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Episode 318 - Ay Chihuahua


“Being the Pack Leader is a family affair. Everyone has to be in charge of the dogs, enforcing the same rules. The danger comes when there is no consistency, or everyone thinks everyone else is in charge when no one is. That’s the formula for chaos and the dogs taking over.”
 

 
 

Q&A with Cesar

My dog has always been pretty excited about going for a ride in the car, but he’s never had any problems with carsickness and settles down right away. Is this a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”

Not necessarily. How does your dog really act in the car and at the end of the trip? Does he move around a lot, or stick his head out the windows if you have them open? Is he ready to bound out the door as soon as you open it? Or does he really settle down and do nothing, then wait patiently for you to invite him out when you arrive?
 
Whether there seem to be problems or not, you should never let your dog associate riding in the car with excitement. You never know when that excitement will kick in. Maybe he sees a dog in another car and suddenly starts barking and jumping around, or something else sets him off. A loose dog moving around in the car can be dangerous. Any unrestrained dog can be. In an accident, they turn into a projectile, and can have a lot of force behind them. A 30 lb. dog sent flying in a crash at 30 miles per hour can hit with a force of nearly 1,500 lbs.
 
An unrestrained and excited dog can become a big distraction to the driver, which can lead to a crash. The dog also doesn’t understand that you’re making the car move, and can easily bump you, causing you to jerk the wheel or otherwise lose control.
           
A ride in the car is probably one of the most human-like activities that our dogs can share with us, but it’s safest for everyone if the dog has learned to associate the car with a place of calm, submissive energy, and if the dog rides in a travel crate or wearing a specially designed harness that belts into the car. If it takes a long walk before the car trip to drain your dog’s excess energy, then it’s your job as Pack Leader to provide it.
 

My roommate has a dog that’s out of control, but I don’t understand why I should be responsible for training his dog or correcting her behavior. My roommate is supposed to be the dog’s Pack Leader, right?

When you move in with someone — whether a roommate, significant other, or spouse — you move in with their dog. This also means that you move into the role of one of the human leaders of the pack. If you don’t, then you’ll just become another dog, probably with lower status than your roommate’s dog, which can lead to big problems later on.
 
This doesn’t mean that you’re automatically responsible for walking, feeding, and cleaning up the dog’s messes, but it does mean that you have to enforce the same rules, boundaries, and limitations that your roommate does. Where it gets tricky, of course, is when your roommate doesn’t do this, which it sounds like is the case here. This is the time for a calm but honest conversation with the roommate about bringing the dog under control through creating the rules, and providing exercise, discipline, and affection — in that order — and enforcing them together, consistently.
 
If the roommate won’t do it, then you can consider starting to work with the dog yourself. After all, you have to live with her, too, and she’s probably going to be a lot easier to rehabilitate than the human. It’s also possible that once you get positive results with the dog, your roommate will be much more inclined to learn how to do it, too — especially if his dog starts looking up to you more than she does to him.
 
But, since dogs are much easier to rehabilitate than humans, if your roommate really is creating a “Cesar 911” situation and refuses to do anything about it, be prepared to move out and leave them with the dog if necessary. Someone else’s misbehaving dog is ultimately not your responsibility, so it shouldn’t be your problem unless you want to help — and the human wants to be helped. Good luck!
 

So how do dogs tell identical twins apart, anyway? If they look the same and dress the same, wouldn’t that confuse the dog, too?

Short answer: No.
 
Dogs aren’t looking at our faces to identify us and they really don’t pay any attention to our clothes — if they did, every time we changed our outfit, it would completely confuse them. Dogs recognize us by our energy and scent. These two things together, to a dog, are our “name.”
 
No matter how identical twins might look to us, they might as well be Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito when your dog sees them. Their energy levels will not be exactly the same, and neither will their diets or body chemistries. Although those things started off the same when one egg became two embryos, they’ve been changing on their own ever since. The changes to us are imperceptible — but to a dog, they’re like giant neon signs telling them which twin is which.
 

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How to Watch

TV: "Cesar 911" appears in the U.S.A. on Nat Geo WILD. Check local listings.


Watch "Cesar 911" the day after air, via authentication through a cable provider, on TV-VOD and TVE platforms which include NatGeoTV.com, iOS handsets and tablets, Android handsets, Apple TV, Xbox 360 and Xbox One, Samsung Connected TVs and Roku.


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International: "Cesar 911" will premiere internationally in May. Please visit our schedule page for more information.