Review: The Dog Whisperer

The Dog Whisperer, by Paul Owens

No, it’s not Cesar Millan. This is Paul Owens, who called himself “The Dog Whisperer” five years before Millan’s show appeared on the National Geographic Channel. Liz (Bo‘s mom) lent me this book and said that she’d read it before she brought Bo home.

Paul Owens wants to be the yogi for your dog training. He’s a positive reinforcement trainer who believes very strongly in Eastern principles of breathing, meditation, and holistic health treatments. I thought it was certainly an interesting approach to dog training. Aside from his breathing exercises, though, Owens doesn’t offer a lot of new information in the way of positive training. I agreed with most of what he said, but I think I’d be more inclined to rely on Pat Miller‘s straightforward and helpful training guide for my own dog.

One thing that Owens does talk a lot about is that you should never speak soothingly to or try to comfort a frightened dog. A lot of dog training books tell you this. But is it actually true? Can trying to comfort your frightened dog actually reinforce her fear? Patricia McConnell, my all-things-dog hero, wrote an insightful article on her blog, “You Can’t Reinforce Fear: Dogs and Thunderstorms,” about this very issue. I tend to trust McConnell’s word on this one. She has a Ph.D. and is an applied animal behaviorist and she has the science to back up her experience. Even though Owens is also qualified, I’m inclined to listen to McConnell on this one. I highly recommend her article and its follow-up companion on the issue to anyone who’s received this advice before.

I did enjoy Owens’ section on what we feed our dogs. Dog food is something I’ve been doing a considerable amount of research about. It’s not something that I know about and I was astounded at how complex the dog food industry can be. There are a lot of different opinions floating around about what to feed our dogs, but the general consensus is that most brands of widely available dog food are absolutely terrible. I’ve really enjoyed the content on this extremely helpful website, Dog Food Advisor. I’ve already been researching the different types of kibble that I’d feed my dog and it’s been an extremely helpful place to start.

I’m curious to hear from you on this one. How did you decide what kind of food to feed your dog? Did you ever make any changes? Since I don’t know if I’d try a raw diet right away, is there a particular brand that you would recommend?

5 thoughts on “Review: The Dog Whisperer

  1. Wow, I didn’t know there was a non-Millan Dog Whisperer!

    On dog food: what prompted my change in attitude was a combination of finding out what goes into commercial dog foods (this video was particularly illuminating without being gross:, my shiba’s increasing health problems and allergies, and observing my own improvements in health once I started eating healthier and fresher home-prepared foods. Talking to other dog owners helped a bit, but I do find that there is a lot of dog diet dogma floating around — it can be a difficult and often times heated subject to discuss!

    Now we do a combo of high quality kibble (yes, it’s more expensive than the Iams or Beneful you can pick up in any grocery store, but if you average out the costs and your dog’s not that big, it’s negligible), raw, home-cooked… everything. For raw, we got started with Primal Raw. I chose them based on recommendation and also because they’re local to me, though they also distribute nationally. There are lots of other smaller, pre-made raw companies that are local to specific regions, so depending on where you live, you should be able to find either a good national or local source.

    1. Thanks so much for your input, M.C. I certainly trust your opinion on the subject; I religiously read your blog and appreciate how conscientious you are about maintaining your dogs’ health. Thanks!

  2. I too found this book middling but its nutrition chapter enlightening. I love my dog but I know that I would never have the energy to have her on a raw diet. I am also a vegetarian, and the idea of touching meat (even to feed to my dog) grosses me out. I recently did some light research on kibble ( and I’ve found Natural Balance to be quite good. However, I’m thinking of upgrading to Taste of the Wild in a few months. TotW gets the best reviews on all the dog food analysis sites.

    Btw, love the blog!

  3. I never thought that there is another “dog whisperer” beside from Cesar Millan. I will definitely buy his book and see what tips are included in it to be applied to my dogs. If I can’t hire Cesar Millan, then I’ll do iy by myself with the help of Paul Owen’s book.

    Thank you for sharing it to us.

  4. I have this book for puppies and it was my first foray into the dog rearing world as it was recommended to me by a holistic person and after reading it I understood why they recommended it. I also started watching the Milan show this year too and although he uses a different approach, I think they compliment each other well. I even tried the breathing thing and like Owens said, it works! I heard that DirecTV was taking away National Geographic from their subscribers and I was flabbergasted. I for one wouldn’t stand for it and although my DISH Network employee account assures me I’ll have FOX channels for years to come I bet DirecTV customers would like the same peace of mind. If I were in that situation I would switch ASAP so I don’t miss my favorite shows.

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