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Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt vs. Trust, Respect & Love

Dog Psychology Center

One of Cesar Millan’s primary principles of living with our dogs is Trust, Respect, and Love. In fact, as you can see, it’s emblazoned on the side of one of the many hillsides at Cesar’s ranch where he welcomes students and workers to his Dog Psychology Center in California (It’s a steep hill. I know, because I walked it with a dog on one of the pack walks… probably a good metaphor for another post!). However, oftentimes humans engage in something completely different and it colors their interactions with their dogs, as well as their interactions with ALL dogs... and other humans. It’s actually marketing concepts named Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. Let’s examine these three feelings.

Rather than examine fear (something we think is dangerous) let’s look at how it manifests itself with our relationships with dogs. Fear of the unknown/known. Fear that your dog might be something you don’t want them to be. Fear of doing the hard work with our dogs to change ourselves. The fear that might dog might bite a person or a dog (all dogs bite…). Some of this is rational but if you dwell on things that might never happen you begin what is called a feed-forward process of CREATING that very behavior you wish to avoid. I had a client show me their several months old puppy having a grand time zooming around the yard and commenting how they had gotten a crazy and broken dog. I looked at that from a different point of view – if you can’t recognize play, then you probably don’t engage in play and that’s a problem in leadership. It obviously negatively impacts the third Pack Leader principle: Love. Yes, dogs play rough, and they are faster than us… so are other humans. But unrefined fear is just as dangerous and no fear at all – they both assume that we are certain of the outcome. Love being with your dog(s). Don’t be afraid to practice well-grounded love for your dog(s), and yourself. Manage the energy, enforce rules/boundaries/limitations but live in the moment, as Cesar says.

Uncertainty rears its ugly head in the clients that will almost challenge us to show them that communication with a dog works like we say it will. Uncertainty that when they take the leash they won’t have the same results (rarely does that happen; they have to make a few mistakes to learn). Uncertainty that the dog will do what they want. Uncertainty that the dog can change at all (of course, THIS has almost everything to do with the human’s ability to change). Often, this is also because other training methods have failed miserably, or the previous “trainer” can’t do the work and deems the dog “unfixable” and a candidate for euthanasia. It’s not always about aggression, it’s often a happy-go-lucky dog that has energy and no rules so when feeding them treats doesn’t work these trainers want everyone else to give up on the dog, also. Remember that no wolf pack anywhere has a treat bag ready to reward for what they should be doing anyway. This is where Respect for the Canines, and their method of communicating, comes in. Respect in the form of correct introductions and relationships. Communication, controlling energy and the focus and concentration needed in a frustrated dog. Humans made the dog frustrated. Respect that and do what dogs do: move forward and help that brain by respecting yourself.

Last, we have Doubt. Doubt that they can continue the work after we leave. Doubt that the dog has really changed/doubt that THEY can stay consistent. Doubt that the dog can “behave” and doubt that they can handle what to do when the dog doesn’t “behave” (remember, behaving is more about communicating and managing energy – yours AND the dog’s – than anything else). Doubt runs into our brains when we lack Trust. Trust in the dog’s ability to follow direction. Trust that the humans can do what it takes to nurture the canine self, and the human self as well. Trust that the dog can be what you want them to be. And, we all know, that if there is no trust there will be no trust. Challenge yourself with your dog… trust yourself as a leader.

Have you begun to see something unique about these principles and how they are presented? Fear, Uncertainty & Doubt relate in reverse order to Trust, Respect & Love. This happens because each of the principles don’t create change until the reverse is achieved, collectively and individually. Fear is overcome by true Love. Uncertainty is overcome by actionable Respect. And Doubt is erased when there is absolute Trust, the kind you can count on no matter what. Until next time, be what your dog needs… Be Trustworthy. Be Respectful. And be Loving.

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