Achieving Balance and Harmony


Enemy German Shepherds, a Terror Beagle, and a Selfish Bichon

Season 2 | Episode 18 | Pete and Dax, Sugar ad Snowflake

Brigitte has been playing musical chairs with her three German Shepherds for six years, making sure that two of them, Pete and Dax, never have contact. Can Cesar stop this ridiculous rotation? Then Cesar visits the Formans whose adopted Beagle Sugar has proven to be rotten to the core, terrorizing the Formans' grandchildren and chewing up anything in sight. Can Cesar reduce this Sugar high? Finally, Cesar attempts to help Sitfokks with their Bichon, Snowflake, who has become "the other woman" in their relationship.


The “Other Woman”

The more cases I take on, the more I come to understand that dogs are truly a reflection of the human dynamic in a household. If a family isn’t working as a team in raising their dog using exercise, discipline, and affection, not only will the dog experience behavioral problems; his human pack could experience problems too!

Malcolm, Snowflake’s owner, seemed to be continually sabotaging his wife Judi’s chances of making peace with the dog because he wanted Snowflake to be “his” dog — “his” loyal companion — and not his family’s.

But this isn’t fair to the dog, who are pack animals by nature, and it isn’t fair to the other family members. They all need to take turns consistently walking him, disciplining him, and giving him affection. By doing this, he will experience the entire family in leadership roles within the pack and will submit to them. This creates a stable pack environment for Snowflake, and he’ll stop taking advantage of any one particular family member.

Drop it, Sugar!

The case of service dog Sugar will show you that it makes no difference to dogs whether or not – or how – their owners may be handicapped, as long as that person projects strong, calm-assertive energy. Service dogs demonstrate that, as long as they trust their human leaders, they can do amazing things to make up for whatever physical disability that person has.

Sugar’s owner Ray believed that the dog was “picking on him” because he had multiple sclerosis and couldn’t fight back. But what Ray didn’t realize was that he actually had a very powerful, calm-assertive energy that he wasn’t using. The best way handicapped people can empower themselves is to make the most of what they have; in Ray’s case, his scooter. You’ll see how, when you tune into the episode. His problem was not his MS, it was dog psychology!

Remember, dogs can sense weakness from those who are perceived to be weak-minded. But if they can commit to learning how to become a strong pack leader, a successful relationship will emerge.

Three’s a Crowd

The most important thing you can do when introducing a new dog to the pack is to assert leadership. You need to be in total control of the situation, with every dog in the household recognizing your authority. In my work, I meet so many warm and generous people who take animals into their homes. They just reach out and adopt strays out of the goodness of their heart, no matter how many other pets they have at home. However, with dogs, the more of them you have, the more important it is that you 100% commit yourself to letting them know that you — and you alone — are the pack leader.

For example, once Dog #1 and you have a leader-follower relationship, the rest will fall into line, though only if you behave consistently with every other animal. In other words, Dog #3 will see that Dogs #1 and #2 are calm-submissive which, to him, means he is entering a balanced pack. Dogs that spend time at my Dog Psychology Center rehabilitate so quickly because of this dynamic. Everyone knows their place and no one questions authority and leadership.

See, dogs need to feel like they “fit in” just as humans do and usually that drive to belong neutralizes a lot of unwanted behavior. In other words, most well-meaning owners adopt unstable dogs into an unbalanced pack, hoping the new addition will balance everything out, but, more likely than not, the opposite happens; it intensifies the pack’s unbalanced state.

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