Cesar Millan, known as the “The Dog Whisperer”, can be seen on National Geographic and is the author of several books including “A Member of the Family” and “Cesar’s Way”
From Parade Magazine, January 11, 2009
I am honored that so many people look to me to help them enjoy more fulfilling relationships with their dogs, but the truth is that the dogs themselves have been my teachers. The most valuable lessons I’ve received have come from animals. Here are some of the ways dogs have helped me become a better, happier, and more-balanced human being.
Live in the moment.
People often wonder how I get such quick results with the dogs I rehabilitate. The answer is simple: Dogs live in the moment. They don’t regret the past or worry about the future. If we can learn to appreciate and focus on what’s happening in the here and now, we’ll experience a richness of living that other members of the animal kingdom enjoy.
Nurture a balanced life.
I tell my clients to follow this simple rule with their dogs: Offer exercise, discipline, and affection every day. Do the same for yourself. We humans are happier if our routines include physical activity, a sense of structure, and the opportunity to give and receive love on a daily basis.
Trust your instincts.
Animals don’t care about words. They recognize that what’s really going on in any interaction is beneath the surface. Many of us have lost touch with this all-important instinctual part of our natures. By paying attention to nonverbal cues such as body language and energy, we can learn more about our friends, our loved ones, and ourselves.
Be direct and consistent in your communication.
Many of my clients only intermittently enforce rules, leaving their pets confused about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. Great relationships, no matter the species, begin with clear and consistent communication. This is a lesson we should carry into other areas of our lives-with our family, our friends, and at work. Remember: We teach people how to treat us.
Learn to listen.
Make the time to lend an ear to those you love or those who want to transform their lives. But don’t try to fix their problems, and don’t take their problems personally, either. A great leader is also a great follower and knows that everybody counts.
Don’t hold grudges.
There’s a remarkable lack of conflict in dog packs. That’s because members resolve the situation when disagreements arise, then move on. Imagine what our world would be like if we dealt with our conflicts before they escalated out of control. Holding onto negative feelings tends to make them multiply and prevent us from moving forward.
Live with purpose.
When dogs are bored, they develop issues ranging from anxiety to aggression. But when given a job and a way to contribute to the pack’s well-being, they turn around almost immediately. All animals-including humans-have an inborn need to work for food and water. Ask yourself how you can contribute more to your job, your family, and the world around you. You’ll feel much better about yourself if you earn your food and water, too.
Celebrate every day.
For a dog, every morning is Christmas morning. Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, every game is the best game. We can learn so much by observing the way our pets rejoice in life’s simplest moments. Take time every day to celebrate the many gifts that are hidden in the ordinary events of your own life.