Greetings from Germany! I’m on the road again with my Cesar Millan LIVE tour, and one thing that always strikes me about Europe is the combination of the old and the new. I can be looking at a gleaming, modern skyscraper in the heart of a city, then turn around and see an ancient cathedral or castle.
It’s a reminder that one of the key words defining humanity is progress. We don’t always progress forward, but our species is always changing — think about how a lot of us update our phones every two years or constantly have to learn new skills for work.
But there’s one thing that does not change…
How dogs work. Or, more specifically, dog psychology. If you went back to the fifteenth century and grabbed a human from that castle, then dropped him in the middle of modern Berlin, he would barely understand anything that he saw or heard. But do the same thing to a dog, and she’d barely notice the difference.
This is why dogs adapt so quickly when they’re rescued or adopted into a new human pack. By living in the moment, what was novel soon becomes routine. Humans can do the same thing. It just takes a lot longer. You’ve probably read the story of how Daddy helped me adopt Junior. Once Daddy made his decision, Junior followed him away from his mother and littermates and never looked back.
Humans have a habit of looking back and of holding on — especially to pre-conceived notions and ideas. Since a lot of people have the idea that dog psychology works exactly the same as human psychology, it’s very hard for them to understand that the two species look at the world in entirely different ways. I’ve worked with PhDs and CEOs who were brilliant in their fields, but then could not understand why it never works to treat a dog like a five year-old child.
Ironically, five year-old children do understand how to relate to dogs because, unlike the intellectual PhDs and CEOs, children are very instinctual. They relate to animals because they are very direct in communicating their emotions through their energy and body language.
Any parent can tell you when their five year-old isn’t feeling well or did something wrong in the other room. Dogs are the same way. They don’t lie. If they try to, just like human children, they’re not very good at it.
I mentioned before that dog psychology does not change and has not changed for the thousands of years that they’ve been our companions. What does change, though, is our understanding of it. And the more we learn, the simpler it is to understand.
People have tried to complicate dog psychology with elaborate theories and, while they have made breakthroughs in determining certain ways dogs think and what they are and are not capable of doing, nothing about the psychology of dogs has changed.
As I like to say, life is simple. We make it complicated.
Dogs don’t need to build castles, cathedrals, or cities and they don’t need to develop complex languages, cultures or political systems. Everything a dog needs to communicate is in its energy and body language, and everything a dog needs to know it perceives through its senses — nose, eyes, ears — in the moment.
Human intellect has achieved great things, but dogs have an enormous lesson to teach us. Listen to your instincts, especially when communicating with the animal world. That “voice” you hear calling back is Nature, and it’s the best voice to listen to.
Stay calm, and keep it simple!
What are the most common dog breeds in your corner of the world?