Dogs do not speak using words; they interact through constant energy. Barking is one part of interaction but not the only way dogs communicate.
Think of a newborn puppy: First the nose starts to work; then the eyes; then the ears. The nose is the most powerful thing for them to use to relate and connect with their surroundings.
Humans often rely on verbal communication when they interact with dogs: Come on, Johnny, please, please stop eating the flowers! The pack leader doesn’t negotiate or cajole to get what he or she wants. No wonder the dog is ignoring you!
When you meet a dog for the first time, share the same energy that they would receive from their pack leader. This calm, assertive way of being will let them understand who you are and really see you. Crouching down to their level while smiling and cooing tells a dog absolutely nothing; you might as well be speaking Martian.
The dog will respond to your calm, assertive energy by balancing it with a calm, submissive state. Once he achieves this state you can share affection and love.
The mom or the pack leader also uses this calm, assertive energy to set rules, boundaries and limitations for how the dog interacts with his surroundings. The pack leader enforces these laws in a quiet way: maybe the mom picks up the puppy if he strays outside the den.
The pack leader doesn’t project emotional or nervous energy and neither should you. If you don’t set rules, boundaries and limitations in calm, assertive ways, your dog will not respect you.
Waiting is another way that pack leaders assert their position. Puppies wait to eat; dogs wait until the pack leader wants them to travel. Waiting is a form of work for the dog psychological work. Domestication means dogs don’t need to hunt for food, but they can still work for food.
Establish your position as pack leader by asking your dog to work. Take him on a walk before you feed him. And just as you don’t give affection without your dog being in a calm, submissive state, don’t give food until your dog acts calm and submissive. (Exercise will help the dog especially high-energy ones achieve this state.)
Try this: To further achieve a calm and submissive state before feeding, ask your dog to sit and wait a moment while you place his meal in his bowl. When he has sat patiently, give him the OK to eat.
Interact as the dogs parents interact with their puppies. Begin your day with calm, assertive energy before you share emotions or excitement. Establish rules, limitations and boundaries to create a healthy state of mind in the dog. Finally, enjoy a simple walk primal activity for dogs accustomed to following pack leaders over hundreds of miles. It will say more than any word ever could.
Next Step: How to Claim Leadership Over the Pack
Note: Cesar Millan is a professional. Please consult a qualified trainer before attempting these techniques with your dog.
For more information, visit Cesar Millans Dog Psychology Center where the express purpose is to rehabilitate and maintain a dogs natural state of being.