from even touching anything with its tongue. If you need more information, just ask.

3. I do not know if you have any real control over your dogs. Neither do I know if they trust you, understand you and respect you as their pack leader. If that is not the case, chances are that they behave in such a way that one (or more) neighbour is getting fed up with the howling, whining, barking, scratching or whatever unwanted behaviour your dogs are showing.
If that is the case, if you were my neighbour and your dogs where preventing me from leading a quiet life I would be the first to denounce you at our local police station. I think that if you own dogs you are under the obligation to educate them.
If you do not have time to do that or if you are unwilling to do that it is also my opinion that you should not have dogs.
That might sound harsh to you, but it is certainly harsh that millions of dogs are paying the highest price every year. They are being sacrificed because their owners FORGOT (???) to educate them properly.
Most of the dog owners I am dealing with have created problematic dogs by forgetting to educate them and most cases involve complaints and anonymous letters from neighbours.
Each time I am dealing with dog owners that forgot to educate their dogs, I tell them there have to be rules, boundaries and limitations in the pack. Offering your dogs only affection leads to problematic behaviour in dogs. If the dogs are considered to be lovely stroking devices by the owners, both owners and dogs will suffer.
If the owners are willing to put themselves in the position of the pack leader, both dogs and owners will be able to lead harmonious lives.
So, as number 3 and as a long term solution I see: EDUCATE YOUR DOGS and TALK TO YOUR NEIGHBOURS.
According to my experience it is very easy to have better social contacts when owning one or more educated dogs. On the other hand it is very easy to turn a good neighbour into an enemy if you do not educate your dogs.

4. Number 4 solution is also a long term one.
But let me start with a couple of IFS.
If your dogs understand you, if you understand them, if you do not project needy love unto your dogs, if your dogs are not expected to fill up a constant feeling of lack in your heart, then you will have properly educated your dogs. If you respect them as dogs (and do not treat them as surrogate human babies) and if they respect you as your pack leader, then you can teach them to REFUSE FOOD.
For many years I showed the audiences during many demonstrations how our dogs refuse food that is offered to them by a stranger. Working dogs will always refuse food, also when the owners are out of sight.
It is a difficult thing to teach them because dogs are born scavengers. Their instinct tells them to eat whatever they find. As they live in the NOW they do not know if there will be food tomorrow.
I repeat, it is a difficult exercise to teach, but it can be done.
It all comes down to the consistency of the owner.
As you David, you call your dogs beggars and thieves it tells me something about the level of education of your dogs. It means that you have allowed them to become beggars and thieves. Therefore I will not explain to you today how to teach them to refuse food.
However, I will gladly explain it to you, if you give me some more information about the training level of your dogs.

Kindest regards from Brunothedoglistener

Well-educated dogs are obedient dogs.
Obedient dogs are happy dogs.
Happy dogs have happy owners.

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