Achieving Balance and Harmony


Ferocious Min Pin, an Overprotective Pug, and a Stubborn Bassett Hound

Season 2 | Episode 8 | Chip, Lucy, Hank & Betty, and Leo

The terrible twos hit Chip with a vengeance. This Min Pin turned ferocious, biting and even drawing blood from his owner's family. Thankfully, Cesar comes to the rescue. Then Denise Richards' pug gets a little over protective and aggressive towards visitors. Can Cesar help Denise avoid a costly, pug-induced lawsuit? Plus, a stubborn Bassett Hound has to literally be dragged places he doesn't want to go. Watch Cesar as he shows all the owners how to be the pack leader their pets need them to be.


The Importance of Mastering the Art of the Walk

The single most powerful tool we have for bonding with our dogs is the walk. Walking is a primal exercise that awakens all of her pack instincts. No amount of toys or treats will make her happier than a brisk, hourly walk by your side. Yet the walk is one area where dog owners seem to have the most problems. Most people have the dog out in front, pulling them forward. I’ve asked the reason for this and I usually get, “She loves her freedom.” Freedom?

A dog is a pack animal and what she really wants from the walk is leadership and structure. To me, the best role models for great dog walking technique are the homeless and the service dog-using handicapped! Why? They seem to better understand the concept of canine pack leadership. The leader is always in front during the walk. And for many homeless, their dogs often aren’t even on a leash – they choose to stay behind or beside their owners.

Of course a dog wants to sniff the ground and pee on a tree during the walk, but it is important that we as pack leaders understand that we should be making the “when and where” decisions for them. Following our rules gives the dog confidence because she’s working for every privilege she gets.

Is There a Way that You Prefer People Bring a Pack into their Home?

Many of my cases come from situations where a client thought they had a good enough relationship with their first dog, then after bringing another dog–or dogs–into the household, “everything went wrong.” Of course, the client always blamed the new dog(s) for the problem. The truth is usually these problems began with the first dog and the relationship with his or her owner. If the owner doesn’t establish a clear pack leader relationship with the first dog, any other animal coming into the home will be heading for trouble.

When you adopt multiple dogs at different times, you must have a clear understanding with the first dog from the start – the dog is the follower, and you are the leader. Not part of the time - all of the time! Once that is established, only then can you bring in a second dog into the mix. Now because you’ve established a clear relationship with the first “follower” dog, the second dog should be able to sense that in this household, the human is in control. You will find then that both dogs will naturally try to co-exist with one another as your followers.

Ultimately, it’s not about the dogs’ relationships with each other, it’s about their relationship with you and how you set boundaries and limitations. Once you have the two dogs understanding that concept, it will to be much easier to bring dogs number three and four into the home.

Again, if dog number one is unbalanced from the beginning, there will be no way to balance the rest of the pack because the subsequent dogs will sense a power struggle.

How the Family’s Behavior can Affect Balance in Dogs

A healthy family should be able to function as one unit. Like dogs, we are pack-oriented, though some family members often insist on acting entirely independent. I’ll admit I was guilty of such behavior myself!

Early in my marriage, not long after my first son Andre was born, I pretty much let my wife know that the “family” was her problem – I was all about me, my goals, and my career. Despite the fact that I was working with a pack of dogs all day, in regards to my own life, I actually forgot about the whole pack concept when it came to my family!

Needless to say, in order for our family to work, I had to get back with the program and learn to cooperate with and support each other. We all needed to follow rules, boundaries, and limitations. This sense of teamwork translates well if your family has a dog.

It’s so important for everyone in the family to work from the same playbook to keep the dog balanced. For example, always practice calm-assertive energy, enter the doorway first, walk the dog next to you, allow the dog to meet other dogs a certain way, and feed the dog at a set time. Consistent structure is so important for his well being, especially if you have a dog that has come into your home unbalanced.

If everyone in the family has their own way of caring for the dog, he becomes confused, and then feels that he has to let the rest of the pack know who is going to run the show. He can’t say, “You know what? Somebody’s off the track. We are not all working together here.” Inconsistency will not only create tension within the family, but will affect your dog too!

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