In the 146th episode of the animated South Park series, Eric Cartman proves himself such a perpetual terror of a child that his mother has no other choice than to bring in backup: Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer—well, at least the cartoon version of the famous trainer. Cartman may be a human kid, but Millan keeps to his professional background, and steps in as pack leader, successfully rehabilitating Cartman—at least for some of the episode.
Obviously, the joke of the episode is equating Cartman to a dog. But in my recent conversation with Millan (the real one), the renowned dog behaviorist brought the cartoon up as a (very funny) example of the importance of the pack leader. “You see relationships when a child controls a parent,” Millan says, humorously referencing how Cartman, lacking a pack leader, escalated his naughty behavior to Saw-esque tactics. Not that your pup is anywhere close to Jigsaw, but without leadership, things can go awry. The same thing goes for the relationship with your dog, and according to Millan the most common sign that your dog doesn’t respect you as pack leader is when they jump on you without being requested.
Other common signs that your dog doesn’t respect you as pack leader include when your pup:
- walks in front of you
- demands things with a not-so “happy-go-lucky” bark
- takes five seconds or longer to respond to a command