How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond
Cesar Millan Melissa Peltier

Ended: Jan. 9, 2012

By using my energy and intention to communicate that I don’t agree with a behavior, while never taking the dog’s actions personally and always remaining calm and unruffled (what I call calm-assertive energy) 2. By using eye contact to communicate my energy and intention 3. By using my body and body language to own my space and to block an unwanted behavior (for instance, stepping forward purposefully into a puppy’s space to “own” it, or firmly nudging away a puppy that is trying to climb on my leg) 4. By using touch to communicate displeasure or snap a dog out of an escalating behavior: “Touch” never, ever means “hit”! Puppies and most dogs are very responsive to touch at the level of the kind of light tap you might use to get a friend’s attention in a darkened movie theater. Touch a puppy on the side of its neck or on the side of its hindquarters. Use a claw-shaped hand, which mimics a mother’s bite on the side of the neck, on the muscle, not the throat. This hand doesn’t “pinch;” it is firm, but it doesn’t have to use much pressure. The pressure should be proportionate to the level of the behavior (for instance, an adult dog that has escalated into a red zone will need more pressure than a puppy that has just begun chewing a shoe, which will need only a light touch). All dogs recognize this sensation from their early puppyhood and respond in a primal way. The timing of a touch correction is crucial; it has to take place at the exact moment of the transgression and end the moment the puppy relaxes and changes her behavior. Waiting until after the behavior is over doesn’t make sense to a dog, because dogs live in the moment. Cause and effect have to match in their minds. One firm touch is effective; half a dozen small pushes, pinches, or tweaks can make the situation worse. A mother dog or other adult dog will also sometimes emit a low growl from time to time, using sound to convey disagreement with a pup’s behavior. All it takes is the hint of a growl from Daddy to send Junior, Blizzard, Angel, and Mr. President into “Daddy-pleasing” mode—he commands that much respect from all his adopted “grandkids.” As an adolescent, Junior has learned to mimic this growl and that’s how he keeps the younger puppies respectful of his role as a “big brother.” Taking a page from this section of the canine dictionary, I advise clients to create a simple sound that their dog will associate with the thought “I don’t agree with that behavior.” Choose another sound that means “Yes,” “Come,” or “I like that behavior.”