“Be the Pack Leader” and “Cesar’s Rules” by Cesar Millan

DSCN4185[1].JPG

I my last post, I mentioned that I wanted to write about a book I finished a while ago. Well, surprise, surprise, I am going to write about TWO books. Yaaay!

The reason I decide to put them together is that they’re both on the same topic, and by the same author: dogs, and Cesar Millan, respectively.

I’ve mentioned in past blogs that I have two dogs. They are known under various names, including “Monkey”, “Baby boy”,”Little fella”, “Silly face”, and pretty much anything else I come up with, but their actual names are Tommy and Lupu. Tommy is the eldest, and he received his name because my grandmother had a dog named Tommy in her youth, and I though that it would make her happy to have another 4-legged creature with the same name. Lupu received his name because his fur resembled that of a wolf (and “Lupu” means “wolf” in Romanian), but as I found out, his personality doesn’t match his name in any respect. Still, it’s a cool contrast.

13243916_1068732729830446_1373074646309937936_o.jpg13227548_1068732786497107_8355018098721081286_o.jpg

But back to the topic. I bought these books a while ago, and after having read them,I gotta say: man, I wish I had them when my silly faces were babies. I guess it was just one of those things, where because I had grown up with dogs, I was under the impression I knew all there was to know about them.

Not so, not so. The more time passed, the more I realized how little I actually know about these creatures I had spent my entire childhood with. I’m glad I read them, because now I understand my dogs better. I no longer expect more than they’re capable of giving, and my relationship with them has improved. Well, not entirely, but you know…gettin’ there :).

Now, on to the lessons. As per usual, these are just a few of the things I learnt, because if I were to write everything, it would take a while.

1.Dogs are animals.

You’re probably going like “No shit, Sherlock!”. Yeah, I know…sounds pretty obvious. But you see, I believe many of us (including me), think of dogs as sort of weird-looking humans, and expect from them things that only a human can do. We expect them to understand when we’re sad, and we want them to comfort us. Surely, all those movies we’ve seen must show exactly how dogs actually act, right? While a very few dogs do react to sadness in the specific way we would want them to, most don’t. I’m not saying here that they don’t perceive it; just that they don’t know how we want them to react to that. There are plenty of other examples, and perhaps I’ll tackle this topic later on, but you get the point: treat dogs like they’re dogs, adjust your expectations of them, and your relationship will improve.

    2.  Dogs need to be respected.

This is a perfect sag-way from what I just talked about before,because it gives me a chance to explain myself. When I say that dogs should be treated like what they are, I in no way mean that they should be treated badly. Absolutely no way. They are little beings, and should be treated in the best way possible. Only thing is, they should be treated in the best way possible according to their own needs, which are driven by their genes (aka by their innate “dogness”). Many people forget that dogs need to be respected,in more ways than one. They may not be “smart” in the way you expect them to be, but they sure as hell have a bright mind.Even the less…umm…cognitively-gifted ones still have qualities that need to be respected. Find those qualities, and appreciate your doggie for them.

   3. Dogs need exercise.

They’re active creatures, and they’re used to getting their hearts pumping. Run with them, go for walks, play, or do anything that you and your little one may enjoy. Here’s the thing: don’t expect them to be super well-behaved dogs when they’re carrying a lot of extra energy with them. They might just need to release it by…say, chewing all your furniture.

 4. Take responsibility.

Another obvious one, that a lot of people seem to forget. It’s your dog, so it’s your responsibility. If you haven’t had time to invest in their training, don’t complain about how “badly” they behave. They are simply doing what is in their nature, they’re not doing it to spite you. If you haven’t train them well, don’t expect that by the grace of some unknown Dog Lords, your little one will act exactly as you want him or her to act. Oh, and one more thing: if you don’t have time for a dog, don’t buy one, only to realize a few months later that you can’t take care of one. That’s how dogs end up on the street and end up with miserable lives.

5. Enforce boundaries.

Yes, dogs need love to thrive. You know what else they need? Boundaries. Dogs are used to living in a pack, where the alpha enforces boundaries so that the entire pack is happy. When they lack those boundaries, they are not in their “natural” state, and as much as you think they like it, they don’t. And you probably don’t like it when they don’t listen. A well-behaved dog is a happy one, and has a happy owner.

 

These are just a few of the lessons these books have taught me. Cesar Millan is a wonderful teacher when it comes to dogs, and I love using his approach. While there’s still a bit to go with my own pups, I have already learnt a lot from him and his books.

DSCN4184[1].jpg

What rules do you have for your dogs? I’d love to know! 🙂

/Larisa

 

 

Update on My Dog’s Training

IMG_1581

I while ago, I made a post in which I was telling you that I was planning on starting to train my dog. The biggest obstacle, however, was that he has a lot of energy, and so calming him down was the first thing on my mind. Let me tell you how we’re doing so far.

1) Starting with a Calm Energy is More Difficult than it Looks

Most of the times, it wasn’t all that hard for me to remember that if I wanted a calm dog, I had to start with a calm me. However, it wasn’t always so easy. Sometimes, I had only a short window of time in which I could train him, so I had to rush. Other times, I was impatient to begin with. Finally, other times, I was concentrating so much on the fact that it was him I was training, that I forgot to check my own energy.

2) “Sit” and “Wait” Were Pretty Straight Forward

That is not to say I didn’t have any problems with these two commands, because I did. Sometimes, I would ask him to sit, and he would not pay attention to me. Other times, he would just look at me, as if he had no idea what I was telling him. I realized with this occasion that it is indeed better to simply hold the treat above his nose and move it backwards in order to remind him what on Earth I was talking about. My previous method, of gently pushing down on his back proved to be fruitless.

With wait I had a way easier time, though it did require a lot of patience, which I’ll speak about in my next point.

3) Patience, Patience, Patience!

This was one of the secret ingredients for success in training him. Especially with wait, I had to repeat the same steps over and over. It began with me telling him to sit, congratulating him, giving him the treat, then telling him “wait”. Then, I would start moving backwards. When he got up, I told him “No”, then repeated the previous steps. If he managed to sit still while I was moving a little bit, I congratulated him and gave him the treat. I repeated this steps over and over, until the distance I moved away from him was larger and larger.

4) Still Learning to “Leave it”

I began only a few days ago to teach him this new command, and the experience was pretty funny. I first showed him the treat, let him smell and lick it, then I said “Not allowed”, and moved my hand away. At first, he just stared at the treat for the longest time, with a very confused face. After a while of repeating this, I threw the treat down, and told him he was not allowed. Again, a long moment of staring followed, after which he lay down, and started crawling towards it. I reminded him he was not allowed to have it, then took it away. As I said, we’re still learning this command, but so far so good (and sooo funny 🙂 )

5) Moving Beyond the Basics

I have already started teaching him a new command, which is “lie down”. Today was the second day we’ve ever done it, and he’s already showing signs of comprehension. However, we still have to practice it a bit more before he’ll know it for certain. I will be making another plan for things to teach him after that, and how to do it. One of the commands that he should know is “go to your place”, but that might come a lot later, depending on how he’ll react.

This is about it for now!

/Larisa

Get in touch with me! 🙂

Facebook

Learning How to Train a High Energy Dog

DSCN0780

In one of my past posts, I spoke of one of my dogs, whose name is Tommy, and I also mentioned that I have another one, who is still a puppy (and you can see a picture of him above). Well, the puppy is now 1, and I want to train him. Because he has lots of energy, I decided to first look for ways to calm him down, and to teach him commands that will support his “calmness”. Since I was doing all this, I decided to share with you what I found, hoping it might help someone else as well.

Here we go:

1)      Start with a calm energy

This is something I need to work on. You see, I’m alright with staying serious and calm, but once my dog makes a cute face, I immediately want to hug him. Not good, not good. Cesar points out that the dog reflects its owner’s state. So if you’re stressed, it will be the same. This is why it is so important to begin the training session calm.

Something I strive to do is to stand in front of him in a calm state of mind, until he also calms down. I don’t proceed to do anything until he stops being excited. This (I hope) sends him the message that if he doesn’t tone down the energy, we won’t proceed.

2)      Teach Him/Her to Sit

“Sit” is a very useful command for a dog to know. I started teaching him when he was little, by gently pressing on his backside, and telling him “sit”. After a few times of having done this, I simply  gave him the command, and rewarded him after he did it. Afterwards, I read online that this technique is not a good one because it teaches your dog to do things using force. I do understand their point of view, but considering the fact that I was careful not to injure him, and that he looked happy all the while, I would venture to say it did no harm. Regardless, right now he doesn’t have that command ingrained in him, because no one repeated it to him after I taught him. He does know it, but vaguely (which means I have to keep working at it).

If you prefer to use another method (and this would work best if your dog is no longer a puppy), here’s something I came across: you can hold a treat in front of his/her nose, and then move it back a little. During this, tell him/her “sit”, and use a clicker if you have one. When he/she sits down, give them the treat.

3)      Teach Your Dog to Wait

When going for the door for example, tell your dog “wait” (but have him/her sit at your side before that). Touch the doorknob, and if the dog doesn’t get up or move, treat (and click). Then jiggle the knob of the door, and if he/she remains still, treat again. The next step is to open the door a little. Then, after that’s all good, open it more and more, until you can go out without your dog moving. The key here is to treat after every step he/she does right. Also, repeat each step a few times before proceeding to the next, just to make sure the behaviour is ingrained.

4)      Teach Your Dog to “Leave It”

If something falls on the ground, my dog is sure to inspect it immediately. If that thing happens to look remotely like something that’s edible, he’ll eat it. This is a problem, and I figured I should get rid of it, so I looked online for method of doing this. Again, I went to Cesar’s website, and sure enough, I found an article on it.

Cesar instructs us to teach dogs this command by using a treat or a toy, which we allow the dog to smell. After he has done that, move the hand away, saying “leave it”. If the dog goes after the hand, close your fingers over the treat and don’t let him get to it. After he calms down, repeat the same steps. After he moves away from the treat, you can give it to him as a rewards for listening. (Click here for more on this topic)

 

These are the main things I will be starting with my dog, and he’ll hopefully get better. Once he’s learnt these commands well, I can proceed to the next steps, of which I will keep you posted. In the meantime, let me know about your experience with dog training. Any opinions and tips are welcome, since I’m still trying to figure out this whole thing.

 

More Resources: