I’m getting ready to head off to Europe to start my new Cesar LIVE: Once Upon a Dog Tour, which means time for rehearsal and getting ready to travel. Then, while I’m gone, my new show Dog Nation will premiere on March 3, starring me and my older son Andre.
So things are very busy but very thrilling right now. Did I mention that my new book, “Lessons from the Pack,” is also out now? I’m proud and excited about this book, which marks a turning point and a new direction — but I explain that best in the intro, which I’d like to share a bit of with you now.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve written six books on the subject of canine behavior, nearly all of them New York Times best-sellers. All contain stories of the many dogs I’ve rehabilitated over the years and the techniques I’ve used to help them. In those books, I was the teacher. But this book is very different. In this book, the dogs are not the students; they are the teachers. Our teachers. In the pages that follow, I will share for the first time some of the most important lessons the dogs in my life have taught me.
Our dogs are right in front of us every day, showing us with their every action a better way to live. All too often, we don’t pay attention. We take them for granted, thinking we know so much more about life than they do and believing that we have far more to teach them than they could possibly teach us.
In fact, we invest an enormous amount of energy trying to get our dogs to become more like us! We teach them to understand our language — often without even bothering to learn theirs. We teach them to sit, stay, come, and heel for our convenience, not theirs. We pamper them like children (when they really don’t care about who has the prettiest toys), and we dress them in couture outfits (when they couldn’t give a hoot about fashion.)
None of that makes sense to me. Here we are teaching our dogs to behave as we do even while many of us struggle to find happy relationships with members of our own species. Dogs are designed by nature to value qualities like honor, respect, ritual, compassion, honesty, trust, loyalty, and compassion. They instinctually understand the importance of pack hierarchy and mutually beneficial relationships. So instead of teaching them what we think they should learn from us, what if we took the opportunity to learn from them?
I’m writing this book because I believe it’s time that we start looking at our dogs as our teachers. Dogs have all the qualities we say we want, but we never seem to be able to attain. Every day of our lives, dogs actually live the moral code that humans only aspire to. And I believe dogs often understand us better than we understand ourselves.
Socrates said, “Know thyself.” I have my own variation on that adage: If you want to know yourself, know your dog! After all, in a way, your dog knows you — the real you — better than most people in your life do. Your dog knows your routines. Your dog understands how to read your body language and your emotions — probably far better than you do yourself. Your dog reveals your hidden subconscious thoughts and is a mirror of your deepest soul…
I’ve talked for many years about leaders and followers. But I think it’s high time for us to “follow” dogs by adopting their worldview, their lifestyle, and their values (which are the social values of the pack). A dog lives his life unselfishly, always putting the welfare of the pack ahead of his own interests. Living in the moment, dogs do not get lost in the trees before first experiencing all the beauty of the forest.
In this moment in human history, it’s imperative that we adopt this pack-oriented worldview. We need to go back to common sense, to simplicity, and to gratitude for what we have. We postpone the most important things in life: family, health, joy, and balance. Dogs do not. When they sense an imbalance — in an environment, in a situation, or in a person — they don’t think about what they’re going to do to fix it. They simply react, much in the same way we might recoil from touching a hot flame. And when it comes to figuring out what’s going on with a human’s volatile emotions, dogs are virtuosos.
If we watch them more closely and listen more carefully, our beloved pets can be the keys to our personal growth and self-knowledge. The wisdom of dogs is medicine for the soul — but in our… self-centered world, we often forget to pay attention.
So come with me on a journey that will reveal a new way of living our lives — based on the unique and insightful lessons we can learn from our dogs.
Stay calm and keep learning!
Tune in to Cesar Millan’s Dog Nation when it premieres on NatGeo Wild on Friday, March 3, 2017 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. Central, and check out Cesar’s new book now. If you’re in New York or Chicago, Cesar will be there this week for a signing — here’s how you can attend.