The Earthy Life
Published: February 28, 2013
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This month's topic: "How to be a Leader to the Animals in Your Life"
Question: I've read Cesar Millan's theories on dog training, and I totally get his message, but I have a difficult time telling my girlfriend how to be a pack leader for our dogs. Is there any simple way I could explain it to her?
Answer: To quote Cesar, "Be Oprah." Television personality Oprah Winfrey exudes quiet strength and compassion. To convince our dogs or any other animals - including humans - to respect and trust us enough to allow us to be a leader, we must exude the same calm confidence, caring and personal power.
I love to teach people this skill with horses because they are so big. Being a pack, herd, flock or crowd leader has nothing to do with physical strength. Horses make this perfectly obvious because it is simply impossible for a human to overpower them. More importantly, even if you are dealing with a smaller animal like a dog or a cat, trying to physically overpower or control another being will never make you a leader, because they will not trust and respect you enough to choose to follow you on your own. We must inspire their confidence through our steadiness and compassion balanced with our inner strength.
Another reason it is great to learn this skill with horses is because they are very sensitive. It is easy to see whether we are conveying confidence or self-consciousness because they mirror it right back to us. We will be offering some courses at the sanctuary on developing leadership skills with animals in the coming months, so check our website or subscribe to our e-newsletter if you would like to participate.
Cultivating a calm, strong energy is easier than you think. One great way to do this is to meditate regularly. By the way, most animals love to be around us when we meditate, try it some time!
Another way to cultivate leader energy is to spend more time doing what you love. Are you an expert gardener? Do you love to run? Are you a whiz at crossword puzzles? Notice how you feel when you are doing what you are best at, and feel that feeling again when you spend time with your animals.
Remember, becoming a leader requires you to be trustworthy. Don't get frustrated if they don't start following you right away and understand that they still have their own minds. Leading does not mean controlling others. It means guiding or inspiring others.
Since relocating to northeastern Pennsylvania in 2007, the non-profit Indraloka Animal Sanctuary has been caring for hundreds of rescued animals for years and has learned much about them and from them about caring for ourselves and the environment. Email your questions on holistic care for animals, ourselves and the environment to email@example.com with "The Earthy Life" in the subject line. We will answer with stories of mistakes made, lessons learned and blessings shared. For more information, visit www.indraloka.org.