Book review: Cesar’s Rules by Cesar Millan

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There’s a whisper going around that it might actually be possible to teach an old dog new tricks.

But why is canine king Cesar Millan, who famously declares that he doesn’t train dogs but rather ‘rehabilitates’ them, publishing a dog training book?

The answer is public demand and, unable to turn down a plea from bothered and bewildered dog owners, Millan has duly rounded up a handful of experts to help him lay down some golden rules.

For those not familiar with the Mexican-born maestro, Millan is the star of Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel and his mantra is: ‘I rehabilitate dogs; I train people.’

Over the years, Millan has worked with hundreds of dog owners and has learned from experience that it’s people, and not dogs, who need the most training.

He has no formal experience of dog training, just a natural instinct and a love of the animals which stretches back to his childhood years when he visited his grandfather’s farm.

Work at various dog training kennels convinced Millan that ‘obedience’ lessons often made problem dogs more fearful and insecure. In many cases, the animals left the kennels able to respond to commands but still with the behavioural problems they arrived with.

And no-one seemed to consider that it could just be the owner’s behaviour that had contributed to or even caused the dog’s problem behaviour in the first place.

In Cesar’s Rules, he brings together people with very different ideas on dog training and works with them to find what he believes is a balanced approach.

Millan’s rule for choosing the right dog trainer is to select a person who shares your own philosophy and ethics, and to make sure that you are always included in the training process.

From dog behaviour counsellor Barbara De Groodt and author and vet Dr Ian Dunbar to Mark Harden, a professional animal trainer for film and television, there is plenty of advice here for the conscientious dog owner.

Each expert offers practical help, tips and trouble-shooting techniques so that worried dog owners can find the training method that best suits both themselves and their dog.

Informative and instructive, this is the ultimate guide to a well-behaved and well-balanced pet, whether it’s a puppy or an old dog still open to new ideas.

All you need are Cesar’s Rules and a bit of dogged determination.

(Hodder & Stoughton, hardback, £16.99)