Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

How to Raise the Perfect Dog:  Through Puppyhood and Beyond, by Cesar Millan.  Harmony Books (2009), 303 pages.

This is not a book that will teach you how to train a puppy.  There are no detailed instructions for housebreaking, leash walking, or any of the other many challenges the owner of a puppy will face.  It does, however, have a great deal of useful information on the stages a dog will go through from puppyhood to adolescence  (eight weeks to eight months) and describes well how to use one’s energy and leadership with a new puppy to create a well-balanced dog.

For those familiar with any of Millan’s other four books, a great deal of How to Raise the Perfect Dog will be redundant.  The application of “rules, discipline, and boundaries” to puppies looks much the same as it does when Millan is dealing with adult dogs who already have problems.  Nevertheless, if you are a fan of Millan’s approach (particularly one who is planning on adding a puppy to the household), this book is an excellent reminder of how to bring calm, assertive energy to your relationship with your dog.

As White House staffers held back the dozens of press corps photographers wildly snapping away, the curly-haired, midnight black Bo—already a large dog at six months of age—proceeded to lope about the South Lawn on his white, bootlike paws, pulling Malia behind him.  I was watching the live feed of Bo’s first official appearance from my Burbank offices, talking via satellite to Wolf Blitzer in CNN’s Situation Room. “Uh-oh,” I blurted out, forgetting I was on mic. “They’re gonna need a lot of help.”  I’m not sure Wolf understood what I was trying to express.  While much of America was seeing simply a happy, playful, picture-perfect puppy, by virtue of what I do for a living I was seeing something else. Bo’s first impression of the Obama family was as an overexcited pack of somewhat disorganized followers.

Reviewed by Cindy Blackett