Cesar Millan On What You Need To Know Before Getting A Dog - Exclusive

For many animal lovers, the decision to get a dog seems like a no-brainer: They have time and love to spare and the world is filled with puppies in need of forever homes, so adopting a dog would be a win for both the person and the dog. For this reason, rates of dog adoption soared during the COVID-19 lockdowns (per the Animal Humane Society), when people isolated at home found themselves bored and stir-crazy with a craving for social connection.

But first-time dog owners often find their new family members to be more than they bargained for. Celebrity dog expert Cesar Millan has built his career helping dog parents understand how to effectively communicate with their dogs and cultivate good behavior. And a big part of this process, he explained in an exclusive interview, is knowing what to expect when building a relationship with a new dog. In this interview, he shares what you need to know before you bring your new dog or puppy home.

Be prepared for a long-term relationship

Cesar Millan warns that one of the biggest mistakes new dog owners make is the same mistake that dooms many human relationships: diving into the relationship headfirst without doing one's due diligence. "It logically doesn't make any sense that we enter into anything if we don't have the knowledge," he said. "It should never be an emotional impulse because emotional impulse is just the moment of seconds where you feel this way. It is like an emotional buy. It is not well-thought-out."

Preparation is all the more important, he said, because when you bring a dog into your home, you're embarking on a relationship that can span a decade or more. "You have to think about 10 years, 15 years, 16 years, 21 years with a dog," he said. "The relationship is a long run. It's not a short run, it's a long run. It's like many times people go into relationships, but they don't have the education, so they get divorced." 

For this reason, Milan warns potential dog parents that just loving dogs and wanting their companionship is not enough. "That's beautiful," he said, "That makes you rescue the dog, but doesn't mean you know how to maintain the dog."

Here's the biggest thing you need to know to be a good dog parent

A major concern for many prospective dog parents is learning how to train their dogs — what does one have to do to ensure their dog will be calm and happy and fit in socially with the rest of the household? And on the flip side, how does one ensure their dog won't develop any dangerous or antisocial habits?

Cesar Millan has a surprising answer for this. "Self-analysis," he said. "The dog is going to bring [out] the good side of you and the bad side of you. The dog is going to awaken the dragons." This means, he said, that your dog will pick up on — and act out — any internal turmoil you may be experiencing. 

"You have to deal with that secret that you've been carrying for a long time," he warned. "So the dog is just going to intensify what you already had. You already had the fear, you already had the anxiety, you already had the confusion. No dog gives it to the human. It's impossible for a dog to live with a human who hasn't worked on that toxic side of themselves."

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