The Human Whisperer

I’ve been watching Cesar Milan’s show the Dog Whisperer. It’s brilliant. He’s brilliant. His methods of dog rehabilitation are not only helpful for dogs, but they are also relevant with humans. He believes that all of a dog’s problematic behavior stems from a lack of understanding from its owners. Dog psychology is different than human psychology. They are pack animals that function best and healthiest when placed in a submissive role. There’s always an alpha-type leader and the rest of the pack follows. In our homes, we treat our animals as if they were human, anthropomorphizing their behavior, assuming they are as complicated emotionally as humans. This creates the problematic behavior, because the dog (when not shown proper leadership) will attempt to take on the dominant role, which can lead to dissonance and in the worst cases, aggression.

Cesar believes that a dog needs three things to be happy. Exercise, Discipline, Affection. And they have to be in that order. Affection should only be given when the animal is calm and submissive. If you give affection when its agitated or excited, it will only reinforce that unwanted behavior.

He also says that an animal can feel its owner. Without words. If you are agitated, your animal will be agitated. Because of that, Cesar encourages dog owners to be calm and assertive when interacting with their animals. And in turn, this makes them stronger as people. Most often, the dog’s behavioral problems are just an extension of its owners. And by rehabilitating the animal, we are also providing that space for ourselves.

I love it. It’s so relevant! And even though it’s a simplistic approach to human psychology, it still fits. I believe that humans need exercise in some form. Each person has the level of physical activity that works best for them. We also need discipline. With humans, the most constructive form of discipline comes from ourselves. External discipline may work initially, but self- discipline is more effective in the long run. And finally, affection. Yes, we need to be touched and held. Some people more than others.

I love dogs. And if there is something I can do to make them happier and provide a better life for them, I will. That’s why I think I’m going to rescue an animal as soon as I have my own place. Maybe even sooner. It’s not like I don’t have time on my hands.


3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by LauraT on January 12, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    I ran across this article about Cesar a few years ago and was really struck by it:

    A lot of it is dance/movement specialists reflecting on his physical/energetic presence and clarity of body language communication.

    Here’s my favorite quote about what he does: “He’s using strength without it being aggressive.”‘

    And another: “Cesar had his body vertical, and his hand high above JonBee holding hte leash, and, as JonBee turned and snapped and squirmed and spun and jumped and lunged and struggled, Cesar seemed to be moving along with him, providing a loose structure for his aggression. It may have looked like a fight, but Cesar wasn’t fighting.” “Using the language of movement — the plainest and most transparent of all languages — Cesar was telling JonBee he was safe. Now JonBee was lying on his side, mouth relaxed, tongue out. “Look at that, look at the dog’s face,” Tortora said. This was not defeat; this was relief.”

    Not sure I really like the name “Dog Whisperer” though. That name was more truly appropriate for the horse guy, more appropriate for someone speaking the body language of prey animals. Dogs are predators, and even though Cesar’s language is also mostly non-verbal and thus “quiet,” it’s feels really qualitatively different that horse language.


    • Posted by feelandheal on January 13, 2010 at 3:39 am

      I continue to watch episodes of the dog whisperer and although he tends to repeat the same information over and over, I am still touched by each of the dogs he works with, whether its a dog that quickly submits or fights him with all its might. He’s really inspirational…


  2. Posted by julia on March 9, 2010 at 3:25 pm –photo at web site

    quote:DADDY & ME

    Who was the leader of Millan’s pack? Daddy, the 16-year-old pit bull, who passed away on Feb. 19. “He’s my sensei. He totally showed me what mastering acceptance looks like,” the trainer, seen here at his two-story home outside L.A., told PEOPLE in September. “I’m gonna miss him.”

    that dog was/is INCREDIBLE yet very credible-stable

    if you saw what he put up with [other freaked-out dogs] and his calm and strong demeanor you would miss him too—wow! what will Cesar do now?

    talk about admirable animal qualities!!!!!!!!!


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