Where we celebrate the noble nanny dog character of mythology, history and entertainment.

Book Reviews

How to Raise the Perfect Dog

How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through puppyhood and beyond
by Cesar Millan

Cesar Millan’s newest book, ‘How To Raise The Perfect Dog Through Puppyhood and Beyond’ co-written with Melissa Jo Peltier, documents the lives of five pups – Blizzard the Labrador retriever, Junior the pit bull, Mr. President the English bulldog, Angel the miniature schnauzer and Eliza the soft-coated wheaten terrier. The first four pups were raised by Cesar and the terrier was raised by cameraman Chris Komives and his wife Johanna.

This book is an extraordinary resource for anyone contemplating the purchase of a puppy. Cesar discusses the importance of finding a good breeder, and what qualities to look for in the prospective parent dogs. He explains why puppy-mill bred dogs come into the world with so many disadvantages and how to identify and steer clear of those puppies. He gives advice about how to pick the right pup for your family based on energy level, and this important information can be applied to puppies acquired from a rescue or shelter, as well as older pups or adult dogs. Cesar’s excellent advice is –

“As a good rule of thumb, I recommend people choose a dog with the same energy level or a lower energy level than their own. If they have other dogs at home, it’s even more important not to choose a dog with an energy level higher than that of the dogs or humans already in the family pack.”

Cesar thoroughly documents the puppy’s conception, gestation and birth. Every step in the puppy’s growth is covered, how the mother dog and family pack teach the puppies, and how you, as the adoptive family, can start becoming involved with your puppy before bringing him/her home. He spends several chapters explaining how to prepare your home and family for the new addition, how to make the first few days as stress-free as possible, and how to care for your new puppy. In all 160 pages are devoted to teaching you everything you need to know about puppies to set you up for a successful adoption. Learn –

  • what to expect at each stage of your puppy’s life
  • stress-free and effective housetraining
  • the importance of proper nutrition
  • vaccinations and avoidance of over-vaccinating

The next part of the book deals in training. Yes, he instructs you in how to train your puppy basics like walking on a leash, but he also teaches you how to identify your puppy’s strong suits – for instance Angel the miniature schnauzer had a talent for sniffing out cigarette butts in the park, so Cesar cultivates this natural skill hoping that one day Angel will be able to sniff out cancer in humans. And he tells you how to use play time to balance genetically-bred characteristics of certain breeds to reduce natural tendencies, such as the the bulldog’s inclination to challenge other dogs. You will learn how to –

  • establish rules, boundaries, and calm-assertive leadership
  • avoid the most common mistakes
  • recognize and correct issues before they become problems
  • use play to bring out the best in every dog

In addition, Cesar discusses the top ten most common problems, their causes and how to resolve them (which can also be applied to older dogs adopted through a rescue or shelter) –

  • jumping up on people
  • chewing
  • barking
  • nipping and mouthing
  • housetraining
  • not coming when called
  • digging
  • won’t walk on a leash
  • crying and whining
  • excited or submissive urination

The last part of the book deals with the challenges of adolescence, a time when many dogs are given away, surrendered to rescues, or thrown away at a shelter. Cesar prepares the new owner for the physical and emotional changes they can expect and how to navigate this time of the young dog’s life. He spends several pages discussing the advantages of neutering, dispelling myths about neutering, and concludes –

“I come from the point of view of wanting to prevent unwanted puppies growing into dogs that we put to death, simply because we can’t find homes for them. To me, this is a moral outrage, something that creates negative karma for our entire species.”

This book deserves five stars for it thoroughness in covering all aspects of puppy rearing, it’s enjoyable readibility, and it’s practical, easy-to-follow instructions to make your puppy adoption a calm and smooth experience.

What Color Is Your Dog?

In his new book ‘What Color Is Your Dog?’ Joel Silverman, Hollywood trainer and host of Animal Planet’s Good Dog U, introduces a simple concept to accurately determine any dog’s innate emotional personality. Just 160 pages in length, this little gem of a book includes lots of color photographs and is cleverly formatted with important information spotlighted so you can reference it easily.

Joel’s innovative concept categorizes dogs as Red, Orange, Yellow, Green or Blue, or some degree in between such as Red-Orange. It’s a simple and elegant system that is easy for everyone, even children, to understand.

On one end of the spectrum, the hot side, are Red dogs. These high-strung dogs are often described as ‘out of control’. They are easily distracted and often challenging to train. At the other end of the spectrum, on the cold side, are Blue dogs. Timid, fearful and untrusting, Blue dogs can become fear aggressive biters. Both Red and Blue dogs frequently end up in animal shelters and rescues simply because their owners don’t know how to deal with them.

Right smack in the center of the spectrum are the Yellow dogs. These ‘mellow Yellow’ dogs are the ideal. On each side of the Yellow dogs are warm Orange and cool Green dogs. The goal is to bring any dog closer to ‘mellow Yellow’ by the way in which the owner approaches, trains and handles the dog.

Joel and Sunshine on the set of "A Good Year"

Joel and Sunshine on the set of “A Good Year”

The title might sound like a fanciful Dr. Seuss book, but once you start reading it you will be amazed at how profoundly perceptive the color categories are. You’ll probably have your own dog’s color identified within the first few pages of the book. This book delivers on it’s goal to teach people how to develop a respectful relationship with their dog by providing insight into any dog’s personality.

But beyond simply identifying dogs by color, the second half of Joel’s book explains how to effectively train each color type. For instance, Blue, Green, Yellow and some Orange dogs respond very well to clicker training, while the clicker sound and food reward can be too stimulating for the already excitable Red dogs who do best with calming tactile rewards such as petting and stroking.

Joel’s motive for writing this book was to help new dog owners learn the best way to communicate with their dog, in order to reduce the number of adopted dogs being returned to rescues and animal shelters. The book is also a great resource for people who work in rescue. By being able to identify the dog’s emotional personality in advance, the rescue staff can teach the new dog owner how best to handle that particular personality for a happy and successful adoption.


What Color Is Your Dog? Train your dog based on his personality color
by Joel Silverman

Interview with Joel Silverman:

Joel, to give the readers a little background about you … you were one of those early pioneers clicker training dolphins and orcas at Sea World, and the last 30 years you’ve been training dogs for TV, movies and stage. Among your most famous credits are training Dreyfuss for Empty Nest, and training Sunshine for the Russell Crowe movie A Good Year. You’re also the host of Animal Planet’s Good Dog U.

When training for different vehicles, TV, movies and stage, is the training different for each type of acting?

No, the training is the same, but it is different from the type of training you would do with your family pet, or an agility dog. Normally you’ll want the dog to be very attentive to you, but when training for film you want the dog to look natural. You don’t want him looking at you. You also don’t want to excite him or stimulate him. So you would not use a clicker in that case. You affirm to the dog that he got it right by moving to the next behavior. However, I would use the clicker when training something new like asking the dog to cover his eyes with paws. That requires a lot of precise timing and shaping to develop the behavior.

Let’s talk about your new book, ‘What Color Is Your Dog’. I am enjoying this book. The writing is concise and engaging. The book is very user-friendly. How did you develop this concept of identifying dogs by color?

I went to the book store and looked through the training books. I felt there was a need for a fresh new approach to dog training. The book developed from two philosophies of mine about training.

The first is my observation that the most successful dog trainers develop a relationship – they create a bond of trust with the dog prior to starting the training. They spend some time just getting to know the dog for two to four weeks. Once the relationship is built, the dog will do what you want – you won’t need to force him. The second philosophy is that every dog is different and should be handled according to its personality.

I wrote this book with the new dog owner in mind. Too many dogs are adopted from shelters and rescues, only to be returned because the new owner didn’t understand the dog and how to train it. My goal with this book is to increase the number of adoptions that work out and decrease the number of dogs returned to the pound.

Joel's best friend and companion is Foster.

Joel’s best friend and companion is Foster.

Are some breeds more prevalent in particular colors? I’m thinking Border Collies and Australian Shepherds must be Red dogs.

I try not to generalize. Any breed can be any color. A lot of people think that Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are Red dogs, but in my experience they tend to be Green more often because they are a little bit timid and reserved. The color is more about a dog’s emotional personality rather than energy level.

The idea is to move a dog from an extreme color like Red or Blue towards the center of the color spectrum which is Mellow Yellow. What causes the shift? Is it environment, experience, age …?

What changes the dog is you. You have the power to change his color.

Can a dog move between colors during stressful situations? Can a Blue dog turn Red?

No. A dog cannot move from one extreme to another. This is important to understand. Let’s say you have a Green dog. He’s a nippy little Chihuahua-mix. He can go one of two ways, towards Yellow or towards Blue. If he’s forced to do something and is afraid, he’ll go to the extreme of Blue. A Blue dog can be fear aggressive and bite. The same Green dog, this Chihuahua-mix, if you train him the right way, he’ll move towards Yellow. Another example would be an Orange pit bull mix with a bit of an aggressive streak. You pull the leash and his hackles go up. You keep forcing him and he’ll become a Red dog. If you calm him down he’ll go towards Yellow.

Are some behavioral problems (house training, biting, fighting) associated with certain colors?

Not necessarily. Biting and fighting are just how dogs are in general. Any color dog can have difficulty with housetraining. All dogs can learn the basic commands that I teach in the book. These are Sit, Stay, Come and No. In the book I explain how to teach these commands based upon your dog’s personality color.

As a clicker trainer, it was interesting to me that you recommend not using clicker training with Red and some Orange dogs. Is it the sound of the clicker, the excitement of the treats, or what?

It’s excitement in general. When you think about a Red dog, think about a dog that jumps. He jumps on people, he jumps on furniture, he just jumps and jumps and jumps. I’m not saying you couldn’t clicker train a Red dog, but I think that would not be the fastest way to train him. You want to calm this dog down. Tactile rewards, like petting and stroking, get the Red dog moving towards Yellow.

Should people pick the dog color that matches their own personality?

No, I wouldn’t say that. You can have chemistry with any dog.

It seems to me that anyone who deals with a lot of different dogs on a frequent basis, such as a rescue organization, animal shelter or a veterinarian’s office would find this book useful.

Absolutely. I’ve been going around speaking to different groups. This book is about is not forcing dogs. This is a way to train all types of dogs based on their personality.

Joel, thank you for sharing this time with me. It’s been an honor. It’s obvious you are a really nice guy and you genuinely love dogs. This book will have a huge impact on people’s ability to understand their dogs and train accordingly. I believe you will achieve your goal of decreasing the number of dogs returned to shelters. If every new owner, and current owners alike, were to read your very reasonably-priced gem of a book, people would avoid feeling frustrated and overwhelmed which in turn leads them to give up on their dog. You make it all so simple and easy!

Why We Love The Dogs We Do

Why We Love the Dogs We Do – How to find the dog that matches your personality
by Stanley Coren

“When a dog and its human fit each other well, the resulting bond can make both lives richer and more satisfying. The love for a well-chosen dog can transcend life itself.”

These beautiful words come from Dr. Stanley Coren, a professor of psychology and the author of one of the most insightful books I’ve ever read, ‘Why We Love The Dogs We Do – How To Find The Dog That Matches Your Personality’.

Dr. Coren contrasts the great love some humans demonstrate to their dogs with the sad fact that nearly half of all puppies purchased do not make it through the first year in their new home, ending up returned to their breeders, sold or given away, dropped off at shelters, or cruelly abandonned. Disturbed by the number of unwanted dogs, Dr. Coren decided to study the subject and surveyed over 6000 people to determine what personality traits in humans were complemented by which breeds of dogs. The result is a personality test that pinpoints which types of dogs will be the most successful match for the human.

Another innovative aspect of Dr. Coren’s study is the categorization of dogs into seven classifications. These completely novel groupings of dogs are based on temperament as opposed to the AKC breed groups based on function. The dog groups were developed by Dr. Coren and his team of eleven dog experts. The groups are:

Stanley Coren and some of his dogs.

Stanley Coren and some of his dogs.

Group 1: Friendly – affectionate and genial dogs (bearded collie, collie, curly-coated retriever, flat-coated retriever, golden retriever, labrador retriever, old english sheepdog, soft-coated wheaten terrier)

Group 2: Protective – territorial and dominant dogs

Group 3: Independent – personable and strong-willed dogs

Group 4: Self-Assured – spontaneous and audacious dogs

Group 5: Consistent – self-contained and home-loving dogs

Group 6: Steady – good-natured and tolerant dogs (Bernese mountain dog, bloodhound, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard)

Group 7: Clever – impulsive and trainable dogs

This book isn’t just a personality test and discussion of the dog groupings – the most compelling and fascinating part of the book is Dr. Coren’s evaluation of famous people and their relationships with their dogs. There are stories and photographs of celebrities, royalty, writers, painters, politicians, and famous professionals from all walks of life. Many of the stories are touching and give you a new, sympathetic perspective on people for whom you may have never felt any compassion – like Richard Nixon who was known to drive around the White House lawn with his Irish Setter King Timahoe seated on the golf cart next to him. Nixon is quoted as explaining, “We’re not really going anywhere, it’s just that Tim likes to ride in the cart and I like to see him happy.

The Bouvier des Flandres is a favorite breed of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and also of Star Wars producer George Lucas. An interesting coincidence ... or is it?

The Bouvier des Flandres is a favorite breed of
Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and
also of Star Wars producer George Lucas.
An interesting coincidence … or is it?

There is also a list of each breed in Dr. Coren’s study and the names of the famous people who own or have owned that particular breed. For instance, did you know the Bouvier des Flandres has been a favorite pet of comedian Bill Cosby, Harlem Globetrotter Meadowlark Lemon, Star Wars director/producer George Lucas (who is said to have based the Wookie character Chewbaca on his dog), country singers Barbara Mandell and Reba McEntyre, President Ronald Reagan, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, Beatles drummer Ringo Star and actress Debra Winger? It certainly can be an ego boost to find out that Halle Berry, Matthew Broderick, Uma Thurman or T. Boone Pickens has the same taste in dogs as you do!

In many cases, Dr. Coren also provides the celebrity’s dog’s name which makes this book a super resource for individuals searching for original names for a new pet or a rescue group needing to name dozens of dogs on a frequent basis. In addition, in the book Dr. Coren addresses people who don’t like dogs as well as people who prefer cats.