The Dog Whisperer: Sound Leadership Advice Overheard being Whispered


I have big ears. So when I overheard some sound leadership advice being whispered, I could not help but pay attention.

The advice was not for me but for dogs.

The Dog Whisperer to be precise.

The Dog Whisperer is a show that runs on National Geographic’s /Discovery Channel’s  Animal Planet, supplied by DSTV in Kenya. Cesar Millan ( a man with the highly uncanny skill of being able to discipline any and every dog he has come in contact with thus far.

You may have heard of Nanny 911, where a “SuperNanny”shows parents how to discipline children? Well, this is “Doggy911”.

Men are dogs. Most women would agree with this assertion.

Ergo, following this train of thought, it thus follows that they must be trained and disciplined like dogs.

Here, He gives advice to leaders:

When Cesar was interviewed by Lesley Stahl in the following CBS segment (airdate: October 3, 2010) he respectfully showed how even presidents can misunderstand the fundamentals of being their dog’s pack leader. The topic hit websites and blogs with fervor. So, we are tackling the subject and giving President Obama, former President Bush, future presidents, and dog owners everywhere, some of Cesar’s best advice for stepping up their leadership skills. Whether in your dog pack or in your life, these lessons derived from natural pack leadership, are ones we can all learn from.

First – let’s talk about the walk, which is a key fundamental in your bond with your dog. You need to establish leadership from day one!

Start off each day with a nice, long walk and make sure the dog is next to you or behind you. Position matters – canine pack leaders walk in front and this is one simple way to implement rules, boundaries and limitations right from the start. Be consistent. Don’t send the dog a mixed message. If you allow the dog to assume the leadership position one day, and not the next, then go back and forth, you are not being the pack leader. No one wants a “wishy-washy” leader!

At the end of the day when the dog is in resting mode, you can share all that affection you’ve been storing up! By starting off right and remaining consistent, the first family can help prevent bad behavior down the road, such as excessive barking, leash-pulling or biting White House reporters. It’s important for our political leaders to be good examples for the country, so why not extend that example to include their dog?

Humans are the only species that follow unstable pack leaders. Not only do we follow them but even after they’ve proven to be unstable, we still follow them or re-elect them or give them even more power. You would never see an unstable leader in an animal pack!

The selection process for Pack Leaders is very different in animal species than human. Humans tend to choose pack leaders because they are “lovable,” or seem intelligent or charismatic; basically we choose them for their personality – someone we’d like to spend time with socially, rather than for their professional qualifications or ability. Animals select pack leaders because they instinctually know who is strong and who can best lead them. It has nothing to do with personality or physicality. Just watch some animal kingdom shows and you’ll see there are some pretty strange-looking pack leaders out there! But they provide (1) protection and (2) direction!

An animal pack leader is concerned for the pack, not for himself. It’s an unselfish role and an instinctual role. Dog pack leaders don’t go to graduate school to learn how to lead a pack; it’s just in their DNA. In return, the pack completely trusts the pack leader. They instinctually know that the pack leader is there to protect them and guide them.

I think President Kennedy was a good pack leader. He said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” That is a pack leader. The interests of your country are greater than the interests of an individual. Thus, you need to ask yourself what you can contribute to your pack.

Compare this to what I see in many of today’s human pack leaders.  We believe, and now almost accept the fact, that our pack leaders are motivated, in part, by personal interests. Sometimes the leaders’ self- interests happen to align well with some members of their pack but not all members. In America, we say that’s good. We’ve come to accept this as “normal.” And because we accept it, we are naturally or instinctually mistrustful of our pack leaders.  So, while dog pack leaders are instinctually driven to protection and direction of the entire pack, human pack leaders are expected to be driven by some self-interest that may align with other self-interests to form a temporary pack or what we call a “coalition” or “alliance” or “joint venture.” But these are temporary packs!

Another lesson we can take from natural packs is that they live in the present. There is no past or future, there are just the needs and wants of the present. Compare this with human pack leaders. They live mostly in the past and in the future… and in some cases, human pack leaders are focused on making sure the past never goes away. The mistakes of the past are constantly brought up, reminding people of what happened the last time they elected that party or politician. “Leaders” want us to remember the bad times and promise a better future! It’s never about the present. The past never goes away – we remember the hurt, the guilt, the fear – and our pack leaders use this to lead and control the pack. A fearful pack is a reactionary pack. And that’s dangerous for any species. Likewise, our pack leaders use the future in a similar fashion. Only it’s fear of the unknown. In the animal world, there is only the present. You live in harmony and with nature NOW and the future takes care of itself. Make the right choices today and there won’t be mistakes or messes to fix in the future.

America must restore honesty, integrity, and loyalty in our relationships, both here and abroad. This starts at home. We need to re-connect with the fundamentals of relationships, and in the process, we can restore the trust and respect from other countries. My pack and I want to let you know we are practicing what President Kennedy said. It takes a pack to rehabilitate a country, just like it takes a village to raise a child. This is my humble message to our presidents and leaders, past, present, and future.

The power of success is in its simplicity. It’s just like being a father. The principles I want to leave my kids with are the same principles that I practice in my life every day. One of my favorite Ghandi quotes – “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – says it all.

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