BOOKS: Cesar’s Way

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, May 2006:

Cesar’s Way by Cesar Millan with Melissa Jo Peltier
Harmony Books ( 231 Broad St., Nevada City, CA 95959), 2006.
304 pages, hard cover. $24.95.

Dog behaviorist Cesar Millan’s weekly show The Dog Whisperer
airs on the National Geographic Channel. His Dog Psychology Center
in Los Angeles, California, enjoys a celebrity clientele. His book
Cesar’s Way is about dogs, but is also the autobiography of a poor
Mexican who came to America as an illegal immigrant.
We have had family dogs all our lives, yet only after
reading Millan’s book did we realize how many mistakes we made in
training and understanding them. If we were to get another dog, it
would only be after anxious consideration of our responsibilities:
Would we commit ourselves to taking the dog for a long, tiring walk
for at least an hour every morning, and another half hour every
evening? Every day?
Millan believes that when one understands the evolutionary
needs of dogs, one realizes that draining off energy by hard
exercise is essential to their health.

Millan argues that affection should only be given to
reinforce discipline, and that discipline, which comes second only
to exercise in importance, must be consciously renewed with every
event and activity.
Stick to cats if you are not prepared to make the effort
required to fulfill a dog’s life, Millan advises.
This is not a book about how to get your dog to respond to
commands. It is far more fundamental than that. Millan provides
insight into dog psychology, based on canine evolution, and explains
how to know what your dog is thinking. He believes that such an
understanding makes for a safe and happy relationship with a
companion dog, and avoids creating what Millan terms “re-zone”
aggressors, such as the two Presa Canarios kept by San Francisco
attorneys Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, who fatally mauled
neighbor Diane Whipple in January 2001.
Millan emphasizes that dogs are social animals, with pack
instincts, and that it is important to use this when controlling a
dog. Affection must be given after exercise and eating. Knoller and
Noel often gave affection to their dogs after they had attacked
people, Millan says, thereby reinforcing bad behavior.
Millan points out that many homeless people have better
adjusted and behaved dogs than rich people, mostly because they
spend more time with the dogs in a variety of environments.
–Chris Mercer & Bev Pervan

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