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I have been a fan of the Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan since seeing the series on television, so when I saw the book, A member of the family, I bought it.
I already have two dogs aged 5 and 3 and despite adoring them have no intention of having any more just yet! So you may wonder why I bought a book, which essentially is a guide, starting from before you buy a dog. Well, I think it is always good to have a staple book of this sort that can be loaned out to friends or referred back to in time of need and also, it's amusing to see where I go wrong!
As Cesar puts it this book is a "guide to a lifetime of fulfillment with your dog".
****A BIT OF BACKGROUND****
So for those of you unfamiliar with the Cesar Millan, he is a Mexican born man who lives in America and is a self taught dog trainer, or human trainer as he sometimes puts it.
Cesar built a Dog Psychology Centre (also called that) in Los Angeles to work and treat dogs with aggressive tendencies and this is where the Dog Whisperer programs came into play. He has outstanding results with no harsh techniques but an emphasis on exercise first, discipline second and affection third plus working with you in becoming the strong pack leader with a calm assertive energy. It sounds so simple when it's put like that!!
****CHAPTER ONE - A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN****
I love this chapter; it gives clear advice on how to realistically look at the type of dog you should get, if at all. There is a self assessment for the family which Cesar suggest the whole family sit down and go through working out the costing's and if they can afford a dog, who will walk it - even in the rain, who will pick up the poop! Etc.
He also goes into energy levels of dogs for example very high energy - a dog that is constantly on the go running and jumping not stopping is not ideal for someone who sits at home most of the evening watching TV.
Next comes the dog breed - look into what type of group each dog fits into and see where they come from historically. For example - The working group Rottweiler, mastiff, boxers and includes my breed Siberian husky they are workers (doh) but also known and bred for there strength and power. As it is made clear in the book a breed which is not perhaps best suited to a novice unless they are willing to put in a large amount of time and effort. My dogs are not the easiest to handle and have a very strong mind set which needs to be understood otherwise this seems to be why some dogs end up needing re-homing through no fault of there's - just lack of judgment on the buyers part. Saying that this can be said of any breed I feel, as they all need attention and exercise just in different ways.
****CHAPTER TWO - GIMME SHELTER****
So you have sorted the finance, who's walking it when, now where to get a doggie from????
A guide in step-by-step format is given for how to approach dogs in kennels whether that is from a rescue center or breeders. All have a different aspect I guess it depends what you are looking for a rescue dog may be older with baggage but will have been checked and vaccinated properly and they should give you all the help and advice on matching you with a dog. Cesar indicated the importance of not rushing in and going for the first "look at me!" dog that races to you. If you get a puppy you can train them from scratch but you also get the waking nights and puddles on the floor too. If coming from a breeder you should be able to see the parents to see their nature.
I have to say I read these first to chapters and think ummm...... I didn't do it to this plan as I am sure most won't have really. My dogs are definitely higher energy than me but that said it makes me get off my backside for numerous hours a day and go walkies especially in the wet and snow, which they love! Me not so much! It has also encouraged me to start jogging and I now go with them sometimes, which I would never have done otherwise.
***CHAPTER THREE - THE HOMECOMING****
A great section which initially says about taking home an older dog and go for a walk first then move to home, where you set the boundaries where they are allowed to go and not- big mistake for me mine went everywhere from puppies onwards - in fact with mine as a puppy he was up stairs in minutes then I kept carrying him down as he couldn't do it! Now he sleeps under the bed :/
There are little sub sections on how to introduce other dogs and children ideal for bigger families.
****CHAPTER FOUR - RAISING THE PERFECT PUP****
Another fantastic chapter with a mirage of information about puppy stages and vaccinations etc. - but note this is American so not all vaccinations will be the same as the UK. It also gives step guides to house breaking, teething and behavior issues. Start to understand you dog's behavior and mind set.
****CHAPTER FIVE - RULES OF THE HOUSE****
More detailed section of boundaries of what you want and expect form your dog and enforcing the rules by everyone being in agreement. A great section with lots of information and put in simple terms, but if you can watch an episode, I found that easier to relate too. Time to decide who's the pack leader? My younger female dog who is half the size of my male rules the roost where he is concerned, until we go out then he's the boss. Of course I am pack leader! At least I think so!
****CHAPTER SIX - AWAY FROM IT ALL****
This chapter covers travelling with your pet or pet sitting /kennels. With this looking into travelling before going is essential many holiday rentals will only take one dog or some two but small and most won't let animals on the furniture or certain places - so research before you go!
****CHAPTER SEVEN - AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION****
Health care, choosing a vet and treatments are covered here. Again just be aware that this is American and not all will be the same as here in the UK. The vets I find a task with mine - one loves it, one hates it with a vengeance! But I personally have a first aid kit for my dogs in my car and home as I have had cut paws on walks so simple gauze and bandage is cheap and simple to keep. I have thus far only needed to go for vaccinations and check ups. Another thing to remember is insurance good insurance is not cheap - but neither are vet bills.
****CHAPTER EIGHT - DOGS AND THE FAMILY LIFE CYCLE****
This covers areas such as divorce, introducing new partners, and children leaving home. They may seem like big thins to us as a family unit, but don't forget the dog! It's big for them too.
****CHAPETER NINE AND TEN****
Chapters nine and ten go into nine about Cesar's wife (sadly apparently soon to be ex) and how she sees the work of Cesar, her influences and the roles the family plays. Chapter ten is from the perspective of Cesar's two children and how they are embracing the dog trainer life style and how they are moving on into the next generation of training.
****CHAPTER ELEVEN - MOVING ON AND LETTING GO****
So sad..... This is all about the death of your pet. How to say goodbye and how to move on. Sadly since this book has come out the beloved "Daddy" Cesar's pitbull that he took on and trained into the most adorable role model for dogs and humans (and yes I said pitbull) he showed that it's not necessarily the breed of dog what is the issue but the way it is trained.
I highly recommend this book especially for those who have never owned a dog and are looking to get on. With in chapter is also look backs at episodes for the television series where he met dogs and owners with different issues, like adjusting to a new person. These are great additives and give perspective to what Cesar is saying, if you get the chance thought do watch some on TV it is clearer to see in that than the book I find. However with the book you get more depth behind what he is saying and can refer back to it in time of need.
At the back of the book Cesar backs each chapter up with references and web pages, which I find brilliant. This way you can see where his thoughts have come from and research a little deeper should you wish.
So are my two huskies perfect pooches?? Not by a long shot they are head strong and mischievous but I would have them any other way. If we could all do as Cesar does I guess he wouldn't make the money he does solving our problems!
A Member of the Family by Cesar Millan 2008.
Available in all good book stores and www.amazon.co.uk for around £6 paperback and £5 on the Kindle edition at time of writing.
Review maybe posted on dooyoo and ciao under the same username.