By Cesar Millan
Today, March 9, is the 55th birthday of a very famous woman. Her name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and she’s had some very interesting occupations — airline pilot, NASCAR driver, and doctor. She’s into animals, like me, and has had over forty, including cats and dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra. There have been many books written about her life, too.
In case the name doesn’t ring any bells, that’s because she’s better known as Barbie, and she’s a real doll, first seen in 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York. While she’s probably one of the most famous toys in the world, she’s not without her critics. Some people complain that Barbie’s measurements set an impossible standard of beauty for little girls that may even lead to eating disorders. When people try to live up to unrealistic standards, it can cause problems. And yet, we try to make our dogs do that all the time.
That may sound like I’m saying expecting a well-behaved, balanced dog is an unrealistic standard, but I’m actually saying exactly the opposite. The standards that a lot of people have for their dogs are unrealistic because they are the wrong ones. The big mistake is to have human standards for dogs. When we do this, the dog suffers because it has no idea how to be a dog.
When a dog lives in a human pack and doesn’t know how to be a dog, that’s when we see things like dog aggression. We call such a dog antisocial. The dog doesn’t learn the rules of the pack, so it doesn’t know what to do when it sees another dog. For some antisocial dogs, this brings out the need to attack to protect his pack. For others, it sends them into an anxious, fearful state where their only response is to defensively snap at anything that comes close.
In the worst cases, if a dog isn’t socialized with other dogs and its human pack, it will become aggressive toward or fearful of everything. These are the dogs that bite children or their own human pack members, or who are so fearful that they can’t even be dragged out on the walk.
In Nature, every dog is socialized by the pack, which teaches them the rules. It’s only when we impose unnatural and unrealistic standards upon them — when we expect them to act like little humans — that we run counter to Nature, and that’s when we run into trouble. But if we listen to and follow Nature, then we will create balanced dogs, end conflicts, and discover the joy of living in the moment.
A lot of the problems I hear about are dogs that don’t get along with other dogs in their own pack, and that’s the most unnatural canine behavior of all. The good news is that since it’s the humans who unintentionally create this behavior, with the right intention we can also fix it, and have happily socialized dogs that get to be dogs.
Stay calm and listen to Nature!
What’s your favorite way to connect with Mother Nature? Tell us in the comments.