A dog goes for a run with his energetic owner.
Cesar Millan holding a pit bull

People say that dogs and their humans start to resemble each other after a while, and you’ve probably known or seen examples yourself — the woman and the poodle with the same curly hair; the man with sagging jowls like his bulldog’s; the owner and dog who always have the same confused expression.

Part of this may be that humans just tend to pick dogs that resemble them physically in some way. But what no one realizes is that no matter what you look like, your dog resembles you in a far deeper way than just the outside.

Dogs Mirror Our Energy

Your dogs are your mirror and what they reflect is your energy.I have explained that intention times emotion equals energy. If either part of the equation is out of balance, your dog will react to that. I’ll come back to this in a moment.

Right now, though, I want you to think of someone you know who has a dog that seems to be out of control — whether the dog barks, jumps on people, destroys things, or is difficult on the walk. Pick the most extreme example you can think of for a person you know fairly well and think of how the dog misbehaves.

Now, think about the person. They probably aren’t misbehaving the way that their dog is. But what is their personality like? Think of a few words to describe them, then compare this to your description of their dog’s behavior.

Finally, think of someone you know whose dog is perfect — or nearly perfect, since I don’t want to make this impossible — and do the same thing. How does their dog behave, and what is the human’s personality like?

If you’re seeing definite connections between the dog’s behavior and the human’s energy, congratulations! You’re learning to think like a dog. But if you’re not seeing it, don’t worry. You’re just thinking like a human, and humans don’t know how to “think” instinctually.

Humans React to Emotion

Humans are experts at reacting to human emotion. It’s what most of us are hardwired to do from infancy. We can instantly tell if someone is angry or happy or sad, and we react accordingly. Humans do this instinctually, which is why we’re so good at it.

When it comes to understanding human intentions, though, we aren’t good at it. Think of some of the most common questions people ask about interpersonal relationships. “Is he/she interested in me?” “Am I popular?” “Can I trust this person?” If we really listened to our instincts when reading intention, we would just know. We wouldn’t have to ask or second guess.

I often say that humans will tell you a story while dogs will tell you the truth, and this is the reason for that. Dogs are hardwired to understand intention, just as humans are hardwired to understand emotion. Dogs do not have stories to explain intention, they just see it instinctually. Meanwhile, humans are not designed to understand intention, so they make up stories to justify what they think about a situation.

Dogs Read Our Intention

But a dog will always read your intention, and follow it, while reacting to your emotion, and this is how your dog is your mirror. Your emotion may be very positive and upbeat, but if you have any doubts in your intention, this is what your dog will pick up on.

“My human is calm, but isn’t sure what he wants. I need to be protective!”

“My human is angry, but I don’t know why. I should be fearful.”

“My human is calm, and giving me direction. I know what to do!”

Now here’s one more exercise. If your dog is misbehaving, make a list of what she is doing wrong. Next, make a list of your own emotional states and intentions during the misbehavior. Compare the two, and listen to what your dog is telling you.

I’m guessing that you had no problem describing your emotions, while it was harder to explain your intentions. That’s okay. That’s what your dog is for. If you want to know what intention you were projecting, just look at your dog.

And this is how dogs are our mirrors. They react to our emotions and follow our intentions. When they act up and misbehave, they are telling us that our emotions and intentions — and therefore our energy — are out of balance. Pay attention to your dogs and you’ll figure out how and why.

This is how we can see ourselves in our dogs’ behavior, and adjust so that we are good Pack Leaders.

Stay calm¸ and look to your dogs!

Tell us a few of the ways in which your dog reflects your energy.

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