Domestic dogs are recent descendants from wolves and as such, still retain many of their cousins characteristics. Wolves are essentially pack animals, this means that they are not lone creatures, preferring to live in groups and these groups have a highly classified structure. The alpha male is the leader of the pack and the most dominant one. All other wolves are subservient to the alpha wolf but with this comes decreased responsibilty.
Cesar Millan first came to attention when he was employed at a dog grooming salon in America. He was so good with grooming aggressive dogs, managing to control them when no other could, that he set up his own Dog Psychology Centre. Cesar Millan recognised that domestic dogs follow the same pattern of pack leadership as wolves and used this to establish himself as the pack leader when grooming unresponsive or aggressive dogs. His methods are now world renowned and he travels on many tours to promote balance and calmness with dogs and their owners all over the globe.
The Dog Whisperer is his TV programme where he deals with many cases of not only aggressive dogs but ones with phobias, fixations, obsessive behaviours and much more. His techniques do not use cruelty but mainly focus on establishing yourself as the pack leader within your own house. This can include simple tricks such as making sure you exit and enter your house first, always feeding your dog last, even after other animals and walking your dog properly on a lead. The walk is one of the most important routines you can secure with your dog to help it recognise that you are the pack leader. Make sure you are in front of the dog at all times, if the dog pulls then stop and wait for the leash to become loose before walking off again and if the dog lunges at another dog then a quick jab (not to hurt just to snap them out of the behaviour) at it’s hind quarters will stop it.
Cesar’s mantra is discipline, exercise and affection, in that order. You cannot be affectionate to a dog without first maintaining discipline and by not giving regular exercise you are setting yourself up for mischievous behaviour later on. A dog that thinks he is the pack leader will be a frustrated dog and will have a need to protect you. This may go on to unwanted behaviours such as separation anxiety, aggressive behaviour towards other dogs and you and your friends. By ensuring that you are the pack leader, you take away the responsibilty from your dog and it will become relaxed and calm and all unwanted behaviours will cease. Cesar believes that human psychology is much different to dog psychology and this is where many people make mistakes. By offering affection at the wrong time for instance, such as when a dog is frightened, you are telling the dog that behaviour is acceptable. This is what you would naturally do for a human friend but dogs see things differently. A dog will assume that affection means they are doing or reacting correctly so it is important to understand them from their point of view.
To learn more about Cesar Millan go to cesarsway.com where you can sign up for his weekly news email and The Dog Whisperer is on Nat Geo Wild every week day night from 7pm. And don’t forget, always practise – no touch – no talk – no eye contact – when meeting a new dog!