By Mike Rice (Originally posed 1/9/14)
Long before I ever become, or even considered, being a therapist, I had always been extremely interested in animal behavior. I couldn’t get enough of the Nature and animal television shows. I would marvel how easy it is for different animals to merely be themselves. They only had to behave the way their species genetically instructed them to behave. They competed only for food, territory, and sex. It seemed to me that humans often spend time trying to be something or someone they weren’t and would often fight over anything.
As the years passed, I began to realize that the main difference between we human animals and other animals it that we humans have a free will and the ability to choose our behavior. Other animals do not have that advantage.
About nine years ago, Cesar Milan came upon the scene as “The Dog Whisperer.” I was amazed how quickly he could resolve conflict between dog owners and dogs in only a matter of minutes. Years of experience had taught Cesar that the natural order of pack animals is that there is always a pack leader to keep the pack living, working, and playing in a social and homeostatic society.
Cesar also noted that if a person who has a dog does not assume the role of pack leader, then the dog will assume that role. It’s the old adage that Nature abhors a vacuum. What is missing in the dog’s world is the leader. So the dog becomes the pack leader in the home and behaves in any way it desires within the range of dog behaviors.
Yet there are three other components to being a pack leader as a dog owner. Many people fail to provide adequate exercise for their dogs, much less take the role of a leader. Cesar reports that those who have dogs must provide their dogs’ needs in the form of:
Affection . . . all of which must be provided in the order given. He also states that people, all too often, use people psychology on their dogs and this fails miserably due to the pack leader thing. They need to understand and use dog psychology. Dogs don’t know your name. They don’t know what you do for a living or how much money you make. Nor do they care. They only live in “The Now.” They don’t dwell or even go back into the past nor can they plan for the future. They can be involved in a ferocious fight and a few minutes later behave like it never happened.
Dr. Glasser often said, “If someone is behaving in ways in which you disapprove, the first person who must change is yourself.” Cesar explained to dog owners that much of what they were doing were things that only perpetuated the unwanted behavior of their animals. Once they learned different ways to react to their dogs, many of the animal’s unwanted behaviors ceased. Sound familiar?
I then began to draw similarities of human behavior and dog behavior. I have seen the proof of how ineffective people psychology is on dogs and while I can see how dog psychology can work on people, I don’t advise it. It is too controlling to use on humans. Yet we see it all the time. So I turned Cesar’s highly effective Exercise, Discipline, and Affection requirements for dog owners around and substituted or added words for human psychology.
- Exercise – the Seven Caring Habits
- Discipline – eliminate the Seven Deadly Habits.
Doctor Glasser is the People Whisperer.