Dog Care 101

Do NOT Bring A New Dog Home Until You Watch These 3 Cesar Millan DVDs!

cesar-millan-mastering-leadership-dvd-set.jpg If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard a lot about Cesar Millan and his “dog whisperer” ways with dogs, but you’ve probably never watched any of the Cesar Millan DVDs before.

In fact, I’ve only seen bits & pieces of his television show myself. So when I got the 3-DVD set of Cesar Millan videos called “Mastering Leadership” I was really excited to jump in and see how it is that Cesar Millan works his magic with dogs.

I got these DVDs a couple weeks ago and I decided to watch them each separately — with a few days in between each — so I could soak in what I’d learned and make notes about the things that really stuck with me the most. Since Jim was out of town during this time, I wanted to share with him the highlights, with hopes that he’d want to watch the videos with me again later.

Turns out, Jim returned home while I was just getting ready to watch the third and last video in the series, so we watched it together. WOW! That’s the one that made the most impact — on both of us. It’s the one that has all of the tips that you should use when you’re in the process of picking out a dog.

I’m so glad we watched it together. In fact, it’s so good that we plan to watch it over again if we ever decide to add another dog to our household. (We’ve had 3 dogs at one time before, then we went down to 2, but at this time Tenor is quite content being an “only child”.)

Here’s why these videos are so good, and why I think everyone who is in the process of choosing a dog should watch these DVDs first…

Highlights From Video #1: People Training For Dogs


This one pretty much sets the stage for what’s to come in the other 2 videos.

Cesar Millan covers all of the basic methods he uses when communicating with dogs and why we should use those same methods — along with some tips for trying it the first time yourself.

The point to the first video is this: It is us — the dog owners — who really need to be trained. Not the dogs! Dogs simply act on instinct and pack behavior cues. We tend to interfere with their good-natured and instinctual behaviors when we spend so much time “humanizing” our dogs — on purpose or on accident.

I, too, treat my dog kind of like a child sometimes. And I can appreciate the reasons that Cesar Millan says you shouldn’t do this, and how to do less of it while still having a fun and meaningful relationship with your dog.

The key here is to learn how to communicate in the “language” that your dog understands. And that language is basically eye contact, along with a calm yet assertive approach.

That means things like baby talk, excessive cuddles, cute dog clothing & costumes, and “good boy” remarks all have their place. But when used at the wrong time, those kinds of things only confuse your dog and can completely destroy your dog’s understanding of his role inside your household. (Remember, it’s all about “pack behavior”.)

Highlights From Video #2: Becoming A Pack Leader

  • If you can see dogs as dogs, then you can correct any behavior as the pack leader.
  • When you first meet a dog, don’t give eye contact to the dog!
  • If dogs run away, they are being the pack leader. Usually it’s because you are not giving them enough exercise and acting as the pack leader yourself. Followers never run away from the pack leader! Never. It’s instinctual.
  • dog-rules-cesar-millan-by-loves-taishan.jpgDO NOT GIVE DOGS EYE CONTACT until they acknowledge you first. Believe it or not, something as simple as eye contact could cause some dogs to act aggressively, or fearful, or confused. Instead, you should always wait for a dog to brush up against your leg or show that he wants to be petted.I can personally attest to this one, as my dog Tenor gets really uncomfortable whenever strangers give him any form of eye contact first. You see, a dog’s way of learning more about people and their surroundings is by sight and smell. So submissive dogs, aggressive dogs, and fearful dogs all need to “feel out” the situation first, before they are comfortable blending in and accepting new people and new surroundings.Not all dogs (even very loving dogs who would never hurt a flea) take kindly to strangers. Instead, they need to warm up to new people and new places on their own terms. Otherwise, you’re just creating a massive state of confusion for your dog and whatever behavior is characteristically “bad” for them, will only become exaggerated at times like this.

Highlights From Video #3: Your New Dog – First Day And Beyond

This is the one that it worth its weight in gold! You’ll watch this one over and over again. And you’ll want every one of your friends who is thinking about getting a new dog to watch it as well. There are just so many great tips in this video!

cesar-millan-with-dog-at-barnes-and-noble-by-puck90.jpg This DVD focuses on how to choose the “right” dog for you — with actual examples of Cesar helping people select a dog from each of these: an animal shelter, a breeder, and a dog rescue facility.

After seeing what goes into selecting a dog the “right” way (as opposed to the way people usually choose dogs — based on cuteness level, size, or love at first sight), you learn so much about why your dog is like he is today and all those “signs” you should have seen before you selected him… plus, all the signs you should look for when choosing your next dog!

The best part: seeing firsthand exactly how Cesar Millan “communicates” with dogs and how a) using eye contact appropriately; and b) always acting in a calm and assertive manner can really make a difference in how a dog behaves. TRULY amazing.

Of course, these aren’t superhuman powers or anything. These are actually very basic, very simple things that people like you and me can do! We just need to take the time to do it… and be consistent.

I think what makes Cesar Millan’s methods different than most of our own dog training methods is his ability to take a step back from the situation and determine his course of action beforehand — in a millisecond. He always determines before he gets caught up in the barking, growling, running away, or fearful situations with a dog precisely what it is that he wants this dog to do, what he will and won’t accept from the dog, and how he will reprimand the dog on the spot if the dog doesn’t do what’s expected of him.

We, on the other hand, tend to get flustered and let the dog’s behaviors dictate our own behaviors. That’s completely backwards if we want to be seen as the “pack leader” (the boss) in our dog’s eyes.

In all 3 videos, but this one especially, there are excellent examples of how to give ‘consequences’ for the behaviors you don’t want to see repeated. There’s no yelling, no touching the dog, no control issues other than eye contact and pointing your finger (and maybe snapping your fingers to get their attention in a non-confrontational way). Amazing.

In Sum…

I could go on and on about these videos. I could actually do a full-blown review about each DVD individually, but I really want to encourage people to watch these videos — rather than taking my word for it.

This Cesar Millan “Mastering Leadership” 3-DVD set is worth the money for these reasons:

  • You will watch them more than once — I have. And any time you’re having a bad day, just pop the DVD back in to re-focus and get back on track in the eyes of your dog. It’s so easy for problem behaviors to escalate and for situations to seem completely out of control, but with the help of these videos, you will definitely learn how to gain control of just about any situation that you and your dog might be faced with.
  • You will be a hero in the eyes of your friends, because you’ll want to loan these DVDs to them so they can learn “the secret” to a well-behaved dog too!
  • Every time a new “bad behavior” or scenario arises with your dog, these videos will seem completely fresh and new and filled with a wealth of information. That’s because each time you watch, you notice something different. Or you remember, “Oh yeah, that’s what I’m supposed to do first!”

I predict this particular set of Cesar Millan DVDs will be a lifesaver for lots and lots of dog owners for years to come. Especially those who have reached their peak level of frustration and don’t know where else to turn. If you don’t want to (or can’t afford to) shell out big bucks and one-on-one dog training with a professional in your area, then give these DVDs a try first. If nothing else, you’ll at least improve the situation a bit and have a better understanding of why your dog behaves the way he does.

Oh, and another good thing about these DVDs is the fact that each video features real-life examples with troubled dogs that are displaying real behavioral issues. And no, everything doesn’t always go as planned — which is good. It shows that even Cesar Millan faces challenges when he’s communicating with dogs. Through it all, he shows you how it can be done correctly — even with such challenges! (Yay Cesar… I love the honesty and realistic aspect of these videos.)

I learned so much from these DVDs… and I’ve had dogs all my life!