What do you think about “Cesar’s Way”?

cesar milanI just finished reading Cesar Millan’s book, Cesar’s Way. The book was a little redundant, but to his credit even though you read about the same topic over and over, you still feel compelled to continue reading. I felt there was a lot of “name dropping” and self praise, though you have to admit that the man has made a name for himself despite the fact that he came to the US illegally in the early 90s, so those methods are working for him.

As you probably already know Cesar’s Way is a book about one man’s interpretation of Dominance-Based Training. The idea is that if you can convince your dog that you are the leader you can automatically get him to do what you want. Does that somehow seem to good to be true? Well, not for Cesar, he has had tremendous success with this method and he has also helped (in his words) thousands of dogs become happy, healthy and balanced.

So how does someone put these methods to work for themselves? The path to convincing your dog that you are in charge is not an easy one. You must remain the pack leader 24-7, you must be sure that you are “calm and assertive” ALL the time you are around your dog.  In every situation you must enforce the rules you have set up for you dog or he could resort back the same behavior as before. Consistency is key. Also you must follow Cesar’s plan for success which is a balance of, exercise, discipline and affection in that order.

In my opinion many of the methods that Cesar puts forth make sense and seem to work. I am not a fan of positive reinforcement as the only means to train your dog. However, at the same time I don’t think most people can be disciplined enough to completely adhere to Cesar’s methods and therefore they don’t work as magically as they do on TV for the average person. They simply become an unhealthy aggression over your dog, which I don’t believe Cesar would agree with either.

I have watched Dog Whisperer on National Geographic Channel many times. I really enjoy the show and most of the techniques Cesar uses seem to make sense, but there is a school of people out there who disagree with “Cesar’s Way.” There is no doubt that Cesar is dedicated to his dogs. His daily routine would put many athletes to shame. He starts his day with four hours of exercise with the dogs at his Dog Psychology Center.  While the dogs are resting after the four-hour workout he goes to work behind a desk so to speak. Then he feeds the dogs, and works some more until it is time for them to go rollerblading which can take him a few hours. Then back to the center for a game of ball with the dogs. Which puts us near the end of the day, but Cesar’s day is not over, since the dogs are tired it is easy for him to do one on one work the individual dogs as needed. Whether or not you agree with Cesar’s methods, they work for him and he is clearly doing what he thinks is best for his dogs.

Read the book and decide for yourself if “Cesar’s Way” is the best or even the only method for you and your dogs. Happy reading!

If you have already read the book I would love to hear your opinion! Feel free to comment below.

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DIY Dog Agility Course

Border_collie_weave_polesWell, it is DIY Friday. I like to post DIYs on Friday for those of you who are weekend warriors and like to take on projects over the weekend.This particular post will mostly likely take more than a weekend to accomplish.

Exercise is an essential part of a dog’s life. If you want a dog who lives well into his old age then making sure they get exercise is necessary. I think everyone likes a dog that is well-behaved and there is no better way to get a well-behaved dog than to bond with them. A dog that is bonded to its owner will want to please them and acting out is usually seen less. Agility Training is a great way to bond with your four-legged friend and also exercise at the same time. Another reason agility is an excellent choice is it can cross over all of the categories of exercise; mental, psychological, emotional and physical. agility

Agility does require a lot of time. Training a dog to do agility is time-consuming but rewarding. Some dogs just seem to be born for agility and take to it with less training time, there are other dogs that will just never be suited to agility no matter how well you train them, and there are some dogs that with a little patience and a lot of focused time can become agility experts. But where do you start? If you have ever shopped for agility equipment you will know that it is very expensive, and if you are just doing this for fun it might seem a little too much to spend that kind of money on play equipment. So, I have found a few places where you can buy it affordably and/or build your own.

***Also there are some things to know about agility before you begin training your dog based on youtube videos or other training materials. Such as for young dogs agility can be harmful for their growing joints, please see your vet before beginning any type of physical training with your dog.

I have included some of the basic components of a typical Agility Course. There is no need to make a full course if you are doing this only for fun, but if you plan to train for competition then this list is not exhaustive and you may need to add to your collection.

Weave Polls

Jump Bars

Hoop Jump

See-Saw

Dog Walk or A-Frame

Pause Table

Dog Agility Shop has several DIY plans but also very affordable complete sets.

Dog agility
Click to go to DogAgility Shop

Happy Training

Are you doing enough?

I love Zak George. If you don’t know him then you should check out his channel on youtube. He has a different approach to dog training than most dog trainers right now. His methods however are actually “old school.”

Anyway, in the discussion of excercising your dog he challenges us to go further. He says, walking, playing with other dogs and even free running (such as in your back yard) may not be enough for your dog. Now, if you have a couch potato breed like my Cavalier then you are probably home free, but if you have a lively breed like a Jack Russell Terrier or a Doberman Pinscher then you should take a look at this video.

Let me know in the comments what you think of Zak George and how you meet your dogs fitness needs.

3 Steps to Create an Exercise Plan for your Dog.

So many questions
So many questions

-How often should you walk your dog?
-How long should you walk your dog?
-Is walking enough exercise for your dog?
-What if your schedule doesn’t allow you to walk your dog?
-How long is too long for your dog?
-What if it is too cold? What if it is too hot?

These are just a few of the questions we have been thinking about. My husband and I have been talking about an exercise plan that is right for our little guy, he is a King Charles who is under 20 pounds. What is the right exercise plan for your dog?

There are so many things to consider when thinking about and exercise plan, physical activity of course is the first thing that comes to mind, but there are many other things to consider as well.

dog-237187First thing to consider is, how your dog is stimulated. For some dogs a walk in the park with no structure or reason would be enough for them to go home lay on the couch and feel totally satisfied for the day. Most dogs however, are not that simple. Most dogs require more than just a laid-back walk in the park. Particularly dogs from the working breeds. They need lots of stimulation to feel fulfilled. Stimulation doesn’t come in one neat package it is found in a variety of ways. Unlike human beings the cardiovascular system and muscular system are not the end of exercise for a dog. There are more things to be considered when attempting to fulfill your dog. Think of your dog holistically. Mental, Psychological, Emotional and Physical are all things to plan for in a daily routine for a contented dog.

Lets start with physical as it seems to be the most obvious. There are many ways to provide physical exercise for your dog. The walk is of course the average persons choice for their dog since it requires little knowledge or effort on the part of the human or the dog. Walking is mostly a physical task for dogs but it does sometime cross into other categories such as psychological and mental. When your dog meets others along the path you are walking then your walk has just become psychological. Your dog goes into a different mental state to try to understand the other dog. She might sniff the other dog or bark or jump on the new dog. These are all social behaviors that are somewhat instinct and somewhat taught. Another scenario might be use of the sense of smell. It is likely that other dogs or animals have walked the path you are using and therefore your dog may smell other animal odors such as skin oils, hair, urine, etc. That is a mental challenge for your dog. He has to decide to control himself and heed to you or become unruly attempting to go his own course likely to chase the thing he is smelling and leaving you behind.

Instead of analyzing each task for what it could become I think it would be easier if I just give a list of activities that correspond to the “Holistic Category.” I am in no way a dog behaviorist, these are my assessments after having many dogs and a variety of breeds over the course of my life as well as some knowledge I have acquired from good trainers I have used and books I have read.

Mental                                  Psychological                                  Emotional                           Physical
-Puzzle games                            -Play dates                                               -Training (tricks etc)                               -Walking
-Agility                                        -Frisbee (at the dog park)                   -Hiking (off leash)                                     -Running
-Hide and seek                         -Playing fetch                                         -Playing tug games                                   -Swimming

*Since we are talking about excercise most of these things fit into the physical category. Also many cross over into other categories as well. I simply chose to make a list highlighting some exercises that are best suited to the category. Also there are many more ways to exercise your dog.

Here are the 3 steps we used to set a schedule for our dog. I use the term schedule loosely because are not really “list people” although sometimes we day-dream about how that could make our lives so much easier.

Step #1 Understand what your dog needs
We first looked our dogs needs. He is a small dog who is a scaredy-cat about everything, sleeps a lot, is mostly mellow, but cannot wait for his daily walk. So we derived from this that we needed to be sure to access his psychological needs a little more than his physical needs. We need to socialize him in a way that is fun and rewarding for him and not so overwhelming, to satisfy this need we are going to join a meet-up group and socialize him at least once a week. Thirty minutes of physical exercise is enough for our little guy, but you may need more. In addition we also enjoy teaching him new tricks and he enjoys puzzle games, these will be added to schedule as well.

Step #2 Understanding your schedule and who can help
I am a house-wife and my husband can set his schedule most days, we have the luxury of not having to ask for help, but I know this isn’t always the case. For those of you who just can’t fit a thirty or even twenty-minute walk into your schedule maybe you and your family members could split up the walk time. If one of you could walk him in the morning before work or school for 10 minutes and then someone else when you return home for another 10 minutes you are already up to 20 minutes, just be sure these are brisk walks not a slow stroll. Ask one more person to take a late evening or before bed walk if it is safe in your area to be out after dark (we have too many wild animals in our area) and there you have just made your 30 minute walking schedule for the day these might begin to correspond with bathroom breaks too which is just an added bonus if you don’t have a back yard where your pup can go without your supervision. If you cannot do this then maybe it would be a good idea to look into hiring a dog walker once or twice a week who can help carry some the burden of walking the dog. Also remember for some of these activities you can multi-task. If your dog loves to swim then in the summer you can take him to the beach where if possible you can be working on things you need to do, like your personal budget or returning phone calls you just haven’t been able to get to this week.

Step #3 Putting it down on paper.
Like I said we are NOT list people and tend to do things haphazardly. Therefore, if we don’t write it down with determination we probably will not stick to it. Here is what a week might look like for The Four Legged King.

Monday-        30 minute walk, 15 minutes of training tricks
Tuesday-      10 minute walk, 30 minute play date, Puzzle game reward when we get home
Wednesday- 20 minute trick training, 15 minute walk in the morning and another in the evening
Thursday-     30 minute walk
Friday-          20 minute trick training, 20 minute walk in the afternoon, 10 minute trick training
Saturday-     1 hour hike off leash, 10 minutes fetch as a reward later that evening
Sunday-       10 minutes frisbee at the dog park, walk to and from the dog park 15 minutes each way, play hide and seek in                      the evening

I have added this free printable for you to use!

Dog Exercise Plan