The Dog Whisperer

Have you ever watched the show “The Dog Whisperer” with Cesar Milan?

Jenna has liked the show for a long time, but I never watched it. We had about 300 episodes recorded on the DVR and I was bored, so I watched one. I was amazed.

This guy is remarkable at handling and training dogs. Well, he says he “trains people” and “rehabilitates dogs” but what he does looks like magic.

He goes into houses that have dogs with various and sundry psychoses and watches them in action for a minute or two. He talks to the owners about what they currently do to try and discipline their dogs, and sometimes observes them.

Then, he walks over to the SAME EXACT DOG and the dog does exactly what he wants within a couple of minutes. Sometimes it’s instantaneous.

I thought it must be scripted because the dog’s transformations were so fast.

Cesar explains that in order to control dogs, you have to establish yourself as the pack leader. If you have any anxiety, frustration, or undue excitement, the dog will become the more dominant. This can come out in anything from excitement to whimpering, to aggressiveness.

He would walk into a house with those little annoying yap dogs that hop around and bark constantly, and within 30 seconds they were sitting quietly waiting for him to give them instructions. He used his “calm assertiveness” to show the dog through body language that he was in charge… not aggressive, not mean, not frustrated… just assertive. And calm.

There was a really sad case of a pit bull that had been mistreated and taunted for 4 years and now was totally vicious and anti-social. He would bit anyone and everyone, charge anyone, and attack anyone… including his owner. He was an extreme case, but within 24 hours, Cesar was leash walking him near other dogs and people. Within 2 weeks, he was as gentle as a lamb.

The main thing Cesar does in the show is teach owners how to be calm assertive instead of feeding the anxiety of the dog.

I was sort of convinced he was onto something, so I decided to try some of the techniques on Sheriff. He is our pug puppy, and he’s very hyper and disobedient. In fact, he’s never done one thing I told him to do. Until I became the Sheriff Whisperer.

Applying Cesar’s techniques, within 2 minutes Sheriff was sitting on command, laying down on command, and STAYING on command. I had to redirect his nervous energy and make him focus on me. I did it completely with body language and hand signals. No verbal cues at all.

After 5 minutes, I had him sitting while I threw his toy, and waiting to fetch it until I told him to.

The most remarkable difference was when I put him back in his crate. He didn’t whine. He didn’t cry. He didn’t scratch. He went in and laid down and went to sleep. He’s never done that before.

Cesar is right – he feels safe now because he knows HE doesn’t have to be the pack leader.

I’ve never personally met a CALM little dog. Now I own one.

I discovered that my dog Abby is the only one that looks at me as the pack leader in my house (until now). She gets up on the couch when I invite her, but she never gets up unless I invite her. She also ALWAYS gets down from the couch when I’m eating. I never really understood why because I didn’t make her get down. I learned that when the pack leader eats, the other dogs give him space. Basically, the pack leader owns everything and then decides when and how much he wants to share. That’s how it is in the wild, and the dogs have that instinct built in. That’s why when you want a dog to give you something they have in their mouth, you shouldn’t take it out of their mouth… that’s showing defeat (they’re letting YOU borrow THEIR toy). You should make them drop it and step away. That’s the sign of a calm submissive dog.

I also learned that Amber (my lab) has an anxiety problem and she deals with it through avoidance. When I tell her to lay down, she looks away from me and slinks away to another room to lay down. I learned that’s bad behavior, so now when I tell her to lay down, I make sure she keeps looking at me and lays down right there.

If you’ve never watched the Dog Whisperer, I highly recommend it, even if you don’t own a dog. You’ll learn to control any dog you encounter and it works immediately.

Cesar Milan’s Website

  1 comment for “The Dog Whisperer

  1. May 4, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Wow. I must try those techniques on my kids, crate and all.

Comments are closed.