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When I first started watching Cesar Millan’s Dog Whisperer program on the National Geographic channel I became a bit obsessed with the program. I recorded every episode on my Sky+ Box and have now seen them all. So I am a big fan.
As soon as this book arrived in the post I started to read it that very night. I couldn’t put it down!! Such a great read. It probably helped that I am a big fan of Cesar anyway. But it does give you a great insight into how your dog sees the world and you.
This is a `Dog Psychology’ book, looking at how your dog actually sees the world. Whereas a `Dog Training’ book‘ would look more at teaching your dog commands. Both have there place.
Cesar Millan in a Mexican dog behaviour expert who runs a dog psychology centre in Los Angeles. Cesar makes a lot of sense but so many people seem to think that they are doing the best for their dogs and are deaf to what anybody else tells them. Like he says, dogs are not little furry humans. They have their own way of thinking and communicating. If you expect them to think like a human then you are not treating them with the respect that they deserve and not giving them what they need.
Cesar relies on the old fashioned `Dominance Theory’. This is that to a dog there are only two places in a pack. They are either the leader or a follower. If a dog does not know it’s place in the pack it may try to become the leader itself and take over your household. Some dog behaviour experts disagree with Cesar’s way of doing things. I however really do believe that he has a natural understanding of dogs and he comes across as a very caring and genuine person.
The book takes you through Cesar’s life so you can understand how he got to where he is today. He has worked with lot’s of `red zone’ cases that would have been put down if he didn’t take them on. Some of the things he describes in the book, such as taking his dogs out for 6 hours a day for exercise would not be practical for most people. He is however working with very extreme, often aggressive cases at his centre. a lot of his methods would be easy to do in the household. I would however say that he doesn’t cover many of the actual methods in the book. The TV show is much better at illustrating that. The book is more about giving you an insight into your dogs mind.
I have used his methods myself with my own dog Kimmie who I got from a rescue centre. She could be quite aggressive towards other dogs whilst out on walks when I first got her. For the first 3 months I had to be very strict with her. Making sure not to let her get away with any bad behaviour. I have now had her for a year and she seems to know her place in the household. As long as you persevere with your corrections every single time that your dog misbehaves. They will soon get the message that it isn’t even worth trying to be bad. But if you only correct them sometimes then there is always a chances they might get away with the bad behaviour so it is worth it for them to try their luck. Eventually this will make your life together much more pleasant as they will know their `rules, boundaries and limitations' which Cesar talks about in the book.
The rescue centre that I got Kimmie from gave me a choke chain to use with her but I didn’t like using it. So I took it off her. Now she seems to respond because she respects me, not because she fears me. The main key is to persevere until your dog obeys you otherwise they win. You shouldn't be aggressive, just calm, assertive and firm.
One other thing that Cesar keeps stressing in the book is the importance of remaining calm and assertive. Dogs will respond best to you if you are in this mind set. If you are tense and nervous your dog will pick up on it. For example. When walking with your dog always make sure they are either beside or behind you. The pack leader (you) should be walking ahead of your dog and `leading’ it. This is the biggest thing that helped me with my own dog. If the dog is out in front of you on a stretched lead then they are leading you and you have less control over them.
Do bear in mind that there are other dog psychology books out there and this book is just one mans opinion on how to do things.
Anyway, I hope this helps. I would say that I am a big fan of the man so maybe a little biased. You will probably enjoy the book more if you watch the show first and see who the guy is.