The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dog Walkers: "Be The Pack Leader" by Cesar Millan Reviewed by Jennifer

Put your psychology lessons to work in dealing with your pet canine.

Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer

1.                  Dogs come into the world using their noses first, then their eyes, then their ears.  Don’t bother yelling at them, it’s the energy and scent they pay attention to.
2.                  Dogs communicate with each other using their scent, body language and energy.  You cannot lie to a dog, they always know how you are feeling.
3.                  Dogs are pack animals.  If you are not the pack leader you create feelings of instability and the dog will compensate by dominant unstable behaviour.
4.                  Dogs live in the moment.  Their past is past.  They connect with the “now”. If we let them, they will let go of their unstable past and become “balanced” members of the pack.
5.                  A dog’s natural “goal” is to be connected, to live harmoniously, grounded, and balanced, in tune with Mother Nature.
6.                  Dogs don’t care about degrees, money or social status.  Dogs DO care about how unstable you are, because, being pack-oriented, it directly affects them.  How comfortable are you with yourself?  Are you happy?  Our dogs are our mirrors and in order for them to have a balanced life, we need to address our own issues as well as theirs.

When you interact with your dog-especially when you’re trying to correct out-of-control behavior- you must train your mind to relate to him in this order:
1.      Animal
2.      Species: dog
3.      Breed (Pit Bull)
4.      Name (Bella)

We have that in common, we are both animals.  All animals work for food and water and they all communicate with other animals using energy. 

Your dog is a dog, not a baby.  All dogs have certain traits in common and certain ingrained ways of behaving.  Learning to recognize what is a “dog” and what is “Bella” is the key in distinguishing unstable behavior from normal behavior.  All dogs want to be part of a pack.  Dogs strive to see the world in a very orderly fashion, with clearly defined rules to live by and a defined hierarchy of jobs and status. 

Recognizing breed is especially important if you have a purebred animal.  The  genes that make him “pure” also give him special needs that you must know how to fulfill in order to ensure his happiness and balance.  However, the “breed’ part of your dog is far less primal than the dog or animal part of her.  You block the brain from listening to the breed by draining energy.  Exercise, physical activity and psychological challenge are the three ways to drain energy in any dog.  Nothing triumphs the vigorous walk.  Dogs walk with powerful intention, not just to pee.  They feel in a primal way they are using their skills to survive.  Respond to the dogs breed by structuring the walk to address the specific needs of the breed i.e. hunting dogs a high energy group need high energy walks; hike, use a backpack on the dog, run, rollerblade etc.  Hide items in the yard and have the dog search for them.  Hike, jog, agility games, flyball, walk briskly until the energy displayed becomes calm and relaxed.

Most of the time, what we think of as a dog’s personality is in our own heads, the story we made up about the dog.  Often it is based on how the dog looks or acts,  and what we think of as personality is actually based upon the dog’s own issues of instability.  It is important to understand the difference between what might be an “issue” for a dog and what is merely a normal dog trait or personality.


1.                  Aggression:  Directed toward other dogs and/or people .  Includes fear-biting, growling over food, lunging at strangers or strange dogs, aggressive possessiveness.
2.                  Hyperactive Energy:  Includes jumping on people upon meeting them or when they enter the house: compulsively spinning or twitching; destructive activity such as chewing and digging; overexcited panting; etc.  Don’t confuse overexcitement with happiness.
3.                  Anxiety/Separation Anxiety:  Includes barking, whining, scratching; etc.- whether you are there or after you leave the house, pacing; destroying things when you’re away.
4.                  Obsessions/Fixations:  Includes an “addiction” or unusual preoccupation with anything from a cat to a tennis ball expressed by tense body language, obliviousness to owner’s commands, food, rewards, even physical pain.
5.                  Phobias:  A fear or traumatic incident that the dog has not been able to move beyond-anything from shinny floors to thunder to the UPS truck.
6.                  Low Self-esteem/Timidity:  Weak energy, irrational fear of anything, total freezing up.  An extreme degree of fear.

Personality in a dog’s world is expressed by scent and energy.  Dogs seek out ‘friends’ dogs who match their level of play.

Dogs don’t have a “name” within the pack, dogs have a “position”, and all positions are important.  Every position serves a purpose, it may not be a democracy, but it is about the “we”.


EXERCISE…Then DISCIPLINE (rules, boundaries, limitations)…Then AFFECTION
Normal Dog Traits or Personality            Dog Issues or Instability

Active                                                                          Hyperactive
Playful                                                                          Jumps on People
Responsive to general commands/signals                       Disobedient, doesn’t come
Eager to join in Pack activities                           Runs away
Sometimes cautious                                                      Fearful, biting, barking, peeing
Sociable with dogs/people                                            Obsessive barking
Curious                                                                        Antisocial
Happy-go-lucky                                                           Aggressive or predatory
Alert                                                                             Overly territorial
Exploratory                                                                  Possessive of toys, food, furniture
Patient-practices waiting                                               Obsessive over object or activity, chewing, tail chasing
Affectionate                                                                  Shrinks from touch


Dogs often respond better when there’s less sound involved, and you are strengthening your energy by turning your thoughts inward.  When claiming a piece of furniture, focus your mind and then tell yourself, “This is my sofa.”  Use your body to claim it, repeating that thought in your mind over and over again.  It is your energy that speaks to your dog.  Talking to yourself is a much faster way to communicate your energy to your dog than trying to use human language to reason with him, no matter how persuasive you are, or how loudly you yell or how nicely you ask. 

Techniques for Attaining Calm Assertive Energy:

1.                  Clear and positive intention
2.                  Method acting techniques
3.                  Visualization
4.                  Self-hypnosis
5.                  Inner dialogue
6.                  Motivational recordings
7.                  Positive affirmations, written or verbal
8.                  Music
9.                  Yoga, Tai Chi
10.              Martial arts
11.              Meditation or prayer

If you can accomplish calm-assertive energy and leadership with your dog, you can accomplish it in any other area of your life.  Let your dog be your trusting follower, your mirror—and ultimately, your guide, on your journey to becoming the very best person you can be.

  1. Ideal time is when you are not in a rush.  This should be a meaningful, enjoyable experience for both of you
  2. Daytime is the best time to walk- in synch with dogs biological clocks.
  3. Don’t create overexcitement .  Wait until the dog is in a calm state before attaching the leash and always ensure that the dog comes to you for the leash.
  4. Remember your inner dialogue of calm, assertive and strong.
  5. After attaching the leash ensure that your dog is in a calm state and you are leading outside the door before departing.  An excited dog must wait till he has calmed down, do not reinforce excited, unbalanced behavior before leaving.  Ask your dog to sit, settle, and relax
  6. Let your dog relieve itself within 5 minutes of being outside and then begin the migration ritual, moving forward together.  Don’t let her sniff the ground until she has demonstrated for a number of blocks following your lead.
  7. Vary your routine as much as possible.  Dogs get bored with the same walk, they search out new smells and sounds- it becomes psychologically challenging to them as well as a physical exercise.
  8. Don’t forget upon returning home, you are still the pack leader and enter the house first.
  9. In the event the weather is terrible, let you dog see the outside either from a patio or the front door so that they understand why you are not going out for the routine excursion at this moment.