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 words themselves, but in the bad rap these words seem to have gotten when applied to the human-dog relationship.
For a moment, forget the terms "dominance" and "submission," especially if for some reason, those words have a negative meaning for you. Instead, think of being a "Pack Leader" as being the person in a position of responsibility to another person or animal. Because, to me, "responsibility" and "leadership" are two sides of the same coin. Did you know that, in the wild, animals that are born leaders have higher levels of stress ? and often shorter lives ? than those of their followers? That's because they don't take on the role of pack leader for the cash and prizes involved. Animals don't have egos. They take on leadership because they are born into it, and they take it very seriously. In our world as well, it's much easier to be a follower than a leader. A leader has to wake up in the morning, already making silent decisions that will affect the rest of the pack, whether you are a soccer coach, a mom, or a broker on Wall Street. When you take on ownership of a dog, you become responsible for that dog's food, water, shelter and health. But to truly develop an amazing relationship with your dog, you also need to be responsible for that dog's fulfillment in the forms of exercise, discipline (meaning setting fair and consistent rules, boundaries and limitations) and of course, affection (meaning you give affection freely, but only after it has been earned.)
Being a pack leader to your dog doesn't mean you are there to "boss your dog around." It means you are there to give your dog the structure and guidance he needs to have the best, more stress-free and most fulfilling life possible, given the realities of being a dog living in a human world.