Archive for September, 2009

Today I am thinking about yoghurt.
As a boy I was drinking it and today I still like the creamy white stuff. Especially when it is made with goats’ milk.
Many things have changed since then. The milkman is not bringing milk to our doorstep anymore and I cannot sit any longer on the back of his big horse. Did we trust the milkman? Yes, we did.
Today only a few companies in the world control almost  everything we eat and drink.
One day I read an article written by Martijn Katan about the claims made by these big multinational companies in the Dutch quality newspaper NRC Handelsblad of 13-14 June 2009, on page 2 of the science supplement.
The Big Foodies have been sending a total of 44.000 claims to the European food authority EFSA in order to have these claims approved.
When you go shopping you know that the food manufacturers promise us things like a better memory, clean arteries, a better skin, a better feeling in my tummy, a better sleeping pattern, etc…if only we buy and eat or drink their products.
According to author of the article, the 41 scientists screening these claims have immediately kicked out 80 % as completely unfounded.
All claims regarding yoghurt and other probiotics were groundles.
Some companies withdrew their claims just after the first draft of the EFSA report was published. By doing that they want it to stay a secret their claims have been rejected. I bet that teams of copywriters and advertising specialists started preparing a rewording of the claims in order to make them a bit softer. I also bet that the slogans promising a better whatever…. will be printed on the product labels in capital letters. If on the other hand, we want to read the list of ingredients in the products we will need a pair of glasses and a magnifying glass.
Visiting a big hypermarket in a nearby city I walked past the display of milk products. It took me 32 big steps from one end to the other. Of the 32 meters more than 30 meters were dedicated to the products of one big company.
I asked myself how many false claims were present here? Which product from which multinational company could I trust? I did not know the answer.
But hey, I still love yoghurt.
I salute the 41 courageous scientists of the EFSA but unfortunately the European authorities who have to monitor the claims made by the Big Foodies are overworked and underpaid. Therefore my solution is to buy yoghurt from small local businesses.
I trust a local family business more than I trust the Big Foodies.
What kind of yoghurt do you buy?
Kindest regards from Bruno

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Lars and his wife own two Yorkshire terriers and they all live in Denia on the Spanish Costa Blanca. He did send me an email about the problems he had when friends came to visit him accompanied by their two dogs.
This is a quote from the message I received:
The problem that we have and which was explicity shown last Saturday when good friends to us were visiting our home with their two dogs ¨C small dogs like ours.
Almost immediately our dogs showed a very aggressive behavior, especially towards one of their dogs. There was barking, fighting and biting and none of our dogs were listening to our commands when we tried to get their attention. So in order to get some calmness on the whole our friends had to go back home with their dogs.
This is my answer.
It is clear that your dogs do not allow other dogs unto their territory. According to me they are not aggressive. They are defensive as they are defending THEIR territory.
WHY do they defend the territory?
Because they consider your home to be THEIR territory, which means that they do not respect you as pack leaders. If that would be the case your home would be YOUR territory. In a canine pack, the members of the pack are always paying attention to the leaders. You on the other hand are saying that your dogs were not paying attention to you.
WHY are they not paying attention to you?
Because they consider themselves to be the pack leaders.
How did this happen?
Your dogs consider themselves to be the pack leaders because your behaviour makes them act like that. The moment you change your behaviour they will change theirs.
There is a BUT…
BUT, the longer you wait the more difficult it will become to change your behaviour and theirs.
You write that normally they are most charming and loving.
I will translate that very human sentence into another sentence written from the dog point of view: they are charming and loving as long as you are paying attention to them.
It will be my pleasure to help you find the solution.
As far as consultations are concerned, I am still helping dog loving people all over Spain.
Denia is not far away as I live in Jal¨®n and have many clients in Denia. My fee for a house call in Denia is 75 ¢ã and on average it takes me two hours to observe you and your dogs in order to find the cause of the problems. As soon as that is clear I will offer you the solution. This solution has to be implemented and THAT TAKES TIME. Implementing the solution is a LEARNING PROCESS.
Let me make a comparison: it is like learning a foreign language. We cannot say: today we will learn Spanish, tomorrow we will learn Russian and the day after tomorrow we will learn Japanese.
Learning something TAKES TIME.
Learning how to behave correctly with dogs TAKES TIME.
If you are willing to learn how to communicate correctly with your dogs from the position of pack leaders and if you are willing to adapt your behaviour then it will be my privilege to assist you. The result will be that you will then live in harmony with your dogs.
As an illustration of what I teach I will tell you how I helped a lady who is leading a rather solitary life in a big house with a beautiful garden on the Costa Blanca. She has two big dogs (both over 40 kg) and these dogs had never had the opportunity to meet four visitors at once in their lives.
During a period of 15 weeks I have been working with this elderly lady and we are slowly making progress. One day she told me four visitors were coming to see her that very evening. As this was going to be a first for her and her two big dogs she liked me to be present.
Before explaining what I did that evening I have to tell you that when I arrived for my first session with this client it took me 45 minutes before the dogs became quiet and lied down.
Although my 73-year-old client has had dogs all her life she had never learned how to behave like a pack leader. Her two big dogs had never been outside the garden walls except for a visit to the vet. No wonder she had very few visitors as the dogs were quite a deterrent for most people. This is a very clear case where an elderly dog loving person had put herself in a very submissive position while accepting the dominance of the dogs. No wonder the dogs were in control of everything.
I can say that we are not finished yet with the learning process, but my client has learned the following essentials: while feeding the dogs she confirms her position as pack leader; she can walk both dogs on a slack leash in her garden; she walk both dogs off leash over a small distance in the woods; she can do recalls with both dogs at home and in the woods; she can make them sit and stay.
Then came the evening with the four visitors.
I made sure to be present before the visitors arrived. When someone rang the bell both dogs ran to the gate and barked loudly. I put both dogs on the leash, took them inside the home, closed the door and waited for the visitors to come in.
My client allowed me to explain what I was planning to do. I asked the visitors if they were willing to help my client. They all agreed.
I invited them to take a seat in the chairs standing on the terrace (hey, this is during the month of August on the Costa Blanca in Spain) and told them what they had to do as soon as I would allow the dogs to come outside.
I asked the visitors TO DO NOTHING.
By doing nothing I meant they would not have eye contact with the dogs, they would not touch them and would not say anything. They all agreed to do nothing.
I got up and went to see the dogs. I opened the door and stood in the opening. Centimeter by centimeter I walked backwards preventing the dogs from running past me. Then I stepped aside and allowed them to approach the visitors.
The guests were behaving in an exemplary way.
Their behaviour was a very strong message for both dogs: here were six persons (myself and my client included) silently sitting in chairs without paying attention to them. The dogs kept on running from one chair to another, registering the new smells. They did not jump up nor did they in any other way bother the guests. After two minutes the younger dog had had enough and lied down. The older dog was not so sure. He had always been in charge of the home of my client and all of a sudden there were four intruders. He lied down for a short while, sat up and barked because he felt threatened.
My reaction was to get up and stand in front of him, offering him my protection. Immediately he stopped barking.
I had to do this three times untill he was quiet.
At that moment I told everyone we could start talking.
I then asked the visiting gentleman if he was willing to do something for us. As he agreed I asked him to get up and walk around the big swimming pool.
The moment he started walking, the older dog got up and barked. He saw someone claiming the territory that always had been his and he protested. Again I got up, stood in front of the dog and he quieted down.
From then onwards we could behave normally without being bothered by the dogs. Before leaving for a nearby restaurant my client got up, called the dogs inside the house and closed the door. That was easy.
Compared to the frightening and chaotic scenes she had gone through in the past, this experience was almost miraculous for her.
For me it is not miraculous. It is part of what I have been teaching for seventeen years.
I teach my clients how to behave correctly in order to be able to lead an harmonious life with their dogs.
In this example I was of course the acting pack leader, but all the visitors where very clearly behaving like visiting pack leaders, meaning that they totally ignored the dogs that were desperately trying to get their attention. As soon as the dogs got the message, they  accepted that they were put in a submissive position, lied down and were quiet.
It was obvious that someone else was in charge and that they did not have to take on that task.
If we can behave in such a way that our dogs do not feel threatened and can relax, we have given them a wonderfull present. Imagine how beautiful it is to see for them that a pack leader is in charge and that they can feel safe.
As far as the case of Lars and his Yorkshire terriers is concerned, what we would have to do is different as his group of four visitors was different. It was composed of two visitors with two legs and two visitors with four legs.
What would I do?
I would have to know how Lars and his wife behave with their dogs. If they behave in a submissive way I would teach them how to become pack leaders. Then I would teach their dogs to accept other dogs in their vicinity. First I would arrange for them to meet many other dogs in the street. Then I would arrange a meeting with stable dogs in their home. Finally I would invite the visitors with the two dogs to come and meet Lars and his dogs in the street and finally I would invite them to come inside the garden and home of Lars. Each step in this process is only possible when the previous step has been succesfull.
Well, what kind of experiences have you had when you have visitors coming to your home?
Come on, drop me a line.
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 want to talk to you about a very special word in the English language. This word is I SHOULD and it is frequently being used by my clients. SHOULD has friends called I HAVE TO and I MUST. According to me I SHOULD is a very cruel word.
Thanks to all the clients I have been (and am) working with, I started paying extra attention whenever they used the word SHOULD. I heard it being used many times in sentences like: I SHOULD have walked more with the dog, or, I SHOULD have practised more with the dog, or, I SHOULD have trained the dog, or, I SHOULD have fed the dog like you¡¯ve shown us.
As I do one-to-ones with my clients in their homes I get to know them and their dogs quite well. During my work I pay attention to the interaction between humans and dogs in order to discover the causes of the many misunderstandings that exist between both species. I listen to the words and observe the body language of both dog owners and their pets. Humans communicate with words. Dogs communicate with body language. Many humans think that when a certain word is being used, the dog SHOULD understand it.  As dogs cannot consult a dictionary this is not the case.
This morning I was working with a family and their two rescued dogs. The family got in touch with me because their dogs are running away as soon as the gate is open. Eventually they will return many hours later. Meanwhile the anger, frustration and sadness are brewing in the hearts and the minds of the humans. Over the weeks I have been working with the family I see little improvement in the relationship between humans and dogs. However, what I hear my clients say quite often is that they SHOULD practice more.
It is my opinion that when humans use the word SHOULD it means that they have not done what they are talking about. It also means they are probably not going to change their behaviour.
I consider the use of the word SHOULD as nothing more than self-punishment, as nothing else but a source of negative energy. It also means for me that when the word SHOULD is used, the person using it has no intention to do what (s)he has just told her/himself to do.
I know that most of us (and that certainly includes me) have been trained by our parents, schools and institutions to use the word SHOULD. Unfortunately this training to evaluate ourselves in a negative and punishing way promotes more self-hatred than learning.
Let us take an example.
If a client says: I SHOULD practice more with my dog, (s)he evaluates her/himself regarding something (s)he wished she had done but has omitted to do, namely practising with the dog.
Clients using the word SHOULD have been taught (by parents, schools, institutions) to judge themselves in ways that imply that what they did (or did not) was wrong or bad. This self-admonishment implicitly assumes that they deserve to suffer for what they had done (or not done). It is tragic that so many of us get enmeshed in self-hatred rather than benefit from mistakes which show us our limitations and guide us toward personal growth.
Bear with me and imagine that we would like to change our behaviour with our dogs, stimulated by a clear desire to enrich life for ourselves and our dogs, rather than be stimulated by destructive energies such as shame and guilt.
I compare using the word SHOULD to having something inside me that resembles an internal dictator.
The terrible thing is that when a dictator wants us to do something, we RESIST learning because the word SHOULD implies there is no choice.
Let us take a look at some other examples.
How many times have you heard or said :
I SHOULD give up smoking, or, I SHOULD drink less, or, I should eat less, or, I SHOULD exercise more?
If we keep on saying that we SHOULD, or, HAVE TO, or, MUST do something, we keep on resisting it because we do not want to be slaves. Be it slaves to an inside dictator or outside moralistic judgments put into our minds by parents, schools and institutions.
Look at the difference it can make if we evaluate ourselves in a self-forgiving way and change the I SHOULD into the following sentence:
I CHOOSE TO practice more with my dog, BECAUSE I WANT TO create a better understanding between her/him and me.
According to me there is no self-punishment and no negative energy in that sentence. It does not provoke resistance to learning. It is a sentence spoken by a free human being who takes the decision to change her/his behaviour in order to enrich the life for her/himself and the dog.
If you want to know more about this positive way of communication with yourself, with your fellow human beings and your pets, read the book Non-violent communication. A language of life, by Marshall B. Rosenberg.
Come on, give it a try, change I SHOULD into I CHOOSE ¡ . BECAUSE I WANT TO ¡ . and tell me what you and your dog have experienced.
If you do not want to read my letters anymore click here here.
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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