Tony Knight Celebrity Dog Listener Interview
Think of Dog Listening as what every owner should know, regardless of what kind of dog they have. Ordinary training, puppy classes etc. may give the dog cool tricks to do, and it is fine if people do it, but it is icing on the cake. Dog Listening is the cake. Without it there is no solid foundation and the dog can still give you problems. For example, one lady and her dog in Canberra were the star pupils in obedience classes, but she was still getting bitten regularly at home. Once she learnt about Dog Listening she knew exactly what to do to solve the problem, and unlike other methods it was done without gadgets, drugs or "dominance".
The Dog Listening method was created by Tony Knight's mum, Jan Fennell, who had used "traditional" training methods for years, always feeling there was a missing piece to the puzzle. Meeting the Horse Whisperer, Monty Roberts gave her the piece - communication in their language. She has even subsequently helped the man himself with his own dog, and will be running a course from his home this September. When she became overwhelmed with requests for help once people knew about her method, I decided to help her out with the long distance calls (in those days that meant the South of England or Wales), something that returned to haunt her when a client called from Bangkok!
The great thing about this method is that anyone can do it - it is easy to understand and easy to apply, and even if your dog is bigger than you, it is really effective. I once helped a couple in Germany whose Great Dane weighed the same as them put together. They used to be pulled down the street, and if the dog saw anther dog the result was carnage. Once the dog understands you, you can see immediate changes - the dog doesn't pull on the lead, it will come back to you when you call it, and it will stop barking when you ask, for example.
Because this method works with all dogs as it is about communication is a way they understand, the personality of the individual dog then becomes a factor. Some dogs (like people) are a bit stubborn and ask lots of questions, but I have always got improvements in the dog's behaviour, even if sometimes the people could be better behaved and a bit less stubborn.
Coming to one of my talks is great for anybody who likes dogs, even if they don't have a problem with their pooch. You will find out exactly why dogs do what they do, and more importantly what you can do about it. I also have a Q&A section where people can ask me their burning questions. 5 Top Tips
1. Don't go up to a dog. Over 90% of people get bitten because of this. Instead, call the dog to you. If it doesn't come, you have been warned!
2. Try playing with your dog for 5 minutes, rather than taking it out for a long walk. It will get more exercise, both mental and physical, and you will have more free time for yourself.
3. When your dog barks, thank it. Shouting makes it think you are upset and you are joining in.
4. When you come home and your dog jumps at you, pay no attention until it leaves you alone. Then call it to you. The dog will learn to respect your personal space.
5. Relax! People expect too much of their dogs, often leading to everyone getting upset. Remember it is a dog, not a person.
Interview with Tony KnightQuestion:
What is dog listening?Tony Knight
: When you think about the traditional dog training such as teaching your dog to sit, stay and roll over, that's all fine but it doesn't actually deal with problem behaviour. You can think of dog training as icing on a cake, you can put icing but if there is no cake then there is no foundation. Dog listening is the cake; it is the foundation where if the dog knows what you want it to do, in a way that it understands, then you'll get progress. People that have everyday problems like the dog pulls on the lead, barks, won't come back or destroys the house - they are all the dog. You need to ask the question 'who's in charge of this pack?' or 'who's the decision maker?' The dogs think it's them.
Dog listening gives people the ability to show their dog, in a way the dog understands, that the dog can trust their owners, rather than the other way round.Question:
Is it possible that every pet owner can learn to 'dog listen'?Tony Knight
: Absolutely! This is the whole point; this is why we call ourselves 'dog listeners' because dogs are trying to tell us in what they do but we just don't understand. Once you understand it you'll realise it is obvious and fun. I have taught children 'dog listening' and in actual fact children are better than the adults, sometimes, because they're not cluttered by other things and it makes sense to them.
The process is logical, easy to do, doesn't take extra time and anybody can do it, which is what I love about it, you don't have to have a 'special gift' to be able to communicate with animals, it is nothing mysterious but something that everyone can do. Question:
Once we learn to 'dog listen' what can we achieve with our pet?Tony Knight
: For example, it is great for people who are walking their dogs to not have their arm ripped out of the socket because the dog is pulling like crazy. You can show the dog, without having to use gadgets that don't actually change the dogs mind, how to react when they are being walked by changing the mind of the dog, you need to explain who is the decision maker. When the dog pulls on the lead he thinks he has to be at the location first because they think they're decision marker. Once you start to show the dog that you're the one they can trust when you ask them to come to you, they will come to you. With 'dog listening' when you come in from work they won't be jumping all over you and putting their dirty paw prints all over you and the barking will stop. Dogs that bark and destroy the house are actually worried about their owners because they do this through panic because they think they have to look after their owners.
People can learn 'dog listening' and not have expensive bills for repairing the house or physiotherapy for their arms because their arms are being pulled out of their sockets. There are all sorts of benefits to the human and as importantly, the dog because the dog gets to relax and at the end of the day what we want is a dog that is relaxed around us so we can relax around the dog. Question:
Does the process of 'dog listening' work with other animals?Tony Knight
: The interesting thing is that this process has been used successfully on elephants over in New Zealand and it works on human beings as well because at one level we are all social animals. If you're dealing with a social animal then safety is in numbers and this process will tap into that because you're saying 'I appreciate what you are and I appreciate that we can use that to our advantage to give you piece of mind'.
This process has been used on elephants, baboons - it's amazing the animals that we can work with. With an elephant you can't force it to do anything; you have to convince it that it can trust you.
Where dogs and human beings are the same is that we are social animals, we are tribal territorial and that's the link between us and dogs, we both have a similar nature and what we do as human beings is deny the dog it's nature as well as ourselves. A cat can get away with murder because a cat can disappear for three days and come back with a dead animal and people think 'it's a cat, what do you expect?' because we understand what the cat is. Whereas with the dog we pretend it's a human being and when it does something that is typical for dogs then people get confused or upset, if you understand and respect the animal for what it is you can work with it and achieve great results.Question:
How did you begin to learn dog listening?Tony Knight
: My mum, Jan Fennell, wrote the original dog listener book and she was on TV, in Australia, a couple of years ago. When I was growing up there was always dogs around and Mum had been trying to get a good relationship with her dogs, she tried all the traditional methods and finally at the end of the 1980's she met Monty Roberts who is known as the horse whisper and she realised that what she was missing all this time was communication in a way that they understand. Mum went away and studied the animals and mimicked what they do and since that not only Jan but myself have worked with dingoes, wild-dogs, horses and domestic dogs to understand why they do things. The very least we can do for the dog, who is now in the human world as a pet, is to say 'You don't understand, how about you leave all the decision making, to me'.
When Mum was coming up with 'dog listening' she would ask me what I thought about her techniques and it made sense to me because at that time I was as big of skeptic as anybody else because I need to see the proof and the dogs were the ones that gave me the proof. When Mum would do something the dogs would react brilliantly and I thought 'this is fantastic'. It got to a point where I thought, I'm going to help my mum out because she has so many people from all over Britain asking for help that I asked her to train me so I could do the long distance work. Question:
How can Australia's look out for your classes? Do you have a website?Tony Knight
: Absolutely. www. tony-knight.co.uk
has got my blog and you can find out where I am in the world and when I will be doing classes as I will be coming back to Australia regularly to film with Channel 7. For the last few years I have decided to avoid winter and I will come back to Australia every time it gets cold in Europe.
Interview by Brooke Hunter