The new season of Dog Whisperer starts with a splash as we follow the progress of a water-obsessed Labrador. Plus, Cesar has his hands full with a pooch with performance anxiety and a leg chomping Chihuahua. It's a season premiere you can really sink your teeth into.
You may wonder why some dogs are very comfortable around adults, but exhibit aggressive behavior towards kids. The truth is that many dogs perceive children differently from the way they see adults. They move differently, walk differently, smell differently, and sound differently. It’s in their nature to react to any energy that, to them, seems unbalanced or unstable.
The reality is that most parents don’t teach their children the correct way to act around dogs. We teach our kids that it’s okay to get excited when they see a dog. Children often run to the dog and look him square in the eye, invading its physical space before the dog is ready. Remember, in their natural world, animals attack instability, and excitement can be perceived by a dog as instability.
I often bring my sons Andre, 11, and Calvin, 7, on the job with me when dealing with a child-aggressive dog. Mind you, I’d never, ever put my kids in even a remotely dangerous situation. Any dog allowed near my boys has to be under my control. Growing up around my pack, my boys know that it’s vital to always project calm, assertive energy when they are around animals. That’s why Andre and Calvin are such assets to our family business! They also turned out to be valuable assistants when I dealt with Hootie, the kid-phobic agility dog.
Do “mean” and “vicious” dog breeds exist?
Let’s get one thing straight. There is no such thing as a “vicious” dog breed. The truth is that ANY breed of dog, big or small, can develop aggression. Aggression is a symptom of an unsatisfied dog; a dog whose life is not being fulfilled. Some breeds, including “pit bulls,” Rottweilers, and German shepherds, are more powerful than other breeds, so if they become aggressive, they can almost always do much more damage. Smaller dogs, like Chihuahuas, can often be defensive when fearful or nervous – you’d be a little surly too if you were constantly being treated like a purse! But when dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds are treated and cared for properly, they have the potential to be calm and balanced pets.
You may remember “Nu Nu,” from the first season of Dog Whisperer. He was very human-aggressive, so much so that my producers dubbed him the “Demon Chihuahua.” This episode I’ll introduce you to Bandit, or “Nu Nu, II,” as my crew called him. I’ve met a lot of “demon” Chihuahuas in my career; in fact, Coco, the Chihuahua in my pack, was once one of them. Like Nu Nu and Bandit, Coco was very human-aggressive and much of her hostility was directed towards kids. Now rehabilitated, Coco not only helps with the rehabilitation of other unstable dogs, she is one of my family’s most trusted family pets – and the special dog of my youngest son, Calvin.
Brady the “Pool Dog” reminds me of so many obsessive cases I’ve handled. His behavior probably seemed funny or cute when it first appeared, but as silly as it may have looked, for Brady and other obsessive dogs, the situation wasn’t funny at all. Dogs who become obsessive are usually frustrated and bored, then one day they find something that attracts them, leading them to download all that pent-up energy into that one object or activity. Wham! Suddenly, it’s all they can think about. It becomes a very unhealthy way to release tension, sort of like negative human addictions like drugs, alcohol, food, or gambling.
A dog can become obsessive over practically anything–a Frisbee, chasing a skateboard or the cat, chewing a stuffed toy or your best Manolo Blahniks–even your dentures! The most dangerous thing about obsessive behavior is that his mind doesn’t recognize limits. An obsessive dog will pursue his fixation regardless of pain, hunger, or other dangerous signals. So, if your dog’s charming little habit is beginning to get out of control, consult a professional. It may look funny, but trust me; your dog isn’t having fun.
A human psychologist calls in the big guns when her pet pug and pet pig get a little rowdy. Cesar coaxes an emotionally scarred Shepherd from under a desk. Plus, find out why two Dachshunds named Chocolate and Cinnamon make quite an unsavory mix.
I just returned Pinky, one of the dogs visiting my center, to her owner. She had some “fear of people” issues prior to being adopted by her new owner, a fireman. This guy was a strong pack leader on the job; used to making people feel safe in the most extreme, dangerous situations. However, he couldn’t get Pinky to relax. When she came to me, this pretty female pit bull-mix was so fearful of humans, she would curl into a comma-shape and tremble so hard she could hardly hold up her own weight. Her tail seemed to be permanently stuck between her legs.
As humans, we tend to feel sorry for animals that seem scared. It’s our natural inclination to try and make a frightened dog feel safe. Unfortunately, that sometimes results in the dog lashing out and causing serious injury. Our coddling can nurture unwanted behavior. The “energy” of pity and guilt can be perceived by the dog as weak. In this episode, you’ll meet Sonny the Scared Shepherd, an example of a dog like Pinky. He’s still got a ways to go in his rehabilitation.
Pinky, on the other hand, has thrived at the Dog Psychology Center. She designated herself an official “greeter,” welcoming and licking the faces of all human visitors to the compound. She’s proof that the only way to relieve an animal of its timidity is for a strong pack leader to calmly and assertively move it through its fears.
Introducing a New Dog Into Your Home
I just returned from another case where a new dog was brought into a home with an existing dog. The initial introduction of the two was disasterous. Too many well-intentioned people bring a new dog into their homes expecting that the dog will figure it all out on its own. My number one rule when introducing a new dog into a household is the humans have to know more than the dogs. We have to have basic common sense and be informed about dog behavior before we bring them home. Dogs are able to sense our state-of-mind and confidence levels, and if they sense that we aren’t in control, they will perceive us as weak.
Scarlett, my French bulldog, was once also dog-aggressive. Before she became a member of my family, she was adopted into a home with animals that had no rules, boundaries, or limitations. Because there was no balance in the pack, Scarlett ended up acting out and got blamed for her “bad” behavior. Really, the problems existed before she even arrived.
Owners need to develop a healthy, connected relationship with all their dogs, especially if a new dog is introduced into a home with existing dogs. They don’t need a pal; they need a leader, someone who can act as an authority figure and the dominant source of alpha energy. If you are a strong pack leader, a happy home will come naturally.
The Runaway Dog
There are dogs who could give Houdini or David Blaine a run for their money. You know what I’m talking about — those dogs who are unbelievable escape artists. They’ll run away at the drop of a hat! Some of them are truly Vegas-quality magicians. I’ve known dogs to unlock doors, open gates, unbolt locked doggie doorways, and even leap out of moving cars! Most owners of “escape artist” dogs admit their secret fear is that their dog doesn’t like them.
But their actions have nothing to do with dogs’ feelings for its owners. It may just mean that the dog is bored and frustrated. Most of the “escape artist” dogs that I have dealt with are active breeds that don’t have enough to do. Dogs like this need day-to-day activity, and I try to remind owners who have these problems that no matter how beautiful or luxurious their homes and backyards, it’s still just a big kennel to a dog – a fancier jail. All dogs, particularly active ones, need to be mentally and physically exercised every day. If they’re not given healthy outlets for their energy, they will find unhealthy ones.
Buddy is a Lab/ Staffordshire mix who is anything but friendly to smaller animals in the neighborhood. Teddy is a poodle that can't stop running in circles. And if that's not enough to make your head spin, Cesar faces off with a bulldog who's obsessed with attacking skateboard wheels.
The Difference Between Punishing and Correcting Your Dog
The family that owned Matilda the Skateboard-Obsessed Dog reminded me of so many of my clients. They felt that by correcting her, they were punishing her and didn’t want to “hurt the dog’s feelings.” This led to Matilda’s unwanted, obsessive behavior.
In my mind, there is a huge difference between correcting and punishing a dog. To me, punishing often comes from frustration and anger. In other words, there is emotion behind a punishment. Correcting the dog is just reminding him that he broke the rules, boundaries, or limitations and setting him back on the right track. It’s done simply, instantly, and without emotion.
Dogs don’t punish each other. When one dog does something out of line, the others don’t get emotional about it, they simply correct each other or snap each other out of the offending state-of-mind. Again, it’s the natural consequence of a follower that’s not respecting the rules, boundaries, or limitations.
Are Dogs Natural Predators?
Here in the United States, we often refer to our dogs as our children, our brothers, and sisters, and even our soulmates! So if they ever display severe aggression towards another animal, we’re shocked, sad, or may even feel betrayed. We think of that dog as a “bad seed.”
My French bulldog Scarlett was once very animal aggressive. She once severely injured a Chihuahua and maimed a pet rabbit. Her previous owners were aghast—if a person committed these acts, they would have been sent to prison. However, after her rehabilitation, she is now my loyal companion, and I take her everywhere. She helps me rehabilitate other dogs.
The truth is we tend to forget that dogs are natural predators; that is why so many dogs have the desire to hunt, and we need to remember that when we bring the dog into our homes and families. It’s up to us to be strong and consistent pack leaders who set very clear rules and boundaries. Good pack leaders make those rules clear from the beginning, before things get out of control. It’s fine for him to run and retrieve a tennis ball, after all, that predatory energy must be released somewhere. However, it’s not fine for him to run and retrieve the family cat.
Who’s Walking Whom?
Recently I was in New York City to appear on the Live With Regis and Kelly show. I’m not a city guy, and I was missing my wife and kids like crazy, so I took to the streets to walk off my blues. Everywhere I looked, I saw people with dogs – and nine out of ten of those dogs were walking their owners.
Walking with our dogs is the most important activity we can do with them, but if your dog is running ahead of you on the leash, then he is walking you, not the other way around. In a dog’s natural habitat, a pack leader never allows his followers to be in front of him. This is very, very important to dogs and as their owners, we always have to remind the dog who the pack leader is.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as with search and rescue dogs, some service dogs, and sled dogs. They all walk in front of their human handlers, but that is because the handler gave them the order to go out in front. If the dog just decided to go out in front on its own, the human has just become the follower, and the dog becomes unbalanced.
It was frustrating to watch the dogs in the city. It was all I could do to hold myself back from stopping these total strangers and correct their techniques. Once again, if we are not the pack leaders, we are going to create instability for our dogs.
After rescuing thirty-seven stray dogs, actor Scott Lincoln meets his match with a ferocious stray Jindo named JonBee. A crazy Great Dane wreaks havoc on house and home and a sad boxer constantly mourns the death of a beloved mate. See how Cesar makes nice in doggyland.
Choosing an Appropriate Rescue Dog
People often ask me how they can rescue a dog that is going to be “issue-free.” First, a dog is in the shelter probably because it has been abandoned by someone, so there’s an issue right there. The most important thing to understand is a dog’s energy and if it’s compatible with yours. In other words, if you’re a laid-back guy, you’ll want to look for a passive, calm, and submissive dog. If this is going to be a family pet, it’s important that the whole family evaluate the dog together and agree on the dog they want because a dog will immediately sense when one of the family members does not care for it.
In order for people to understand their dog’s energy, they need to be more aware of the energy they themselves are projecting. When you enter a shelter, make sure you’re relaxed, calm, and assertive. Don’t feel pity for the dogs or act excited or emotional. I know it’s hard. You may have the biggest heart and best intentions, but, to an animal, those are negative energies. If you have a chance to walk the dog, or to go back another day to observe the dog, then I’d also recommend doing either or both of those activities.
If you’re adopting a dog into a home with other dogs, the new pet has to have a lesser energy or the same energy as the others. It must be more submissive or in an equal state of mind. That way there is no competition from the newcomer and there isn’t tension created for the dogs already there.
Animal Grief and the Mistakes Owners Make When Replacing a Deceased Dog
Do animals grieve? The answer is yes, and often very deeply. If you’ve had a dog die, you mourn the void left by your beloved pet. Its canine companion or mate feels the same sadness. Many animals, including elephants and dolphins, have elaborate “funeral” rituals for members of their packs. They can also experience depression, but for animals in the wild, grief is a natural cycle. They process it and move on. They live in the moment.
In my opinion, humans seem to be afraid to go through the grief cycle. We tend to want to stop the painful feelings quickly, often without fully processing our own grief. To a lot of dog owners, this may mean replacing the pet right away. It’s not a coincidence that a disproportionate number of my cases involve a problem that started with this common situation. Bringing a new animal into a household that’s still mourning is not a wise thing to do — for you or for your remaining pet.
When we do this, the animals become stuck in our grief and depression. If a human isn’t finish grieving, the new or remaining animals are going pick up on this “weak” energy. From that very moment, that dog is in control of both of their lives and becomes unbalanced.
What Makes a Dog “Red-Zone” Aggressive?
“Red-zone” aggression is created by an extreme imbalance. A dog does not choose to be in the “red zone” because it does not exist in the animal world unless it is sick with a disease, like rabies. A good majority of the time, the behavior is caused by a traumatic experience humans may have inflicted upon the dog. If this is the case, the very least we can do is exhaust all methods in trying to restore the dog’s natural balance. I kept this in mind as I worked with Jonbee the Jindo, a “red-zone” case that had the good fortune of being rescued by Scott Lincoln, who thought his troubled, new dog could be rehabilitated and called me in to help.
Unfortunately, a lot of owners listen to advice telling them to put “red-zone” cases to sleep. I don’t believe in putting a dog to sleep because his behavior has progressed into the “red zone”. I believe they can almost always be rehabilitated. Now that isn’t to say that these dogs aren’t dangerous – indeed they are and their behavior modification needs to be handled by professionals.
Only if, after professional intervention and consultation, a “red-zone” dog is still a danger to humans or other dogs, and there is no safe place for the dog to be isolated, should euthanizing remain an option.
Cesar embarks on a special mission to help the canine victims of Hurricane Katrina. He also encounters a couple who fell in love —until their dogs met, and a big dog's dangerous appetite for toys, towels and trampolines.
The Importance of Walking Your Dog … Every Day
Time and time again, I’ll rush to a new client’s home in an “emergency” situation. Their dog is anxious or obsessive or fearful or aggressive – take your pick. After working with the dog, I give the owners my recommendation, and they’ll look at me like I’m crazy and say, “You mean I’m paying $350 to have you tell me to walk my dog more?”
Okay, let me explain. You see, in nature, dogs spend much of their time walking as a pack, trying to find food and water. Their very survival is based on walking! Birds fly, fish swim, dogs walk. Walking allows them to have a sense of direction, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of pack comfort. The pack is all about structure and organization.
Domestic dogs live behind walls and no matter how luxurious those walls are, it’s still totally unnatural to a dog. So the very best thing you can do for your dog to ensure a close, bonded relationship, a sense of structure and organization, and ultimately a balanced pet is to master the walk and do it often!
Chow Time! Create Balance Before Feeding Your Dog
You know the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch?” Well, think about that the next time you are getting ready to feed your dog. To put it another way, your dog has a natural instinct to work for food. All animals work for food and water. All of them. And we need to learn that we are feeding the animal—not the name, not the breed, not the species—the animal. This is how they stay in tune to nature because they use nature as a source of survival. So when somebody properly challenges a dog by creating hunger and thirst before feeding, this allows the dog to be in-tune with itself.
At the Dog Psychology Center, I always challenge my dogs physically and psychologically before the feeding ritual. I fulfill the physical part by exhausting them from a walk, or rollerblading. Then the psychological challenge: I make them wait. The dog that is the most calm-submissive of the pack gets to eat first. Can you imagine what kind of a motivator that is for the other dogs to be calm-submissive? There is no barking or rushing or jumping allowed; and no one is permitted to growl at anyone else. Mealtime is then an incredibly satisfying experience for them, because they’ve earned it – and they know it!
What are Your Feelings about Rescue Organizations?
About half of the dogs in my pack at the Dog Psychology Center come from rescue organizations and some of their histories are horrific. I had one dog that was set on fire by its owners, pit bulls that have been maimed from illegal dog fights, dogs that have been beaten, choked, tied up, and almost drowned. But dogs are resilient and those in my pack are once again balanced and fulfilled in the way that nature intended.
I like to say that the dogs of my private clients are my business, but the dogs of shelters and rescue organizations are my karma. People who rescue animals are an amazing group of human beings. Without them, thousands of potential family pets are put to sleep. Some may have extreme beliefs about animal rights, and you may or may not agree with them, but right or wrong, animal rescue organizations and their mostly-volunteer members are superheroes to me. I thank them for all the wonderful dogs they have brought into my life.
Cesar tries to rehabilitate two Rottie pups before they grow into dangerous attack dogs. Then, Linda and Rich call Cesar to help them with Buddy, who turns out to be quite the biter. And finally, photographer Michael Forbes' countrified Visla cowers and cringes at the sights and sounds of the city. See what happens when he calls Cesar as a last resort.
Can a Dog Have Low Self-Esteem?
Growing up in Mexico, I had never heard the term “self-esteem” until I came to the United States. I thought it was a “touchy-feely” term for people with too much time on their hands. However, once I became familiar with my clients’ problem dogs, I realized that self-esteem can be a concern for both people and dogs.
Now, a dog’s low self-esteem could be misinterpreted as calm-submissive energy, but it’s not the same thing. A dog with this problem could be naturally submissive, but may exhibit aggressive behaviors. Fearful aggression is a symptom of low self-esteem, because its objective is to be left alone.
To fix this problem, you need to teach the dog to trust himself. As the powerful, calm-assertive, and trusted pack leader, you can help your dog overcome specific fears by turn the negatives into positives. For example, if he is afraid of swimming, teach him how fun it is to play in the water. If he is afraid of yellow things, teach him to play with yellow toys. If he is afraid of bikes, teach him that when you ride the bike, he also gets to go for a satisfying run.
Every small success will start to build up his confidence. And remember, it’s not an overnight fix. Building self-esteem can take a very long time and require commitment and patience from the pack leader.
Are the Rules Different for Puppies?
As the father of two boys, many parents would agree that they can be a handful in a small house. I admit, sometimes it’s easier for me to control my pack than my kids, but my boys Andre and Calvin are growing up to be wonderful human beings and I credit that in part to teaching them rules, boundaries, and limitations from the start. Every child development book you read will tell you kids crave structure and rules, and those rules have to be applied early and consistently! You can’t just start setting rules when they are teenagers, right? So why do we let a litter of puppies do whatever they want, then expect them to obey? Pups six months and older are already in their “teens!”
The second you bring a new puppy home, start implementing rules, boundaries, and limitations so they understand what is expected of them from the beginning. Puppies are much easier to balance because, although some pups do show dominant tendencies, they don’t seek a leadership role at that age and would much rather follow. So no matter how cute they are, give your puppies proper rules from the get go. They will love you for it later.
Bringing Home a Newly Adopted Dog
In my work, I get to meet the most wonderful people and I try not to be too hard on them when they are my clients, but usually I’m telling them exactly what they don’t want to hear – that they are the reason for their dog’s problems and they need to change the way they relate to their dogs for their own good.
It is hard to resist wanting to spoil a new pet, especially if you have just adopted a homeless animal. Owners will bring their new friend home, constantly hug the dog, stroke the dog, bring the dog to bed with them, and tell it, “It’s all right. You’re safe now.”
The problem is the dog doesn’t feel safe at all. It will sense it is with a person who doesn’t have a “plan,” knowing that they are not with an assertive leader. One of two things will happen: The dog will develop an issue stemming from that insecurity – or existing issues will get worse – or the dog will immediately take the leadership position so that at least someone is in charge! Remember that the majority of shelter dogs are already stressed, nervous, and/or afraid and can become aggressive if they don’t feel they have that strong, calm-assertive leader at their sides.
In the wild, when a new dog joins an existing pack, they already have a position for it. It will either be a leader or follower. The new dog knows what’s expected of him, and what to expect. Most people don’t have such a plan, and when a dog finds himself in front of owners who do not assert themselves correctly, the dog is going to create the plan for them.
The right way to bring a rescued dog into your home involves understanding the leadership role. The first thing you must do upon leaving the kennel or shelter is to take the dog for a walk. This will rid him of some of his anxious energy. Resist the urge to coddle it. Affection must come later, when the leadership role is fully established. And don’t worry that you are hurting the dog’s feelings by withholding affection. You are not. The most important thing it needs to know is where it belongs in the new pack.
Karen's Dobermin mix is barred from dog parks for not only fighting, but instigating other dogs to fight. Emily's Pomeranian tends to bit off more than she can chew by picking on dogs twice her size. Plus, a therapeutic terrier helps AJ control anxiety, but tends to attack other dogs on walks. Can Cesar help these owners get a handle on their overly aggressive pooches?
Service Dogs: Angels on Earth
Before I came to America, I’d never seen a service dog. I remember thinking it was one of the most beautiful things I had ever witnessed. Service dogs like Sparky, who you will meet in this episode, or other therapy dogs that visit patients in hospitals or nursing homes are little angels walking around on Earth.
These dogs have achieved balance, calm-submission, and active-submission. We must respect them, which means never petting them, talking to them, or making eye contact while they’re working. You can still admire them and think, “What an amazing dog.” The great thing is that you don’t have to be close to the dog for him to know you have great respect for him. He will still be able to pick up that energy you are sending.
Service dogs are a great example that they don’t need our affection to do their jobs well. They will receive that from their owners when he gets home — when the working day is done. Remember, when a person wants to give a dog affection, more often than not, they do it more for themselves than for the animal.
What I Learned From my Early Experiences as a Dog Walker
In Los Angeles, lots of people have the luxury to afford dog walkers; something I highly recommend for those who work long hours. The more daily primal exercise your dog gets, the calmer he’ll when you come home. When I first moved the United States and started making money as a dog walker, I always acted like the pack leader and followed the natural rule – leader in front, followers in the back of the pack. I was surprised to see other walkers being pulled by their pack of dogs. And those were usually the dogs that caused problems at the dog park.
Because I grew up on a farm around packs of working dogs, as opposed to house pets, I observed how the pack functions as one unit. If a situation broke out, I watched how tensions would rise between the dogs, and how the pack worked things out. Because of my experience, I was able to diffuse tensions at the dog park. If a fight developed in the park, I was able to break it up myself, something I do NOT recommend trying on your own. It’s very dangerous. Of course, the best way to prevent dog fights is to have vigilant owners watching out for aggressive, frustrated, dominant, or excited dogs at the park.
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!
Cesar steps in to save a marriage as Patricia and Tyler's dogs don't quite get along. Then, Cesar confronts a family's German Shepherd that's so aggressive, the German Shepherd rescue center wouldn't take him back. And finally, Jake is a loud-mouthed Sheltie that barks at everything, especially during car trips.
As a teacher, Jake's owner can handle a classroom full of seventh graders and eighth graders, but her own home is out of control. Find out if Cesar can teach these dogs a few new tricks.
Yes, You CAN Train Your Dog
To me, animals are windows into their owners. Because they love their dogs so much, they open up to me because they believe that I can help them. Once they relax and speak honestly, their body language clues me in to how I need to work with them. For example, when people say to me, “I don’t think I can do it,” that says to me that they don’t trust themselves.
If they don’t trust themselves and lack confidence, I promise you, their animals know it. My role is to gently remind them, “Look, you CAN do this.” So if a client is having problems, I’ll try a certain exercise that helps to empower them and turn around their negative beliefs.
As far as dog rehabilitation is concerned, I train from the animal’s perspective, which is to live in the moment. In other words, it’s easy to solve problems or make things happen quickly if you quit obsessing about what’s already passed. I try and help people practice that, and once they’ve gotten a taste of success, they know they can continue to make strides on their own.
A Pack Leader’s Work is Never Done
Like Megan Traver, who you’ll meet in the “School for Shelties” segment, many of my clients are successful people who excel at very difficult jobs. Megan is a junior high school teacher who is able to transform whole classrooms of hormone-ridden, pre-teens into calm and submissive students everyday. I don’t know about you, but I am in awe of that! Yet when Megan comes home, she is unable to handle her two little shelties. What’s up with that?
When people come home from a long day at work, they tend to want to be done being the authority figures. They have spent the day using their physical and psychological energy to the fullest and are usually exhausted. All they want is to relax and fulfilling their own emotional and spiritual needs. And who better to share the soft side of themselves with than the animals who unconditionally loves them?
There lies the problem. I remind my clients, there’s no time clock to punch at the end of the day when it comes to being your dog’s pack leader. Despite your own mental state, your dog still has his needs – exercise first, discipline second, and lastly, affection. No matter how tired we are at the end of the day, we can’t put our own needs ahead of our dog’s time and time again and expect them to be balanced and stable.
There are no “Bad Breeds,” Just Bad Owners
Remember, human beings domesticated dogs, so we must take responsibility for understanding how even the most powerful breeds can use all their best inherited traits and live peaceful, balanced lives. I don’t believe power breed equals “bad breed,” though to read the news sometimes, you’d think there were gangs of these “evil” dogs out there, roaming around, chomping at the bit to do something horrible to us.
Cane Corsos, Presa Canarios, Bull Mastiffs, “pit bulls”, Rottweilers, and German shepherds. All of these power breeds have inherited certain genetic traits, abilities, and needs, but none have the innate instinct to kill a human being. On the rare occasion there is an attack, it is usually the result of too much negative energy or frustration stored in a very powerful, high-energy body. And all too often, that negative energy or frustration is triggered by abuse or neglect.
We must learn to stop labeling these power breeds as aggressive or mean and instead educate ourselves about their powerful natures and how to best channel their energy. When you make the decision to own one of these dogs, you must immediately become a committed pack leader, dedicated to their physical and mental well-being. If you can not channel their natural energy, it can melt into layers of frustration, which can lead the animal to become depressed or aggressive.
Once again, the needs of all dogs must be fulfilled on a daily basis, but especially for power breeds. This is done through spaying or neutering, and of course, through daily exercise, rules, boundaries, and limitations.
Despite hiring a private trainer, Pasha still lashes out at people, especially children. Can Cesar socialize this canine misfit? Cosmo is a shepherd mix bent on breaking up his owner's marriage. He's bitten several people including the postman.
With the owner's wife pregnant, Cesar has to work fast to make sure Cosmo won't be a danger to the baby. Plus Contessa has an unusual problem. This two year old Shar-pei is highly aggressive towards TV shows—especially Dog Whisperer. Will Cesar soothe his harshest critic?
Pack Leader = Exercise, Discipline, THEN Affection
So many people write to me describing themselves as “dog lovers,” but then think that the term means their dogs should have no disciplinary consequences for anything they do. It’s often hard for me to communicate to them that for any dog, “love” must include exercise, rules, boundaries, and limitations first. Affection comes after that.
As hard as it is for us to admit sometimes, often we choose to own a dog for our own emotional fulfillment and forget about fulfilling the needs of the dog. So when people define themselves as an emotional figure, for example, a “dog lover,” without playing the role of the dog’s leader first, that dog will automatically compensate for the lack of leadership and become the pack leader. It’s impossible for a dog to ever be happy living this way because there’s a constant question as to who the true leader is.
The Power of a Dog’s Energy
In the animal world, energy equals language and communication. It’s the first thing an animal can pick up about another animal. There is a ripple effect throughout any natural environment based on the energy that the animal is projecting. You may notice how one particular dog out walking in a neighborhood can trigger a reaction from seemingly every other dog in the area. That’s not your imagination. It’s absolutely true that the energy of just one dog can set off a response from all the way down the street.
It works that way in the human world, too. If I am projecting a calm and assertive energy, I can influence other people to also stay calm or follow me. If I am in a crowd acting agitated, I can change the energy of the entire crowd. In the same way, if a dog is walking through a neighborhood projecting intense, fearful, or excited energy, every other dog inside a house or behind a fence is able to sense that instability. If the dog is in a calm, submissive state, those same dogs are also able to read his energy without a desire to challenge it.
Los Angeles Lakers executive Jeanie Buss asks Cesar Millan to take the Cujo out of Princess, her player-biting Maltese. Next, Cesar meets Prada, a pampered Pomeranian who throws vicious temper tantrums, and Bearz, a Rottweiler who attacks shopping carts.
A Common Mistake People Make When Adopting a Rescue Dog
The most common mistake people make when rescuing a dog is feeling too sorry for her. They obsess about what a sad life she’s had, what must have happened to her in the past, and treat her like breakable china, letting her get away with anything. It’s important to remember that dogs live in the moment. They don’t retain the past; they don’t really care about the past. When two dogs meet, they always relate to each other in how they feel and what energy they are projecting at that moment. Now, that’s something our own species can take away from dogs!
Treats and Toys as Training Rewards
There is a school of dog behavior that suggests that treats as positive reinforcement should be used to entice our animals to do what we want them to do. However, in my opinion, while that type of training may work best with “happy go-lucky”-type dogs, there are definitely instances of hard-to-handle, aggressive, or anxious-obsessive dogs that would benefit more from a firm pack leader than a treat.
With some dogs, treats and toy rewards condition them to rely on the reward and not on the pack leader. When a dog is imbalanced, the practice of allowing treats for behavior often teaches that dog how to manipulate the situation – and you. He’ll learn what to do for the initial reward, but after that he’ll go right back to the bad behavior. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in rewarding dogs, but only once they’ve learned to follow standard rules, boundaries, and limitations though my pack leadership.
When Little Dogs are Overprotected
Most of the time, when people say they are “protecting” their little dogs, they are afraid for them. They clutch their dogs to their chest to whenever they see bigger dogs, traffic, or unfamiliar people. That’s the problem since the energy they are transmitting is fear, which as you know, is negative-type energy in the animal world. Fear creates instability and can actually invite an attack from another dog, so though these owners mean well, they are not really protecting the dog at all. Instead, they are infusing the dog with weak, negative energy.
Whenever I think of an overprotected little dog, I think of Paris Hilton and her Chihuahua, Tinkerbell. Do you think a dog is happy, being carried around like a purse all day? The answer is, no. Dogs need to get around on their own four legs. They need to walk – it’s in their genes. Chihuhuas and other miniature breeds that are treated like accessories are example of how overprotecting dogs can be bad for them.
It’s important to remember that a dog is a dog, no matter what size it is, and if we’re really going to protect it, we have to respect it, first as a species. This way he will project a strong, calm-assertive energy that other animals respect.
Find out what happened to the dogs abandoned during Hurricane Katrina. Is a reunion with their owners in store for any of them?
Cesar Millan also meets a pushy German shepherd and a chocolate lab with a fear of floors.
Home Sweet (New) Home
Sometimes household change can to trigger odd behavior in a dog, like renovation work, installing a new floor, or moving to a new home. The truth is I haven’t seen a case yet where the problem was created by that one single change. In nature, one traumatic experience does not create a phobia. Often, it’s layers of previous experiences that build up and are then triggered by one particularly traumatic experience. But most of the time, it’s a person’s reaction to the experience that influences the dog’s fear or neuroses.
When your dog is about to undergo a new experience that could be frightening for him, it’s important to condition him in advance. If you are moving to a new home, there are several things you can do. The biggest mistake would be to just let your dog jump out of the car and expect him to acclimate to the house on his own while you unpack.
Take the dog for walks to the new house before you move in. The day of the move, give him a one-hour walk around the new neighborhood to experience the feeling of “migration.” Once in the house, don’t let him wander around while you are getting settled. Put him on his leash and introduce him one room at a time, letting him sniff around to familiarize himself with his new home.
If you use your calm-assertive energy to communicate to him that this is a positive experience, that’s the experience he will have. It’s up to us to create and maintain the leadership that keeps a dog balanced through every new situation.
How Many Rescue Dogs are Too Many?
To me, there’s no limit to how many dogs you should adopt, or how many dogs you want to share your life with, though it is a little different for me because this is my job and something I’ve devoted my entire life to. Fortunately, I have the resources, time, and experience that these rescue animals need to develop into a cohesive, balanced pack.
People really need to research how to care for multiple rescues and understand what it takes to keep them balanced. You also need to be able to provide the kind of life that will fulfill them mentally and physically. Knowing that dogs’ most important activity is walking, we should be aware that if we don’t have sufficient time, energy, or resources to exercise them, we shouldn’t rescue them.
Some people become concerned when they see a number of dogs together in one place. The reality is that you don’t have to be so concerned if their boundaries are respected. For example, if a person were to swim into a pack of sharks, most likely they’re going to be bitten, not because the sharks were waiting for them, but because they were in their territory.
Cesar meets a Beagle with a passion for Boogie boarding, a Dalmatian/German shepherd dangerously protective of her owner, and a Lab/Beagle mix that became alarmingly aggressive after moving to a new area.
Animal, Dog, Breed: Snoopy
We tend to forget that human beings created dog breeds. From the first wolves and “proto-dogs,” humans selected certain dogs for special traits and physical features and manipulated their genetics so they would fulfill specific needs that we had. In my opinion, most dogs, even mixed breeds, still have that genetic disposition, that “cultural background” that gives them skills that allow them to accomplish things that actually go beyond just being an “average” dog.
For a beagle like “Snoopy the Sniffer,” it’s in his DNA to know when he smells something; he must track it down, and then howl. When the dog in him doesn’t have enough activity to be fulfilled, the breed in him takes over. In a beagle, that frustration comes out in an excessives amount of howling and sniffing.
It’s important to remember that all dogs are “animal” first, “dog” second, and “breed” third. Even though the breed in them has certain needs and tendencies, if you fulfill the animal and dog first, through exercise, then discipline, and then affection, you can avoid a frustrated dog’s genetic tendencies from going over the top and driving you crazy.
It’s Not Nice to Tease: Lady
Teasing your dog may seem funny or cute, especially when the dog is young and “gullible,” but it’s not fun for the dog. It just creates frustration, and that frustration has to go somewhere, whether it takes the form of aggression, dominance, or fear.
I have many clients who adopted powerful-breed dogs as a puppies, such as pit bulls or Rottweilers. They enjoyed playing dominance games with the pups, like tug-of-war, or teasing games like hiding a ball. The problem developed as the dog got older and stronger and got used to winning the tug-of-war games, making him the dominant one in the household. In a teasing game, the older, stronger dog can take its frustration out on the teaser, establishing dominance.
In a dog’s natural pack, they play, but they don’t “tease” each other. Don’t inflict this quirk on your dog.
Finding a Compatible Companion: “The Battle for Eppie”
Your dog’s energy should be the same or slightly lower than yours. Before you adopt a dog, make sure the dog’s energy is compatible with yours. Someone with a laid-back personality may not be well suited to a dog like a miniature pinscher, a breed known for its high energy. An athletic person who may want a running companion may not want to consider adopting the sleepy Shih Tzu.
I feel that the dogs in my own pack have each in their own way taught me how to be a better man. There are times, however, when a person and a dog are simply not compatible. How do you know when to throw in the towel? I counsel my clients to work as hard as they possibly can on their leadership skills, their calm-assertive energy, and on mastering the walk with their dog. This needs to happen every day, for a minimum of two months. If after all that time of honest hard work, they truly cannot commit the time, energy, and discipline it takes to make the relationship work, then it may be time to think about finding a more suitable owner for that dog.
Can Cesar help Hoss, a young Akita, control his aggression and save his family's house from being destroyed? Newfoundland Storm won’t eat. After numerous trips to the vet and no solid answers, the family is calling in Cesar.
Two-year old Shiba Inu, Chula, has a knack for bolting out open doors. With the help of a new GPS-based tool and some good old calm-assertive energy, Cesar sets out to make Chula more of a homebody.
Approaching a Lost Dog: Global Pet Finder
If I see a dog that is acting like he may have run away, the first thing I do is study his mental state. If he is in a frantic state-of-mind, I’ll follow along on the other side of the street, without trying to catch him at first.
But if he seems lost or tired and just looking for direction, I will try to get near him, without making eye contact, and create a space for him. He will become curious and, most likely, approach me. Remember, staying calm is key. Sudden moves could cause the dog to become fearful, nervous, or tense. He is in unfamiliar territory, and he doesn’t know or trust you.
Can Dogs be Picky Eaters? (Storm)
Storm, the Newfoundland, was the world’s pickiest eater—and a prime example of a dog that wasn’t being challenged enough. Just like humans, animals need a purpose in life. It’s programmed in their DNA to want to work for food and water. But because Storm was living a life with constant room service, even when he hadn’t ordered it, he’d lost the desire to do what regular dogs do–go after the food!
I do want to stress that there are some times when a dog’s lack of appetite is a red flag for physical problems. If your dog’s appetite changes suddenly, especially if the condition continues for a few days, please contact your veterinarian. If the doctor runs tests and finds there’s nothing medically wrong with the dog, then it’s time to look at other aspects of his relationship with food. Here’s a tip: A really strenuous rollerblade session first thing in the morning will make most dogs eager to wolf down a hearty breakfast!
Take Back Your Couch: Greta and Hoss
Leadership and hierarchy are natural in the animal world. Their places in the pack start to become established as soon as it enters the world. So it amazes me when I have clients who give up some of their comforts of home to the dog! The client will say, “Oh, that’s Baxter’s couch” or “My husband and I can’t even see each other in our bed because the dogs take up all the room in the middle.” Wait a minute! You paid for your house! You go to work to pay for that couch and that bed, and yet you can’t use it because it “belongs” to the dog? Something’s very wrong there. If this describes you, then it’s time to take back your own home.
Once again, it all comes back to establishing a leadership position. You must feel in your bones that you are the pack leader in the house, and project that calm-assertive energy. If you assert true leadership, your dog will not be sad, or hate you, or resent you, even if you take back the place on the sofa. But you have to really mean it. Having a leader is hardwired into your dog’s brain – that’s what he both needs and wants. Take advantage of that and go ahead, sit on your couch again!
Pups on Parole, Eton & Dolly
Cesar goes to jail to help wayward humans rehabilitate wayward pups through a program called “Pups on Parole.” Then we visit the home of former Canadian Football League player Jeffrey Tafralis as Cesar sees if he can make the family’s beloved Bulldogs play fair.
Who’s the Boss? (Desert Bulldogs)
In nature, dogs have only one pack leader. The followers naturally fall into rank depending on the strength of the energy they are born with. Every once in a while, a higher-ranked dog will get sick, and a subordinate will fight or kill him to move up a notch. That’s nature.
However, I do not believe we should ever nurture dominance among domesticated dogs. First of all, it can be dangerous. A person or another animal could get seriously hurt. When we nurture dominance, it’s not that different from nurturing insecurity, nervousness, tension, or fear. In the wild, it’s a natural state, but there are consequences when dogs live with us behind walls.
In my pack, I am the leader, number one; and they’re all number two, all considered equals. When I’m away, my assistants become number one, but all the dogs remain in that number two state. We don’t want to create number three, four, five, because that can create a chain reaction of dominance, which can lead to violent fights.
Rehab Behind Bars: Pups on Parole
Las Vegas’s “Pups on Parole” program is a great example of “The Power of the Pack.” In working with the women inmates who rehabilitate dogs for “Pups on Parole,” I wanted them to understand that dogs are able to experience more than one human pack leader. This is important because once the dog is successfully rehabilitated and adopted to another household, they will know that human equals pack leader.
As you know, I believe that all humans should be seen as pack leaders in order for our dogs to be able to instinctively follow. Dogs only have a problem with this when they are confused as to which pack position is theirs. If we don’t demonstrate to them where they belong, they will naturally try and take the leadership role, even if they are not temperamentally suited.
Remember, nature tells them that someone’s got to take the wheel!
Two vicious Min Pins endanger a couple’s home-based business, and a Pit Bull mix develops an unhealthy fascination with chewing on rocks.Then Cesar helps an adopted Terrier mix overcome her terrible fear of men on this episode.
The Challenge of Fearful Dogs: Maddy and Me
In my experience, dogs with fear issues often take the longest time to rehabilitate because it takes time to build their lost self-esteem. These dogs often have owners who mean well, but feed the fearful behavior by feeling sorry for them and comforting them. However, in nature, the weakest pup in the litter would be pushed away by its mother and probably not even survive to adulthood.
I believe that almost all of these dogs can become balanced, but it takes time, patience, and an open mind on the part of the owner to succeed.
From Good Times to Obsession: Rock Dog
I’m often asked, “How do you know when a dog has crossed the line from just enjoying a favorite toy or 'hobby' to obsessing over it?”
The answer is very simple. An obsessive dog has no rules, boundaries, or limitations. If you give a dog a toy and, once playtime is done, the dog submits and lets you take it away until next time, that’s a normal, healthy dog. Or if you are able to play Frisbee in the park for fifteen minutes and your dog happily moves on to another activity when you’re done, then your dog is fine.
But when a dog won’t let go of something when you ask it to, does unnatural things like swallowing objects it would never eat in nature, or obsessively performing a behavior, such as twirling or jumping or licking, that is an obsessive dog.
The obsessive mind has no limits–and limits are among the things our dogs most need from us.
Facing a Fear of Dogs: The Jumping Minpins
Taz and Vicky, the jumping Minpins, were yet another example of two dogs teaming up to take control of the household. Owner Maria Brown was overwhelmed by their dominating behavior, which resulted in her reverting to a childhood fear of dogs.
This was a case where I forced her to reassert her position by doing what she was the most afraid of doing, “taking the bull by the horns.” Once she could actually see herself overcoming her fear of big dogs in the outside world, her self-confidence shot up and she could finally imagine herself as the pack leader for her two small, but out-of-control, Minpins.
I believe that facing our own fears is something we owe to our dogs. We are already giving them food and shelter, but what most contributes to their balance is a household that is stable and harmonious.
Cesar is called in to stop the bullying antics of Bull Terrier Bikini, who tries to attack any dog bigger than her and has an irrational fear of having her nails trimmed. Then Cesar helps Cindy and Sidney deal with their shelter dog Fella's extreme separation anxiety. Later, Cesar delves into the psyche of Winston, a Yorkie, whose laundry list of neuroses includes attacking plants and his fellow pack member and Yorkie Oliver.
Believe it or not, I find rehabilitating an aggressive dog much easier than working with fixated or obsessive dogs. Before I came to the United States, I couldn’t even imagine a dog with an obsession! Wild dogs, like the ones I grew up with on my family’s farm in Mexico, never obsessed over everything – the pack would have never allowed it! But in my years working here, I’ve learned that dog obsession is a side effect of an unbalanced life.
The Cussions’ two Yorkies developed obsessive behavior over the vacuum cleaner and a bush in front of their house. The dogs were anxious-aggressive and were obsessing over things they believed they could dominate and take advantage of.
For many obsessive dogs, the actual object doesn’t matter – it tends to be whatever happens to be there at that moment. They learn that they can drain pent-up energy on this “thing,” using it as a way to numb themselves, just like a human would use drugs, alcohol, food, or gambling. The object is just the outlet. We needed to figure out exactly what was causing this frustrated behavior.
I spent a lot of time, including two follow-up visits, working with Cindy Steiner and her daughter Sydney, trying to help their adorable terrier mix, Fella, overcome his separation anxiety. I’ve had many clients who have dogs that seem to be stable in almost every situation, except when the owner leaves the house.
Separation anxiety seems to be an epidemic among the dogs of busy, working people, and that’s not at all surprising. It is normal for a dog or pack-oriented animal to feel anxious or panicky when left alone. They are not programmed to be by themselves. Only rarely is a natural dog pack ever separated.
But since most people must leave the house to work or run an errand, the best way to ease our dogs into this very unnatural situation is to make it as natural as possible for them. We can accomplish this is if we send them into a resting mode before leaving the house. First thing in the morning, wear your dog out with the most vigorous exercise possible. It’s a win-win situation for us too because most of us could use a lot more exercise! And feed your dog after you exercise him, so he feels like he’s earned his reward.
After an ideal morning like that, it will make sense to a dog to rest when you leave. If this becomes their everyday routine, the anxiety will begin to taper off because a lot of that nervous energy will have been spent by the time you leave the house.
During this season of Dog Whisperer, I’ve dealt with two cases where an exceptionally “well-trained” dog has had serious psychological issues: Hootie, the agility dog, and now Bikini, the prize-winning bull terrier. In over 20 years of working with troubled dogs, I’ve found that to be the rule rather than the exception.
Remember, dog training focuses on getting the dog to respond to human commands. Dog psychology is really training humans to understand how dogs function, communicate, and fulfill their lives without human-created techniques.
A well-trained dog in the sense of traditional dog training doesn’t necessarily make for a balanced dog, any more than a Harvard degree makes for a balanced human being. You can teach almost any dog to sit, come, stay, or heel because most dogs are easily conditioned to respond to commands with positive reinforcement. True understanding of dog psychology results in your dog staying next to you on a walk, even as you pass by another dog, someone riding a bike, or a noisy garbage truck.
Humans believe training a dog to respond to words will allow them to communicate with animals. But animals only care about fulfillment. They don’t train each other, they fulfill each other’s needs. If a dog is 100% fulfilled, you may not even need verbal commands to communicate. That’s when the relationship between humans and dogs reach it’s highest level – when you’re using that elusive, magical “sixth sense.” Isn’t that what we all strive for?
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.
For twenty years, Cesar has dealt with all types of canines, with problems ranging from stubborn Bulldogs to nasty little Chihuahuas to powerful breeds with red zone aggression. In this episode, we feature several of Cesar’s toughest cases. Bulldog Matilda munches skateboards, John the Maltese hates to be groomed, and Jindo dog JonBee is aggressive inside his own home. See how Cesar deals with each of these unique issues in this special episode of Dog Whisperer.
Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center is both home and refuge to nearly fifty dogs, boasting canines from celebrity clients to those deemed “unfixable,” to dogs belonging to the Millan family itself. From Punkin's severe rock obsession to three dogs affected by Hurricane Katrina and many others, Cesar and his pack have helped rehabilitate even the worst cases. In this intimate and revealing episode, witness some memorable moments and experience the power of the pack.
Balance and Stability
I am especially proud of tonight’s "The Power of the Pack" episode because it gives me a chance to show, in a little bit more depth, how a stable pack can have a powerful influence over an unstable dog.
Dogs instinctively understand that, if they are unbalanced, they can get hurt by other members of an otherwise balanced pack. And their survival instincts always lead them back toward balance. (If only it were so simple for us humans!)
An animal’s natural “goal” is to be connected; to live harmoniously, grounded, and balanced. And as hard as it may be for our human egos to accept, animals don’t need us to achieve that state.
When a troubled dog changes from an unbalanced to a balanced state, he doesn’t question the transformation. He lives in the moment and doesn’t dwell on the past. That’s something humans can learn from animals, if we take the time to observe them.
At Cesar’s Way, we strive to be a single pack, and packs have rules, boundaries, and limitations. Here are ours for the comments:
Also, please note that because of volume, we are unable to respond to individual comments, although we do watch them in order to learn what issues and questions are most common so that we can produce content that fulfills your needs. You are welcome to share your own dog tips and behavior solutions among yourselves, however. Thank you for reading our articles and sharing your thoughts with the pack!