Nonverbal Signals Every Dog Owner Should Learn

When your dog recognizes you as the pack leader, you will enjoy the connection that you have sought all along.


Dogs communicate first through their nose, their eyes, and then their ears. Humans need to understand how the dog interacts on a primal level with his pack leader in order to connect with their own dogs.

Project calm, assertive energy. This is the key to connecting with your dog. The mom or the pack leader always projects calm, assertive energy. Dogs in the pack balance that energy with a calm, submissive way of being.

Humans often project excited energy when they interact with their dogs. They shower their dog with affection, which feels foreign to the dog.

Always begin your day with calm, assertive energy before you share affection. This fulfills your dogs needs as an animal before your own.

Set rules, boundaries and limitations. This is the hardest thing for people to do. They even wait to introduce any rules or training until the puppy is at least six months old!

The dogs mom sets these rules from day one: where they can sleep, how far they can walk, when they can eat. These rules, boundaries and limitations nurture a healthy state of mind.

As adults, dogs look to their pack leader to set these rules. They don't question the pack leaders position and the pack leader doesn't look to the dogs to affirm his position. This is the natural balance of the pack.

Without rules, boundaries and limitations, your dog will not respect you as the pack leader.

Make feeding a ritual. When puppies are little, they wait to be fed by their mother. This waiting is a form of work. When feeding, we ask the pack to work for food and water this is why we walk the pack before they eat.

Dogs don't get fed when their mind is excited, nervous, tense or aggressive. They get fed when their mind is calm and submissive.

Walk the walk. If we study dogs in their natural habitat, walking is how they earn food and water and experience the world. Dogs would rather walk than do anything else because they get to work their body and their mind.

A big back yard is no substitute for a primal activity like a walk. A dog with a big back yard can still develop frustration because the physical energy needs to go somewhere. That is why daily walks are so important.  

When walking, make sure that you are in front of your dog. This allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Remember, dogs always follow the pack leader.

When your dog recognizes you as the pack leader, you will enjoy the connection that you have sought all along.

Next month: The Energy Connection Between Dogs and Humans

Cesar and his pack
Get more tips from Cesar.

Note: Cesar Millan is a professional. Please consult a qualified trainer before attempting these techniques with your dog.

For more information, visit Cesar Millans Dog Psychology Center where the express purpose is to rehabilitate and maintain a dogs natural state of being.


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Tina   Des Moines, Iowa

1/25/2013 12:33:57 PM

I have learned so much from Ceaser. This is my third generation of owning and training a dog. I forgot how much work it is having a puppy. My golden is now 9 months and still learning,but has became a well balanced dog with tips from Ceasar! I would love to thank him. He knows his stuff!

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Brenda Wardwell   Elizabeth City, North Carolina

11/9/2012 9:23:37 AM

OK I have another question how can we keep our GSD from Eating her dog house She has chew toys but is 10 months old and will chew everything she can get her mouth around needless to say she is not allowed to be in the house without someone watching her ever second. Will she grow out of this. I pray because I Love her but cannot afford to keep a roof over her head if she is just going to chew things up.

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Brenda Wardwell   Elizabeth City, North Carolina

11/9/2012 9:19:33 AM

I have a 10 month old GSD that is well over 52 pounds maybe even 60 by now. She is taken to an outside kennel in the mornings by my husband to be feed around 5;00 a.m. after I wake up I go out to get her. I have to use a lead collar or she jerks me to the ground, if not on a leash she runs across the farm fields like she has never been out. When called she will not come. A wireless fence is in our near future she also jumps up on me and my husband when we go to get her to bring into the house whick has caused some injuries like a torn lip from her nails which are clipped. just her size how can I stop her from jumping I have tried putting my hand on her head and saying a firm NO, I have also tried putting up my knee but I'm 5 ft. tall so the knee doesn't even touch her. how can we get her to stop jumping. She is taken on daily walks for at least 45 minutes. I am now trying to train her to ring a bell to go outside. She will go ring the bell and we take her out but she will only pee we stay out for about 15 minutes then bring her in after being in for about 5 minutes we are cleaning up a pile of poo because for some reason she hasn't learned to do that outside unless she is left in her outside Kennel for a couple of hours. Are we doing this right. or should we just stay outside until she goes.

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Terry   Pottstown, PA

6/30/2011 3:36:01 PM

This was a very helpful article. I have two female pitbulls that are very aggressive toward one another. I can not have them in the same room. I feel from reading this article is that the youngest one(which came to me when my sister moved in and bought her son's dog, but when she left did not take the dog then threatened to have her destroyed)did not have the proper training while she was with my nephew and I had no part of this process so when she came to me she knew me but was not trained by me. Now my dog which is a couple months older is pretty calm but when she is approached by the other dog in an aggressive manner she responds in the same manner which results with me having to break up a fight. I have asked my sister or her son to get their dog but they keep threatening to take her to the pound and having her destroyed. I am going to take some of the advise in this article and try to become the leader of the pack. Hopefully this will start to allow me to spend quality time with both dogs at the same time. I love Queen the youngest but I can't keep allowing her to attack my dog Bluka. I have spent money after money having Bluka stitched and fixed due to the attacks from Queen. If anyone can contact me from the Cesar Milan camp with more helpful tips PLEEEEEEEAAAAASSSSSEEEEE do so I am desperate!!!!!

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