By Cesar Millan
I’m now on the final days of my Latin American tour, doing my last show in Mexico City tonight, and then on to Monterrey before going home to Los Angeles.
It seems like it was only a few days ago that I was writing to you about the halfway point. The end of the trip did seem to come faster than getting from the beginning to the middle.
I was going to take the opportunity to answer more of your questions this week, but as I read through them I started to realize that many of you, despite the different ways your dogs misbehave, need to take the same step before you will be able to make the changes you want.
You’ve probably heard me many times use the words “calm and assertive.” There’s another word for this. Self-confidence. When I read your emails and tweets and Facebook messages, I see certain other words over and over. Afraid. Fear. Nervous. Anxious. Difficult. And there’s one word that I see more than any other.
So here’s my help. Those other words, the negative ones, are what keep you from seeing changes in your dog and ending her bad behaviors. Why? Because negative words and the negative emotions that come with them are reflected in your energy and body language.
You’re probably not aware of this — but your dog is. Negative energy can make a dog anxious and fearful, while weak energy can make a dog overly-attached, protective, or aggressive. Once your dog has picked up on your weak or negative energy, it becomes a loop. Your dog misbehaves. You react to it with those negative emotions. This reinforces your dog’s misbehaviors, and your dog’s misbehaviors reinforce your negative energy.
In these situations, you are not being a Pack Leader for your dog; you’re letting your dog be your Pack Leader. I don’t even need to see you and your dogs to know that. Again, I read it in the words. I constantly see variations of a sentence like, “He bites me all the time but I love him.”
Now, imagine those words if it was a person talking about their spouse. The first thing you’d do is tell them to get out of an abusive relationship, right? The big problem is that this answer does not apply to people and their dogs.
If you divorce a spouse, they probably won’t be taken out and killed by the authorities. But if you surrender a dog to a shelter, chances that she will be destroyed are way too high. The best option with a dog is always to fix the problem, not end the relationship. Luckily, abusive dogs are a lot easier to rehabilitate than abusive people.
The change you want to see in your dog first comes from the change you make in yourself. And you begin that change with the words: Yes, I can.
People can become intimidated by or frustrated with their dogs when they forget that they are first animal, then species, then breed, and last of all name. Humans tend to view dogs exactly backwards, and that’s where a lot of the problems start.
The most important thing to remember is that our dogs are animals, and animals have a very simple way of being. They are instinctual. They seek out things they find pleasant, and avoid or attack things that are unpleasant.
Weak or negative energy, to a dog, is unpleasant. And right there is the source for so many misbehaviors. Dogs that hide, or run away, or growl, or bite, or bark, or have separation anxiety, or any of a number of other misbehaviors are all just trying to avoid or attack something unpleasant.
Now, obviously, dogs are not as smart as people. Your dog will never be able to read this message, or use a computer, or drive a car. Yes, they are very intelligent. But their intelligence is focused entirely on figuring out how to get what they want. Your intelligence will allow you to figure out how to get the dog to do what you want.
If what your dog wants is a Pack Leader and he’s not getting one, then things are going to go out of control. But you would be surprised what a difference it makes when a dog interacts with a self-confident person.
You see, for most dogs, they find it very pleasant when they are told what to do. It’s easier that way. They get what they want if they do what you want, and they don’t have to waste their time trying to figure out what to do.
But the process cannot begin until you get rid of your weak or negative energy. Throw out the fear and nervousness and anxiety. They are just roadblocks on your journey. Focus on the positive, and tell yourself, “Yes, I can.”
Stay calm and be self-confident!