For someone currently without a dog in the household, I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about dogs. I think about the virtues of getting a pound dog vs. going to a breeder, I think about how they have this odd calming effect on me when I hang out with them, I think about how they always make me laugh when they run around after each other at full tilt at the dog park. I pet them on the street. I kiss at them through the window of their doggie day care. And I watch 'The Dog Whisperer' religiously.
After two years’-worth of episodes, it has become very apparent that the methods of Cesar Millan are incredibly effective with dogs (even if certain detractors disagree). He's taken some "red zone" cases (super aggressive dogs) and turned them into pussycats in a fortnight. He's turned yappers into quiet, well-behaved dogs. He's even broken one really lazy basset hound's bad habit of being carried everywhere.
For those of you unfamiliar, let me break down the essential elements of Cesar's methodology.
- Pack Leader: anyone who wants to have a successful person/dog relationship must be the Pack Leader. Synonymous with “Alpha Dog.” In a nutshell: stop treating your dog like a dress up doll. It’s a dog. All the babying in the world won’t erase the fact that they lick their ass like 10 times a day.
- Exercise, Discipline, Affection: the cornerstones of Cesar’s regime, performed in that order. In a nutshell: make sure your dog gets enough exercise so they don’t get rammy throughout the day. Rammy is when the trouble starts. Then follow up exercise with discipline when needed. See “Calm Assertive” for more information. Finally, after exercise and discipline have been attained, then and only then is one allowed to give the dog affection.
- Calm Assertive: the manner in which a person disciplines their dog. In a nutshell: be strong, be firm, and no talking. No anger, just a lot of conviction. Puffing out the chest helps. Calm assertive also works wonders when on a walk. If the dog is pulling this way and that, he’s in charge. You slowing down to a stop when the dog starts pulling means *you* are in charge.
- “Shhhh!”: a wordless command. In a nutshell: while disciplining, instead of yelling at or addressing a dog by name, a firm sound such as Cesar’s favorite, “Shh!” lets the dog know you’re serious (calling a dog by its name is another form of affection and will confuse the dog.)
- Rules, Boundaries & Limitations: another facet of discipline. In a nutshell: if a dog is always running amok, getting into people's business or is generally disruptive this means no rules, boundaries or limitations have been set. Dogs are like little kids: they need boundaries in order to know how behave.
- Simulating a Bite: Cesar often uses his hand clenched like a dog’s mouth and “bites” the neck of an unusually unruly dog. Now keep in mind he doesn’t hurt the dog, but the faux bite helps the dog to understand they’ve stepped over the line. Biting goes on naturally in a dog pack in that the Alpha Dog will nip at a dog that is out of balance within the pack.
- Out of Balance: any dog who is nervous, nasty or wild within a pack can throw off the energy of that entire pack. This is when dog-to-dog trouble starts. The in-balance dogs will do everything in their power to restore calm to the pack, which often results in the nervous dog getting chomped.
- Daddy: Daddy is Cesar’s go-to balanced dog, the one he brings to help with positive energy among the worst, or red-zone cases. Hanging out or walking with Daddy usually does the trick to restore calm among the troubled dog. Did I mention that Daddy happens to be a 100 lb.+ pit bull? He was originally Method Man’s dog, but after a grueling tour schedule in which he would be on the road more than at home with the dog, he’s now Cesar’s. I just want to kiss that dog he’s so sweet.
Now, this is all very interesting, you’re thinking, but why the hell does she care about dog training when she doesn’t (yet) have a dog? Well folks, here’s your answer. I have managed to internalize Cesar’s methodology to the point where I believe it could be directly translatable to dealing with humans and their bad human behavior. Bad human behavior, or BHB, is quite abundant in this Age of Entitlement, and runs particularly rampant in the Northeast states. You know them: assholes hogging the treadmill at the gym, road-ragers, I-bankers cock-blocking your attempts to woo a lady you just met.
As deserved they are a trip to Cesar’s
Think about it. Going to work every day is very much like being a random dog in a pack. For the most part you get along just fine with the other dogs and go about your individual business without trouble. Sometimes you even join up on a project well-done and are momentarily buoyed by the feeling of goodwill and team effort and hard work. But face it: there are those times when you spend most of your day trying to avoid the out of balance dogs who are ruining it for the rest of the pack. This is where Cesar’s methodology comes into play.
First and foremost, remember this: you must be your own pack leader. Now obviously the true pack leader will always be your boss or their boss or the CEO or generally anyone whose salary is significantly greater than yours. But in the case of co-worker to co-worker, or dog-to-dog, in order to maintain a workplace in balance, you must assume the Alpha Dog role. This means pissing your proverbial territory, and doing it the day you start your job.
Let’s take a few examples.
Mr. Organization: a person of many interests who relishes his free time. He rarely stays past , but gets all his work done in an organized and timely manner. Unfortunately, many of his co-workers are of the opposite work style, preferring to spend the majority of their day gossiping by the water cooler. It is usually at the end of the day when they realize that they need to get something out and it requires his help. Mr. Organization politely but firmly declines to accommodate them, and sticks to his guns. Methods: calm assertive; rules, boundaries & limitations.
Ms. “Can You Just?”: this person is all hearts and flowers on the surface, but below the surface is a seething cauldron of evil. They will try every manipulation tactic in the book in order to get you to (a) do their work, (b) do something that’s not your job, (c) do what they want, when they want it. When they finally realize you’re not going to cave in and accommodate them they turn from Helen of Troy to Medusa in under 5 seconds. You, however, stand your ground and get backup from your boss, then turn around and point out everything that was wrong with their making the “request” in the first place and never to do it again if they know what’s good for them. Methods: calm assertive; Shhh; simulating a bite.
Team Project: like a jury, the team project would go off without a hitch if only it weren’t for that one person. They disagree with the consensus. They think know best. When they don’t get what they want they brood in a corner or stop contributing at all. Bringing this person around to collective aspiration of the team is difficult and requires a certain degree of schmoozing albeit with a light touch. The ultimate goal is to make the person think they’re contributing more than they are yet interacting positively with the other team members. Methods: out of balance; exercise discipline affection; Daddy.
Buttering up the Boss: there are times when one needs to get a little extra something in the coffer, be it either the money or time-off ilk. The best way to approach this is to wear the boss down, and by wearing them down I don’t mean begging or groveling, I mean actually wearing them down. Suggest a round of golf. Hit the gym when they do and do the passive-aggressive “let’s see how far you can push it” dance on the treadmill or with weights. After the workout is over, that’s the time to approach them about an extra week of vacation, because they’re too tired at that point to say no. Also, plying them with liquor always helps. Methods: exercise discipline affection.
There are numerous other instances in which any one or all of Cesar’s methods would be effective in the workplace. Hell, I bet they’d be hella effective with children too. But I’m not recommending that, of course.
Anyway read. Think. Internalize. Then put the methods into play in your workplace and within just a few session you’ll be amazed at the difference in how you’re treated. Go from having your tail between your legs to Alpha Dog in no time!
Seriously, Cesar needs to market this shit for humans.