Cesar Millan, AKA the dog whisperer, uses his skills to rehabilitate dogs by training humans. His method of training dogs follows the pattern of exercise, discipline (rules, boundaries, and limitations), and affection. Also, his philosophy requires the dog owner to maintain a calm, assertive energy when working with his dog. The energy is a natural leadership state that dogs tend to follow.
The Dog Whisperer’s philosophy of handling dogs begs the question. Does the Dog Whisperer teachings of calm, assertive energy and the pattern of exercise, discipline, and affection work on children?
I became interested in the Dog Whisperer because I owned a German shepherd that showed signs of red zone territorial aggression. I had huge problems controlling my dog on walks. After reading his books, watching his show, and applying the attitude of calm assertive energy, I made huge stride in handling my dog and she no longer displays the red zone aggression. Now, I have four dogs that I am easily able to walk together without problems. I even impress my vet with the level of control that I effortlessly maintain over my dogs.
Being a martial arts instructor, I started experimenting with the concept of calm assertive energy within my karate classes. Using calm assertive energy, I found it greatly increases your span of control – I can control a group of 18 – 24 kids effectively instead of 6 to 8 kid. It appears to almost triple your span of control.
How to use the Dog Whisperer’s advice to tame your kids
Remain positive – Maintaining a calm assertive attitude is all about keeping your mind on positive outcomes. People, children included, and naturally follow leaders with a positive and enthusiastic mindset. To get the best out of your children, you must remain positive.
Visualize your outcome – As a parent, you must be able to see your child’s potential and positive behavior clearly in your mind. This clear image in your mind is the birth of these positive outcomes in your child. If you can see it and believe it, your world will begin to form around your vision.
Convey your message with body language – My dogs’ behavior improved dramatically when I began to convey my messages through body language instead of using commands. This is true with children too. Many times, we say “no” to our children but our body language conveys a message of “maybe”. I remember growing up my mom giving us look that would stop my brother and me in our tracks. I would call it the mom look. Without words, she could convey a stronger message with that look.
Exercise Daily – When I was experiencing dog problems, I found that almost 80 to 90% of my dog problems were solved by walking my dogs 30 to 60 minutes per day. I believe that our children are visually stimulated through TV, computers, and video games, but lack the necessary physical activity. This lack of physical activity manifests itself into symptoms of hyperactivity or apathy. By providing at least 30 minutes per day of moderately intense exercise, many of our children’s behavioral problems will be resolved. Karate classes are a perfect structured activity for kids to release some of these nervous pent up energy and get the necessary 30 to 60 minutes of exercise.
Firm but not harsh – Corrections need to be firm but not harsh. All children need parents to set boundaries. Many times out of frustration, we give commands in an angry or irritated state of mind. The problem with an angry or irritated state of mind is that our emotions are contagious and that our children will gain the same state of mind causing rebellion or escalating problems. With calm assertive energy, we calm state the expected behavior and the alternative, and then calmly follow through. In karate, I will calm state “When everyone is sitting and quite, we will continue…” When dealing with a child not participating in the class, I will state, “Do you wish to join the class or sit out for a minute?” When the child states “Yes”, I say very calmly, “Okay, but if you do X again then you will need to sit out.”
Give Eye Contact – Eye contact helps us connect with others. Making eye contact, every once in a while with our children, teaches discipline. The eye contact should not be excessively long. It should be about as long as it takes to recognize the person’s eye color. Do not use eye contact only when correcting poor behavior? Instead make it part of your every day interact with your child.
By maintaining a calm-assertive mindset, we can create greater harmony with our children and stabilize our family life.