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Cesar's Way

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The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems

Written by Cesar MillanAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Cesar Millan and Melissa Jo PeltierAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Melissa Jo Peltier



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On Sale: August 08, 2006
Pages: 304 | ISBN: 978-0-307-38205-4
Published by : Crown Archetype Crown Archetype

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Read by John H. Mayer
On Sale: April 04, 2006
ISBN: 978-1-4159-3407-4
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Read by Cesar Millan
On Sale: April 04, 2006
ISBN: 978-0-7393-2500-1
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

“I rehabilitate dogs. I train people.” —Cesar Millan

There are at least 68 million dogs in America, and their owners lavish billions of dollars on them every year. So why do so many pampered pets have problems? In this definitive and accessible guide, Cesar Millan—star of National Geographic Channel’s hit show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan—reveals what dogs truly need to live a happy and fulfilled life.

From his appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show to his roster of celebrity clients to his reality television series, Cesar Millan is America’s most sought-after dog-behavior expert. But Cesar is not a trainer in the traditional sense—his expertise lies in his unique ability to comprehend dog psychology. Tracing his own amazing journey from a clay-walled farm in Mexico to the celebrity palaces of Los Angeles, Cesar recounts how he learned what makes dogs tick. In Cesar’s Way, he shares this wisdom, laying the groundwork for you to have stronger, more satisfying relationships with your canine companions.

Cesar’s formula for a contented and balanced dog seems impossibly simple: exercise, discipline, and affection, in that order. Taking readers through the basics of dog psychology and behavior, Cesar shares the inside details of some of his most fascinating cases, using them to illustrate how common behavior issues develop and, more important, how they can be corrected.

Whether you’re having issues with your dog or just want to make a good bond even stronger, this book will give you a deeper appreciation of how your dog sees the world, and it will help make your relationship with your beloved pet a richer and more rewarding one.


Learn what goes on inside your dog’s mind and develop a positive, fulfilling relationship with your best friend

In Cesar’s Way, Cesar Millan—nationally recognized dog expert and star of National Geographic Channel’s hit show Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan—helps you see the world through the eyes of your dog so you can finally eliminate problem behaviors. You’ll learn:

• What your dog really needs may not be what you’re giving him

• Why a dog’s natural pack instincts are the key to your happy relationship

• How to relate to your dog on a canine level

• There are no “problem breeds,” just problem owners

• Why every dog needs a job

• How to choose a dog who’s right for you and your family

• The difference between discipline and punishment

• And much more!

Filled with fascinating anecdotes about Cesar’s longtime clients, and including forewords by the president of the International Association of Canine Professionals and Jada Pinkett Smith, this is the only book you’ll need to forge a new, more rewarding connection with your four-legged companion.




Also available as a Random House AudioBook


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt

Chapter 2: If We Could Talk to Animals

What is the communication style you use with your dog? Do you implore him to come to you, while he refuses, continuing to run down the street after a neighborhood squirrel? When your dog steals your favorite slipper, do you talk baby talk to him to try to get it back? Do you scream at the top of your lungs for your dog to get off the furniture, while he just sits there, staring at you as if you’re crazy? If any of these sounds like you, I know you’re aware that the techniques you’re using aren’t working. You understand that you can’t “reason” with a dog, but you simply don’t know any other way to communicate with him. I’m here to tell you that there’s a much better way.

Remember the story of Dr. Dolittle, the man who was able to speak and understand the language of any animal he happened to meet? From the Hugh Lofting books to the 1928 silent film, to the thirties radio series, to the 1967 movie musical and seventies cartoons, to the blockbuster Eddie Murphy comedies, this wonderful tale and its main character have appealed to children and adults generation after generation. Just think of the countless worlds that would be unlocked if we saw things as animals see them. Imagine looking down at the earth through the eyes of a soaring bird, moving through life in three dimensions like a whale, or “seeing” the world through sound waves, the way bats do. Who hasn’t dreamed of such thrilling possibilities? The attraction of the Dr. Dolittle story is that it brings animals to life, in big-screen living color.

What would you say if I told you that Doctor Dolittle’s secret was more than just creative fiction?

Perhaps you’re imagining this secret from a human perspective.

You’re wondering if I’m telling you that there’s a verbal way to talk to your dog, perhaps with the use of a phrase book that translates your language into his. What would his language look like, sound like, you wonder? Would it include the words sit, stay, come, and heel? Would you have to shout the translations, or could you whisper them? Would you have to learn how to whimper and bark? Sniff your pet’s behind? And how would your dog answer you back? How would you translate what he was saying? As you can see, creating a dog-to-human phrase book—the way, say, an English-to-Spanish phrase book is created—would be a very complicated effort indeed.

Wouldn’t it be simpler if there was a universal language that every species could understand? “Impossible,” you say. “Even human beings don’t all speak the same language!” True, but that hasn’t kept people from trying to find a common language for centuries. In the ancient world, all the higher-class, educated people learned Greek. That way, they could all read and understand the most important documents. In the Christian era, anybody who was anybody knew how to read and write Latin.

Today, English is at the top of the language food chain. I learned this the hard way when I first arrived in America fourteen years ago. Believe me, if you’re not born speaking it, English is a monster of a language to learn from scratch—yet everyone from the Chinese to the Russians now accept it as the international language of business. Humans have sought other ways to breach the language barrier. No matter what language you speak, if you’re blind, you can use Braille. If you’re deaf, you can understand any other deaf person using International Sign Language. Mathematics and computer languages cross many linguistic borders and allow humans of different tongues to converse easily with one another, thanks to the power of technology.

If humans can succeed in designing these collective languages, can’t we create a way to converse with the other species on the planet? Isn’t there a language we can learn that means the same thing to every creature?

Good news! I’m happy to report that the universal language of Doctor Dolittle already exists. And humans didn’t invent it. It’s a language all animals speak without even knowing it, including the human animal. What’s more, all animals are actually born knowing this language instinctually. Even human beings are born fluent in this universal tongue, but we tend to forget it because we are trained from childhood to believe that words are the only way to communicate. The irony is, even though we don’t think we know the language anymore, we are actually speaking it all the time. Unknowingly, we are broadcasting in this tongue 24-7! Other species of animals can still understand us, even though we may not have a clue how to understand them. They read us loud and clear, even when we’re unaware that we’re communicating!

This truly universal, interspecies language is called energy.

Energy in the Wild

How can energy be a language? Let me give you some examples. In the wild, different animal species intermingle effortlessly. Take the African savannah or a jungle, for instance. At a watering hole in a jungle, you might see monkeys and birds in the trees, or on a savannah, different plant eaters, such as zebras or gazelles, wandering around, happily drinking out of the same crystal-clear pond. All is peaceful, despite the many different species sharing the same space. How do they all get along so smoothly?

How about a less exotic example? In your own backyard you may have squirrels, birds, rabbits, even foxes, all happily coexisting. There’s no trouble until you rev up your lawnmower.

Why? Because all these animals are communicating with the same relaxed, balanced, non-confrontational energy. Every animal knows that all the other animals are just hanging out, doing their own thing—drinking water, foraging for food, relaxing, grooming one another. Everybody’s feeling mellow and no one’s attacking anyone else. Unlike us, they don’t have to ask one another how they’re feeling. The energy they are projecting tells them everything they need to know. In that sense, they are speaking to one another, all the time.

Now that you’ve got this peaceful vision in your mind, imagine this: Suddenly, a new animal enters your backyard, or approaches our imaginary jungle waterhole, projecting a completely different energy. This new energy could be something as minor as one squirrel trying to plunder another’s stash, or a gazelle jockeying another gazelle for a better drinking position at the oasis. It could also be as serious as a hungry predator seeking to subdue its next prey. Ever notice how a whole group of peaceful animals can turn scared or defensive in an instant, sometimes even before a predator has shown itself on the scene? They probably got a whiff of its scent—but it’s also probable that they sensed the energy the predator was projecting.

What’s always amazing to me about the animal kingdom is that even if a predator is near, all the other animals can usually tell if it’s safe to stay around it or not. Imagine being introduced to a man you knew to be a serial killer. Would you be able to relax in his presence? Of course not! But if you were another kind of animal on this planet, you would probably be able to sense whether the serial killer was on the prowl or simply kicking back. Animals immediately recognize when a predator is projecting a hunting energy, sometimes even before they spot the predator itself. As humans, we are so often blind to these nuances in animal energy—we think a tiger is dangerous at all times, when, really, if he’s just eaten a three hundred-pound deer, he’s probably more tired than treacherous. The moment his tummy gets empty, however, he’s a different animal—all instinct, all survival energy. Even your backyard squirrel will pick up on this subtle difference. Yet we humans tend to be blind to what, in the animal kingdom, is pretty much a flashing red light.

Here’s an example of animal energy that folks who live in the American South can probably relate to. On a sunny day in Florida, Louisiana, or the Carolinas, you’ll see giant alligators sunning their leathery bodies on the banks of swamps—all over expensive, exclusive golf courses! Meanwhile, golfers are teeing off a few feet away. Herons and cranes and turtles are happily sunning themselves right next to these terrifying reptiles. Eightypound old ladies are walking their teacup-size dogs on footpaths just inches from the alligators’ swamp. What’s going on here? It’s simple. The other animals—from the turtles to the teacup Chihuahuas—are aware, on an instinctual level, that these fearsome predators aren’t in a hunting mode at the moment. One thing you can be sure of—when the same big creature’s tummy starts to rumble and his energy shifts into hunting mode, the rest of the animals will be gone in the blink of an eye. Except maybe the golfers. But they are one of the strangest species in nature, and even modern science hasn’t figured them out yet.

Energy in Humans

When it comes to energy, we humans have much more in common with animals than we usually like to admit. Imagine one of the most ruthless jungles in the human world—the high school cafeteria. Picture it as a watering hole where different species—in this case, the cliques of jocks, nerds, and stoners—peacefully intermingle. Then a bully “accidentally” bumps into a smaller guy’s food tray. The energy released by that interaction will ripple right through the entire room. Ask your teenager if this isn’t true. And exactly as in the animal kingdom, this energy shift doesn’t even have to be as blatant as a shove. Let’s say the little guy in the cafeteria is having a bad day. He’s failed two tests in a row and is in a weak state of mind. He happens to look up and accidentally catch the eye of the bully. Maybe the bully was just minding his own business, but as soon as he picks up on the weaker guy’s diminished energy, the whole dynamic between them changes in a split second. In the animal kingdom, that’s called survival of the fittest.

Let’s take this concept beyond the school lunchroom and think about our society as whole. Right or wrong, we in America expect our leaders to project a dominant, powerful energy, like that of a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan. Some powerful leaders project a charismatic energy that infects and energizes everyone around them—consider Tony Robbins. Martin Luther King, Jr., projected an energy that was what I call “calm-assertive”—the ideal energy for a leader. Though Gandhi was also a leader, his energy was of a more compassionate nature.

It’s interesting to note that Homo sapiens is the only species on the planet that will follow a wise, kind, compassionate, or lovable leader. Humans will even follow an unstable leader, but that’s another book in itself! As difficult as it may be for us to understand, in the animal kingdom, a Fidel Castro would win out as leader over a Mother Teresa any day. In the animal world, there is no morality, no right and wrong. Conversely, animals never cheat or lie their way to power—they can’t. Other animals would figure them out in a heartbeat. Nature’s leaders must project the most obvious and uncontestable strength. In the animal kingdom, there are only rules, routines, and rituals—based on survival of the strongest, not of the smartest or fairest.

Ever hear of “the smell of fear”? That’s not just an expression. Animals sense vibrations of energy, but smell is their next strongest sense—and in a dog, energy and scent seem to be deeply connected. In fact, dogs empty their anal glands when they are afraid, emitting a smell that’s distinctive not only to other dogs but to most animals (including us). A dog’s sense of smell is connected to the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for emotion. In his book The Dog’s Mind, Dr. Bruce Fogle cites studies from the 1970s that showed that dogs can detect butyric acid—one of the components of human perspiration—at up to a million times’ lower concentration than we can.1 Think of lie detector sensors that can pick up minute changes in the perspiration on a person’s hands when she is being deceptive. In essence, your dog is a living, breathing “lie detector”!

Do dogs actually physically “smell” fear in us? They certainly can sense it instantly. Countless joggers and mail carriers relate this harrowing experience—running or walking past a house and causing the dog there to bark, growl, or even charge the fence or gate. Now, this could be a dog that has adopted the role of protector of the house and takes that role very seriously—and too many mail carriers and joggers have the scars to show how powerful, aggressive dogs—what I call red-zone dogs—get out of control. (Red-zone dogs are serious business, and I’ll address them in depth in a later chapter.)

For the purposes of understanding how dogs sense emotional states, imagine this as you walk by a house with a red-zone dog in it: Perhaps the barking dog has a secret. He may be more afraid of you than you are of him! Once you freeze up in terror, however, the balance of power instantly changes. Does the dog pick up on your energy shift through his “sixth sense”? Or does he smell some change in your body or brain chemistry? Science hasn’t spelled it all out in layman’s terms as of yet, but in my opinion, it’s a combination of both. I can be sure of this from decades of close observation: you cannot “bluff” a dog the way you might be able to bluff a drunken poker buddy. Once you shift into the emotion of fear, that dog instantly knows he has an advantage over you. You are projecting a weak energy. And if the dog gets out, you are much more likely to be rushed or bitten than if you had tuned out the barking and simply gone on with your day. In the natural world, the weak get weeded out quickly. There’s no right or wrong about it—it’s just the way life on earth has worked for millions of years.

Energy and Emotion

The most important thing to understand about energy is that it’s a language of emotion. Of course you never have to tell an animal that you’re sad, or tired, or excited, or relaxed, because that animal already knows exactly how you’re feeling. Think back on some of the beautiful stories you’ve read in publications like Reader’s Digest and People magazine—stories of pets who have comforted, even saved, their sick, depressed, or grieving owners. These stories often include comments like “it was almost as if he knew what his owner was going through.” I’m here to assure you that, yes, these animals do know exactly what their owners are feeling. A French study concluded that dogs may actually also use their sense of smell to help distinguish between human emotional states.2 I’m not a scientist, but after a lifetime of being around dogs, my opinion is that, without question, dogs can sense even the most subtle changes in the energy and emotions of the humans around them. Of course animals can’t always comprehend the context of our issues; they can’t distinguish whether we’re heartbroken over a divorce or losing a job or misplacing a wallet, because those very human situations mean nothing to them. However, such situations create emotions—and those emotions are universal. Sick and sad are sick and sad, no matter what your species.

Animals aren’t in tune only with other animals—they seem to be able to read the energy of the earth as well. History is full of anecdotal tales of dogs who have appeared to “predict” earthquakes or cats who have hidden in the cellar for hours before a tornado. In 2004, a half day before Hurricane Charley hit the coast of Florida, fourteen electronically tagged blacktip sharks who had never before left their home territory off Sarasota suddenly headed off for deeper waters. And think of the terrible Southeast Asian tsunami of that same year.3 According to eyewitnesses, an hour before the wave hit the coast, captive elephants for tourist “elephant rides” in Indonesia started wailing and even broke their chains in order to flee to higher ground. All over the region, zoo animals fled into their shelters and refused to come out, dogs would not go outdoors, and hundreds of wild animals at the Yala National Park, in Sri Lanka—leopards, tigers, elephants, wild boar, deer, water buffalo, and monkeys—also escaped to safe ground.4 These are some of the miracles of Mother Nature that continue to astound me: they are a brilliant illustration of the powerful language of energy at work.

One of the most important things to remember is that all the animals around you—especially the pets with whom you share your life—are reading your energy every moment of the day. Sure, you can say anything that pops into your mind, but your energy cannot and does not lie. You can scream at your dog to stay off the sofa until your face is blue, but if you aren’t projecting the energy of a leader—if, down deep inside, you know you’re going to let him on the sofa if he begs you long enough—he’s going to know what your real bottom line is. That dog is going to sit on the sofa as long as he damn well pleases. He already knows you are not going to follow through on your screaming. Because dogs often perceive loud vocalizing by humans in an excited, emotional state as a sign of instability, he’ll be either unaffected by your tantrum or confused and frightened by it. He certainly won’t relate it to your rules about the couch!

The Calm-Assertive Personality

Now that you understand the powerful “language” of energy, my next job is to help you understand how to harness it to foster better communication between you and your dog. It takes a dog only a few seconds to determine what kind of energy you are projecting, so it is important that you be consistent. With your dog, you want to project what I call “calm-assertive” energy at all times. A calm-assertive leader is relaxed but always confident that he or she is in control.

Now, the word assertive has gotten an unfair bad rap lately. Maybe it’s because it is so similar to the word aggressive, but their meanings are worlds apart. Think of people in popular culture. No matter what side of his politics you adhere to, you’ve got to admit that Bill O’Reilly is angry-aggressive. He yells “Shut up!,” interrupts, and tries to get his way through bullying. In most everyday situations, being angry-aggressive can work against you—it’s simply not an energy-efficient way to get things done, and it’s really not good for your blood pressure. An angryaggressive dog would not make a good pack leader because the other dogs would perceive him as unstable.

I haven’t come across many people who are “calm-aggressive” in my job, though I suppose you could describe the villains in James Bond movies that way—they’re always plotting to blow up the world without breaking a sweat or spilling their martinis. In any case, “calm-aggressive” is not an energy state that’s natural to the nonhuman creatures in the animal kingdom.

But calm-assertive personalities? They are the leaders of the animal world. In our human landscape, they are few and far between, but they are almost always the most powerful, impressive, and successful people on the block. Oprah Winfrey—the number one role model for my own professional behavior—is the epitome of calm-assertive energy. She is relaxed, eventempered, but undeniably powerful, and always in charge. People everywhere respond to her magnetic energy, which has made her one of the most influential—and one of the wealthiest—women in the world.

Oprah’s relationship with one of her dogs, Sophie, is another story. Like many of the powerful people who hire me to help them with their dogs, Oprah had some issues in sharing her vaunted calm-assertiveness with Sophie. In the years that I’ve been helping people and their dogs, I’ve observed that many type A powerbrokers—directors, studio heads, movie stars, doctors, lawyers, architects—have no trouble being dominant and in control in their jobs, but the moment they arrive home, they let their dogs walk all over them. These people often see their life with their pet as the only area where they can let their softer side show. This is all incredibly therapeutic for the human, but it can be psychologically damaging for the animal. Your dog needs a pack leader more than he needs a buddy. But if you’re looking for a role model in calm-assertive energy, turn your channel to The Oprah Winfrey Show and watch her interact with her guests and her audience. That’s the kind of energy you should be aiming for when you interact with your dog, cat, boss, or your kids!

Fake It Till You Make It

What if you’re not naturally a calm-assertive person? How do you react when a problem pops up? Are you panicky and excitable, or defensive and aggressive? Do you tend to handle problems as if they were a personal assault upon you? It’s true that energy doesn’t lie, but energy and power can be focused and controlled. Biofeedback, meditation, yoga, and other relaxation techniques are excellent for learning about how to better control the energy you project. Spending eight years in intensive judo training as a boy made controlling my mental energy second nature for me. If you’re high-strung, anxious, or overly emotional—dead giveaways when animals are reading your energy—such techniques can make a big difference in how you relate to your pets. Learning to harness the power of the calm-assertive energy within you will also have a positive impact on your own mental health—and on your relationships with the humans in your lives. I guarantee it.

I often counsel my clients to use their imaginations and employ visualization techniques when they feel “stuck” in trying to project the right energy to their dogs. There are a lot of wonderful self-help, psychology, and philosophy books available to help you learn to harness the power of your mind to change your behavior. Some of the authors who have most influenced me are Dr. Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, Deepak Chopra, and Dr. Phil McGraw. Acting techniques such as those pioneered by Konstantin Stanislavski and Lee Strasberg are also excellent tools for transforming the way you relate in the world.

In the first season of my National Geographic Channel show, Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, I came across a case that offered an excellent example of how we can use our powers of visualization to instantly transform our energy and our relationships with our dogs.

Sharon and her husband, Brendan, had rescued Julius, a sweet, lovable pit bull/Dalmatian mix, who, unfortunately, came to them afraid of his own shadow. Whenever they took him out for walks, he would tremble all over and walk with his tail between his legs, and would bolt for the safety of their house the moment he got a chance. When guests came over, he would freeze up and cower under the furniture. When I worked with the couple, I noticed that Sharon became extremely anxious and frightened whenever Julius acted afraid or pulled on his leash during walks. She was so worried about Julius that she would try to comfort him with words, and when he wasn’t comforted, she would just throw her hands up in helplessness. It was clear to me that Julius was picking up on Sharon’s fearful energy, which was greatly intensifying his own fear.

When Sharon told me she was an actress, however, I realized that she had a powerful tool at her disposal that she wasn’t taking advantage of. The best actors learn to dig deep inside themselves, to use the power of thought, feeling, and imagination to transform themselves into different characters and to switch instantly from one emotional state to another. I asked Sharon to reach into the same “tool kit” she drew upon when she performed onstage or in a film and concentrate on a very simple acting exercise: to think of a character she identified as being calm and assertive. Because of her training, Sharon immediately understood what I was asking her to do. Without hesitation she answered, “Cleopatra.” I then suggested that she “become” Cleopatra every time she walked Julius.

It was thrilling for me to watch her the first time she gave that acting exercise a try! While walking Julius, Sharon began to imagine that she actually was Cleopatra. Right before my eyes, her posture became straighter and her chest higher. She raised her head and gazed imperiously around her, as if she were the queen of all she surveyed. Thanks to the same acting abilities she’d spent a lifetime honing, suddenly she was aware of her power and her beauty, and she naturally expected everyone—especially her dog—to obey her every wish! Of course, Julius had never gone to acting class, but because he picked up on her energy shift, he had no choice but to become Sharon’s “scene partner” in her Cleopatra fantasy. The change in that cowering pit bull/Dalmatian was immediate. Once he realized he was walking with a “queen,” he instantly became more relaxed and less fearful. After all, what dog would be afraid with the allpowerful Cleopatra holding his leash?

Julius and his owners have worked hard and come a long way. It took many months of dedicated daily practice, but a year later, Julius is totally secure on their walks, and now even welcomes strangers into their home—all thanks to the power of calmassertive leadership, and with a little help from Cleopatra.

Calm-Submissive Energy

The proper energy for a follower in a dog pack is called calmsubmissive energy. This is the healthiest energy for your dog to project in his relationship with you. When people come to the Dog Psychology Center and watch my pack in action, they are often astounded at how mellow a group of forty to fifty dogs can be 90 percent of the time. That’s because my pack is made up of calm-submissive, mentally balanced dogs.

The word submissive carries with it negative connotations, just as the word assertive does. Submissive doesn’t mean pushover. It doesn’t mean you have to make your dog into a zombie or a slave. It simply means relaxed and receptive. It’s the energy of a group of well-behaved students in a classroom, or of a church congregation. When I give my dog-behavior seminars, I always thank my audience for being in a calm-submissive state—that is, open-minded and able to converse easily with one another. When I learned how to be calm-submissive to my wife, it improved my marriage 100 percent!

For dogs and humans to truly communicate, the dog must project a calm-submissive energy before a human can get him to obey her. (As dog owners, we don’t ever want to be perceived as the submissive ones.) Even when a dog is doing search and rescue, he’s not assertive—he’s active-submissive. Though that search-and-rescue dog is meant to be out in front of the handler, scratching excitedly at piles of rubble, the handler will first sit the dog down and wait until he is in a submissive state of mind, and only then will give him the signal to begin the search. Dogs who work with handicapped people also must be the submissive ones in the relationship, even if their owners are blind or confined to wheelchairs. The animals are there to help people, not the other way around.

Body Language

Your dog is constantly observing you, reading your energy. He is also reading your body language. Dogs use body language as another means of communicating with one another, but it’s important to remember that their body language is also a function of the energy they’re projecting. Remember the example of Sharon and Julius, where simply thinking about being Cleopatra inspired Sharon to stand up taller and prouder? The energy fed the body language, and in turn, the body language reinforced the energy. The two are always interconnected.

You can learn to interpret your dog’s body language by the visual clues he or she gives you, but it’s important to remember that different energy can determine the context of a posture. It’s like those pesky words called homonyms in English—words that sound exactly the same but mean different things. Like read and red, or flee and flea. For the non-native English speaker, it takes a little while to learn how to distinguish between such words. But of course, it all comes down to context. How a word is used is what determines its meaning. It’s the same with dogs and body language. A dog with his ears back may be signaling calm submission, which is the appropriate energy for a follower in a pack. Or, he may be signaling that he is afraid. One dog mounting another may signal dominance, or it may simply be play behavior. The energy always creates the context.


May I Sniff You?

As I mention earlier, scent can also function as a language for dogs. Your dog’s nose—millions of times more sensitive than yours—provides him with a huge amount of important information about his environment and the other animals in it. In nature, a dog’s anal scent is his “name.” When two dogs meet, they’ll sniff each other’s behinds as a way of introduction. Since they don’t have phone books, dogs can tell other dogs where they live and where they’ve roamed by urinating on a “signpost”—a bush, a tree, a rock, or a pole. When a female is in heat, she’ll deposit her scent through urine all throughout her territory, placing a kind of personal ad for the male dogs in the neighborhood5—who may show up on her owner’s doorstep the following morning, without her poor human owner knowing how in the world they got “invited.” Through scent, dogs can also find out if another dog is sick or what kind of food it has been eating. As in the studies of dogs and their ability to “sniff” out emotional changes in humans, scientists have for many years been trying to understand the miraculous power of a dog’s nose to discern all sorts of subtle information. In September 2004, the British Medical Journal published the results of a Cambridge University study that proved that dogs could “sniff out” bladder cancer in urine samples at least 41 percent of the time.6 For years, there had been anecdotal evidence of such miraculous feats, but now science is actively working to research how dogs can help detect diseases at much earlier stages than even some high-tech equipment can detect it.

You know those whole-body CT scan machines, where you lie down for a few moments and supposedly get a complete diagnosis of all your bodily systems? That’s pretty much what dogs do when they first meet you. They use their noses to give you a whole-body scan, check you out, find out where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing lately. In dog etiquette, you’re supposed to let them do it. At my Dog Psychology Center, when a new dog enters the pack’s territory, it is only polite for him to remain still while everybody in the pack comes up and smells him. If the dog stands quietly, allowing the others to finish sniffing, he will be accepted more easily into the pack. If he moves away, the other dogs will chase him around until they’re done sniffing. A sign that a dog is antisocial toward other dogs is that he is uncomfortable or aggressive about being sniffed. That’s a dog that hasn’t learned any manners—like a human who won’t shake hands upon introduction. When a person enters the gate of my center and walks through the dog pack, the dogs will do the same thing to her. Many people find it intimidating—or just plain terrifying—to have a pack of forty very scary-looking dogs descend on them and start sniffing away. A person shouldn’t look at or touch the dogs during this process, but the dogs should be allowed to surround that person and smell her. That’s the only way they can become comfortable with a new animal of any species—by learning to distinguish her by her scent. I’m not “Cesar” to my dogs. I’m their pack leader, which is Cesar’s scent and energy.

While smelling you is a way for your dog to recognize you, projecting the correct energy is the key to becoming your dog’s pack leader. We’ll go deeper into the pack leader concept—it is the cornerstone of your healthy relationship with your dog. But first, it’s important to remember that your dog doesn’t see the world the same way you do. Once you learn to experience your dog as an animal first, and not as a four-legged human, you will be better able to understand his “language” of energy—and truly “hear” what he is saying to you.


From the Hardcover edition.
Cesar Millan|Melissa Jo Peltier

About Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan - Cesar's Way

Photo © Alan Weissman

Founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, CESAR MILLAN is the star of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan on the National Geographic Channel. In addition to his educational seminars and work with unstable dogs, he and his wife have founded the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing financial support and rehabilitation expertise to shelters. A native of Culican, Mexico, Cesar lives in Los Angeles with his wife and their two sons, Andre and Calvin.

About Melissa Jo Peltier

Melissa Jo Peltier - Cesar's Way

Photo © Kate Marble

MELISSA JO PELTIER, an executive producer and writer of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, has been honored for her film and television writing and directing with an Emmy, a Peabody, and more than fifty other awards. She lives in Nyack, New York, with her husband, writer-director John Gray, and stepdaughter, Caitlin.

  • Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier
  • September 18, 2007
  • Pets - Dogs
  • Three Rivers Press
  • $15.00
  • 9780307337979

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