Friday, Cesar Millan made an appearance in Northeast Ohio at the historic Akron Civic Theater. Having done canine rescue work for nearly 20 years, I couldn’t wait to see what The Dog Whisper had to say without a camera crew and editing team. The answer was completely refreshing. In a word, Cesar Millan is inspiring. Inspiring, entertaining, heartfelt and funny. Yes, funny. Cesar, as it turns out has a fantastic sense of humor, especially when speaking for man’s best friend as to how we over zealous owners appear to our faithful canines.
With Junior faithfully tagging behind him, un-phased by audience applause and loud cheers, followed Cesar, sat in front of him, and looked for signals for what he should do next. When Junior realized no commands were coming – he just found a cozy spot on the stage to nap.
When the applause died down, Cesar introduced himself by breed: “Mexican”. He proceeded to tell of his first few months in the US, homeless and living under a freeway. He had time to watch our ways with canines, and was in awe of the way dogs dragged their owners down the street on a walk… and how opening the door is a complete ritual (“Get the dog, get the dog!! Do you have him? Put him in the bathroom!! Is he in there?? Is he in there?? OK. I’m going to open the door…..”), and guests are not greeted at the door but given instructions as to how to enter the home, (“Whatever you do, don’t say ‘WALK!’ SPELL it…”). Cesar also discovered walking a pack of dogs (though under control,) off leash is illegal here (go figure). He soon became known as “The Mexican who walks a pack of dogs”.
The highlights of the evening? Cesar’s impression of a cat (they’re too cool to move fast, and they only wag the tip of the tail to conserve energy for the window), His demonstrations of how humans unintentionally trigger unwanted behavior, such as the owner who calls his dog to no avail, (Max, Max, Max, Max… Max Come! COME HEEERRREE!! Max, Max Max, Max.. Ma, Maxxxx…MAX!!!”) Let’s face it, we’ve all witnessed that one, and at one point many of us have experienced it as the dog completely ignores the angry commands. The solution is simple. Calm down, and Max will come. Dog’s don’t respond to unstable humans, and why would they? (And yes, for those wondering, screaming at your dog does indeed make you appear unstable, and not just to the dog). Let’s face it. None of us would follow the instruction of someone who appears to have lost it; we wouldn’t trust their judgement. Nor would we trust an emotional pushover.You know the over emotional girlfriend who gushes over a guy who actually wishes she’d either get a grip or just go away? Yeah. Don’t be that person. At least not to your dog.
The most important message of the evening? Your dog does not care what you do in the world, how much money you have, how many college degrees you have or how important you are at work. He sees you for who you really are, and the vibe you give him through your energy and behaviors. So if you’re a mass of gushing emotion around your dog, he sees you as unbalanced and that is what is behind your pup’s issues. In other words, the reason you’re dog is well balanced or is out of control is quite simply, you.
His pearls of wisdom to remember? See your dog first as animal, then species, then breed, then name. Know that dogs “see” the world with their nose first. Humanizing your dog can make him crazy. Be calm and confident. There are only two roles in a canine relationship: leader and follower, and if you’re not the leader… Follow the formula of exercise, discipline (and discipline is not punishment – Cesar means boundaries and limitations that challenge your dog’s mind and that has him respecting you), and then affection. Dogs need rules, boundaries and limitations. Also, honesty, integrity and loyalty is the right approach. Basically, your dog knows when you’re BS’ing him.
It kind of makes you wish our world was run on this kind of wisdom..
During a special Q & A session, Cesar was asked by an audience member, “What is the one thing you wish everyone in America would do more of with their dog?” His answer? Plain and simple, “Exercise.”