For years now, I’ve been telling people that I rehabilitate dogs and train people. This is my motto and what I do. But in the process of all of the dogs and people I’ve worked with, I have also learned a lot about people. When I walk into a home for a consultation, the first thing I say is, “What can I do for you?” Nine times out of 10, people will start with, “Well, my dog does this and my dogdoes that.” And nine times out of 10, I say, “And what are you doing and how are you feeling?”

The reason is simple. Dogs communicate though energy. In their natural packs, the pack leader is the one who provides protection and direction. He or she is the one who says, “this is what I need you to do and this is when I want you to do it.” But humans don’t communicate this way. We are complex. We have passive aggressive people, we have pasts that characterize our presents, and we have “issues.” Dogs’ issues are a direct result of human influence. Dogs in nature would never follow an unstable leader. They instinctually know who is best fit to lead. But in our domestic lives with them, we choose them. So it’s up to us to provide them with the same calm assertive leadership and fulfill their instinctual needs, rather than to humanize their needs. Dogs are not led by emotions like we are.

What I’ve learned is that the humans will tell me the story, but the dogs will tell the truth. Their behavior, problem or otherwise, will tell me about the human behind the dog. Let me give you an example. Did you see the Season 7 debut of Dog Whisperer a couple of weeks ago? In that episode, I worked with comedian Howie Mandel and his wife and their aggressive Chihuahua, Lola. Some would think that’s an oxymoron – “aggressive” Chihuahua. But Howie had a real fear of this little dog. Even I wore a glove during the episode to keep things safe. But at the core of their issue was the same as most of the cases I see – a lack of leadership. It never ceases to amaze me how so many powerful, respected leaders in their industries have no control over their dogs!

What little Lola needed was Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations. And with the help of my pack, we got Lola into a state of mind that allowed rehabilitation to take place. Their story was this was an aggressive dog. But the dog’s behavior told me she had no trust in her leaders and this manifested as aggression.

Through all of my interactions with people and dogs, one thing I know for certain. The world is an animal-loving, dog-loving place. The balance is what’s thrown off. So I have made it my mission to continue spreading this message of balance around the world. If we can do this with one dog, and one human at a time, maybe we can eventually bring that into entire communities and countries, so we can all live as my greatest teachers (dogs) do – mindfully aware, and emotionally in tune.