Completion Date: September 2007
Pages: CW: 320; BaPL: 336
Publication Years: 2007
Received both from Random House in 2007.
Reason for Reading: Two books for the Four-Legged Friends Reading Challenge and because I like dogs.
Instead of posting the book descriptions for two books, go here to read more about Cesar's Way and here to read more about Be the Pack Leader.
I no longer have a dog, so I do not really have a reason for dog handlers books, but I have always wanted to read Cesar Millan and figured that now was as good a time as any. While reading the books, I read that dogs are a mirror of you. That was interesting to me, because when I asked someone what Sandy said about me, they said that I must have selective hearing. You see, Sandy listened to me, but others had to battle with her to get her to listen at times. I'd like to think that instead of this being a mirror, I was just a good pack leader sometimes.
So, of course I was reading this book more to see where I succeeded and failed with Sandy. I learned that her fear of thunder should have been handled differently. Sandy has always been scared of thunder, I am not sure where the fear started from, but I think it was likely when she was a puppy and my father wanted to try her out for duck hunting. After that, she was very fearful of loud noises and she only went hunting one season. When she was younger she was scared of her food dish if it was metal and it banged on a hard surface. I do not remember cuddling her about it, but it likely happened. I do know that we never stopped using the dish, just sometimes when it happened several times in a row we would move it to a soft surface. Her bigger problem was that Shelby would steal her food. We probably did not introduce the two dogs together very well, because the early years were all power struggles. Like when Shelby took Sandy out into the woods and she came back, but she was missing a puppy. Shelby was such a calm and obedient dog, it is almost funny to remember the times when she was bad.
One of the things that Cesar goes into great detail about is the correct way to walk your dog. I used to use a choker chain when Sandy was younger, and Shelby had one too, but I always felt bad using them. The dogs would listen, and I could control them when it was on them, but I think I felt a great deal of guilt because of the name. Honestly, they need to rename them because no one wants to think they are choking their dogs with it! Needless to say, when Sandy got older I got her a regular collar. I think I probably had more control with that anyways because I felt more comfortable with it than with a choker. Cesar says that you should leave the house first to have control over the situation. I did not do this. I normally would let Sandy run around the yard and then when we got to the end of the driveway I would take over control. Sandy would walk beside me and all that. She would not bark at other dogs or chase cats or anything. The only issue she had was she would pick up food that she found on the side of the road... But, I am not perfect. There is a big field at the end of the my street that I used to let her run around on. She would always come back to me... unless there was a skunk. I had never seen a skunk spray before until that day. Right in the poor dogs face, too! That was an interesting day.
I was thinking a lot about the energy things. When my father lived her and my brother, Sandy was a lot more stressed than she has been the last few years. My father and brother have explosive tempers and when they lose them, Sandy would fly out of the room. It could be why she didn't like thunder. Anyways, when they moved out she was not as skiddish. Actually, the year that my brother ended up moving out was the one and only time that Sandy bit someone! It was Tom, and I had never seen Sandy bite before. I am not sure what my brother did, he had been playing with the dog just before that, but I was just shocked that she actually bite him! Neither Sandy or Shelby were encouraged in their biting as puppies, so I probably will always remember the night Sandy bit Tom, mostly becuase it was such a strange thing for her to do.
So, I learned that the dog that I thought was good, was not really that good after all. She did not have what I consider major problems, but by reading this book I discovered that my pack leader skills need some work. It doesn't help when she is in a house with several people and they are all telling her different things. She followed my rules though... unless someone else was with her, and then that is when the bad stories would surface. Like I would let the dog on the couch with me when I was reading, but otherwise she could only sleep on the floor or in her chair. My mother used to have battles with Sandy to get off the couch. Sandy was allowed to sleep on my bed ONLY if her blanket was on it. She was buried with one of her blankets. Otherwise she slept on her blanket on the floor, and that was all she could get to when she got older. Sandy also started randomly barking when she wanted to come in. Cesar Millan would say that we had to let the dog in when we wanted to, not when she wanted to come in. I say that if Sandy did not bark, my mother would have forgotten she let her out. Many times I would come home to a dog waiting outside for me, and my mother totally having forgot that Sandy was out there.
So, Sandy was not perfect, but she always was not Marley from Marley and Me. She might have had some issues that I did not think of working on, but overall, she did not have a terrible life. By reading these two books and comparing them with Sandy, though, I hope to have an even better dog the next time around. In the meantime, I saw a dog yesterday and I did not handle it the Cesar way, but I hate not having a dog. It is why I have lapses, but these dogs are huge and they almost knocked me over. I am trying to decide if the person would take it the wrong way if I gave her Cesar's books... One of the dogs bites and they are both really hyper. I would hate for them to have to lose them because they bit the mailman or something.
Anyways, Cesar's Way is more of a memoir-type look at dog handling and Be the Pack Leader is a self-help book and a dog training book. Millan wants readers to see their dogs as animals and not as their babies. I suppose I did see Sandy as more than just my dog, but I don't think I treated her like a baby. I would talk about her to other people differently than I would talk to her. And, I did talk to her a great deal. It might not be the Cesar way, but it was not so much that I was more comfortable with Sandy than with other people, it was more than I could tell her things and she was not going to repeat them! It is nice to have a secret-keeping dog.