We have a very sweet dog, but like a lot of people I know, he has his...issues. Having not really grown up with a dog, I thought I would look to a professional for a little help. Cesar Millan offers lots of good advice in Cesar's Way, both for the two legged animals and the four. One of the first things I learned from this book is Nose, Eyes, Ears. A dog doesn't process information the same way we do. He first smells, then sees and then hears. Maybe that is why repeating sit over and over again doesn't always work. The next thing I found interesting is the need to lead your pack, even if it is a pack of one. "If you give your dog any opportunity for him to lead you, he is going to take it."
I also found it interesting that much of his advice could have been taken straight from a book about parenting and if it couldn't, then perhaps it should. When talking about how to deal with a dog with fearful aggression, he says, "You don't give in. Either wait out the dog and let her come to you or go in and get her. If you go in and get her, you have to follow through. You simply cannot let her win. You must remain calm and assertive, and you can't get angry." Now if that isn't good parenting advice, I don't know what is!
Finally, Millan advocates for lots of exercise for your dog. He says, "Americans in general seem to have problems with getting enough exercise for themselves, and don't recognize that all animals, even humans, have an inborn need to be active." Several times in the book Millan compares the level of contentedness of dogs that belong to homeless people and dogs that live in very nice homes in very nice areas of town. Surprisingly, it is the homeless dogs who are happier, he says, because they are much more active and they know how to follow their pack leader. Buying a dog a plush bed and organic food isn't what he wants; exercise and a strong leader is exactly what he needs.
I found this book very enlightening and I hope I will be able to put his advice into practice. At the very least I think I can handle a longer walk for our sweet puppy.