How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond

How to Raise the Perfect Dog: Through Puppyhood and Beyond

NOOK Book(eBook)

View All Available Formats & Editions

Available on Compatible NOOK Devices and the free NOOK Apps.
WANT A NOOK?  Explore Now


From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel's Dog Whisperer, the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog.

For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, says, "Yes, you can raise the perfect dog!" It all starts with the proper foundation in the early years. Here, Cesar tells you everything you need to know to create the best environment for a well-balanced dog in order to avoid behavior issues in the future, and shows you how to correct the most common behavior issues for young dogs.

Based on Cesar’s own detailed experiences raising individual puppies from some of the most popular breeds, How to Raise the Perfect Dog is like having Cesar right beside you, as your own personal expert, coaching you and your dog from the first day of your life together.

Packed with new information aimed specifically at the particular needs of puppies and adolescents, and written in Cesar's friendly, accessible style, How to Raise the Perfect Dog answers all the most commonly asked questions and guides you towards a loving, satisfying life-long relationship with your best friend.

#1 New York Times bestselling author, Cesar Millan shows you how to raise the perfect dog and prevent behavior issues before they start, including:
• what to expect from each stage of your puppy's development
• quick and easy housebreaking
• the essentials of proper nutrition
• the importance of vaccinating–and of not over-vaccinating
• creating perfect obedience from day one through rules, boundaries, and calm-assertive leadership
• how to avoid the most common mistakes owners make raising puppies and young dogs
• how to correct any issue before it becomes a problem
• unique exercises and play to bring out the best in every breed

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307461315
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/06/2009
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 48,969
File size: 6 MB

About the Author

Founder of the Dog Psychology Center in Los Angeles, Cesar Milan is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Cesar’s Way, Be the Pack Leader, and A Member of the Family. He is the star of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, the National Geographic Channel’s top-rated show. In addition to his educational seminars and work with unstable dogs, Cesar and his wife have founded the Cesar and Ilusion Millan Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping shelters and rescue groups.

Melissa Jo Peltier
, an executive producer and writer of Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan, has been honored for her film and television writing and directing with an Emmy, a Peabody, and more than fifty other awards. She lives in Nyack, New York, with her husband, writer-director John Gray, and stepdaughter, Caitlin.


Los Angeles, CA

Date of Birth:


Place of Birth:

Culiacan, Mexico

Read an Excerpt



Junior, Blizzard, Angel, and Mr. President


When I first imagined writing a book about raising the perfect dog, I wanted it to have a personal touch and a hands-on feeling. In my experience, it's easier to teach using real-life examples. I have raised many dogs in my life, but I wanted to reacquaint myself with all the different stages of puppyhood while I was writing about them so that I would be totally in tune with the behaviors I was describing. To do this, I decided to raise four puppies of different breeds-a pit bull, a Labrador retriever, an English bulldog, and a miniature schnauzer-bringing them up in my home and with my pack using the principles of dog psychology. I want to illustrate to you, my readers, how raising puppies as naturally as possible will prevent problems and issues and will avoid the need for intervention in the future. My goal was not to rehabilitate dogs but to raise balanced dogs and show owners how to maintain the natural balance that Mother Nature has already given them. Therefore, I wanted to select dogs with a certain inborn energy level-what I call "medium-level energy," which is the perfect energy level for even an inexperienced dog owner to deal with. We'll talk more about selecting for energy in the next chapter, but keep this concept in the back of your mind as you join me in the adventure of meeting the puppies.


Although my pit bull, Junior, made his first print appearance in my last book, A Member of the Family, I still consider him to be the most significant of the four dogs whose puppyhoods I've chronicled here. When I began writing this book, Junior was a little over a year and a half old, smack in the heart of his canine adolescence, which lasts from about eight months to three years of age. Since the day I brought him home, Dog Whisperer cameras and my own records have recorded nearly every day of his progress, from clumsy toddler to the energetic, confident, yet serene teenager he is today. There are many wonderful lessons from Junior's upbringing that I am thrilled to share with you here.

It was of great personal significance for me to adopt a pit bull puppy as a role model, to be right by my side as I work to rehabilitate unstable dogs. The bad rap that pit bulls get here in the United States is, to my thinking, a crime. First of all, pit bulls are dogs first. They're not wild animals; they're domestic dogs like any other domestic dog. Of course, pit bulls are not always the right dogs for every family-but in blaming pit bulls as a breed for all those horrendous incidents we read about in the news, we're forgetting the basic fact that we humans have created the very characteristics we vilify in pit bulls, simply to fill our own needs. We are responsible for them. Over the centuries, we have genetically engineered these dogs to have strong jaws, relentless staying power, and a high tolerance for discomfort or pain. Those are the plain, unvarnished facts of their DNA. But even in the dog world, DNA isn't destiny. Pit bulls are not born aggressive to dogs or to people-we make them that way. Hundreds of thousands of pit bulls languish in kennels and shelters across the United States because they were originally conditioned by their owners to be "tough," but then they became too much for their owners to handle. Many of those dogs, destined for euthanasia, were bred to fight in the illegal dog-fighting culture, then abandoned on the streets when they didn't prove profitable for their hard-hearted owners. Properly socialized and raised with the same consistent rules, boundaries, and limitations that their natural pack would instill in them, it's been my experience that pit bulls make the most amazing pets.

The very pit bull attributes so often maligned by society can actually be rechanneled into the most positive outlets. For instance, the inborn characteristics of determination and staying power can be transformed into unwavering loyalty and patience. A balanced pit bull has the ability to wait calmly and respectfully for long periods of time, until its owner gives it a new command or direction to follow. With children or smaller puppies, pit bulls can be the epitome of the indulgent babysitter, because their bodies are built to easily withstand the climbing, pushing, and pulling that playful juveniles of both species can inflict. A well-socialized, balanced pit bull will put up with all sorts of childish antics and show stoicism and good humor. I am raising Junior to be much more "dog" than "pit bull," and between him and my senior pit bull, Daddy, I believe I can change the mind of anybody who harbors blind prejudice against the breed.

Any reader who has watched my television program is probably familiar with the soulful green eyes and stocky, golden body of my faithful companion, Daddy. At nearly sixteen years of age, Daddy has experienced everything a modern dog could possibly dream of-traveling all over the United States with me and even walking the red carpet at the Emmys. Daddy's original owner, the rapper Redman, sought out my help in raising Daddy when he was still a playful puppy just four months of age. It was absolutely the most perfect time to start shaping his young mind. Daddy was an eager and receptive pupil to both dogs and humans, and he has grown up to be the best, most positive role model imaginable for his much-maligned breed. He now has his own legion of fans and even has his own Facebook page! He definitely deserves his brilliant reputation. Today Daddy officially belongs to me. He and I share a bond that goes beyond anything nature or science can explain. I believe we have achieved a kind of ideal communion between human and dog, one that I like to use as an example to my clients to prove to them that this kind of healthy closeness with their pet is something very real and within their reach as well.

On dozens of Dog Whisperer episodes, when I'm called in to help unstable dogs, Daddy has unquestionably earned his props as my right- hand canine. More often than not, however, he's also my teacher, and I end up following his lead on how to proceed, not the other way around. Daddy possesses that rare quality that you can't get without a lot of experience and a lot of years on this planet-genuine wisdom. Because his energy is so completely balanced, sometimes just being in the presence of Daddy will turn a troubled dog around. On other occasions, if I'm not sure of how to proceed on a case, I'll bring Daddy in and closely observe his behavior. One of the most important points I've made in all my teachings-and that I particularly want to stress when it comes to raising puppies-is that a balanced adult dog can teach you more about "dog training" than any book, manual, or video. Daddy doesn't have any diplomas or certificates on the wall of his kennel, but he is the absolute master of dog rehabilitation, as far as I'm concerned.

As a senior dog, Daddy still takes the same delight in the small moments of life that he took as a puppy, but his advancing years are clearly catching up with him physically. I have recently begun to grapple with the reality that he won't be able to play the role of my best pal, sidekick, and co-Dog Whisperer forever. I've heard some dog lovers who, when considering the demise of a lifelong companion, make statements like "There will never be another one like him" or "I could never love another dog, because no other dog could be as wonderful." Of course it's true that there will never be another dog exactly like Daddy, but when I called this book How to Raise the Perfect Dog, I wasn't being glib. I really do believe it's possible to raise another dog to be as balanced, stable, well behaved, and as perfectly in sync with me as Daddy has been. I had a plan-Daddy himself was going to pass the baton of his greatness to the next generation-by helping me raise his ideal successor!


A longtime friend of mine, a vet tech who also happens to be from my home state of Sinaloa, Mexico, understands and agrees with my philosophies about raising dogs and also owns a female pit bull that I know to be calm and balanced-an easygoing family dog that had always been a dream "nanny" to his own small children. My friend informed me that he had selectively bred this dog and that she had a new litter of puppies. Knowing of Daddy's impending retirement and my growing concerns about it, he invited me to come take a look at them, saying, "Who knows, you might find the next Daddy."

When Daddy and I arrived at my friend's house to see the litter, I was relieved to find the bitch just as affectionate, gentle, and submissive with human kids as I had remembered. She had the ideal temperament for a family dog and was also an active, alert, and attentive mother to her pups. The temperament of a pup's parents is vital, because temperament is a characteristic often passed down from generation to generation. My friend showed me a photo of the puppies' father-also a well-bred, healthy pit bull, as well as a prize show dog. Though I couldn't meet the sire in person because he was already back in his home state, I know that show dogs by definition need to have a degree of self-control, patience, and stability above and beyond that of the average household pet. As I looked over the litter of cuddly, clumsy eight-week-old puppies, one dog immediately caught my eye. He was all gray with a little white on his chest, and he had the most gentle powder blue eyes. He was what is known as a blue pit. But what attracted me most to him was his energy. Though he didn't resemble Daddy at all physically, his serene demeanor reminded me of him instantly.

I was immediately drawn to this particular pup, but in this case I wasn't the most experienced dog whisperer in the room. This was a job for Daddy. Any dog can tell you much more about another animal-dog, cat, or human!-than a human can, which is why I always take my dogs' instincts very seriously. In fact, I frequently bring Daddy or another of my most balanced dogs with me to business meetings, to see how the dogs respond to any people I am meeting for the first time. If one of my easygoing, calm-submissive dogs inexplicably shrinks away from, ignores, or otherwise avoids a certain person, I always pay close attention. My dog may be trying to tell me something I need to know.

I escorted Daddy into the room full of playful pit bull puppies-a dignified elder statesman making an appearance in a boisterous kindergarten class. I had noticed one of the puppies acting a little dominant around the children in the family-climbing on them and mouthing them-so I tried introducing him to Daddy. Daddy immediately growled at him and turned away. At Daddy's age, he hasn't got the energy or patience for ill-mannered, pushy youngsters. Another pup I picked out-a lower-energy fellow-didn't interest Daddy at all; he totally ignored him. Older dogs don't waste their precious energy on puppies that annoy them. But how would Daddy react to the gray pup that had so attracted me? I was praying that our energies and instincts would be on the same wavelength for this very important decision.

I gently lifted the little gray guy up by his scruff and presented his rear to Daddy, who showed immediate interest. He checked the puppy out by sniffing, then signaled with his head for me to put him down on the ground. When I lowered the puppy, the little guy automatically bowed his head in a very polite, submissive way to Daddy. It was clear that at only eight weeks of age, his mother had already taught him the basics of canine etiquette-respect for your elders. Daddy continued to smell him, and it was obvious there was an attraction there. But the most wonderful thing happened next! When Daddy finished checking the puppy out and began to walk away, the puppy immediately started to follow him. From that very first moment, I was certain that this little gray bundle of fur was going to be Daddy's spiritual "son." And America would soon have a new, calm, well-behaved pit bull role model to look up to.


Blizzard, the Labrador Retriever

John Grogan's Marley and Me was on the New York Times bestseller list for fifty-four weeks, then was adapted into a feature film that grossed more than $215 million worldwide. It even spawned a sequel named (much to my chagrin as Dog Whisperer!) Bad Dogs Have More Fun. Through Grogan's heartfelt, evocative writing, Marley has become the symbol of one of the most popular family pet breeds in America, the Labrador retriever. Labradors are the number one pet dog in America because of their friendliness, energy, and happy-go-lucky demeanor, and Marley epitomized that same goofy, exuberant, bouncy behavior. But Marley took that behavior too far, to the point of being out of control. "Marley," writes John Grogan, "was a challenging student, dense, wild, constantly distracted, a victim of his boundless nervous energy. . . . As my father put it shortly after Marley attempted marital relations with his knee, 'That dog's got a screw loose.' "

Marley became the inspiration for me to adopt a yellow Lab as the second dog whose puppyhood I would chronicle for this book. As much as I laughed and cried reading John Grogan's memoir of Marley, and as much as I appreciated having the chance to work with the Grogan family and their current Lab, Gracie, I wanted to offer a different perspective on the life of a Labrador retriever. In other words, I wanted to write the chapter on how not to raise the next Marley.

I turned to Crystal Reel, the intrepid researcher at our Dog Whisperer production company, MPH Entertainment, to help me find the perfect Labrador puppy. Though there are plenty of Labrador breeders in Southern California, we decided to show our support for one of our area's excellent rescue groups that save the lives of lost, abandoned, and rejected dogs every day. Crystal contacted Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue, an eleven-year-old nonprofit organization dedicated to the mission of rehabilitating and rehoming Labrador retrievers and educating the public about these wonderful dogs. Over several weeks, Crystal coordinated with SCLRR volunteer Geneva Ledesma, screening several potential puppies available for adoption. We finally narrowed the search down to two dogs, and Geneva and her fellow volunteer, Valerie Dorsch, agreed to bring both dogs to meet me at the original Dog Psychology Center in downtown Los Angeles.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Millan’s wizardlike facility with dogs–the calm he brings to them, the confident way he handles them–is mind-blowing.”

“[Millan] arrives amid canine chaos and leaves behind peace.”
—Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

Customer Reviews