I love Cesar Millan. I love him equally with Joel Salatin. Both men have changed my life for the better. I used to think that walking your dog was just a fun activity that gave you both exercise. Wrong! It does give you both exercise, but you have to look at why you walk your dog. Dogs are part of packs. Wild dogs, coyotes, wolves all walk miles a day to follow or obtain food. Our domesticated dogs still need this walk. It stimulates the mind and gives them focus. I’m not talking about walking around with your dog willy nilly, letting it sniff everywhere, relieving itself, pulling you along cause there is something interesting over there…and here..oh and over there!! That kind of walk is nothing more than backyard play. You might as well have stayed home and played fetch!
I know Cesar sometimes gets a bad rap for handling dogs “harshly” or they say he “makes the dog submit by fear.” Let me just say, if done right, none of these are the case. I know I’m not a dog trainer, but I have used his techniques to change my dogs. My oldest dog used to chase the cats. I mean she would leave the property and I would be yelling as she ran down the corn field. Now after changing just a few small rules, she no longer chases. If I see her look at them like she wants to, all I have to do is say “Annie, noooo” and she turns and leaves them. I haven’t had her do this in 5 years! She is really a good dog, but she was ruling the roost until we got the shelter dog.
The shelter dog changed my life. I was thinking about her last night, wishing I could go get her and bring her back. I dont have any means of crating her though, but watching more Cesar last night made me want to try again…. I’m going to try to let that go and focus on the pup, but having her here made things different. Annie could no longer get away with certain things because it wouldnt be fair to Lacy that she couldnt. Annie is small, Lacy was big and so things needed to change. In 2 1/2 weeks I employed Cesars tricks to change the rules. No one could go outside unless family went first. You had to be calm and submissive to go outside to pee, you had to be that way coming in too. Sit when you come in, let us wipe your feet, sit again until we release you. Open the crate-the dog must stay- then ok to release out. Those were just a few rules, but both dogs learned respect in just a few days. I knew that those changes were so good, that a walk was what I needed to give the final push.
Birds fly, fish swim, dogs walk. It is part of life. A dog is made to walk miles to obtain food. They have to then work together as a team to take it down. The alpha eats first, then on down the chain. That is why we eat, then feed our dogs. The walk isnt just a leisure thing to them, they have a purpose. So I needed to employ the same strategy to gain purpose for my dogs too. Dogs always walk behind the alpha. Don’t let your dog pull you. He must walk next to or behind you. Check. Dogs are going for a purpose..so no sniffing or looking around…just walk forward and at a brisk pace. Check. Dogs walk miles a day for food. Take your dog for a walk before he eats. I do this before dinner. Breakfast is a free pass. Semi-check lol. Miles a day.. not one mile..miles.. if your dog is hyper..1-2 hours worth of miles..if you dog is a couch potato a couple miles should be good. I walk my pup and couch potato dog 2 miles a day. Lacy I had to walk close to 4.
So why is this type of walk important??
- It establishes dominance. By you leading you are the alpha. You tell the dogs what to do when, not the other way around.
- It makes your dog focus. Dogs need to learn to focus the mind. It would be like you doing math.
- Releases frustration. Imagine being at a desk job all day and not being able to take a break..just 8 long hours of sitting there. You would just want to move right! A dog has the same problem. Although playing in the yard is exercise, it is not enough to tire them out..miles a day. Can you play miles with your dog? Not really..you need to walk.
- It is work for your dog. Just as you go to work and it is physically and mentally exhausting, so is a walk with your dog. The focus it takes to not look around and be distracted along with moving at the brisk pace is a balanced exhaustion.
- It bonds you together. A pack moves together. You dont see an alpha going off on it’s own. By walking your dog with you, it creates a bond of trust and respect. “I will lead you best friend and I will take care of you if danger comes. You need not worry.” The best best best thing you can do for a new dog in your life is walk it. With one day of walking I noticed a change in both the shelter dog and my new puppy. That first night..tssst didnt mean anything. The second it did. Bonding my friend..bond with your best friend who will be there when you have no one else. It also will bond the two dogs together and diminish fighting because it makes them realize they are part of one pack..your pack. There is no “to each their own.” One solid pack with you as the leader.
The Dog Whisperer is on youtube. Right now The Best of the Dog Whisperer is on Netflix. Sit down and watch a few episodes. Try it on your dog and you will see change my friend. Even the worst dogs can change with a good walk. This pup and I have bonded and I contribute my increased sleep during crate training to the walk!
Happy Homesteading!! 😀