I have a new hero; Cesar Millan. I don't know if you have ever watched "The Dog Whisperer" or not, but Cesar Millan is amazing, and I have learned so much from watching his show. I don't have a dog right now, but I'm preparing myself for when I can talk my husband in to getting another dog. You can watch some of the episodes online if you don't get the channel that broadcasts his show. Click here to go to his website.
Here are some things I have learned from him:
--In the dog world, there is only one pack leader.
--In your home, YOU should be that pack leader.
--As cute as you think your dog is, he/she is still an animal first, not your baby. If you want to have a balanced pet, you should treat them as a dog first, not as a child.
--Dogs need exercise to help keep them balanced.
--Dogs need discipline. That doesn't mean anger or punishment. That means correction.
--Discipline and correction should take place before behavior escalates.
--Dogs pay more attention to your body language than they do your words. Your body language can show dominance or submission. Your goal should be to show dominance. This isn't an aggressive type of body language, but is quiet assertiveness. You know the look your mother used to give you in church when you were misbehaving? She didn't yell, she didn't hit, she just looked at you, and you knew you needed to behave. That is the kind of body language Cesar talks about.
--Dogs can only do one thing at a time. If a dog's mind is focused on sniffing while going for a walk, his mind won't be on walking calmly by your side. If you keep his mind on the walk, and do not allow the sniffing, he will be much easier to walk.
--Dogs' brains will follow their own body language. For example, a self assured dog will hold his tail up. If your dog is cowering in fear, simply holding his tail up for him will make his brain react in a positive manner. Another example: a dog must lower his head to sniff. If you keep the collar high on his neck and don't allow him to sniff, his brain will go in to walking mode instead of sniffing mode.
--In the dog world, dominant dogs correct behavior if another dog isnt' submissive. How do they do this? They do it by a nip. Cesar uses a similar approach when helping dogs to correct their behavior. If, for example, a dog is lunging on the leash to try to attack another dog, Cesar will use his two fingers to lightly poke the side of the dog's neck, or he will use his foot to gently tap the flank of the dog. These two things help jolt the dog's mind out of the aggressive mode. He also uses a "SHHH" sound, in the same way a dominant dog would use a growl.
--I have learned from Cesar how to "claim" items so that the dog learns not to chew humans' belongings. This is a little more complicated to explain, so I'll refer you to the show to learn for yourself, but this is also a very important part of the dog world. The dominant dog claims his items, and the other dogs won't touch them unless they are given permission by the dominant dog. We can be that dominant force.
--Dogs have different body language that they use to communicate with each other. Cesar teaches how to recognize the different body language so that correction can occur before behavior escalates.
There is more I could say, but suffice it to say I have learned a lot from watching his show. I also think that some of these things can translate in to our relations with humans. We all emit energy. Our body language speaks volumes that our mouths never speak. We can influence other's behavior simply by the energy that we transmit. Check out the show if you can, Cesar Millan is amazing!