It is often said that a dog is a man’s best friend. In the last 14,000 years, dogs have accompanied man by helping him hunt, guard, and protect. In our modern world, dogs help us combat in war, search-and-rescue, guide the blind, deaf, discapacitated, rehabilitate patients in therapy, aid law enforcement, and are part of our family as beloved pets (Coren). Although canine superstars such as Lassie, Old Yeller, and Rin Tin Tin portray the perfect dog we all want in our lives, these ideals are far from the truth. Many first-time dog owners expect dogs to know behaviors such as how to walk on a leash, not bite, not destroy the house, and in addition to many others. In reality, dogs must be trained on what their handler wants them to do. It is important that owners know how to train their dogs to be well-behaved.
In order to achieve a well-behaved canine friend, an owner must first choose which breed he or she wants. An inactive family with small children is not well-suited for high-energy dogs. A significant rule to keep in mind is to choosing a dog with the same energy level as their owner. There are four energy levels for dogs: very high, high, medium and low (Millan, “Perfect Dog” 59). Another factor to consider is the breed’s temperament, size, coat/grooming needs, age, and health concerns (Right). Choosing the right breed will ensure that the owner and dog are compatible with one another.
It is vital for your dog to understand that you are his or her pack leader. The instinct of wanting to be part of a pack is part of a dog’s natural psychology. In a dog’s mind, inclusion in his pack is a significant part of him. It represents his status not only to the dogs around him, but to any other dog he meets. It is in his primal instinct to belong to a pack, to keep it stable, and to defend it. When a human and a dog have a successful leader-follower relationship, a dog will be stable (Millan, “Cesar’s Way” 111-112).
To become a pack leader, one must follow three simple rules: portray calm and assertive energy, have no room for emotional weakness, and set rules, boundaries, and limitations. Sung Lee, MD, of the BrainWell Center says the following about calm assertive energy:
“Assertive energy is the energy of our sympathetic nervous system. . . calming energy is the energy of our parasympathetic nervous system. Many researchers have concluded that imbalance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches is a major contributor to heart disease, digestive disorders, chronic pain, immune dysfunction, psychological and neurological disorders and others. It seems we can add ‘more likely to have an unstable pet’ to the list of challenges associated with imbalance in the autonomic nervous system.” (qtd. in Millan, “Cesar’s Rules” 117)
Dogs can read human energy with facility. When the pack leader is calm and assertive, a dog will give calm, submissive behavior in return (Millan, “Calm”). This harmony creates a “balanced, centered, and happy dog”...