By Cesar Millan
As my regular readers know, I often like to look at examples from history to inspire my Sunday messages to you.
On this date in 1791, my adopted homeland passed the Bill of Rights. These are the first ten amendments to the US Constitution that guarantee things like freedom of speech.
A lot of countries have similar things in their constitutions but, as far as I know, no country has ever passed a Canine Bill of Rights…
So I’d like to offer my suggestions for ten amendments to guarantee the rights of dogs everywhere.
Cesar Millan’s Canine Bill of Rights
1. The Right to a Life Free of Fear and Anxiety
It is impossible for a fearful or anxious dog to find balance but, luckily, we can do a lot to help them avoid these states. It is up to us to always be conscious of our energy and the signals we are sending to our dogs. The calmer we are, the less anxious and fearful our pack is.
At the same time, if one of our dogs has a fear issue — thunder, cars, shiny floors — we owe it to them to help them lose that fear.
2. The Right to a Life Free of Abuse
This one should be a no-brainer. Gandhi is quoted as saying, “You can judge the morality of a nation by the way the society treats its animals.” This means that no civilized society should abuse its animals. A society that does is not as civilized or moral as it thinks it is.
Sadly, in many countries the solution to dog overpopulation is to go out and kill all the stray dogs. In some cases, it’s the only practical solution; the resources and manpower to catch, rehabilitate, and rehome so many dogs just are not available. The simple and humane solution is spaying and neutering to reduce the number of unwanted dogs and save lives.
3. The Right to Be Respected as a Living Being
I know I don’t have to remind dog lovers of this, but it is always worth repeating. Dogs, like humans, have feelings, wants, and needs. Our job is to provide them with protection and direction, respecting their emotions while making sure they are directed in a positive direction.
4. The Right to Food, Shelter, and Comfort
When we make the commitment to adopt a dog, we are agreeing to take care of all of their needs. This means that we don’t leave them out in the yard all day, we make sure that they have adequate food and water, and we take them to the vet regularly. It also means providing intellectual stimulation through play, as well as through a proper environment so that they will not feel bored or lonely when their human pack is not at home.
5. The Right to Never Be Abandoned
The other commitment we make when we adopt is to the dog for life. This means that it is our job to fix problem behaviors. Whenever someone returns a dog to a shelter because of behavioral issues, it is the human who has failed, not the dog. Dogs should never be penalized for our failures. Adoption is for life.
6. The Right to Be Judged for Actions, not Attributes
There are no aggressive breeds, just aggressive dogs. We need to put an end to breed specific legislation and concentrate instead on holding dog owners responsible for the bad behavior of their pets. We owe it to dogs everywhere to educate people and to restore the reputation of certain breeds, like pit bulls, Rottweilers, and German Shepherds.
7. The Right to Exercise, Discipline, and Affection
My fulfillment formula is designed to bring balance to your dog, and a balanced dog will enjoy most of these rights automatically — freedom from anxiety, fear, and abuse, and the benefits of comfort and respect. Exercise is for the body, discipline is for the mind, and affection is for the heart. When all three of these are fulfilled in the proper way, the result is balance of the spirit.
8. The Right to Be a Dog
We do not do our dogs any favors by treating them like human children. They neither expect nor can handle such responsibility. They look to us as Pack Leaders to let them know what behavior we want from them. We owe it to them to provide that direction.
9. The Right to Take Part in Our World
At the same time, our dogs deserve to be a part of our world, and to go out with their human pack to enjoy dog friendly places — not just the dog park, but restaurants, shops, offices, and homes where they are welcomed. A calm, balanced dog will be much more welcome in such places, and if we can create that energy state in our dogs, they will be much happier wherever you go with them.
10. The Right to Be Understood
Our dogs communicate with us constantly — they just don’t do it in words. But during every waking moment, your dog is having a conversation with you through its energy and body language. Our responsibility is to learn how to speak that language, and to understand it. I have yet to come across a case of misbehavior where it was not entirely obvious (to me at least) what the dog was trying to tell us through its actions. If you learn to listen you can learn to understand. Once you understand your dog, you will know its needs, and the rest falls into place.
Although I call this a Bill of Rights for dogs, there’s another name for it. This is my List of Responsibilities for Dog Lovers. Learn these rules and follow them, and you will find harmony and balance in your Pack.
Stay calm and have a great week!