Cesar Millan: Dog Training Tips

Got a problematic pooch and need some fast and effective dog training tips? "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan to the rescue! The legendary dog-training guru shares his proven techniques for humans to be strong pack leaders and improve their dogs' behavior.

Ceaser Millan

Dog owners make training mistakes

SheKnows: What is the biggest mistake that pet owners make with their dogs?

Cesar Millan: The most common mistake I see is not following what I call the fulfillment formula -- that is, exercise, discipline then affection. We tend to give affection, affection, affection and this creates unstable dogs and bad behavior because then you have trouble earning your dog's trust, respect and loyalty.

Dog training formula: Exercise, discipline and affection

SheKnows: How can owners instill discipline in their dogs, other than the usual "sit" and "stay" commands?

Cesar Millan: This is about leadership and energy. Most training seeks to teach dogs how to obey commands, while my philosophy is more about rehabilitation through exercise, discipline and affection. A dog may be very well-trained and still be unbalanced, just as a balanced dog may not be trained. We need to start with the principles before we can get to the techniques (training methods) and that is how we achieve a positive outcome (good behavior).

Lead your dogs by example

SheKnows: What if a dog receives one or two walks a day and still misbehaves?

Cesar Millan: The walk is exercise and that's great -- but that's only part of the formula. Dogs need discipline, too -- this is where rules, boundaries and limitations come in. Leadership is about showing the dogs -- through your actions and energy -- what you expect of them. Remember that you have to be consistent. If you break the rules, they will too!

be a strong pack leader

SheKnows: And what if a dog is constantly destroying the house?

Cesar Millan: The dog is trying to tell you something! Either he's not getting enough exercise to drain his energy, he's bored and understimulated, or you are not being as calm and assertive a pack leader as you need to be. The reality is that most people have to go to work and leave their dogs alone for several hours a day. So you need to get the dog, right from puppyhood, used to that reality so the dog gets used to being alone without exerting frustration.

Walk dogs into calm

SheKnows: What can dog owners do to reduce the likelihood their dogs will misbehave when the dogs are left alone in the house?

Cesar Millan: It helps to start the day with a good, fast walk. And that's not a walk where the dog is peeing on every tree and barking at every other dog on the street … which will just put him in an excited state. Then when you lock him up inside the house with that kind of energy, he's more likely to be destructive. You want him in a calm, submissive state and a brisk walk, run or bike ride is the best way to achieve that.

Also, find activities that stimulate his mind and challenge him, like search-and-rescue activities. Try a treat ball or a Kong toy, have him wear a backpack on the walk, go for a pack walk with your neighbors and their dogs, or play a game with him, even for 10 minutes before you leave the house, that challenges him to use his nose.

It's very important to analyze your own emotions and feelings. Are you trying to get away from something? How do you feel about your relationships? Remember that dogs are a reflection of us, so when we work with them, we are also working on ourselves.

Dogs are mean – or are they?

SheKnows: Are some dogs inherently aggressive?

Cesar Millan: All dogs can become aggressive, but the difference between an aggressive chihuahua and an aggressive pit bull is that the pit bull can do more damage. That's why it's important to make sure you are 100 percent ready for the responsibility if you own a "power" breed, like a pit bull, German shepherd or rottweiler. Often we blame the breed, but in my opinion, it's not the breed, it's the owner. The owner has to be the pack leader and provide exercise, discipline, then affection. If you do that, you'll have a sweet, loving, and balanced dog – no matter what breed!

Puppy mills lead to problem dogs

SheKnows: Can you comment on the problem with puppy mills?

Cesar Millan: Puppy mills – breeding without consciousness – often result in dogs that are wired wrong, with neurological problems due to the devastating breeding and living conditions they are in. We need more awareness on this to change the situation. It's important to note that aggression isn't the problem. It's the outcome of a problem.

no bad dogs, only bad dog-owners

SheKnows: Have you ever worked with a dog whose behaviors you could not change?

Cesar Millan: No, but I've worked with humans who I could not change. In many of the red-zone cases I see, the human is missing the fundamentals and not fulfilling the dog's needs. They are not loving to the highest degree because this takes putting the dog's needs first -- and doing what you need to in order to earn the dog's trust, respect and loyalty by providing leadership through rules, boundaries and limitations. Once those principles are mastered, the techniques can be applied and a better outcome achieved.

Tips to improve your dogs behavior

SheKnows: What's one action that pet owners can take that will improve their dogs' behavior?

Cesar Millan: Dogs have found themselves in an odd predicament by living with humans. In the wild, dogs don't need humans to achieve balance. They have a pack leader, work for food and travel with the pack. When we bring them into our world, we need to help them achieve balance by fulfilling their needs as nature intended. This takes exercise and discipline before affection, and always maintaining your calm, assertive pack leadership.

The best ways to manage your dog's behavior:

  1. Create a schedule that includes a daily 30- to 45-minute power-walk in the morning, at the very least. This is critical for your dog's health, both physical and mental.
  2. Set aside time every day to provide mental exercise by maintaining rules, boundaries and limitations. When these needs are met, the affection you give to your dog will be channeled as a reward.
  3. Always walk out the door ahead of your dog when leaving the house. This will show your dog who is in the leadership role. On walks, make sure that your dog is not in front of you, pulling you down the street. Instead, keep your dog to your side or behind you. This will also demonstrate to your dog that you are the alpha figure.
  4. Give your dog something to do before you share food, water, toys or affection. This way the dog earns his treat. For example, have him or her perform the "sit" or "down" command.
  5. Dogs seek attention from you. But by paying them that attention when they want it, you're reinforcing the bad or hyperactive or anxious behavior that you're trying to avoid. Practice -- no touch, no talk, no eye contact -- and see how you fare. You might be surprised at how quickly the dog settles down and looks to you as his pack leader for direction.

More from Cesar Millan

Becoming a pack leader

Sample clip from Becoming a Pack Leader, the second entry in Cesar Millan's 3-disc Mastering Leadership series, a hands-on demonstration guide to honing pack leadership skills.

More dog training tips

House training your new dog
Certifying your dog as a good citizen
Training a difficult dog



Comments on "Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan’s top dog training tips"

janet April 06, 2014 | 8:49 AM

Hi Cesar I have a 4 year old yellow lab who is well behaved but he is afraid to go on wood floors, and tile floors, if I have a throw rug he might go on that if I try to get him to go he just lays down. Any pointers?

DEBBIE KINCAID April 06, 2014 | 12:11 AM

Cesar. I think I've met your match Let me first say I did a lot of searching for the right dog for me because I had a hip replacement / I have to have another hip surgery I'm 57 years old I have been working 19 years with women /children that have been abused I also work with men victim's I wanted the perfect dog because the children at the shelter 99% are scared of dogs because they usually only see a K-9 dog and the sights the child witness was scary for them and I wanted a dog to make a difference to so may children life where they have no reason to run shake or cry from fear when they see a dog so I bought a year old male standard poodle he just turn 2 years old I have tried every method there is to train my dog and I swear I think he is the devil's son.!!!hahaha only joking anyway regardless how long you walk run or throw a ball for him he still acts like he is ADHD and will not listen he will sit and shake hands and come but he runs threw the house if your laying down he will run and jump on your face he jumps on my grandchildren I have tried everything I've seen you do on TV and I threaten my dog his name is Presley I tell him I'm send his butt to you everybody that has seen my dog in action stated they don't even think dog whisperer could help this dog Cesar my dog Presley can run and jump the over our couch and runs through our house like a stallion and won't stop running and that's what he does when he see's you in bed he will run as fast as he can and jump right on your head being I'm fixing to have another hip replacement Please can you tell me what to do I have a 4 month female Rottweiler just got her tonight keeping the pup from having to go in animal shelter the 4 month old Rottie is so calm compared to him I really need your advice I'm scared Presley is going to jump an knock me or a child down and I really wanted Presley to be able to go in the domestic violence / ual assault shelter where I work and Presley would be able to help a child get over their fear of dogs but for now he is to out of control and Presley loves LOVES kids !!! since I got the female Rottweiler that Rottie's turn on their owner what is your opinion I got the female Rottie because we sold our home on contract an it turn out he was a huge drug dealer making 100-300 thousand a week and I always wanted a Rottie more so when I seen your show you gave your son his first member of his pack an it was a Rottie Cesar please if you have any advice I would appreciate it so much also feedback on Rottie with small children I love my boy Presley so much he was abused his 1st year of life by the woman's son that's one reason I bought him to get him out of abusive life style and Presley loves us but he is so out of control and being my health physically is not good I really don't want to get rid of him but at the same time I sure can't take a change on him knocking me down However I'm not one to give up on my dog I will do what it takes to get him train Cesar because of my issues it's hard for me to walk Presley but I do walk him an it's a battle he wants to lead an pull on the leash esp if he see's an animal /or a child he really goes crazy jerking an pulling he loves children an all animals plus we have a fence in large yard Thank You for your time reading my letter I really just don't know what I can do that I have npt already tried to do for Presley again Thank You

Judy Hermann April 05, 2014 | 8:02 PM

I am desperate for some advice before I am barefoot and shoe-broke. My three and a half year old Isle of Imaal terrier chews my shoes and my grandchildren's toys. I have now lost eight pairs of shoes to thie little guy, who I rescued a year ago and love. He gets walk daily, has new toys all the time, and is given more love than this grandmother by children, neighbors and my husband and me. He started out only chewing shoes I left out in open view, but now pulls them out of closets, from under beds and even from laundry baskets. And, it's only my shoes. My husband can leave his shoes in the center of the living room and they go untouched. HELP!!! I don't know what to do, and most often don't catch him in the act to effectively reprimand. I'd appreciate any and all advice.

Ciara phillips April 05, 2014 | 12:59 PM

i have 2 pits spot he is 10 and zuri she is 2 i love my dogs but im haveing a hard time with them spot barks all day long and i cant get him to stop. Zuri doesn't listen and doesn't like anyone she already bit someone and she shows me here teeth when i try to get her to do something or when i grab her choler. she is so smart it took me 1 day to teacher her to role over and she loves my 6 years old son but she is so much and if she hurt anyone else. we will have to put here down and i don't want to she means so much to us i cant lose her can u please help us if u can. thank you

Vickie April 04, 2014 | 4:29 PM

I have a 1 year old beagle mix pup. He is completely potty trained and does pretty well in the house. We live in the country and also have an 8 year old Lab mix. The Lab never leaves the yard but Max has a tendency to run off and will not come back when called, sometimes he is gone for 30 minutes or more. We live close to the road and he has almost been hit a couple of times. How can I train him to stay within the boundries without resorting to a shock collar.

juana baca April 04, 2014 | 1:53 PM

Help I have 2 beagles one of them howls a lot. please tell how to make her stop. before the neighbors complain

Cheryl April 02, 2014 | 10:17 PM

I inherited my dads 11 year old yorkie. She is a sweet dog but Dad spoiled her he let her stay inside if weather was bad. She would pee and poop inside. She is better peeing outside if I go with her. But, she will poop in house and I try to let her out very often. She does not like to leave the steps. I have put nose on it and put her outside. Harder on me than her. Please help? also is she too old to crate train without trama.

Sue March 26, 2014 | 11:10 AM

I have just acquired a 2 year old York mix. He is a very sweet dog but suffers from severe separation anxiety (mostly frantically barking until he's hoarse)when I leave the house. What can I do to help him get over this anxiety?

Claire long March 21, 2014 | 10:48 AM

Hi I have a bulldog/boxer he comes when I call a stays when asked but as soon as he sees another dog he runs after it and doesn't take any notice of me trouble is he only wants to play but when it's a little dog I have trouble the dog squeals And the owner gets funny and says you should keep your dog on a lead, hope you can help he is 2 in June

Judy March 09, 2014 | 7:44 AM

My daughter has a yorkie terrier ( Bree's ) 3 years old, beautiful tiny adorable.happy in your arms, lap and playing with him and following you around..BUT.. When you leave him home he will constantly bark doesn't matter if he is in his crate or loose in the houses....when she take him in the car or to a park he will constantly bark at birds, squirrels, and other dogs.... We have two cats that stay in our garage with their freedom of going in and out through a cat door and when Bree's comes to our house he goes crazy barking and looking for the cats ... Just uncontrollable .... We have a vacation house in Colorado and WHEN Brees comes to visit it is miserable.... Bark, bark, bark....while sitting on our deck looking at the beautiful mountains, wildlife and a barking dog. What can we do to control his behavior ????HELP!!!!!!

Bobbie Sellers March 08, 2014 | 8:00 PM

Cesar, Pleas help me. We have a 13 week old puppy we got when she was 6 weeks old. We all love her so much because we lost our 12 old Australian Shephard last March. I do believe we have shown her so much affection and not diciplin her properly. The night we brought her home she was so loving but chewy/nippy....well the nipping has gotten way worse and she barks in my face then jumps at my showing her little teeth like she just "has"to nipp. Herteth are like needels...ouch. She is so hiper...but the nipping, well can you please help. I wast her to be kind and loving. Thank you so much cesar.

Danielle March 06, 2014 | 12:59 PM

Hi Caesar, I have a 10 month old Labrador who is exerting destructive energy in the evening, he eats at 7 and by 8 can be ripping a duvet apart if our backs are turned. We also have a 4 year old female labrador who is extremely submissive and calm. She has been neutered and I am concerned that my younger labs pent up energy is due to boredom, hormones and my husband and I not working hard enough to enforce boundaries. Currently the dogs have one long walk per day and two shorter walks. I have read your comment about a brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes first thing in the morning and I will implement this but if you have any other tips you can share that would be really helpful.

SHERRY March 06, 2014 | 2:27 AM

i need help my neighbor has a terrier that has a case 0f separation anxiety.put a comfort jacket no help might there be a easier solution ..as i am lost and he is crying and howling really loud ..please can you suggest something that might work.. he was a rescue terrier breed and they bark at the telephone..ha thanks so much in advance..this is really a problem

Bernadette Roth March 05, 2014 | 5:45 AM

Hi, for the woman who has the dog crated all day and it somehow escapes, the dog is simply very bored. He needs a lot more exercise, I understand you both work, you might have to get up at 5am if necessary, or he will continue to act this way. Maybe you can get a neighborhood teen to run him daily? Good luck! B

Tammy Damore March 04, 2014 | 10:52 PM

Though I realize small dogs need exercise just like the big guys do I would like to know if they should be walked the same amount of time? I had a tiny Pomeranian (3.5lbs) who I rescued from a hoarding situation and I'm certain that because I sheltered her way to much that I may have attributed to her death. She was only 7 years old. I walked outside carrying her and slipped on the icy deck. I was still holding her when I landed on my back so I don't think she was physically injured however, she was deceased in the split second it took me to land. Heart attack maybe? I don't know for sure but I don't ever want that to happen again.Please tell me what I could have done differently to avoid having something like that happen again. Thank you for your time, I'm a HUGE fan.

Barbara Soto March 04, 2014 | 10:41 AM

My niece rescued a poodle mix. They say she came to AZ from CA. Not knowing the dogs background, but seeing that she was a good dog, and could be around children of all ages was important to my niece so she rescued her. My niece has a 1 yr old, 6 yr old with Autism, and 7 year old. Willow (the dog) I noticed is very clinging (like Velcro) to her side. She is leashed trained and off leash she stays next to you. However, my niece crates her when she leaves the house, as when she is not crated, she will chew her shoes and poop in the house. Also, the dog even though she urinates outside, the minute you go to pet her she pees. My niece is thinking of giving up this dog due to the chewing issues, pooping in the house, and peeing when touched. I feel bad for Willow as it is not her fault. How can we prevent my niece from giving up such a great dog. I told my niece she needs to train her. She does have anxiety separation issues for sure. How do we help Willow? Time is of the essence, as she is looking to get rid of her. Please help.

Joanne February 25, 2014 | 5:34 AM

How do I retrain our dogs to stay off our bed, one is 8 months old and one 8 years. So tired of them taking up half the bed! Thanks for help.

John February 23, 2014 | 6:04 AM

How can I help my 4 month old Labrador, adjust his sleep schedule to a full night time sleep vs. now, when he is up 4 times each night and by 5:00am is ready for the daylight activity? We feed him lightly in the evening.

joan tornetta February 22, 2014 | 12:02 PM

my friend has a cockerpoo that is 9 yrs old. he was in a car accident with him 4 yrs ago. I don't know if this is the problem or not but everytime he gets in the car to go someplace, he as to sit up front on a lap & he drools profusely. they have to carry a lot of towels with them because of this.He also cries all the time in the car.He is a very calm, well trained dog that don't even need a leash when he goes out. Please help them because the traveling is getting really bad.

Pierre February 21, 2014 | 6:06 AM

Hi Cesar , I have two older dogs a Belgium Sheperd and a Collie x Dalmation ...I just recieved a 4and half month old male brindle pitbull...the people kept him in an apartment from six weeks till now and only walked him once in a while....I would like to get him socialised and obedience trained....How can i go about doing that ?? Please help , many thanks .Pierre.

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