On Dogs, Cesar and Reading About New Subjects

Friday, July 1, 2011

Until four months ago I’d never seen an episode of the Dog Whisperer. I’d heard of him and to be honest, he seemed a bit silly. Then we got a puppy and I became a convert. I’m not saying his methods are flawless, but some of them are pretty amazing. So I decided to check out his books as well.

That’s what happens when you’re a reader and you start something new in your life, you read books about it. Whether it’s buying a house, knitting or childbirth, we readers tend to want more information about the subject and we inevitably turn to books. So here are reviews of two of his books.

Cesar’s Way:
The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems

by Cesar Milan

In his first book, Cesar shares stories about his childhood in Mexico and his first experiences in America. The book is packed with tips, but it’s also part memoir, which made it easy to dive into. It also helped explain the reason why he trains dogs the way he does. Learning the thought process behind his methods was perhaps the most valuable thing in the book.

Cesar had no money when he came to America and he couldn’t speak a word of English. He worked at a dog grooming salon, and then cleaning limos long before he was the “dog whisperer.” One of his very first clients was Jada Pinkett Smith and she helped him grow his business and learn English. Once he established his dog psychology center he was truly able pursue his dream of helping rehabilitate dogs and train people in how to correctly care for their own dogs.

A few things that really helped me:

1) Nose, eyes, ears – If you want your dog to obey you, appeal to their senses in this order. Don’t yell commands at them, use bully sticks and other treats to show them where you want them to go, etc.

2) Calm and assertive behavior – Your attitude affects your dog. It you’re acting crazy, so will they. If they don’t respect your authority, they won’t obey you.

3) You dog is not a human. Simple, right? But it’s not, because we treat our dogs like our babies sometimes. Just remembering that my dog is in fact a dog, makes it much easier to train him and teach him what he is and isn’t allowed to do. He will not get his feelings hurt if you don’t allow him to do something.

4) It you’re trying to overcome a phobia or obsession in your dog, tire them out before attempting anything. When they’re worn out they’re more likely to be relaxed and accept changes.

5) The answer to almost any problem: Walks! If you’re going to try something new/if they’re being destructive/if you’re moving or traveling or going to a dog park, no matter what the problem is, the first answer is always to take them on a long walk.

How to Raise the Perfect Dog:
Through Puppyhood and Beyond
by Cesar Milan

Dogs begin learning about your authority from the first moment that they meet you. In this book, Cesar walks people through the process of preparing for your puppy, picking out a dog, introducing your new puppy to your home and setting boundaries.

Cesar recommends picking a dog with the lower energy level than you have, so you’ll always be able to give your dog enough time and attention. You also need to make sure your home and life is ready for a dog before you commit to raising one.

I would highly recommend reading the books BEFORE you get a dog. There are so many important tips that I would have liked to know before we brought out dog home. It turns out we did most things right, but there are some things we would have done differently. The books are incredibly helpful no matter what stage you are in with your dog (especially Cesar’s Way), but would be most beneficial for soon-to-be owners.


Sandy Nawrot said...

I thought it all seemed silly too until I actually sat down and watched a couple of his episodes. (There is also one about cats too called "The Cat From Hell" or some such thing.) I lost my dog years ago but what he says makes a whole lot of sense based on what we learned when Meggie was a puppy.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

I've found there are lots of things like that in life. I think they're stupid until I actually experience them. I should really stopped judging things first.

Enbrethiliel said...


I have a friend who is skeptical of Cesar Milan. This friend has always owned pugs and says that the reason Milan has never had a "problem pug" on his show is that pugs would completely stump him! =P

Now, I've only seen a few episodes of The Dog Whisperer and haven't read these books, but so far, everything you've shared about his advice makes so much sense! I'm more inclined to give him a chance based on what he has already done and written than to write him off based on what a dear friend (whose opinion I still esteem highly) claims he can't do. =)

And you're so right, Melissa, that these are things we should know before we even get a dog. I wish my family had known about the "nose, eyes, ears" rule and the importance of walks before we got our rat terrier. Although if we had read How to Raise the Perfect Dog we might not have got a high-energy rat terrier at all! =P

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Enbrethiliel - I have no idea how he is with pugs, but everything we've tried that he's talked about has worked really well. I don't think I could handled a high-energy dog though. They're so much work!

bookmagic said...

I think my dogs read "How to Raise the Perfect Human". To be honest, I don't mind a little naughtiness in my pups, it lets their personality show. But my dogs are pretty well-behaved.

mari said...

When we got our Nunuk, we were probably his fourth or fifth parents. He has been in and out of shelters and homes and by the time we got him, he was already 7 and quite unsocialized. He loves people, can't get along with dogs. I've watched quite a few episodes of Milan's show and even for a problem pooch like ours, his suggestions and tricks were helpful. And if you're interested, you can see a few shots of Nunuk in a video on my blog.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

bookmagic - Everytime my dog doesn't fetch the ball/stick that he's suppose to, I end up picking it up and I can't help thinking he's trained me well.

mari - Nunuk is gorgeous! He's got that huskie look that I just love.