Cesar Millan is one of the most visible dog personalities in recent years. His seminars sell out in days, not weeks. His book has been a best seller for I don’t even know how long. And recently Cesar Millan released the DVD of the first season of his show “The Dog Whisperer” on the “National Geographic Channel.” This is the show and the season that catapulted him out of celebrity homes in Beverly Hills to international fame as the best friends to problem dogs everywhere.
When it comes to Cesar Millan, most dog lovers tend to fall into three camps — Cesar fans, Don’t like Cesar’s methods and people who just haven’t heard about him and “the power of the pack.” Let me say right up front, I am a Cesar fan. Oh there are some things Cesar does that I don’t agree with but overall I appreciate the freshness of his approach to dog behavior. All that said, if you fall into camp one (Cesar fans) or camp three (never heard of Cesar) this is a must have video!
The video includes all the first season shows as well as some golden background and outtake clips. I was on a plane while I was watching the video and laughing out loud. I know people around me must have thought I was a bit nutty because all they could see were dogs on my computer screen but they sure could hear me laughing!
What my plane-mates couldn’t hear was what I was learning from Cesar. I had seen most of the first season when they originally aired on the “National Geographic Channel” but when you’re watching you don’t catch everything. The tapes make it possible to learn a lot more from the various dog interactions and experiences. I’ve been a dog person for about four decades. Most of that time I’ve had big dogs with dominance issues. I even have a family member who was one of the founding members of the original Animal Behavior Association decades ago. With all that, I’ve learned some essential things from watching the first season of “The Dog Whisperer.”
Why is this DVD so different than just watching a regular “how to train your dog” video? Because Cesar’s methds are not something he learned and is passing down in a rote way. Instead, Cesar takes his methods from his own life experiences living with large, powerful dogs. That personal form of learning from the dogs around him gives Cesar insights into dog behavior that many people never noticed. Do I totally agree with him on everything? No but I have gained information which has helped to make my life with four dogs (three of whom are so alpha it has been a constant battle to maintain my alpha position) better with less inter-doggy tension and more peace.
So who needs this DVD?
- People with strong dogs like Rotties, Weims, German Shepherds, Pitts and large hounds
People who have problem dogs of all sizes such as dogs that nip your feet, dogs that continually get out and run away, dogs that are overprotective, and dogs that show aggression to other dogs or humans at the wrong time
People who are making life changes in the way they view or interact with dogs. For example, one of my neighbors grew up in the country where dogs were “just dogs.” He has a new (very dominant) young make puppy and the neighbor is teaching his son better ways to interact with dogs. I heartily recommended this DVD for this family.
People who love dogs and want to get a better understanding of dog psychology in general
People who love dogs like Rotties, Pitts and supposedly “bad” dogs
Here are my caveats.
- Cesar, rethink those pinch collars. I know you’re probably working with what is on hand in many cases but it has long been known that pinch collars can damage spinal cords, causing both bone and nerve damage.
The DVDs emphasize NOT to try these technques without a specialist. Some of these actions could be dangerous to both human and dog if not done appropriately. I’m mainly talking about Cesar’s work with “red zone” dogs or dogs who have already shown definite aggression. If you are dealing with a dog who has shown aggression (notice I didn’t say aggressive dog because I believe in almost every case there is some reason for the aggression and it is NOT a personality trait) make sure you have an experienced behaviorist or dog person with you when you are working on the aggression.
Cesar’s methods may not be necessary for your dogs. Some dogs don’t feel the need to run the show and happily fall into the family ways. (I only have one of those and she’s wonderful to have around). But even if your dog isn’t a problem dog, you can still learn a lot about dogs in general.
Before trying one particular “trick” from an episode watch the whole series. Remember, each episode is edited for time so I have no doubt crucial steps were cut to fit the time constraints.
While watching “The Dog Whisperer,” keep in mind that Cesar is not really talking about a system as such. He is really demonstrating a way to live with and around dogs. And other humans for that matter.
To wrap it up, “The Dog Whisperer” DVD is going to be on a lot of wish lists for this upcoming holiday season. If I had my way it would be a staple in new owner puppy kits. It’s entertaining! It’s informative! It could change the way you look at dogs, other humans and life!