In order to have a well-behaved, balanced dog, every Pack Leader needs to understand how dogs work. To do this, they need to understand dog psychology, which Cesar explains with his Five Natural Dog Laws, telling us, “If you are going to be the Pack Leader to your dogs, you must understand who they are and what they need as dogs.”
Learning what the laws are is one thing, but learning how to use them to help your dog is another. Below are the how-tos of mastering them.
- Dogs are instinctual
Being instinctual, dogs live in the moment; they react immediately to what’s happening to them right now. That’s why it’s so important to only correct them when they’re misbehaving and to not give attention or affection for unwanted behaviors.
You can best honor your dog’s instincts by letting them be a dog and not humanizing them or treating them like a human child — and learning from them how to listen to your own instincts and live in the moment.
- To dogs, energy is everything
Energy is the primary way that dogs communicate with each other, while humans do it mainly with language. Dogs can associate words with specific objects or actions, however it’s often your energy and tone of voice that tells them what to do — you could say something completely random like “digital toaster clown shoes” in an excited tone of voice and your dog will get just as excited as if you’d said “want to go for a walk?”
We communicate our energy through our intention and body language, and dogs respond best to calm, assertive energy. In this state, our energy is balanced and our intentions are clear, which makes it easy for dogs to understand us. It’s when we are not calm or lack a clear intention that our message becomes confusing and our dogs act out in response.
- Dogs are animal, species, breed, name
First and foremost, a dog sees itself as an animal. This makes sense, because all animals are instinctual and communicate with energy. And, while they don’t have words for it, dogs see themselves as the species dog — a particular kind of animal that is different than a squirrel or cat but the same as other dogs.
They don’t really have a concept of breed. Rather, they just exhibit breed traits through their instinctual behavior — huskies pull and terriers hunt, for example. And, to a dog, name is just a word you say when you want their attention. A dog will never think, “I am (name)” like a human would.
In order to master this law, you need to let your dog be a dog and remember to communicate like another animal would, not a human. Also, never use your dog’s name when you’re giving a correction — this will create a negative reaction to the word in your dog.
- A dog’s senses form his reality
Dogs experience the world through their senses in this order: nose, eyes, ears. Long before you can see it, they already know whether there’s another dog around the corner or a squirrel in the next tree because their noses have picked it up. A dog’s sense of smell is tens of thousands of times more sensitive than a human’s.
This is why engaging a dog’s sense of smell can be such a powerful training tool. Use the nose to lead the eyes and ears to where you want your dog to focus attention, whether with a treat or a pleasant scent. You can also use scents that are unpleasant to dogs (but undetectable by humans) to create invisible boundaries.
- Dogs are social pack animals
Dogs function best when there are one or a few Pack Leaders. The average dog doesn’t want to be in charge, and is happiest when the leaders tell him or her what to do. Without leadership, though, dogs can become confused, timid, or aggressive as they try to fill the vacuum.
By adhering to the Natural Dog Laws, you are providing the leadership they need, especially by maintaining calm, assertive energy and letting your dog be a dog.
What tricks do you have for mastering Cesar’s Natural Dog Laws? Tell us about them in the comments!