Bringing a dog to a new home can be a stressful experience, whether it's your home or the White House.
Canine behavior expert Cesar Millan, also known as the "dog whisperer" to fans of his longtime reality show on the National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild, wasn't too surprised to hear President Joe Biden, Major's dog reportedly caught a stranger has person in the White House this week. In fact, he tells MarketWatch that he immediately reached out to the White House to offer his services.
"We are waiting and ready to help," says Millan, whose new series "Cesar’s Way" premieres on Nat Geo Wild in August. "What this incident tells me is that they disagreed on how to welcome Major into this new lifestyle."
"In order for a dog to bite, it either has a need to protect its territory or it has a need to protect its family – or if it is afraid or does not trust it can bite too," says Millan. The dog may also need clearer rules, boundaries, and restrictions.
And this is a canine dilemma that is likely to be shared by the many Americans who have adopted or cared for a pet as the pandemic has allowed them to work or spend more time at home. In fact, animal rescues have reported a record number of adoptions and sponsorships over the past year. So it is not surprising that many people sided with Major, a 3-year-old German Shepherd whom the Bidens had rescued a few years ago when they found out about the altercation.
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How can the First Family – and families across the country – help their dogs settle into a new home?
Millan, 51, has over 25 years of experience helping people and best friends see face to face – or rather nose to nose – because that's the way our dogs actually see the world. He started rehabilitating aggressive dogs in California but will be the first to tell you that the dogs themselves are not the problem.
"I train people," he says with a laugh. "My clients are Harvard graduates, but they can't walk a Chihuahua."
And the root of the separation between humans and their fur babies comes from a good place; Humans consider their dogs part of our family, Millan says, so we see them as humans and forget to see them as dogs. Americans lost an estimated $ 99 billion to their pets in 2020, up from $ 95.7 billion last year, according to the American Pet Products Association.
“Dogs follow instinct. They don't know that Google exists. They don't know Elon Musk exists. You don't know politics. What they know: the pursuit of happiness, unconditional love, and hard work. "
Dog owners often assume that their puppies understand things they don't understand – such as moving to the Executive Mansion and the stress that comes with it.
"It's a new environment. There are new people. And this particular place is very stressful," says Millan. And while the President and First Lady have accepted that stress and made the decision to willingly go to the White House and his "routine for." Dragging the Chaos, the dogs had no more say in this matter than a toddler.
“The way (Champ and Major) see it, one day they appeared from one place to another. And for us, the White House is a very symbolic house in the world, a very powerful house – but in the dog world, it's just a house where people are out of sync, ”says Millan. "So you have to let the dogs adapt in their own way."
This includes introducing the dogs to the Executive Mansion and the reasons they have controlled access, and ensuring that anyone who comes into regular contact with the dogs is on the same page about where the dogs can walk as they do Dogs should behave in each room, as well as basics of how people should approach dogs.
And German shepherds like Champ and Major fall under the group of working dogs, which means that they need work. This includes plenty of exercise and mental stimulation to release the excess energy that can otherwise become pent-up stress and lead to aggressive actions like barking and biting.
"If he's allowed to move too much, he'll start patrolling as a German Shepherd," says Millan. This stems from something White House press secretary Jen Psaki said of the argument with Major: The younger dog "was caught by surprise by an unknown person and reacted in a way that resulted in minor individual injury ". Millan recommends containing this extra energy by getting Major to run on a treadmill indoors or having him fetch and bring a ball back when he's outside.
When Major is inside, the Bidens and her team can keep him in a "calm, surrendered state" by giving him a "job" in any room in the White House, such as a specific place where he can sit, stand or should stand lie down in every room. "He has to know exactly what he's doing in the Oval Office: stay here on the right or left, sit or stand. You have to let him know. He can't decide," said Millan. "It's the way soldiers or marines are trained to do their jobs. It's that kind of discipline."
"I know this is his home, but he needs to know how to be in his home."
And when 50 people enter the room, they must also be taught not to run to Major and touch him. “Tell them he's working,” Millan said, much like those with service dogs gently reminding other people not to pet their dog or make eye contact with them while they do their jobs.
And Millan would love to go through a seminar with the First Family, White House staff, zookeepers, intelligence, and anyone else who would come in regular contact with Champ and Major, all on the same page about caring for the Bring dogs – as well as literally going for a group walk with the dogs.
"It would be great for Major to be able to walk like a pack with all the people he lives with, to see them all and join them together," says Millan. “For a dog, that's the best thing in the world: going for a walk with his backpack. His goal in life is to make sure the pack is great. "
Your family can do this too, especially if you bring a new dog or move to a new house or apartment. Have all adults and children lead the dog around his new neighborhood and introduce him to each room in the house one at a time. "He shouldn't go in all directions alone on the first day," says Millan. "Teach your dog manners from day one and do so in the calm, confident way you have known him for a million years."
In fact, the daily walk (or preferably walks) would bring people and dogs a world of good right now, says Millan, noting that the average American dog spends about 23 hours indoors, with only about an hour total being human.
"If he goes outside for an hour, he's not living the best life," Millan said, comparing it to people who scrubbed on stay-at-home assignments a year after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Look at us! People are going crazy," says Millan. "So now we can have empathy and compassion for what we did to our dogs before the pandemic. The best we can do for a dog in America is to accompany him as long as possible and to ensure that family members participate. "