'Dog Whisperer' Cesar Millan: Leader of the Pack
Friday, November 13, 2009; 1:00 PM
Cesar Millan, the 'Dog Whisperer,' was online Friday, Nov. 13, at 1 p.m. ET to chat about his upcoming PackPower Tour (coming to the Patriot Center Dec. 6) which features a state-of-the-art multimedia show enabling audiences to see the world through their dog's eyes and to change their behavior.
"This new U.S. tour will teach dog owners how to be calm and assertive pack leaders with their dogs, which helps me fulfill my vision of making the world a better place ... one dog at a time," says Millan in a news release.
Cesar Millan: My latest book is all about preventing unwanted behavior, How to Raise the Perfect Dog, the most recent book I've written and it's about how to maintain the balance that they're born with and how can we introduce tools like a leash and make them believe to be an extension of nature. But at this point it's best that you let him wear a leash because naturally he's going to follow you. Remember, it's not about training the dog it's about training the human.
Atlanta, Ga.: Cesar,
Can you suggest how we might train our dog to not bolt to the front door whenever someone knocks or rings the doorbell? The dog ends up barking and sliding across my hardwood floor every time someone knocks at the door. Thanks in advance.
Cesar Millan: When people ask me questions they only focus on the part that they don't like. But often people don't focus on what the dog doesn't like from the human. So my suggestion to this situation is don't wait for people to come and knock on the door and ring the bell. Practice this activity by you having a leash on your dog and bringing your dog towards the door. And if you watch the show, you see how I ask a dog to go into a calm, submissive state before I use the sounds that normally make them excited. This is what is called reconditioning the brain. So this way your dog learns that you can control the way he reacts to the sounds.
Suggestions for your visitors: ask them to practice the no touch, no talk, no eye contact rule and invite them to also practice calm, assertive energy. This way your dog will be surrounded by people who want him to practice and calm, submissive state. Then the ritual of the door becomes a very peaceful ritual.
Jeffersonton, Va.: Hi Cesar, I'm a huge fan of yours. What's the best way to introduce a new dog into a a household where there is already one older dog - do you need to sort of ignore the new dog for a few days so as not to show favoritism? Thank you.
Cesar Millan: No. There is an episode in which I show how to bring a second dog into the household. The steps that I took were that everybody in the house was in agreement with the second dog. The second thing was that we were going to focus on the energy of this dog, not the look of this second dog because we want to bring the perfect match for our beloved dog. And our beloved dogs don't care how our dogs look. They care how they feel like.
I picked a dog that was lower energy than the dog who was already in the house. That automatically became a perfect match. What I suggest to the people in the house to do is to observe how they interact with each other. And the first dog who lived in the household automatically took the position of showing the new dog what to do so he immediately becomes part of the family.
We must not show favoritism to either/or. Now you have a pack. And it's all about the pack. A pack means they're all one.
Ellicott City, Md.: Hello, Cesar! I watch your show all the time, and I adore daddy and Junior! I have an 8-year-old Maltese/Bichon mix who will only obey commands for treats. She's very smart, but also very obstinate. How do I wean her off the treats, and get her to obey just because I give a command?
Cesar Millan: This is a classical case where the dog outsmarts the human. To reconnect with common sense, we are going to do the exercise with a leash and we are not going to say a word. We are just going to use body language. So if we move our hand up we want our dog to sit down. If the dog doesn't sit down then we are going to help him by gently and firmly pushing his rear to the ground. What this is doing to the dog is to make him curious about this unusual way of being from you which is no sound or scent involved --- just a silent energy and body language. What this does for you as a human is it encourages you to use natural resources. You become the food. You become the treat. Keep sessions short but you must follow through.
Cat Whisperer?: Hi Cesar
Love your amazing work with dogs; is there any way a cat can be trained following your ideas?
Cesar Millan: I have received many e-mails and letters where people are not dog people as they call themselves but they're cat people. They say they watch the show even though they're a cat person and not a dog person. Your calm, assertive way of being also works with my cats.
To me it's a principle the animals follow balance and energy regardless of species.
Harrisburg. Pa.: Looking through a dog's eyes, what is it that may change a dog from one that thinks it should be the leader of the pack into one that recognizes that a human is the leader of the pack?
Cesar Millan: The seminar explains in more detail why we have leadership crises with our dogs and why our dogs are not listening to us and to me that has to do with leadership, a very humane leadership. It's very important for me to invite people into seminars because a live experience can get to the core of your questions.
Arlington, Va.: I'm expecting a baby in three weeks. What's the best way to introduce my dog to my baby? My dog is an eight-year-old cocker spaniel/border collie mix who still has the energy of a puppy. Thanks.
Cesar Millan: First of all congratulations. Second, my question is has this dog at one point in your life played the role of a baby and if he did now is very important that you see him as a dog. From his perspective he will have no problem with it. Once you give this freedom back to him and you give him a place within the family it will be ideal that his place is the one who follows the family. That way your baby will play the role of one who leads the family.
In a pack of dogs there are two positions: the leader and the follower. I always encourage parents to understand this concept because when our dogs are in a follower state our children and our relatives are safe.
Washington, D.C.: We have a rescue(she was found in a junkyard with 20 other dogs and was clearly the omega dog) who is terrified of the washing machine and the dishwasher - she pants, trembles, and is generally miserable when the machines are running. How can we get her over this fear?
Cesar Millan: Before we deal with the psychological aspect, it's very important that we take this particular dog on a long walk. Longer than usual. The reason is to open a high level of appetite. So the appetite is stronger than the fear. If a dog is hungry then he can take food. Then he will associate the sound and the sight of the machines opposite the fear, which he relate to as a concept of food. Think about the Pavlov philosophy, where he rings the bell and the bell represented food. The reason why this worked is because the dogs he was experimenting with were hungry and then they relate the bell with food.
Another thing to take into consideration is how do we feel at the moment we are helping our dogs. Many people feel sorry or feel bad when they see an under-stress dog and unfortunately by feeling worse than the dog we are not going to be able to help. So that's a perfect moment to practice a calm, assertive state or calm and confident state.
You should come to the seminar. If you don't understand what calm and assertive are then please bring your family to the seminar on Dec. 6 at the Patriot Center. I will make sure that thousands of people understand the meaning of calm, assertive energy.
What makes me a dog whisperer is the knowledge of dog psychology and the awareness of what the pack leader needs to represent. Remember, I rehabilitate dogs and train people.
Amherst, Mass.: Sometimes I think my dog is reading my mind. Am I right?
Cesar Millan: Absolutely. One of the things that I love about my profession is the dogs are constantly reading ourselves. And of course, I learned that from the dogs but at the same time I get to see how often we humans live unconsciously of the energy that we project. Our thoughts become energy. And our dogs are always aware of it. So you are absolutely right, they are always reading you.
Upper Marlboro, Md.: Do the techniques you advocate apply to puppies? How soon can you start disciplining a puppy? How soon can you expect a puppy to be housebroken?
Cesar Millan: Their mothers give them to already housebroken. Discipline is part of rules, boundaries and limitations which is also something that their mothers already instill in them. When we get a puppy what we need to do is to understand how dogs raise each other. Again, this information that you are requesting is in my book, How to Raise the Perfect Dog.
If you want to know elapse of time how long does it take to raise a dog to instill good foundation, it takes six months. To maintain a balanced dog is forever. It's a commitment that lasts forever. Whatever you give, you get back.
Canton, Ohio: Who leads your pack when you are out on tour? More specifically, what happens when there is no human pack leader? Do they stay calm and submissive because that's what they've come to prefer? Or does one dog become a 'temp'.
Cesar Millan: Before I start thinking about traveling I make sure my two packs were going to be taken care of. One is my canine pack and one is my human pack. In the absence of a human leadership one of the pack members will take over. And if one of the dogs don't do it, the cat will. Which means a pack can run without guidance.
Arlington, Va: Do you have any suggestions to stop a dog from eating dog poop ?
Cesar Millan: There are two main reasons that I have learned why dogs eat their stools. Number one, lack of nutrients and minerals due to poor food. Number two, the dog is bored. Lack of challenge. Stool has a scent and many times when dogs are not being properly challenged the body flushes out food because they body doesn't need it. So we might see it as a stool but they may see it as they found something in it.
If you go back into an episode I did with a dog named Jodi who had the same problem what I discovered was that she was lacking in potassium. So what I did for her was to exchange this bad habit for bananas. What she did eventually is when she saw the stool she will bring me to where the bananas were. So I stopped a bad habit and I created a habit of a dog who now eats bananas.
Washington, D.C.: I recently became married and my wife's two Aussie Sheppards are part of the deal. They are about two years old. The dogs are great except for one problem; they sleep on the living room couch. Is there a simple and effective way to break them of that habit? I realize this should have been done as part of their training when they were puppies.
Cesar Millan: This is more of a husband/wife conversation. Before you ask a dog to do something new. Because if you wife is not in agreement with you they are going to disregard this new point of view. That's why I'm saying to first address this with your new wife so you're both in agreement. Now remember, women have a different psychology. So before you ask the question make sure you're coming from a very compassionate point of view. I am a husband too. I am not just a dog whisperer.
Silver Spring, Md.: We have an aggressive Schnauzer who will be three in December and still tries to attack other dogs and people. He has been to training at Pet Smart but his behavior has not changed. When we walk him and he sees other dogs he tries to go after them, the same with people. He is great with us and our kids but no one else. Help!
Cesar Millan: This is why I'm doing the seminars ... because I want to train the people. You have attended a dog training program. Your dog would like for you to attend a human training program or what I like to call people training for dogs. Please visit my Web site, www.cesarmillaninc.com for more information about seminars and also for tips.
Arlington, VA: I really enjoy your show on Nat. Geo. How is Daddy doing?
Also, while you use food as reward sometimes, I see some trainers using food most of the time. What would you say are the plusses and minuses of using food as a reward to get the behavior you want from a dog?
Cesar Millan: I always thank people from the bottom of my heart to thank people for asking for someone that is so dear to my heart and I know that he has become very endearing to the country even though he's 15 years of age he is still giving the beautiful energy that we all have learned to love.
Food is a motivation tool and just like a toy can be a motivation tool -- not all dogs are food-motivated. Everything in moderation is healthy. But in one of the previous questions I got asked earlier the dogs only behave for his human as long as he gives him food. So we must learn to also use other sources of motivation so the dog doesn't only do things for food. At the end, we want our dogs to do things because we love them. Out of love, not out of food.
Cesar Millan: I want to thank everybody for being a fan of the show and on behalf of the Dog Whisperer crew we want to thank you. I am looking forward to seeing you guys at the seminar. The goal for me is to create pack leaders who love their dogs. A balanced dog is a balanced world but we must work together as a pack. Love you guys and thank you for loving Daddy so much.
Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.