Cesar’s way should be our way

A lack of exercise is the number one reason so many of our dogs have behavior problems. This is true with my own dog, and I see this with every dog I know. The dogs that get enough exercise are the “good” dogs. The rest are destructive, nervous, hyper or bored. It’s really that simple. My mutt is an anxious, annoying wreck if he hasn’t had a walk. He follows me around crying, is obsessive about his toys and destroys things when he’s left home alone. But if we run for a few days in a row, he is a different dog, close to perfect.

I recently read the book “Cesar’s Way” by Cesar Millan, better known for his National Geographic Channel show, The Dog Whisperer. His book is a guide to understanding everyday dog behavior. Although Millan’s book addresses many “issues” our dogs deal with, one of his strongest messages is to make sure your dog is getting the exercise he needs. I couldn’t agree more. I really believe any dog owner can learn from reading this book, no matter how experienced she is with dogs.


Millan says dog owners need to provide their dogs with three things in this order: exercise, discipline and affection. The problem in the United States is that people only provide one thing: affection. Our dogs need exercise and leadership before affection, he says. And an easy way to provide both is through the daily walk. Unfortunately, most dogs don’t get this kind of exercise, not even close. Many people think of walking the dog as a five-minute walk around the block so the dog can go to the bathroom. Millan recommends a minimum of two 30-minute walks per day. Of course, some dogs will need longer walks.

Throughout his book, Millan provides valuable information for any dog owner. He explains how a dog communicates by using energy. One mistake people make is to communicate with their dogs as though they are humans. We talk baby talk to them, we mistake their excess energy as happiness, and we lose our tempers and scream at them to get off the couch, to stop barking, to heel. But dogs communicate on a different level. They see a leader as someone with calm, assertive energy, like Oprah Winfrey. And this kind of leadership is lacking in so many households when we allow our dogs to jump on us, pull us out the door and pretty much do whatever they want. Dogs actually want leadership and structure in their lives, Millan says, but when their owner does not act as a leader, then the dog is the one who actually takes on the leadership role.

In his book, Millan describes in detail his formula for a balanced and fullfilled dog. He stresses over and over to provide exercise, discipline and then affection. He also provides tips for living happily with your dog. He describes the power of the pack, how we screw up our dogs and how to deal with dangerous dogs. It really is a valuable book that I hope more dog owners will read.

I especially appreciated the section on how to act as a leader from the first day you adopt a new dog. I took his advice seriously and began walking Ace right away. The first afternoon after I adopted him, we went on a long walk through our neighborhood. I also established rules with Ace from day one such as not allowing him on the furniture, having him sit before eating and before heading out for a walk. Continuing on with basic exercises like these and adjusting them to fit my dog’s personality as I got to know him better have helped build a more stable relationship between Ace and I.

“Cesar’s Way” really covers everything and is filled with all kinds of suggestions to deal with behavior problems such as obsessive barking, pulling, separation anxiety, aggression, nervousness, whining, even toy obsession, which I need to work on with my mutt! I really recommend that all dog owners read this book.

10 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Moki on April 15, 2008

    This is so true. As a society we often fail to provide our pets with enough exercise. Just look at the obesity rate in the U.S. pet population alone!

    Moki’s last blog post..Pssst…I have a secret…

  2. Apryl DeLancey on April 15, 2008

    Yeah, I can totally see that. When my dog got enough exercise, she was so happy. When I slacked off, the poor girl was really bored and she acted out like a child.

    Apryl DeLancey’s last blog post..Can We Return Him?

  3. Ty Brown on April 15, 2008

    I am not in complete agreement with this exercise requirement. Don’t get me wrong, I think dogs need exercise. I don’t think it is a prerequisite for obedience, though.

    Humans need a lot of exercise and in most cases they don’t get it. That is not an excuse for misbehavior, though. If I have bad behavior I can’t say it is because of this reason or this reason or that. I can’t misbehave because I didn’t get my run, or mommy didn’t love me, or society has it out for me. There is still a requirement that I have to live by. There is simply wrong or right, even if everything is not ideal I still have to have good behavior.

    I expect the same from my dogs. Even if they don’t get exercise on such and such a day or even days in a row I don’t allow them to misbehave.

    I have plenty of clients that have incredibly busy schedules (not a good excuse, I know) but with training their dogs don’t act out. They don’t use a lack of exercise as an excuse, they simply address the misbehavior and show the dog that it doesn’t matter what is going on around, disobedience isn’t tolerated.

    Again, I do believe that as dog owners we have a responsibility to fulfill the needs or our animals through exercise and such. I will never accept bad behavior, though, because of a lack of obedience.

    Great topic. I liked the review of the book.

    Ty Brown’s last blog post..Why I never teach a dog to ring a bell or bark to be let out

  4. vee on April 16, 2008

    what a great reminder! I really enjoy’s cesar millan’s stuff its been a while since i’ve seen/read any of it.
    This was a fabulous review!

    vee’s last blog post..who gots the button?

  5. castocreations on April 16, 2008

    EXCELLENT! I am going to add his book to my wish list on Amazon. I love the dog whisperer. 🙂

    castocreations’s last blog post..More Surveys

  6. Abbey on April 18, 2008

    I’ve only watched one utube vid of Caesars, but after your review I’d be interested in reading this book.

    I have to agree, exercise is so necessary for Chels.. she can handle one day of not walking, but I notice an increase in energy after two. She eats better, sleeps better and is a calmer hound… add to that bonding time, leadership, training etc its invaluable…

    The other benefit is that it puts me in a better frame of mind…

    Abbey’s last blog post..30 Day Walking Challenge Day 11-18

  7. Mary on June 18, 2008

    I got Cesar’s Way when the book came out, and was amazed how the changes came about in my dogs and the dogs I rescue. I had a confidence in myself when bringing in a dog from the shelter with no known history. We are grateful for Cesar’s Way, as it has changed the way our foster homes and rescue operate. We also recommend or buy the book for adopters as part of their adoption package. That is “if” they do not have it already, which most do we are finding. The exercise is key for the German Wirehaired Pointer, as a strong hunting breed. They love the structure and as a working dog, they love to work for their food…after their walk, they are relaxed, and so much happier. We totally agree and have seen first hand the results of applying his methodology to our 100+ dogs we have had in our homes.
    Mary Murray
    President GWP Rescue, Inc.

  8. stratobill on April 23, 2010

    The comments by Ty Brown show me that he missed the whole point of your posting. He says that dogs must behave regardless of whether or not they are getting enough exercise. Well, duh!

    What he fails to recognize is that dogs NEED lots of exercise in order to function well. With-holding exercise from a dog is almost as bad as with-holding food and water. Anyone who owns a dog and expects the dog to be well-behaved even if it never gets exercise is an idiot. Just like people, dogs are going to act out when their needs are not being met.

    Sure, you can probably get a dog to behave without exercising it, but why make things more difficult than they need to be? Ty Brown sounds like a bit of a control-freak to me!

  9. Lindsay Stordahl Author on April 24, 2010

    I agree with Ty. Just because my dog doesn’t get a walk today or in the last three days doesn’t give him an excuse to “forget” everything he’s learned. Of course exercise is important, and it’s our responsibility as dog owners to walk our dogs every day. But if we do miss a day or two, a well-trained dog will still behave even without exercise.

  10. Rescue Me Dog Training on August 17, 2016

    Exercise is indeed important however exercise isn’t going to solidify a behavior. Yes make sure your dog has plenty of exercise but that is certainly not going to solve any well-established behavior issue.