The dog training book you’ve been waiting for from the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer.
New York Times bestselling author Cesar Millan shows you how to communicate well with your dog and shares the most effective and humane methods for teaching your dog how to be a happy, well-behaved member of your household. In
Cesar’s Rules, he addresses:
• The most popular training techniques, including positive reinforcement and using a clicker
• Ways to teach basic obedience commands sucha as sit, stay, and come
• The importance of balance, and why a well-trained dog does not necessarily mean a balanced one
• How to use your dog’s own natural inclinations to create better behavior
• The methods and theories from a variety of renowned trainers, including Bob Bailey, Ian Dunbar, Joel Silverman, Martin Deeley, and Mark Harden
• Encouraging and honoring your dog’s instincts
• And much more . . .
Filled with practical advice, anecdotes, tips, and trouble-shooting techniques from Cesar and his colleagues, this is the ultimate guide to a well-behaved
and well-balanced dog—from a new puppy to an old dog who can still learn new tricks.
“Millan’s wizardlike facility with dogs—the calm he brings to them, the confident way he handles them—is mind-blowing.”
“[Millan] arrives amid canine chaos and leaves behind peace.”
—Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
Founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, CESAR MILLAN is the #1
New York Times bestselling author of
Cesar’s Way, Be the Pack Leader,
A Member of the Family, and
How to Raise the Perfect Dog. He is the star of
with Cesar Millan, National Geographic Channel’s top-rated show. In addition to his educational seminars and work with unstable dogs, Cesar has founded the Millan Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping shelters and rescue groups.
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.
THOSE MAGICAL AMERICAN DOGS
My Evolution from Training Dogs to Training People
The television set was an old black-and-white Zenith made of plastic that was supposed to look like wood. When you walked into our Mazatlan apartment, you could hear it before you could see it as you walked down a narrow hallway into the living room with a floor of large black- and-white tiles and a couch against one wall. My mother loved to watch her telenovelas-the daily soap operas that were so popular in Mexico. My sister loved the program Maya, which was about an elephant. But me? I had only two favorites: Lassie and Rin Tin Tin.
I still remember the way the Rin Tin Tin television show opened. Over a distant shot of a low-lying fort set in a cradle of mountains somewhere in the American West, there came the sound of a bugle playing reveille. At the sound of the call, American cavalry officers in Civil War-era uniforms rushed from their posts inside Fort Apache to fall into formation. Then there was a cut-the one I always waited for-to a shot of a magnificent German shepherd dog, sitting stoically on a rooftop, his ears pointed high, on alert to the bugle call. When Rusty, a little boy, joined the formation line, Rin Tin Tin barked, leapt off the rooftop, and got into the line of soldiers, just as if he were a soldier himself. By the end of the opening credits, I was filled with excitement and anticipation, wondering what incredible adventure Rusty and Rin Tin Tin would face this week.
Then there was Lassie. None of the dogs on my grandfather''s farm looked anything like Lassie, with her downy cream-and-white-colored coat and her elegant, pointy nose. Our dogs had raggedy coats and muddy faces, but Lassie was always meticulously groomed. Every week Lassie''s boy owner, Timmy, would get into some sort of trouble, but Lassie would never fail to save her master and help Timmy''s parents teach him a life lesson, all within the span of one thirty-minute show.
By the time I saw Lassie and Rin Tin Tin on television, I was nine or ten years old and already entranced with dogs. From as early as I can remember, I was fascinated by, drawn to, and in love with the packs of working dogs that lived with us on my grandfather''s farm in Sinaloa. They weren''t pretty like Lassie or obedient like Rin Tin Tin, but sometimes I felt more a part of them than I did my human family. I never tired of just watching them-the way they interacted and communicated with one another; the way the mothers so effortlessly but firmly raised the pups; and the way they managed to solve disputes with each other quickly and cleanly, usually without even fighting, then move on to the next thing without bitterness or regret. Perhaps in some way I envied the clear and simple rules of their lives compared with the complexity of the human interactions in my own close but sometimes troubled family. All I knew then, however, was that dogs fascinated me, took me out of myself, and made me want to spend every spare minute learning everything I could about them.
Then Lassie and Rin Tin Tin came into my life through television, and I began to wonder if there wasn''t something about dogs I was missing. You see, at first I was totally fooled by these professional performing dogs. As a father, I used to watch my son Calvin watching kung fu movies on television when he was younger, and I could see by the look in his eyes that he believed the guys were actually fighting each other. He didn''t realize that the fight was choreographed by a stunt man behind the scenes. Well, I was the same way in my beliefs about Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. As primitive as television may have been back then, it did a great job convincing a naive little Mexican boy that there were amazing magical dogs in America that were born being able to communicate with humans, march in the army, and always manage to save the day. Before I even knew that there was a trainer behind the scenes, signaling to Rin Tin Tin to jump off the roof, I got it into my head that somehow, someday, I just had to get to America to meet these amazing dogs that could talk to people, leap over fences, and get mischievous little boys like me out of the trouble we were always getting into!
I think I believed Lassie and Rin Tin Tin did the things they did all on their own because the dogs on our farms seemed to do everything we wanted of them without being told or coerced by us to do it. They would naturally follow my grandfather out into the field and help him corral the cows. They would naturally accompany my mother or sister along the road, as guides and escorts. We didn''t reward them with food every time they followed us across the river or when they barked to alert us of a predator in the area. We did ultimately reward them-but always at the end of the workday, with our leftover meat or tortillas. So I already knew dogs that seemed to be able to communicate with people. To my mind, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin were just a cut above that.
By the time I realized that Rin Tin Tin and Lassie were specially trained dogs, I was a few years older and living with my family in the city of Mazatlan, always wishing for the weekends when I could go back to my grandfather''s farm and be with nature and the animals again. Instead of being disillusioned by the discovery that humans were manipulating those dogs'' behaviors, I was even more excited. You mean, there are people who can make their dogs do these things? How? What are their secrets? It became even clearer in my mind that I would have to get to America as soon as possible to learn from the Americans about creating these amazing behaviors in dogs.
One weekend when I went back to my grandfather''s farm I decided to see if I could teach some of the dogs there how to do specific behaviors. First, I tried to teach the dogs to jump on command. I started with my leg. I''d stick it out in front of me and hold a ball right on the other side. When they''d go over my leg to get it, I''d make the sound "Hup!" Gradually I raised my leg higher and higher until they were jumping right over it. Within the span of a day or two, I could make the dogs jump over my back when I bent down and said, "Hup!"
These dogs were already conditioned to respond to what humans needed from them-not in a "trained" way, but as part of doing their job. And it was a job they wanted to do, because it challenged them and fulfilled their need for a purpose in life. Doing their job was also the way they survived from day to day. We didn''t use leashes for our dogs on the farm. I couldn''t imagine a dog on a leash. Other than every once in a while when my grandfather would get the old rope from the barn to do something like get a donkey out of a ditch, I didn''t know what a leash was until I moved to the city and saw rich people walking their dogs on leashes.
Because of their lifestyle, my grandfather''s dogs naturally wanted to follow me, and they naturally wanted to please me. When the dogs were in a playful state, I caught the energy of that moment and used it to create something new. And they didn''t ask for anything in return except, "What are we going to do with our time?" I learned that I could teach them how to crawl on the ground just by encouraging them verbally and letting them imitate me crawling. Dogs are great at copying behavior-that''s one of the many ways in which they learn from one another when they are pups. And dogs'' brains crave new experiences. If a dog finds what you''re doing interesting, and he is interested in you, and it''s a challenge for him, he naturally wants to be a part of it. The learning experience, the figuring it out, becomes such a thrill to a dog when it''s fun.
Every weekend at the farm I''d try to teach the dogs a new behavior. I wasn''t using food rewards to get this behavior-that strategy wasn''t yet in my mental tool kit. But the dogs wanted to be with me and wanted to do what I wanted. When you have a dog that is eager to do things for you, he doesn''t need food rewards. And to make him eager to do things for you, you have to motivate him with something he wants. What I was offering these dogs was a challenge, plus the entertainment value of it all. It was fun for me, and it was fun for them-an overall positive experience for all of us. By the end of a few weeks I could get them to jump over me, crawl under me, and jump up and give me five. The dogs were happy to be doing it. And with verbal encouragement and just my general enthusiasm, I let them know very clearly how happy I was that they were doing it for me. The outcome was a deeper bond between us.
To me, that was the whole point. Ultimately, you want your dog to do things for you just because you love him. And he loves, respects, and trusts you.