Most helpful positive review
157 of 159 people found the following review helpful
Lots of options for dog owners to use!
on October 13, 2010
With "Cesar's Rules", Cesar Millan has provided a ton of information to dog owners about the history of dog training, various approaches to dog training, and how dogs have contributed to humans as working animals. Oh, and there's some dog training info, too!
The book starts off with some background on Cesar. It quickly moves into background and thoughts from many other trainers. This is probably my favorite part of the book (as a professional animal trainer) as I love reading about the other trainers' backgrounds and methods. I also love that Cesar reaches out to many styles of trainers, including those who may disagree with his methods. Throughout the book, Cesar is highly respectful of each trainer's methods, even when he points out that he chooses another method. I also have to admit (and this is my scientific background coming out) that I am thrilled that Bob Bailey was interviewed for this book. So much of modern training comes from the decades of data and thousands of animals that Bob and the Brelands (graduate students of BF Skinner himself) worked with, and yet I meet so many trainers who have never heard of them. Bias aside, I think the variety and quality of trainers interviewed is top-notch, which bodes well for later chapters.
I think Cesar gives a very excellent and fair presentation on the use of rewards and punishments in training, allowing each person to have their say. Even when he presents his position, he seems to simply present it as his method, and not The One True Way. Very professional, and I admire him for that.
There are a few chapters that give dog owners some broad ideas for training, and then one final chapter which gives information for training a few behaviors. For each behavior, there are a variety of methods, allowing every owner to choose the method he or she is most comfortable with. This is great, because I know of some people who are comfortable using one method to get a sit, but can't get a down using that same method. If they switch methods, they can get a great down. It's great that Cesar provides SO many options.
Lastly, the book ends with a little chapter on how dogs help us with herding, scent work, protection, etc. It feels a little off-topic, but it's a nice way to wrap up rather than just ending cold on training plans.
While there are some things Cesar and I disagree on :) I have only 3 moderate complaints about the book. First, I dislike that Cesar labels "balanced" training as being based on both modern "positive" training and "traditional" training. It implies that anyone who doesn't do both is an "imbalanced" trainer. I think it's clear from his interview with Dr. Ian Dunbar (who would be thrown under the category of modern/positive) that he would not consider Dr. Dunbar or his dogs imbalanced, so why stick with this label? Second, I'm surprised that his walk training section includes a choke collar rather than a prong collar. He does an excellent job referring to the American Humane Association guidelines for the use of the electric collar. If he did the same with choke collars, he would have reported that they are not recommended for use. Alternatively, prong collars are "conditionally recommended" for certain training conditions. Furthermore, it is my experience that both traditional and modern/"positive" trainers, as a whole, view prong collars more favorably than choke collars. I wish he explained this choice better. Finally, I wish this book would give guidelines to pet owners for choosing a dog trainer, especially when he's telling his readers to use a professional trainer when using certain training tools. On the upside, it does give links to the APDT and IACP, two professional dog training organizations. Both provide links for finding dog professionals, and the APDT also gives guidelines for choosing a professional.
Beyond that, let's face it. Some "positive" trainers are not going to be satisfied with this book, as Cesar and some other trainers are still recommending the use of punishment in this book. Some traditional trainers and old Cesar fans will probably call him a sell-out for making this book, which tries to have professionals representing all types of dog training. I say phooey to both groups of people. This is a great book both for professionals, who should be working together to better the lives of dogs, and dog owners, not all of whom will be able to effectively use just one particular type of training. Well done, Cesar. Well done.