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Author Archive: "Cesar Millan"

Dogs as Teachers

My family lives in a typical suburban neighborhood in Southern California, and our cul de sac is overrun with kids. This Halloween while my 13 year old son Andre took 9 year old Calvin trick or treating, my wife and I got to watch a virtual parade of ghosts and goblins, vampires and witches, superheroes and cartoon characters as they came and went from our front door. But there was something else we noticed and got a big kick out of — all the dressed up dogs. We were entertained by Labs dressed up as ballerinas, English bulldogs dressed up as NFL players, and Yorkies dressed up like little bandits. The market for doggie Halloween outfits must certainly be booming!

Of course this is all harmless fun, but seeing this pageant of dogs in their cute outfits got me thinking about our powerful need to humanize our dogs. We give them human names, and we put them to sleep on doggie canopy beds. We speak to them in full sentences and paragraphs. We train our children very young to humanize animals by creating cartoon characters of critters that talk, ...


Communicating Through Energy

In Cesar's Way, I introduced the concept of communicating with your dog through energy, which is the universal language of feeling and emotion. In my new book, Be the Pack Leader, I go into much more depth about specific ways to harness the power of energy in our everyday lives, and most importantly, how to become aware of the energy you are projecting at any given moment.

Many people have conversations with their dogs, trying to reason with them. Then they get frustrated and angry when their dogs don't "listen." When we try to convince our dogs to get off the couch using words, bribes, flattery or threats, we are using human psychology on a dog. What the dog is "hearing" is not that we love him, or are promising him a day at the dog park if he gets off the couch, or the threat that we'll make him stay in the garage all night. What the dog is really picking up from us is our energy, which in this case, would be anger and frustration. And animals don't follow or respect frustrated or angry energy ...


Raised by Wolves

Many adventure stories — most fictional but some based on truth — describe the saga of a person lost in the jungle or on a cold arctic plain. The human is "adopted" by a wolf or dog, who rescues him, keeps him alive and leads him to safety. It's also interesting to note that most of the legendary stories of feral children describe infants raised by wolves, and not by our much closer relatives in the animal kingdom, the primates.

If we were lost in the wild, a dog (or canine-related species) would indeed be a wise choice for a leader to help us navigate its perils. Canids, both wild and domesticated, are among nature's hardiest and most successful survivors, and their social structures closely parallel our own. But when we bring dogs into our modern, industrialized lives, the situation is reversed. We must take on the leadership role. That's because we are bringing them into our world, not the other way around. How can we expect a dog to be able to navigate modern threats and dangers, like electrical wires and outlets, traffic, grocery stores, and can ...


Trust and Respect

When it comes to creating a healthy, happy, and truly fulfilling relationship between you and your dog, two essential ingredients are required: trust and respect. Those are the two building blocks of great leadership. If you do not share both these two qualities with your dog — you toward her, and she toward you — then your relationship with that dog needs some work.

Of course, you can accomplish trust with your dog and not have respect; and you can have respect from your dog but not have earned her trust. For example, John and Jenny Grogan, of Marley and Me fame, had plenty of trust from their dog Marley. Marley was devoted, loving, and loyal — all the things we expect in a family dog, but Marley was out of control and didn't obey commands. When your dog leaves you and your family sitting at an outdoor café to go chase another dog, that is pretty clear proof that your dog does not respect you. I recently handled a case where a very fearful dog respected and obeyed his handlers, but did not trust them to ...


Be the Pack Leader

Welcome, Powell's readers, to this forum on my new book, Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog...and Your Life. Powell's readers played a huge part in helping make my first book, Cesar's Way, into an international best-seller, and I could not be more grateful to you all.

I thought I'd use this first blog to address the basic concept of the pack leader that I put forth in both books — what it means, and what it doesn't mean. For some people who aren't really familiar with my philosophies, the term "pack leader" is very easily reduced to saying that I simply want all owners to be "the boss" over their dogs. These same critics believe that when I use the terms "dominance" and "submission", it means that an owner should be to her dog like a dictator is to the suffering people of a banana republic. Since I'm not a native English speaker, I used to think this was because I was not phrasing my words correctly. But now that I've become much more proficient in English, I realize the problem is not in the ...


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