Yielding    -By Dick Russell

The following piece is being posted with the authors permission. I think this one is worth at least a second or third read.  In an email group discussion the subject was about a young out of controll puppy that seemed on the verge of loosing his home.  Dick had written, "I am 99.9% certain, could have been rehabilitated and salvaged by nothing more complicated than Yielding. He was a pushy pup, an extremely pushy and mouthy pup. But, from what I could tell, and I only saw him on the video, he was no worse than many I have in my classes."

I asked Dick to give a more complete explaination of his technique, "Yielding."  Here is what he wrote:

Yielding    -By Dick Russell

Yielding is a concept that I first ran into at a Pat Pirelli horse seminar and then read more about in his book "Natural Horse-Man-Ship." It is based on the fact (factoid?) that among group dwelling animals, it is the more dominant animals that control space and that the higher the dominance the greater and more specific space is controlled. How does an animal control space? By making other animals get out of it. The corollary to this is that the ability to control space bestows status. IOW, as a young mare develops the ability to claim a choicer feeding or watering position, her rank in the herd order rises.

This lead me to begin watching my own, too many, dogs. I noticed that the higher-ranking ones spent time causing the lower ones to get out of their way. A low ranking one would move off the couch, for instance, when a higher member approached. I also noticed that ranking was not a fixed thing, but was, rather, a constantly shifting 
phenomenon. When Laura and I were together, and had between us fourteen dogs - yes, the woman was crazy - she had a Dalmatian bitch who was at most times the bottom of the pack. There is a wild persimmon tree in my yard. When this tree was dropping ripe fruit, this bitch claimed them all as her own. She would not let any of the other dogs within about forty feet of the tree. During this period of time, she was by all appearances the dominant member of our pack. The other dogs deferred to her, not just about the persimmons, but also in all other aspects of their daily lives. Oddly, when the persimmon drop was over, she sank back to the bottom. It was as if (anthropormorphically) the others said, "if the silly bitch wants them that bad, let her have them." Larger, stronger members could have taken the right to the fruit in battle. That, however did not happen.

The ability to cause other animals to Yield space (ie, to move out of the way) seems to be a matter of force of personality rather than one of physical size or strength, though they sometimes go hand in hand.

Along about this same time, I was becoming disenchanted with the usual dominance exercises that we dog trainers had been taught and were teaching. Many (most) of them were, imo, more confrontational than was needed, desired or even helpful. What we were doing was not the things that happened in a stable group of dogs. Living with a stable pack of dogs for any length of time, and observing them, will teach you that
appeasement is a much more prevalent mode of interaction than
confrontation. Former Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, Sam Rayburn, D Tx, once said, "to get along, you go along." Dogs figured this out long before people ever did. A dog's aim is simply to get through the day as easily and with as liitle hassle as possible. This is achieved by appeasement rather than confrontation. Dog trainers, most at least, had missed this. They, along with behaviorists and etiologists, had completely missed what was really going on.

Case in point, as an example, the alpha roll. There is no such thing.  There is a cinnamon roll, there is a Parker House roll, there is a rock and roll and there is a roll mighty river roll on, but there is no alpha roll. What there is is a beta roll. The higher ranking dog, except by his personality and presence, has nothing to do with this behavior. It is physically initiated and performed by the lower ranking animal as an act of appeasement. Dog trainers who have attempted alpha roll techniques with dominant, ready to fight, dogs have learned and have the scars to prove, that this is a really spiffy way to get yourself bitten.

Initially I practiced Yielding with my own dogs. Then, when I would borrow and untrained dog to demonstrate with at class, I'd have him move out of my way a couple or three times before I demonstrated what I had borrowed him for. I noticed a couple of things almost immediately. After a couple or three Yields the dogs gave me their attention. This was not always the case before I started having them Yield to me. Also, they caught on to what I wanted them to catch on to quicker. A short time later, I made it a part of what I had the students teach their dogs to do. This change caused an almost 100% improvement in the results that my students were getting with their dogs. Because the students were more successful, drop out rates plummeted. The command we use to have the dog Yield is "move." I call Yielding "the magic move." Having taught the dog to move out of your way makes everything else you will ever attempt to teach him easier to teach.

Yielding, by and large, makes everything else we have, in the past, done to establish our leadership completely unnecessary. With my own dogs, if they get to a door before I do, I let them go through first if they want. I regularly and deliberately feed my dogs before I eat.  I let them hang out on the sofa, the easy chairs and my bed. I 
purposefully violate every principle in Terry Ryan's nice little pamphlet "Alphabetizing Yourself." (And Margie, I ain't dumping on the lady.) But, at random times through the day, as our paths intersect, I have my dogs Yield the right of way to me. I do not have aggression toward me problems. I do not face challenges. I do not even have over pushiness. Neither do my students once they start this procedure.

Above, I used the qualifier, "by and large." Yielding does not seem to affect the (rare) psychotic dog. Alone, it does not stop fear-aggression. But, used in conjunction with balanced training, to give the dog some structure and discipline in his life, and large field socialization, as developed by David Klein (DTD), we are having very good improvement with older fear aggressive dogs and absolute cures 
with dogs under a year.

I teach a six weeks long class with four weeks of new information.  During the first week we have the dogs Yield as we approach them from the front. The second week we come in on both shoulders. The third, we come at about diaphram level on both sides and the fourth week from an angle behind the dog intersecting him at his hips.

Procedure the first week (and you can extrapolate to the other positions) is to stand in front of the dog with him on a loose lead. Saying, "move, move, move," walk into him. Do not kick the dog. Try not to step on him. Do not stop walking into him until he moves. As soon as he moves, even the slightest, quit moving forward. Give him relief. Praise and pet him. Teaching Yielding is negative reinforcement training. Folks with little dogs need to "Charley Chaplin" into the dog with their toes turned out and their heels together. Later, you have him move farther to get relief. It is never, though, farther than out of your way.

Yielding works best when it is practiced at random times throughout the day as opposed to being drilled. When you get through with that first cup of coffee in the morning and are going to put the cup in the sink, plot your path through the dog. Have him move. Go rinse the cup out. Later, when you get through playing on your computer, take a moment to have the dog Yield to you. Tell him "move" and go through him. When you get off the phone with your mother-in-law and just really, really need to vent some frustration, walk through the dog. "GET THE %$#& OUT OF MY WAY!!!"

Except for maw-in-law, Yielding is non-confrontational. It allows you to interact with the dog in a way that dogs interact with one another. And, it says to him, in a language that he is hardwired to understand, "I am the leader, You are the follower."

I consider Yielding equal with large field socialization as the two most important things I am doing. I think that they are things all class instructors should be doing. Everybody does not have access to a place to conduct the large field socialization classes, but everybody can incorporate Yielding into their classes.

Hope this answers your question