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Woof! Help your dog live happy

Build strong tie between you and your dog and both of you will be happy

By Beverly Meyer

The Free Lance-Star

TAKING ON the care of a dog as a pet—I resist saying “owning a pet,” considering that a dog is a sentient being—is no small responsibility.

Keeping your canine companion happy is not a matter of feeding him treats or dressing her in a Halloween costume.

On the contrary, both of these activities and many others we humans do to “humanize” our pet are, in fact, ignoring Scamp or Kipper’s real  needs, as Cesar Millan spells out in his “Short Guide to a Happy Dog.”

Exercise, discipline and affection—these are key to providing your dog with physical and psychological wellbeing.

Many of us mistake the order of these three. In fact, exercise must be first,   discipline second (this never means corporal punishment; instead, consistency), and affection is crucial but third behind the first two.

In less than 200 pages, Millan, “the dog whisperer,” gives the reader the five natural dog laws, nine principles for a balanced dog and five practical techniques for every pack leader—and much, much more.

A few of Millan’s pre-eminent points include the following:

Work with the dog’s instincts, not against them. Re-channel or redirect his natural energy and instinct to behavior that is positive for both him and you. Don’t try to suppress an instinct that is innate to her breed—that’s like swimming against the current and will bring unhappiness to you both.

Challenge her mind. Bored dogs act out their energy negatively into destructive behavior, but that’s your fault, not hers.

Avoid humanizing your dog; it disrupts his balance and leads to behavior issues. (Costumes? Really?)

Scamp’s senses are his reality: nose, eyes, ears—in that order. His sense of smell overrides all else, he watches your body language and gestures for cues, and he listens to your tone of voice as well as the UPS truck two blocks away.

Serve as an effective pack leader by creating the calm, submissive state he requires. He wants you to be pack leader—and you must meet that requirement. Help him know his place in the pack, in a positive, masterful way. Millan will show you how to do that in this book.

Remember, it is never OK to strike your dog. If you have that urge, because of something he has done, it means you have failed to meet the three basics in some way.

If you are thinking of getting a dog as a pet, do your homework first: Read this book. If you already have a canine companion,  see how well you’re doing

as his best friend.

Beverly Meyer is a copy editor  with The Free Lance–Star.

CESAR MILLAN’S Short Guide to a Happy Dog

By Cesar Millan

(National Geographic, $21.95, 20 pp.)


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  • Fabian

    It’s really depressing to see how you swallow everything that comes out of that mans mouth. If you had even the tiniest of interest for dogs you would have seen that the entire world of ethologists despise this man and his methods. But of course, what do they know? They only dedicate their lives to researching dog behaviour.