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Monday, April 14, 2008

New Plug for an Old Book

The book is BE THE PACK LEADER, by Cesar Millan. I got my copy last year at Costco. They're not carrying it anymore, but if you didn't get a copy then, go ahead and order it from Amazon or your favorite bookstore, starting at around $15.75. If you want to understand your dogs a little better, it is worth its weight in gold.

This is Cesar's second book; the first one was CESAR'S WAY, which told the story of how he developed into TV's "Dog Whisperer" and revealed many of his insights into dog behavior. I highly recommend that one too. I took a yellow highlighter to my book and ended up highlighting most of what's in it.

But BE THE PACK LEADER goes a step farther. Cesar gets into specifics, like training equipment (the good and not-so-good), the various dog breeds, introducing a new dog to your home, choosing a dog with the right energy for you, and much more.
While unpacking books after our move to Montana, I flipped this one open and found myself not wanting to put it down. Call me weird, but I'd rather read this one over and over than read the hottest James Patterson murder mystery!

Here's an excerpt from BE THE PACK LEADER, on the subject of choke chains:

"The choke chain, probably the training tool with the most negative name in the world, originated from the same basic idea of the loop around the neck to control an animal's movement. We're back to the concept of my grandfather's rope again. When used correctly, this tool is not supposed to cause an animal to 'choke,' cut off an animal's breath, or even cause momentary discomfort. The premise is that tightening the chain around the neck sends a message of correction, and releasing it implies that the correction has been heeded. Of course, if the chain is used incorrectly--pulling the dog's neck upward with too much force--it can indeed cause a choking reaction. It's intended to be used with a firm but gentle, split-second pull to the side; a 'snap-out-of-it" kind of movement that has the sole purpose of simply getting the dog's attention. I just wish they had given this tool a different name--loop chain, a neck chain, a control chain--anything other than a name that implies giving pain to a dog.

"As always, it's important to remember that when choosing a choke chain, the owner should have a professional instruct her hands-on in the correct way to use it. Most vital of all, the energy behind the chain must be calm and assertive, not upset, tense, anxious, or angry."

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