I have exciting news. This is my 200th Sunday Newsletter! I started them because there are a lot of you and only one of me — over ten million fans on my English and Spanish Facebook pages, millions of CesarsWay.com visitors, plus my TV viewers worldwide. It’s physically impossible to keep up with you all.
But I do have people watching to learn your common problems and issues with your dogs so that I can respond to a lot of you at once. If something I write sounds like it fits your specific situation, that’s probably because it does, and because you’re not alone.
I’d like to think that I’m helping people realize that no matter how hopeless they think their problem with their dog is, it’s already been solved. And by the way, happy Independence Day, America — which is a nice transition to one of the biggest problems I hear about.
When the British Colonies asked the King for their independence, he said “no.” The result was a war, which lead to the founding of the United States. But imagine if it had played out the way that a lot of people deal with their dogs…
Colonies: “We’d like to be independent, please.”
King: “Um… okay. Go.”
One of the biggest difficulties people seem to have is the inability to say “no” and to give their dogs discipline. I can’t tell you how many times the same excuses pop up…
“I’m afraid she’ll hate me if I’m too tough.”
“They’re my furbabies, so I just can’t say no.”
“I think he was abused before I rescued him, so I don’t want to be mean to him.”
As much as we’d probably all love for it to happen, a household with dogs is not a democracy. It is a monarchy, with all the humans in charge and all of the dogs dependent. And that’s okay, for the dogs. They don’t want to be the kings or queens of the human pack. They’ll jockey for status amongst each other — but they’ll also stop playing those games when the humans step in with strong leadership.
A king or queen is actually a really good metaphor for a strong Pack Leader, because imagining yourself in that role and exhibiting that energy will get the message across to your dogs: “I am in charge here.” There must be something to it, even in human terms, since Queen Elizabeth is the second-most admired woman in the world, and the most admired in Britain.
When you’re a strong Pack Leader, you’ll become the person most admired by your dog, and you’ll earn their trust, respect, and loyalty. The great thing about a dog that trusts and respects you is that they don’t try to rebel and gain their independence. They don’t want to. They’re happiest making you happy, because then they feel like they’ve earned the affection that you give them.
If you haven’t earned their trust and respect, they’ll let you know by refusing to listen to you, jumping or nipping, being randomly destructive, or misbehaving in lots of other ways that are the canine equivalent of the Boston Tea Party. Far too many owners in this situation decide to do what King George III finally did with the Colonies — let them go. Sadly, surrendering a dog to a shelter is a frustrated owner’s first and only choice far too often, and this is why over 1.2 million dogs are unnecessarily euthanized in the U.S. every year.
But it doesn’t have to be like that and the solution really is as simple as stepping up and taking on the leadership role. When it comes to having a balanced relationship with your dogs, it really is good to be the king — or queen!
Stay calm, and reign on!