I recently finished reading Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer. Here’s what I took away from it for our dog, Bristow:
– Dogs need at least two 30-minute walks per day. Running around the yard does not count, even if you live in a mansion with a huge backyard.
This is Cesar’s biggest point, and it was a tough point for me to accept. TWO 30-minute walks EVERY DAY? Minimum?! We normally did one 30-minute walk, but it wasn’t a priority.
Now that we have started being purposeful about taking Bristow on walks more frequenly, his usual nervous energy has noticeably diminished.
– When walking your dog, he should never walk in front of you unless he has been given permission to do so, and then only for a short time. Most of the walk should be spent with the dog at your side or behind you.
Bristow used to respect Kyle as a leader, but he would not listen to me or Adelaide. Ever since I started making him walk at my side or heel, he now obeys me and also respects Adelaide more.
In order to make Bristow walk next to me or behind me, I had to learn to project what Cesar calls “calm-assertive energy.” Powerful but compassionate. “Think Oprah,” he says.
Calm-assertive energy is not a natural state for me, so it does take work for me to project it. But I notice a distinct change in Bristow’s behavior when I actively lead instead of ignoring him and getting lost in thought or conversation.
It has less to do with how I act and more to do with how I think.
– If your dog gets super hyper when you get home, he is not just happy and excited to see you—he needs more exercise.
When Bristow is well-exercised, he still greets us at the door, but he is much calmer. He doesn’t go crazy and yelp and jump all over us. Which brings me to…
– Your dog should never jump up on you. It is a sign of dominance. Likewise, you should never let your dog win at tug of war.
This was one of those things that I thought was just a dog thing. But as the leader, you can decide what your dog can do and what your dog cannot do, and you should always assert yourself as your dog’s leader.
As for Bristow (and any dog, Cesar would say) he is happiest when he is a dog in submission to his master.
And in a sense, aren’t we all?