I’m very excited about the new season of “Cesar 911,” which premieres this Friday on Nat Geo Wild, and I’m particularly proud of this show because it has given me a chance to go out and help communities of people — friends, neighbors, and co-workers — and, of course, to rehabilitate dogs.
I faced some interesting and challenging cases, but also was rewarded by seeing people finally have their “A-ha” moment and find balance with their dogs. But the people on the show weren’t the only ones who learned from the experience. I did, too.
The Importance of Follow-Through
I learned by being reminded again and again of the importance of follow-through. It isn’t enough for me to show someone how to give a correction or explain how to establish boundaries for their dog. They have to learn what I’m explaining, and then apply it after I’m gone — continuously and consistently.
I think that some people have a misconception about what I do: that if I come to work with their dog, all the problems will be magically fixed on the spot because of some super power and everything will be fine forever when I leave. But, as I’ve said for years, I rehabilitate dogs and I train people.
When a Dog Acts Out
When a dog has a behavioral issue, like aggression or extreme fearfulness, it is because a human has trained them to be that way, whether intentionally or not. It happens for a lot of reasons — for example, people give too much affection or affection at the wrong time, or never correct a dog’s behavior. But the issues are never the dog’s fault.
It would be nice if I or anyone else could just sit down with a misbehaving dog and say to them, “Please stop pulling on the walk” or “please don’t bark at everything,” and have the misbehavior end, but of course that’s not possible. What it took a human time to inadvertently teach their dog is going to take a human more time to correct, and then the human has to remember to not make the mistakes they made in the past that created the problem. That’s called follow-through, and it’s an ongoing process.
It’s when dog owners follow through that they get the positive results they want. A dog learns to misbehave by having that behavior reinforced, and they learn to behave properly in the same way. To me, it’s always gratifying to hear the success stories, when people understand my training and philosophies and then apply them consistently. One of the most common things I hear in these cases is, “I can’t believe it’s the same dog.”
One Big Secret
There’s one big secret to having a well-behaved dog, and I’m going to share it with you now. The secret is you. Your dog wants to do what you want it to because dogs need a leader to follow. If she thinks you’re telling her to pull on the walk, or that it’s okay to chew up your shoes, or that you want her to bark at everything, then she will.
This is where your calm, assertive energy comes into it. Combined with proper discipline and follow-through, your dog can be the dog you want to have and you can both find that harmonious, balanced relationship together.
Thank you for making “Cesar 911” a big hit, and I hope you enjoy watching the second season as much as I enjoyed creating it with my fantastic team. We have some interesting stories to tell and some great breakthroughs to share.